What’s a stressed, Catholic grad student to do when overwhelmed from being hard on herself? Go cry in a local church! I used to pride myself in finding no need to cry, but over the past academic year I’ve discovered the miraculous powers of tears and have accessed them whenever I could.
Other ways I’ve been trying to deal with stress as of late is through prayer, hence why I sought out the church today, as well as reaching out to friends more often. While it usually takes my friends a while to respond, I was lucky to receive encouraging, warm responses from them while in the church. I couldn’t help cracking a smile when reading over their messages, and felt very fortunate to have my friends to cry out to.
This morning I met up with the campus FOCUS missionary mentioned in this previous post. She is an all-around wonderful person to spend time with. She always emanates joy, and is always willing to provide comfort, empathy, love, prayers, and advice when needed. I had been aiming to gain more Catholic female friendships over the past few months, so naturally I gravitated toward this missionary when I met her. I turned to her during my difficult days last semester, and am very grateful for the moments when she took the time to listen and to guide me through my decisions. I hope that in moving forward with our friendship I can help her grow as she has helped me heal!
Fortunately, we have shared some light-hearted, happy moments, such as our coffee date today, in addition to the times when I turned to her to have a should to cry on or to vent. We shared reflections and laughs on relationships, faith, medicine, and even tattoo preferences over a chai tea latte and an herbal tea. Our conversation was a bright start to the morning and a great break from my mundane dates with my assignments.
I enjoyed a scrumptious meal at Boston Burger Company with a dear friend of mine who has just moved back to Boston. We had spent the first half of a day on a Catholic seminar on discernment and remained in the church afterwards hashing our thoughts and feelings about our current situations regarding relationships and where we stand in our lives. We then proceeded across the street for food and some livelier and happy concersation. I am happy to have her back, as she is someone who I truly look up to and appreciate her love and support. I look forward to us hanging out again and helping each other grow.
I used to pride myself in saying that I’d only cry once or twice a year. Sometimes I’d even joke that I was heartless for my inability to shed a tear over a sappy movie or anything else other normal people cry about.
Last semester, due to the combination of the stress of starting graduate school, a break up, and trying to heal other corners of my life, I’ve hit a record for the number of waterworks within the span of a few months. I’ve been grateful for the healing powers of tears and how they allow for a healthy stress release. I was granted their healing powers today when I had a much needed cry after a couple of weeks of pent up stress. I have decided for one of my life mantras to be, Let ’em roll!
Today I was surprised by a call from my former lab manager from a language lab I worked in as an undergrad. She had originally called me to follow through with sharing tips on getting a nose piercing, which I was seriously considering at the time I first contacted her. Our conversation ended up going on many tangents and covered updates from our respective lives, with my lab manager offering me support and advice with tips of solving my apartment ant problem and sending me electronic resources for managing my anxiety.
I thoroughly enjoyed hearing from my lab manager. We’ve messaged each other occasionally on text or Skype, but I had missed experiencing her talkativeness, quirkiness, and nerdiness in actual conversation. I told her how I saw her as my mentor, referring to the times that she had advised me when I questioned what I wanted to study and do professionally. She corrected me in calling her a mentor, and said that we are now colleagues, even friends. She referenced the time when she had told all of us research assistants that she was not our boss, and that we were not below her. We both laughed at the memory when I told her we were her Minions, as in the Disney movie Up.
The past week or so has been especially difficult for me as I’ve been fighting a strong bout of anxiety and loneliness resulting from other pent up emotions and thoughts. I’ve been fortunate in facing opportunities that have reminded me of the people I have to reach out to during this time. The best have been the unexpected interactions, like the phone call today. Each conversation has been building me up and reminding me that just because someone isn’t constantly in your life anymore does not rule them out a sources of support and encouragement. I have been grateful for realizing this concept.
This morning I pushed myself in rapidly getting ready for Mass in the twenty minutes I had between deciding to go at the particular time and when I had to leave. I chose to get to an early Mass at the chapel in Boston’s Prudential Center in order to have time for other errands during the day. Starting the day off with Mass as opposed to going in the evening like I initially planned ordered my day right in that I placed myself in the mindset I needed to overcome the pain I was still healing from, and to treat myself to a DD pumpkin muffin right after the service. It also placed me in the right mood I needed to be in for mending a broken relationship later in the day. There was much spiritual, mental, and nutetional fulfillment from the simple decision of getting out of bed earlier.
I stepped into CVS earlier today with my head weighed down by the stress and pain of the past week. As I was browsing for cards for an upcoming occasion, my ears perked up when Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” came over the store’s speakers. Even before I registered what the song was, my feet naturally started to move to the beat ,and before I knew it I was dancing in the card aisle. The upbeat tempo briefly made me as carefree as the dancers in the music video, undisturbed by the reactions of passers-by and just plainly enjoying themselves.
Hearing the song and doing a little dance to it meant a lot to me. First of all, I find dancing to be a big stress reliever, and I usually don’t hold back from breaking out into a small jig when I hear music on the street or in a store. It’s probably one of the few things I do out of spontaneity, and I loved the fact that today it happened in the right moment. Further, “Brave” had been my go-to song for encouragement over the summer when I was going through a tough transition and trying to find some confidence in myself. The song brought back the sense of empowerment I felt when I’d listen to it on my walk to the bus station for volunteering or work in the summer. It also gave me hope that just as listening to the song eventually faded out of my morning routine because I no longer needed it to build me up, so will my current situation eventually improve.