Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Hard Part

Is doing two things simultaneously.

I know that most of New York has experience working and taking classes at the same time - at 22 who wouldn't be able to handle all of the responsibility at once? Well, me for one. Working and going to school at the same time is a completely new experience and I have to say, it's just all sorts of draining. I feel like Superman near kryptonite and the side effects aren't very pretty.

But even before the taxing workload and insomnia facilitated by your need to get things done without enough hours in the day, there are preexisting reasons why sometimes people like me just shouldn't try to do too much at once. Firstly, my expertise in procrastination. Ever try to take four English classes in one semester while tutoring two different sets of children with completely different grade levels? It's a lot of research, a lot of reading, and most of the time, you feel like you're doing three times as much homework as you're assigned. Which means more often than not, something's not getting done, or is getting done late and usually that something is your school work. Sure the answer would be to break the bad habit instead of letting your responsibilities fall by the wayside but its a shody habit to break. Ever try to quite smoking? Well quitting procrastination's just as hard. Just, instead of me cancering up my lungs, I'm banging out gray hairs thanks to stress. Awesome.

Secondly, I have a migraine condition. Now I know this one isn't too relate-able, but you imagine getting sharp pains around your temples, being sensitive to light and sound, getting nauseous enough to want to throw up anywhere (unless you're a pro like me and know how to hold out until the nearest toilet - fun fun) and then get back to me about how easy it is to work and do school at the same time. Sure people are always telling me that there are way to control the condition.

"There are triggers," they say. But when your main trigger is stress, what else can you do but try to ride the wave and hope the migraine ends soon?

"Take medication," they say. And I do but migraine medication is tricky. To begin with the side effects are ridiculous and the people prescribing overlook the most important details. Once, I had a doctor give me migraine medication where the side effect was shortness of breath. Doesn't sound too horrible unless you have asthma.... I was gasping for are, unable to gulp down even a drink of water, let alone solid food - and this for about three hours after taking the medication. So now at the earliest signs I either become an avid pill-popper (which can last for days before the migraine gets tired of my fighting it) or I'm sleeping for ten hours straight, hoping I won't wake up sick (which happens all the time).

So now on top of falling behind on school work, I'm missing classes because I'm stressed out about having to keep up with everything and worse, I always feel like I should be doing better than I already am - as a student and as a tutor. And the sad thing is, even when I'm on top of everything the feeling doesn't go away. The need to push and be better is this suffocating bubble of "don't be mediocre" I must have picked up somewhere like a bad disease.

Also, my addiction to manga (I'm a real loser on the down-low) and teen drama shows like The Lying Game and The Secret Circle probably don't help.

As far as real problems are concerned, taking 4 high level English classes, being on top of all your reading, writing papers, and making lessons plans for other students isn't exactly a walk in the park. It requires (for me anyways) getting my hands on hundreds of textbooks (materials to be used for tutoring), going through all the applicable files of textbooks depending on the student, deciding from there what specifically a student needs, what pages to assign, how much paper you're willing to waste on the whole thing, figuring out how to get from class to a completely different borough in an hour (while trying to read as much as you can for class tomorrow), being met with kids who half the time are distracted from learning because of their need to play (which isn't so bad) and then students who just don't want to learn at all (the worst to deal with - discouraging and a complete pain), and then coming home after that and telling yourself there's more work to be done, that you still need to read 150+ of text for tomorrow. And those are the good days when you're not sick and calling your father (pathetic I know) to come pick you up because you can't afford a cab and are so sick you can't walk straight.


It's a bit overwhelming and I'm getting stressed out just writing about it.

But this is not to say that I don't appreciate all of the things that come with this hardship. I mean, everyone has to grow up sometime, take on more responsibilities, move outside of their comfort zone, make their own money so they don't live as adults mooching off of their parents. And when all's said and done, I enjoy my classes, how much they're challenging my mind with critical essays, and offering new interpretations of texts I thought I'd already understood. I like teaching and tutoring (especially when children are willing to compromise with me), like feeling like I'm a part of the learning process and that I'm helping kids with something their understaffed, underfunded schools are failing to do.

I like feeling like I'm contributing to society and the education process.

I like trying to make a small difference in all of the problems that plague me about the American education system.

And despite the stress, I like feeling like eventually, I'll get a handle on all of this stuff and be better for it.

So if anyone else out there is having a hard time juggling two things at once, and I don't just mean a job and school but maybe friends and your boyfriend, or school and a social life, or what ever it may be, just keep fighting the good fight.

Till Next Time

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