Everyone knows, university is a challenge. But I didn’t expect the challenges that have come with recess, the holiday between academic terms and semesters.
On one hand, drifting in limbo is a total, blissful opposite to the constant pressure of semester. My Netflix and Chill sessions with my dog definitely peaked during the first week, and I couldn’t have been happier ignoring the mess my bedroom had become. Finally, all expectations (or academic ones, at least) were suspended. I could feel human again.
But after the eighth day of comfort clothing, the joy of it had kind of worn off.
So I picked up old hobbies with new energy. I painted a couple of watercolours pieces, and taught myself a new song on the piano, learned how to cook a few new dishes. I did a bit of my French holiday homework, caught up with old friends of an evening. General pottering around at home during the day. I cleared my room a little, reluctantly, or to be more precise, shifted the displaced piles of my Res room around, without a particular sense of purpose. Guilty as charged.
And then I went to the doctor, and found out I had chronic tonsillitis. I was booked in for an operation barely a week after the first appointment.
So I sang, and I played piano, and I sang some more. I was determined to use my voice as much as possible, to celebrate my sound, to hold onto it in some form with recordings, in case it changed after the operation as the doctor said it may (more on that in a later post).
The operation came and went without a hitch. I arrived home from hospital, dosed up on too many kinds of painkillers for me to keep count. I remember lying down on my bed. I blinked. And I lost hours and hours. When I woke again, it was time for my next lot of pills. And so it continued both day and night…
For two weeks, I didn’t leave my home. At times the physical pain made me grateful I didn’t need to go anywhere, didn’t need to exist beyond my warm duvet, or the couch from which I could warmly watch TV. But as I grew stronger, the constant dizziness began to suffocate me. The dulling of my pain I felt more as a dulling of my senses. All I felt able to do was to sleep, or to sit, staring blankly as life moved around me.
My brother went to gym, fitness training, sports practices. My mom did a thousand jobs, working and keeping house, running endless errands, while my dad left early each morning like clockwork only to get home late from the office, and to work some more. And I sat. And I stared. And I tried to read, but couldn’t focus. And I tried to write, but my sentences were blurry at best. I slept. I scrolled blindly through my social media feeds, watched hundreds of unnecessary videos on YouTube. I texted friends and caught up on their progresses, their travels through the world – Greece, France, Brazil.
And I willed the days to go by until I would be well.
That’s when it really started hitting me hard.
Restless, with sleep as my only alternative. I began to miss the people from my university life with a new fervour. Each inside joke or half-remembered story that I knew they would tell so much better than I could, every little reminder of all the good I’d experienced, all the things I’d learned from them, set me on edge. Their holiday business and social plans coincided catastrophically with my recovery. And still I sat, longing, dosed up, comically swollen and hoarse, medicinally demotivated.
Time moved too slowly, broadly rolling around the statistical two-week “you should start feeling better now” mark. I reduced my pain medication as drastically as I could manage, and felt like a new human each time I woke with less in my system. When the day came for me to venture outside with decreased risk of secondary infection, I exploded out of the house, and enjoyed hours at the mall I usually avoided like the plague (and was rewarded with a great pair of new boots!).
Suddenly, though, I realised the total lack of social events or available friends in my area. It was like all the adventures I’d been longing for had dried up just as I’d gotten well enough to explore them. And when there were invitations, the logistics simply weren’t in my favour. Disappointment tasted just as bitter as the codeine had.
It was time for the second diagnosis of my holiday – FOMO. The Fear Of Missing Out. Yep. It’s very cringe-worthy and was probably last popular as a term in 2010 (thanks Dad), but there’s truth to it. The thought of some crazy student escapade, hovering elusively barely beyond my reach, after so long spent imagining just how good it would be to be well again, has been agony for me. It feels as though every passing day has brought more energy for me, with less to spend it on.
Thankfully, recess is almost over. Who would have thought that that’s what I’d be wishing for? I swear, contentment is a talent. I’m consistently humbled by those of you who can channel satisfaction on a regular basis…
Any chance you’d like to meet up for coffee, and teach me how?