Defined as Numbers: Exam Season Stress Relieve

I’ve been struggling with major stress because I’m facing 4 AP exams, SAT, and finals over the course of 3 weeks. I’ve never experienced so much restlessness during the day but failed to do anything due to the lack of motivation.

I was in a helpless and lonely state when I turned to my friends. Even though they were kind enough to respond to my texts, the dread of sadness still lingered and haunted my mind. I noticed that this feeling is coming from inside of me and no amount of pity and encouragement from the outside will help me if I, myself, don’t chose to change it. So I hopped onto the treadmill again.

The first 10 minutes I was making it: not too intense nor too slacked off. But a few seconds later, something clicked inside my head. I set a goal for myself, the last time I worked out, that is to burn 200 calories in 20 minutes. I’m not sure about how accurately the system measures my efforts, but I didn’t care about that. All I could care about is getting that 200.

This state reminded of what I am doing for school and academics. Pouring my body and soul into getting a 95% grade in my classes, 5 on the AP exams, and 1550 on the SAT. But I realized that these numbers are same as the 200 showing up next to the label “calories” on the monitor; they are all generalizations used to define goals. Numbers, in nature, are simplifications of the nuances of life, made for the convenience of sorting individuals by erasing their uniqueness. They are easy to think about and the simple statement of “getting another 5 point” serves as powerful motivation.

But it’s hard to avoid becoming the numbers. I didn’t make it to 200 calories, and I most likely wouldn’t get all my desired test scores, but I know I’m more than just the numbers. Moreover, I’m are not my goals, either, because placing too much emphasis on the expectation can only do more harm than good. There must be a distinction between the stereotypical anchor points that we pull ourselves towards and the invincibility of our competency by believing in our true, immeasurable identities.

There is no reason for you to stop believing in yourself. Use the numbers as motivations, but do not let it shrink and define you.

To the points that died in vain

“I should’ve have lost the two of you. I missed you guys and I need you guys so much. But death is permanent, and I must understand the fact that I can’t get you guys back. I regret my decisions and actions at the time so much. I shouldn’t have let you guys go, and assumed that you are doing okay.”

On the chemistry test, I got stuck on the last part of the FRQ and I fixated on it for 40 minutes even though I haven’t made much progress. Fear and frustration occupied much of my rational thinking and emotions. It was the biggest attack of fear that I’ve experienced all year and I remember breaking down and crying to my teacher a little bit about it.

But everything has to make sense now that I know how it ended. I did as well on the FRQ as I did on the MCQ. Instead of failing the FRQ, I did okay. But what surprised me was 2 points that I missed on the multiple choice. One of them I straight up forgot to bubble in on the scantron and the other I made a mistake marking the right choice. Two points that made a 10 percent impact on the test that I could’ve saved if I just double checked my answer and let the question that I was stuck on go.

The fear at the time didn’t make sense anymore.

Through a random turn of events, the world looks a lot different than what I thought it would be. This taught me that it’s okay to freak out on a question, but I must be able to move on and set that aside the worrying thoughts, knowing that I still have the power to make the next choice that will benefit me the most.

In life, though, this goes back to the concept of the uncertainty of the future I learned about in absurdism. With so much happening in my life as a highschool junior, it’s hard to lose track of the “now” and determine the values of my actions based on some result and expectations like getting into a good college. When I didn’t do so well on a test, my thoughts would immediately spiral down to failing a class, not getting into a good college, and ultimately not being able to become who I dream to be.

But the thing is, there isn’t any way to guarantee a future, all you can do is what’s happening now. If you can be authentic with your every step, making the decision for yourself and not for the hope,

trust me, you’ll be fine.

The Conversation with a Stranger

C: It sounds like you might also be holding yourself to the expectation to be in control of your cognitive state, and that might be stressful.

M: Should we not be in control of our cognitive state?

C: We are always under the influence of our surroundings. There are hundreds of people that we crossroads with, and thousands of things to take care of in our own lives. It makes sense how difficult it might be for someone to be in control of the constant twirling of life.

