Spread Too Thin

Question To Self: What time do you have in your schedule to rest?

Answer: 4 hours a night.

This was my allotted shut-eye time during college in the last year.

Before focusing on self-care, I was spread thinner than a tablespoon of peanut butter on a Hash House a Go Go pancake.

hash house a go go

Positive Side Note: I ate this. Guys. It’s the size of a pizza.

I volunteered monthly for the Red Cross, was the Vice President of Scholarship for my Phi Theta Kappa chapter, worked in the Environmental Center at Portland Community College (PCC), had a hourly job as a dietary aide, and was The Green Initiative Fund Southeast Representative for PCC. Etc., etc.

The responsibilities continued. I wasn’t giving myself the time of day for self-care. I was slipping beneath the surface. I wanted to breathe again, but I couldn’t stop myself from saying no to new opportunities. I was drifting away from my social circle and my bed. I was drowning on a perfectly dry patch of land. I needed help, but disliked asking. I thought I could have it all. But really, it was wave after wave of responsibility.

surface

Being busy has always been important to me. When I was little, I actually dreamed about the day that I would have to write important papers and draft reports. As a 6-year-old, I loved having an excuse to write and stay busy. When I got older, the reality was harder to shoulder.

In college, I also happened to be surrounded by these awe-inspiring people who  excelled in project management and networking. They were students too…just like me. I felt like my actions weren’t reaching far enough and I needed to better impress. Who was I impressing though? Myself?

Based on what I experienced, I feel certain in one respect; Juggling and time management has become a symbol of status.

It seems that the busier you are in the American individualistic culture, the more successful you’re perceived. I mean, how can you be successful if you spend your day doing any one thing, or working at any one job? To be rich, powerful, and knowledgable, sleep should be at the bottom of your list. Naps? You can’t even.

This is what I thought.

I found that the things that I achieved in the past came with a buttload of stress that overshadowed everything I did. It was like walking with this raincloud on my head. I knew I was in a funk. Lacking in sleep, I think my body was aging faster on some cellular level I couldn’t consciously perceive. The late night snacking became more than just an occasional weekend splurge. It was a personal tactic to keep me from falling asleep. If I was making macaroni and cheese, I couldn’t go to bed and leave it to burn the house down. Plug in my computer and set up my station on the kitchen counter and I was stuck on wide-awake mode. Cheesy noodles included.

The pressure to study, email, write, calculate, and finish everything by the required deadlines sapped me. Burnout was real, and I was scorched by the end of the last academic year.

And if you can believe it, I was working with my Phi Theta Kappa chapter on a project that centered on self-care. Ironic stuff, right?

If there’s a few things that have changed in the last few months, it’s my habits. I say N-O to projects that I can pass on. I ask for help. I delegate with reason. I’ve sacrificed my morning to-do list to the Sleep-In gods. My alarm clock snoozes a bit more. My food stays fully clothed in the cabinets at 4 in the morning. And I take the self-care I can carry. Sure, I might not be busy enough for smoke to spout from my ears, but it allows me to live by a better mantra. You’ve heard it before. You know it. And maybe you can learn from my prior habits and make it work for you.

Quality over quantity.

While I might have to argue the pros and cons as this idea applies to peanut butter and pancakes, I will say that it does apply to a person’s workload. Being busy doesn’t equal success.

Quality over quantity.

Trust me. People notice the difference.

A Pocahontas Dilemma

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2014

I could not have been more excited to go to college. Freedom to pick classes, majors, and a future career. I was so prepared it was ridiculous. I already knew the steps that I needed to take to secure my place in medical school and how to go about researching and applying for internships. Not only that, but I was already looking at my options for specialization within my career, which was something that I wouldn’t need to worry about for at least ten years.

I left high school desiring a career in dermatology.

I entered college desiring a career in dermatology.

2016

I have finished two years of college, and reached a fork in the proverbial river of life. I could best compare it to Pocahontas’ dilemma. In the animated movie, she sings one of my all-time favorite Disney songs that details the choice she must make. She could choose the smoothest course; the path as “steady as the beating drum.” But maybe, just maybe, she could choose the more uncertain one.

In that respect, I am Pocahontas. I am finding my path. A path that is less linear and comes without my pre-planned map.

I know at this point, I am at the fork. I have just transferred colleges. I have a fresh start. With that, I have choices to reconsider. There is still time for everything to change.

I can’t describe the feeling, but I know that right here, right now…

I am literally changing my fate.

Everything has changed.

The excitement is palpable as I discover the opportunities waiting just around the river bend.  Hold on self, we’re steering this canoe in a new direction.

 

Getting Proverbial While Fighting Bed Head

 

LaurenEditOriginal8

This morning I tried to go back to sleep, but all I could think about was how to word my first blog post. I was half asleep and had basically planned out the entire thing. It was perfect. Flash forward twelve hours to my current state, and I’ve forgotten everything. Thanks brain! Short term memory, you’ve served me well.

This morning I was also battling a serious food hangover. And before you roll your eyes, I have to assure you that, yes, food hangovers are not the stuff of legend. They are a real thing.

Basically, I woke up on the couch with no memory of falling asleep during a three-movie marathon, but pretty sure that the bag of spicy tater tots I’d consumed had been a mistake. Those super-delicious apple cinnamon pancake-vixens from the freezer were getting some side-eye as well. I then went down into the basement, to the room that I share with my sister while I’m visiting at my dad’s, and went back to sleep. I woke up later knowing I had the job of sweeping the Haunted Mansion study and staining some woodwork. I tried to complete my morning routine but somehow ended up falling asleep in the middle of the bedroom floor with my backpack as a pillow.

By the time I woke up for real, the beautifully imagined blog post was gone, and I was left with the words you see here.

Maybe there’s something poetic about the way I woke up today. Maybe it means that my perfect first blog posting can’t exist. However, that doesn’t mean that me getting up in the morning is poetic in any sense of the word. Nor is it the summer morning routine to inspire others. I didn’t wake up and make my bed, and then eat a few spoonfuls of yogurt with artfully tossed granola and oversaturated raspberries. I did, however, wake up with serious bedhead, heartburn, and a desire to write something semi-decent on a webpage.

So what is my blog all about? Not dissing YouTube morning routines. Trust me, I’ve watched my fair share! (I couldn’t even tell you why I’m so addicted to them.) Like my blog’s name might imply, I am hopelessly in love with toast. However, as I continue learning and now enter my (technically) junior year of college, I’ve realized how small my world has been for a really long time. That’s not to say that I’ve never left my house, but as a kid I always thought that I could just exist and success would come with age. I thought I knew where I was going and how to get through the Gumdrop Mountains. How wrong was I? I’m 20 now and the crux of the problem is that I’m still searching, thinking, and dreaming. Hell, college made me rethink my dead-set plans. I went out in the world, and the world introduced me to some rad stuff. Sometimes I don’t know whether to blow the world a kiss or flip it off …

In essence, my blog is a way for me to connect with other inspiring people and be a part of something bigger. I want to travel, learn, and eat some damn good vegan food along the way. However, I want to share my thoughts on school/college, food, being vegan, traveling, and essentially learning about the world around me. However, I’ll also be sharing a few mistakes I hope others can avoid. I want to think outside the proverbial toaster. I’ve spent so much time eating toast, how do I know I won’t find something more delicious once I get my butt out in the world and have the chance to try it?