I'm three weeks into grad school, and on a day to day basis I'm doing pretty good. It's when I look at the big picture that I start to freak out a little. And not even the big picture of what's all due this week or this semester, but the big picture of where is my practicum going to be next year, and should we send Elliot to Stoughton schools or Whitewater schools, because I really like that Whitewater loops, but we won't be here for two years, so maybe stick with Stoughton, and which elementary should we pick, and what about wrap around care, oh wait, am I not going to be able to be there for his first day of kindergarten? And what about Caroline, is there anyway we could keep her at their current school because it's amazing, and don't I want what's best for both of their educations? But what about my education, where am I going to end up being next year, and what about the year after? Is my internship site going to end up being my full time job? I hope so, but what if it's not, or what if it's in Verona, do both Kyle and I need to commute, should we move, do we want to move back to West Salem at some time? Do we want to have another baby at that point, what if we don't move, do we still want one then, when would be the right time, do we really want 5-7 years between Caroline and #3..... and on and on and on.
This inner dialogue happens multiple times a day. While I'm trying to read articles, print materials, work on papers... all the time, because any school topic gets me on a mental tangent about the next three years.
Right now I'm in this semi-denial about my stress/anxiety level. I think I'm fine, but when I take stock I realize that my shoulders are always tense and practically touching my ears, my stomach always feels like it's in knots, my hands always feel cold, and the cafe lady in the library asked me if I was tired today, because I looked like I was tired. Now, I have no problem falling asleep or staying asleep, but that's because I'm so tired from the underlying anxiety that's part of my day. And it's not tired she's seeing on my face, it's stress.
What finally made me realize that I am definitely being affected by the stress of grad school, was a conversation I had with Kyle last night. He had two customer dinners to go to and wouldn't be home until late. I requested dessert and figured I would just eat it the next day since I would probably be sleeping when he got home. I wanted some sort of cake. Not ice cream or pie, cake. Kyle called at 8:30 ish to let me know that the first dinner went late, so he was just going to come home. He didn't get dessert, but would pick something up from the Target bakery when he stopped their to get diapers. He asked what I wanted, I said some sort of cake. He wanted me to pick a kind, and I said I don't know, chocolate or something, but not mouse, but not just cake either (of course I could picture exactly what I wanted in my head, just didn't know how to describe it, or if they even had it). I finally said, oh, just get me a piece of their red velvet cake because they almost always have it.
At 9:15 he calls and says he's on his way home. He got the diapers, and a package of the red velvet cupcakes. This is where I kind of freaked out. How dare he get me FOUR cupcakes when I just wanted ONE piece of cake! Now I am going to have to eat four cupcakes, and I just wanted to have one piece of cheat cake! Why is he sabotaging my weight loss?!! Did he even care about what I wanted?! I just wanted him to do one thing, bring me one piece of cake, and he made ME CHOOSE the kind that I wanted, and then didn't even bring me exactly what I wanted! Did he even look around to see if there were any other types of cake, or did he just pick the first red velvet thing he saw?? Because I didn't want red velvet cake, I just wanted CAKE and he made me pick red velvet! COME ON!!
Obviously, this was not about the cake, or the cupcakes, and thankfully I am married to a wonderful man who knows when I'm going through something before I even do, and doesn't hold it against me when I freak out. The cupcakes? I ate one, and it was delicious. But Cake v. Cupcake wasn't about Kyle not listening or caring about my specific bakery needs, it was about me wanting to be able to predict what is going to happen, and actually have it happen. I wanted to predict that I would have cake based on the evidence that I told Kyle to bring me cake, and actually have cake. I want predictability over what might happen in the next three years, to have a glimpse of the means that will get me to the end.
But that's not really how life works. So for now, I'll take it one day at a time, and focus on reading articles and writing a paper... and find comfort in the fact that at least I have three cupcakes waiting for me at home ;)