M: Yet we have to somehow push through it.

C: Just remember that you are heading somewhere. There’s a place waiting for you to settling in and to finally relax. Every emotion is guiding us somewhere and building our lives to have meaning. I’m so glad that your emotions guided you here today.

M: That’s an interesting thing isn’t it? Because our emotions do in fact guide us and we can see that everything that has ever happened to us led us to this very moment, yet despite the feeling that things do happen for a reason, my inability to see the whole of it or the end of it is really bothering me.

C: Perhaps it’s better not to see the whole of everything, for that might be overwhelming. Since no one can be completely all-knowing, how do we know that there’s a whole truth out there… Maybe knowing more just leads to more unanswered questions. This nature of life makes it infinitely subjective. Only we would know the endings of our lives and the places where we end up.

M: This is spot on. My issue is that I have hard time accepting that whatever truth lies before us, it is not meant for us to know, which leaves you to live in a sort-of blind faith that things are going to be fine. At the same time, since you have already had a glimpse of it, you can never truly return to the comfort of ignorance and as you said, it is entirely subjective, which often makes it lonely and hard to express with other people, especially if you do not have many close people by your side to begin with.

C: Wow…chatting with you makes me so happy…it’s often difficult to share feelings with someone else because it takes so much courage and patience to formulate such complex emotions into words. It would be the best feeling in the world for one to have a connection with another being without the restriction of such complications.

M: It really would. But perhaps this is what makes the game of life fun – the reward of doing the seemingly impossible. To both find another person you can delve into the abyss with and a way to express all of these intense emotions and thoughts into language.

C: That does sound very beautiful. + ❤️

7 Cups

August 2020

Ending to My Club Experience: Lessons Learned

I’ve been keeping a venting channel for the many extracurricular that I’m doing as a highschool Junior. I’m doing an average of 6 hours of club meetings and I have to host the great majority of them, so that adds to the pressure immensely.

For one of my biggest club, we’ve decided to take a break. Scrolling through my venting journal, it took me back to all the moments of pain and joy that carried me through this journey.

My proudest achievement is being about to let go the fear of other people’s opinions of me and focus on what really mattered. Taking that step back allowed me the much needed space to breathe. Another one is persistence because preparing for two meetings to host every week isn’t easy, and I worked very hard on it. All those difficult evenings of stressing out before the meeting gave me an insight into how I handle myself in high stress situations. Those moments were the lowest, yet, most memorable moments of my week.

From the lows there are also highs, where I was able to see the impact that I’m having on my club members, building a community in which people care about. It’s the magic of bonding with people that I drove me through the repeating trials of suffering, working, and achieving, all happening in the span of a single 6-9 pm. It got me to know how it feels to really work hard for something, even if you don’t really achieve anything the end.

How suffocating it feels when all the doors are closed and how liberating the light feels when a window suddenly opens.

In the end, what mattered the most is building my resilient mindset, and the real warmth that I experienced when the group worked together, when I felt that people have got my back, and I belonged in this community.

A Choice to Savor Consciously

We go about most of our days as empty-headed zombies. For me, being locked inside my room because of quarantine robs me of my passion and motivation. However, an interesting phenomenon I found was that it was easier for me to do creative work during the hour of the sunset. I think this is because of the immense passion I felt during one sunset walk; buried in messy thoughts from school, the beauty of nature captivated me and released me from my mental spiraling.

One View Outside the Window

Since that experience, I consistently go for a sunset walk, during which the warm lights enable the cultivation of many great ideas for my writing pieces. I also started a personal blog named Conscious Hour to record some of the ideas and compile them into my personal philosophy. I chose to savor the moment consciously because I believe that in a day of our busy, disorientating lives, finding a time of spiritual connection allows our creative mindset and passion to flow through the blockade of negative thoughts and emotions. Doing so, we can better ground ourselves through reflection and deep breaths, before moving forward.