(stressception. Do people even say that any more?)
With 28 minutes to go until midnight ticks over and this post will technically be late, I think I’m in an appropriately stressed mindset to talk about stress.
Stress has always been a strange feeling for me because I attribute it to a lack or failure of planning; if you consider that you’re probably going to be awake for sixteen hours a day, every day suddenly you don’t run out of time for anything, you only run out of available time because there are enough hours in the day to do your stuff, you’ve just spent half of them playing Clash of Kings. This is why I tend to take on far more projects than seem reasonable, or even possible, because I know that your time can essentially be limitless if it’s managed properly. While I’d say writing is my greatest skill, I’d put time management and personal organisation pretty high up the list, just after my skill in picking adorable nerdy t-shirts from Teeturtle. This also means that I’ll often come across like a bit of a dick when talking about managing one’s time – and why I’ve not explicitly written about stress on this blog before – because my answer to someone not being able to juggle several responsibilities at once is always a dismissive ‘just manage your time better’.
But this week I’ve been very stressed, as my scheduling has broken down somewhat; a combination of screwed-up sleep patterns because of some inconvenient but actually very sensible doctors’ orders, the boundless enthusiasm of starting a new studying technique and resulting relentless desire to work, and the surprisingly difficult world of starting an ambitious new project from scratch has left me tired, and worried, and pissed off for large periods of the day. I don’t have time to walk every day, I can’t talk to my friends because I need to spend four straight hours with my nose in a book, and I may or may not have ignored my parents’ texts for the last two days. But I’ve not suddenly gotten worse at planning my time, I think I’ve just hit my limit in terms of the number of hours a day I can commit to working.
On Tuesday, for instance, I was up at nine, and didn’t stop working until eleven that evening; on Wednesday I was working from 7am to about 2am the next day (with breaks for playing footy and watching Bake-Off in between), and yesterday I was up for twelve hours, and worked for all but one of them. And I’m still falling behind on a few magazines, and my Old Icelandic work has been shelved indefinitely until I can cobble some free time together.
Hitting my limit has had one significant advantage though, and that is my newfound awareness of stress limits in general. In the past I’d be dismissive of other peoples’ stresses because I’d not experienced hitting a limit in that kind of way, and so found sympathy difficult; now that I know that limits exist, and roughly what mine is, I’m realising that other people have limits, that are very likely reached after different amounts of pressure. So when my mate complains about having worked for x hours a day, Past James would have brushed this off because they’d been awake for 2x hours and so shouldn’t be complaining; but Present James knows that their limit may well be x-1 and they’re killing themselves as it is, and my bluntness isn’t helping.
Tomorrow is the last day of my stressful week (hopefully); I’ve made a conscious effort to get ahead of where I should be and – fingers crossed – everything should be sorted by Sunday afternoon, giving me Sunday evening, the whole of Monday, and a total of two nights off to screw around with Until Dawn and see my friends again. Of course now that I’ve said that, my house will be inexplicably engulfed in flames overnight, my notes and computer will burn to crisps and I’ll have to restart everything, but for the time being I’m optimistic.
Incoherent, stressed, and optimistic.