Stress is the biggest killer in the world.
I mean it. Stress increases blood pressure, weakens the immune system, causes heart attacks, convinces people to commit suicide. Stress kills. Literally. And yes, that cold you might at present be suffering could have been encouraged by stress. Immunities down=cold symptoms up.
Why have I decided to write about stress? Who likes to think about stress? Not I. But here’s the thing: I haven’t written anything very interesting in quite a while. Not here, or in one of my many random notebooks, or on my typewriter, or even in my head as I try unsuccessfully to sleep. Want to know why? Stress. It is not only your immune system that shuts down with stress. So does your brain.
When stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released, which kills brain cells thus impairing memory and can lead to premature aging. Fun, right?
Once, a friend of mine asked me how I keep up motivation to write. I told him that to stop writing would be to die. So, I write. But I haven’t been lately. Because I’ve been stressed. See! Stress kills!!! My brain is dying, my insomnia has become increasingly worse, I can’t focus, the slightest disruption–be it emotional, an annoyance, whatever–I can’t handle it. I shut down. My fight or flight response has increasingly become flight.
In our hectic modern world, it is nearly impossible to avoid stress. Although, in Italy they are pretty good at it. When I returned from Italy nothing stressed me. Peruvians are also good at not being stressed. The only gray-haired people I saw (only two, by the way) were people who had adopted more of a Western lifestyle.
One of the main reasons I’m so stressed: school! Never before has school been such a stressor. This has been my most difficult semester. As a result, I am questioning the worth of some things.
Obviously, school is a worthy pursuit. A necessary one, for most of us. I am not questioning education itself. What I am questioning is the process the average student goes through in order to acquire said education. I’ve already posted about my views on tests and my doubts about their merit. But there is more to it.
Every semester, we load our schedules with classes, jobs, homework, lack of sleep. Hopefully we find time to have a social life and relaxation. We are programmed from Kindergarten to believe that the best chance at success we have is to graduate from university as fast as we can. Lately, I’ve been hearing over and over that it doesn’t even matter what I do, as long as I get a degree, I can find work.
So, I am paying thousands of dollars for a degree, while, according to the working world today, it doesn’t even matter what that degree is.. Why?
I do it because I love to learn. I love to learn. I adore anthropology. I can’t get enough of it. The problem is, when I unwittingly overload myself (like this last semester) I begin to grow apathetic towards my subjects. I just want the semester to end. I begin to do only the minimum. This is not only a waste of money, but a waste of spirit. But with overloading, there is not much else I can do.
I have long been of the frame of mind that quality of life is just as important as school, during this time of life when a huge portion of my life revolves around that epic institution. Thus, I cannot but conclude that sometimes, school isn’t worth it. Not school in general, but certain classes or taking on too many. Even if it takes longer to graduate, it is incredibly worth it to slow down, and reduce the culprit of death we call stress.
Today I took my last final. It was dreadful because it was for the class I cared least about. I have hardly slept for weeks, causing me to have headaches, the shakes, wooziness, etc. How can one study in that condition? I tell you, the final I had to take today was not worth it. Especially because I didn’t even like the class, and it was a class that could easily have been replaced with a better one. Not worth it, I tell you!
I suppose the point of this lengthening post is that, whatever your stage in life, consider what is and what is not worth your stress. Certain things really do require the attention. Other things don’t. Think in the long run, but also think in the present.