10 Things I Should Have Learned by Now

  1. Waking up early to do homework feels a little like dying inside.
  2. Balloons and toasters really aren’t that scary.
  3. Don’t write impermanent things in permanent ink.
  4. Things are better than they seem.
  5. People are kinder than they seem.
  6. My perception of the sky is affected by my mood, not the other way around.
  7. How to write lists.
  8. Leaving things to the last minute doesn’t create inspiration, it forces panic motivation.
  9. Speaking quietly doesn’t always mean speaking gently.
  10. Sometimes, trying new things has less to do with adventure and more to do with necessity.
When Sarah Kay (go watch her be awesome on YouTube!) does poetry workshops, she assigns lists for people to write. ‘Ten things I should have learned by now’ is one of the lists she often uses.

Emotional Baggage Check

Sometimes, I find a really good article that hits all the points for me, like this one. While reading the beginning, I was half convinced that Jenny (the writer) is me from an alternate universe—only, she seems to actually know what she’s doing when it comes to helping people. 

My only actual job is to be student, but I’d say I’m also an Emotional Baggage Check of sorts. I spend a lot of hours talking to friends who are upset or need someone to vent to, and this is usually done over messaging, phone calls, or—strangely enough—at parties. Usually the venting happens during the night, and—like Jenny says—sometimes it escalates to talking them out of suicide, leading to urgent 2 am calls. It’s been especially stressful this past school year and that’s probably one of the reasons why my report card looks lousier than it usually does—when one of your friends tells you that they’re not going to be around tomorrow, homework is the last thing going through your mind.

Arguments with my parents have sprung up out of this. There’s the usual “You need to go to bed, these people won’t even matter to you after high school, your grades are important” opening statement, retaliated with my defiant “They matter right now and homework can wait but they can’t” objection, finally ending with frustration and sometimes tears. Those nights are the ones I want to avoid the most.

And of course, lack of sleep is an issue. There was a month where it seemed all of my friends were sad at the same time and I would talk to multiple people in one night: starting up a phone call with one person just as I was finishing a message marathon with another. Jenny talks about multitasking, but I can’t listen to more than one person at a time so I was up super late trying to get to everybody and homework. Needless to say, caffeine, all-nighters, and I are not strangers anymore.

Not that I’m complaining. I love having feels-packed talks with friends who mean a lot to me, and I love being able to receive their thoughts. I don’t think myself superhuman or selfless—during especially busy times, I’ve looked at my screen and audibly complained that I don’t have the time or the necessary level of caring to tackle the issue. Sometimes this kind of sigh-groan escapes me, and yeah . . . I’m no Mother Teresa. But I know that whenever I’ve committed to helping the person, I’ve never regretted it. There’s a certain happiness that comes with being able to be there for the people you care about, and it makes things (like staying up late) worth it.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” -Mother Teresa

But like Jenny, I’m still trying to figure out how to take care of myself while also taking care of others. I assume I’ll find that balance eventually. Until then, I’ll just muddle along with everyone else and we can all help each other out.