A personal narrative III: A continuously tiring journey

While writing this I’m sitting in a dark computer lab waiting an hour for my class to start.

I’m currently 33 hours without sleep. It’ll be 38 hours by the time the class is over and likely over 40 before I’m asleep again.

It’s possible that this is a result of my lack of proper planning, or it’s possible that this is the natural result of the amount of responsibility I have. It’s sincerely difficult to tell.

Graduate school (and I think the come up, generally) is about triage – addressing the most critical things first in your life. It’s self-discipline, self-knowledge, and situational awareness all wrapped up into one pressure cooker of a life. In this regard, for me, graduate school has led to a substantial amount of self-mastery.

Here is a taste of the thoughts that are pretty much constantly running through my mind:

“Call your family.”

“Have a social life.”

“You have to be up at 4 AM for this meeting.”

“Read the books. You need to know this if you are going to do your job well.”

“Call your girlfriend.”

“You have two assignments to complete, and you haven’t gotten started yet (it will be fine, this is more of a priority right now. I know myself).”

“I need to get a haircut.”

“I need to make sure I do a great job at these assignments. My success at this point depends on me doing great in school.”

“I needed to get my oil changed 1,000 miles ago.”

“You should really text your girlfriend, make sure you don’t neglect her. You already barely see her.”

“I wish I could go home more.”

“You should listen to podcasts while driving. You’re wasting a great opportunity to learn.”

“I haven’t done yoga in days.”

“You should meditate.”

“I hate that I feel so lonely.”

“I need to write my blog post tonight…. what to say, what to say.”

“I wish I had more time to cook.”

“Pretty certain my roommate just thinks I’m annoying. Am I a bad roommate?”

“I need to go to the gym… 22 minutes a day!”

“I wish I had more time to read.”

“I hate that I’ve had a hard time making friends and connecting in this program… maybe I’m weird – no, I’m cool, smart, and quirky. I’m a lot of fun…”

“I mean what are friends anyway? It’s just an agreed upon microcosmic social contract we pursue out of a deep, primal need for affiliation.”

“I wish I had more time to write.”

“I need to keep my boss happy. I need to find time to get 20 hours of work in.”

“I could probably be more friendly.”

“I’m doing the best I can. I’m doing the best I can. I’m doing the best I can.”

“I wish I didn’t have to drive so much.”

And while these thoughts run through my head. This kind of triage. It’s a constant, brief consideration of the thought: a weighing of what I’ve done, an effort to create the delicate balance necessary if I’m to live a well-lived life at this moment.

People say I’m too hard on myself. The above words represent what that looks like. It’s a young man, genuinely trying his best – while at the same time trying to not just do well, but do good. Be a role model. Reconcile his previous mistakes, overcome his fears, and learn what’s really important. And help others do the same; help others live their best lives. Live from a sense of values. Live for a true life, one that makes a difference and is meaningful.

As a last note, I just want to say there’s goodness in those thoughts of duty. They bubble up among the stress and shine brightly like lighthouses, offering glimmers that I’m on the right track:

“I really like who I’m becoming.”

“I think the success I want out of life is just over the horizon.”

“Results are beginning to show.”

….aaand class is starting.