04 September 2012

Cake and Blessings

It's amazing how finding yourself completely out of your comfort level and (sometimes) in over your head makes you grateful for the little things.

Being a pessimist by nature doesn't help when you begin graduate school and find yourself on a new campus with a heavy backpack (which you swore you'd never wear again), passing hundreds of complete strangers, sitting in classes that focus on completely alien material, with reams of assignments due and the thesis (which you still can't quite wrap your brain around) already looming over you bulbous and black as every professor in every class hammers the "don't delay it" nail like John Henry. And, strangely enough, the hours of the day neither lengthened nor increased though your workload is.

At moments it's like wanting a bite-sized portion of real life (you know, because we all need to grow up) and getting the entire cake shoved in your face; and you the idiot because you can't fit it all in your mouth. And you're drowning in cake and you wonder, in between gasps for air, what you ever saw in cake anyway. What's the purpose of cake? Really?

It's been a roller coaster ride so far. And I'm the deer with headlights-eyes strapped into the seat, and no idea what I'm doing on this ride, when it will end, if and how I'll survive, and if there's a remote possibility 1) it will be worth it and 2) if I'll ever be brave enough for the "big-kid" roller coaster called DISSERTATION.

Ok... it's not all bad. It's going to get better.

That's what I have to keep reminding myself. It's very needed, that conscious positive thought process, when you're wired to imagine worst-case scenarios so you are never unpleasantly surprised.

And so I pray a lot. And I try to pray grateful prayers a lot more. Sometimes that's what keeps me sane. I've compiled quite a list. And realized that, though I dearly miss my life of leisure and dreaming, this world of gritty academia and plans for future jobs and education—economic survival—has its virtues too. And that God moves in that world too, though sometimes He's harder to sense through the knotted chaos in my head.

So I've started a list of "grateful for"s.

It's not close to a complete list. But it's long; and I thought life was so hard.

It's an interesting thing I've found (or been reminded of) these last two weeks. Counting blessings actually brightens the picture. And recharges your brain. And buoys you up.

Honestly, I'm a blessed girl. Funny how it's the uncomfortable moments that have helped me see that. But, it's good they're good for something.

Next time you're royally stressed, may I suggest this remedy: just start a prayer with a list of things you're grateful for. Or write them down in a notebook. Or on Facebook. List them. Even small, silly things. The beauty of a particular building. That you didn't spill any salad dressing on your shirt at lunch. That the sun is shining but it's windy so it's not super hot. That your car headlights work. It's amazing how your eyes open then and see all the tender mercies, especially the small ones you'd never notice otherwise, that accompany you every day.

I mean...even if I feel like an idiot with cake all over my face and hair...the colors are bright, the cake was soft, and whatever actually landed in my mouth doesn't taste half bad. Once I get over my shock and actually start chewing.

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