Stress is relative, a frazzled senior realizes


photo by Amani Canada

Just before the scariest holiday of the year, something truly terrifying happened to me. I failed a midterm. BOO! Happy Halloween, Mikki!

Even when the truth is right in front of me, I keep denying, justifying and looking around hoping I’m not the only one “” but sometimes, we just have to admit that we suck at some things. And boy, was it rough.

I am being real with you right now, I thought I was kinda smart but this midterm season has got me humbled. My confidence levels? Sunk. Anxiety pains? Spiking. Maybe I should be doing something else with my life. Maybe I should be somewhere else. Maybe I am just not good enough. But, as a senior, it’s a little too late now to reconfigure my eggs, since I have thrown them hastily into the same basket. It’s like that funny Youtuber HowToCast, where he always makes a crazy mess throwing eggs everywhere, except that’s just my life.

Or, maybe this is Trinity, and I am being a little hard on myself. I might need help, and I might not be the only one. Maybe I need to withdraw and give myself a second chance. But the clock to graduation is ticking, and I’m asking myself if the GPA is worth the extra money and time.

A wise man recently told me this about fear. He said, “Mikki, it stands for either “˜Forget Everything And Run,’ or “˜Face Everything And Rise.’ “ So, despite the instinct to drop out of life and quit my dreams because I have made some serious mistakes, I am trying to take this moment as a challenge.

illustration by Yessenia Lopez

I want to be as intelligent as Einstein, as giving as Mother Theresa, as brilliant as Elon Musk and as self-assured as Malcolm Gladwell. But I’m just Mikki. I have these impossibly lofty dreams of saving the world, but the reality is that I am flawed, and I’m stumbling all the time. It is as though somehow what is happening now is indicative of my whole future. I’m afraid that I am going to be a squandering failure, potential never realized; someone who just could not get their lives together.

When I put myself in a position of discomfort and learning, it’s hard to expect perfection all the time. Sometimes I eat dirt, and I don’t know how to bounce back when it’s entirely my fault. Couldn’t I have studied harder? Couldn’t I have gone to more office hours? I am aware that I am balancing school, work, health, family and friends. Suddenly, it seems, time is scarce. I am one of many. I am just not allowed to make excuses when so many other people have a harder time.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a student struggling with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program right now, or someone trying to support themselves while also going to school. These distractions make my problems seem pithy and pathetic. Time to pick myself up by my bootstraps “” or my Converse shoelaces “” and keep climbing. I have to let perfectionism go, along with the fear of screw ups. This Halloween, I don’t want to be scared of making mistakes, failing classes and writing bad opinion columns, I just want to be spooked by a ghost yelling “Trick or treat!”