(Editor’s Note: All too often students and faculty members fall into the daily swirl and assume that everyone around them is surely going through similar motions – perhaps even the same chaotic pace. But everyone’s pace is different; everyone’s path is not the same. Senior Kevin Henry’s path is quite difference from most students. In as series of personal columns, he hopes you’ll walk his path for just a little while).
The last couple of weeks have been very difficult. Everything from deaths in the family, to mid-terms, to midnight work shifts. I have finally hit the heart of the Fall Semester. It is not hard to sit in class and listen to lectures or take care of my son, but it is hard to find time to complete school work and wake up on time for class the next morning.
So far this school year I have not been able to complete an assignment for any of my classes before 3 in the morning. Late nights are the only time I have to complete assignments and sometimes that isn’t even enough.
A couple of weeks ago I had an assignment due that nearly caused my head to explode like an atomic bomb. The assignment itself was not difficult, just time consuming, which for me is worse because I have so little time to get things done. It was a Tuesday night, and this particular Tuesday will be one that I remember for a very long time.
I had to work a normal shift that day, 2:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Everything at work was normal and it was a relatively slow day. Since the day was slow and I knew I had an assignment due the next day, I figured that I would get a head start writing my paper at work on my phone so I didn’t have to stay up all night writing it.
Every time the store was empty (which was frequent) I was on my phone writing my paper. On my break, I was writing my paper. Every chance I had I would pull out my phone and start writing my paper.
My son Aidan was staying at his mother’s house for the night so I figured that I would be done with the paper around 11 p.m. and watch a little bit of TV before I went to bed. At 8:45 p.m, just before the store closed, I received a text from Aidan’s mother saying that she isn’t feeling well and asking if I could take Aidan for the night. I told her that I had a paper to write, but she was saying that she didn’t think she was capable of taking care of him that night.
I thought to myself, “Okay, I have been writing this paper this whole time and have about 4 out of 6 pages already finished, plus I don’t want her to get Aidan sick (because sick babies are the most difficult to take care of).”
“Okay, I’ll be over after work to get him,” I told her.
After work I went to get Aidan to take him home with me. When I got home Aidan was fussing because it was his bed time, so I took him upstairs and put him to sleep. It was now 10:15 p.m.
I thought to myself, “This worked out well.”
I then went back downstairs to type what I had on my phone on the computer so I could then finish my paper. I was sitting in front of the computer, looking down at my phone, typing a little bit, then looking at the computer to make sure I typed correctly, then back at my phone. The first half of the first paragraph was finished (much less than half a page), but this process was taking a little longer than I expected, so I came up with a great idea. I called my older sister into the room and asked her to read to me what was on my phone so I could just listen and type. This would cut the time spend typing in half for sure. I gave my sister the phone to read what I had written down on my phone. My phone screen (like most phones) has a 15 second period before the screen goes black and you have to turn on the screen again. Fifteen seconds go by and my screen goes black.
My sister looks at me and says. “How do you turn the screen back on?” I say to her, “Hold on, let me finish write the part that you just read to me and then I’ll tell you.”
She said, “Okay” and started messing with my phone to turn it on. She slides my phone open and then slides it closed. The screen turns back on, and EVERYTHING IS GONE! Hours of typing at work, four pages of words gone in a matter of seconds. My brain overloads as my heart sinks simultaneously. All my work vanished. I spend about 15 minutes trying to get it back on my phone, and nothing. The realization that I had to start from scratch started to sink in. My brain couldn’t withstand the unexpected added pressure and shut down. My ability to think and use my mind was gone. I told my family that I was going to bed and that I’d finish the paper later. I laid in bed with my son feeling like I had missed a buzzer beater to the championship game.
I thought to myself, “This kind of thing has happened to me before,” but never with the amount of stress I was currently dealing with, but lucky for me the paper was due at 6:50 the next night.
The next day at school I ended up finishing the paper in between classes and felt relieved, but the high from feeling relieved was nowhere near the low of feeling stressed. All was well turning in my paper, but while the teacher took the paper from me I thought to myself, “There is no way she knows what I went through writing this paper.”
An annual survey produced by Harris Interactive expresses that three-fourths of the American population suffer from unhealthy levels of stress.
It’s nice to know that mostly everyone else is stressed, too.