I’ve been trying to make time to read a little bit every night before I go to bed this week. My book of choice is always my new bible, Full Catastrophe Living. It’s comprehensive, but enjoyable and easy to read, and is helping me understand why I worry and how that worry is creating overall anxiety in my life.

At one point the author imagines someone trying to control the weather and how absurd that would be. Putting all this time and energy into ‘willing’ a certain event to take place that you have absolutely no control over.

Well, that’s where almost 100% of my anxiety comes from. Worrying about future events in an attempt to control them.
Anxiety

{Image}

Normally when I get stressed out it hits a breaking point and then I turn up the badass meter and go into ‘get shit done’ mode. That hasn’t happened this time around. For weeks I have been more stressed then I’ve ever been at any other time in my life (and once the dust settles I hope to share more of the details with you all.) I never reached my breaking point. It just got worse and worse. Finally, it hit me. There’s nothing I can do to make my situation better. I just have to accept certain things in life.

When I’m stressed about work or writing assignments I just caffeinate up and bust out the work I need to get done. When I’m worried about money I start brainstorming about things I can do to make some extra cash. I’ve never been at a point where I’m worrying myself sick over things I can’t prepare for or make better.

I’m having to learn the art of acceptance. Of letting go of expectations and control. I’m ROBBING myself of a happy and joyous life because all of my energy is being poured into a fruitless cause.

Anxiety3

{Image}

After I had this epiphany last week my stress levels immediately reduced. I’m still worrying, but now I almost laugh out loud when I think about all the time I’ve wasted obsessing over things that may never even happen, or things that have happened and I have no other choice than to accept them and move on.

Here are 10 great tips from Psychology Today that have helped me start to control my worry:

  • Problem solve; don’t worry. Knowing the difference between these two can be hard. If there is something you can do to change your situation, do it! If not, move on to tip 4.
  • Don’t waste time on ‘what if’  questions. Just stop it. They aren’t helping you and you can be using the time to read, watch tv, or go for a walk.
  • Don’t fool yourself into thinking that worry is helpful. I used to do this a lot. I rationalized worry because it would ‘prepare’ me for the worst case scenario. No, if the worst case scenario does happen it will still suck just as bad if you spent 3 months worrying about it.
  • Learn to accept uncertainty. That’s life.
  • Try to life your mood. I worry WAY less when I’m  happy!
  • Don’t try to suppress unwanted worries. Don’t ignore your worries or feel bad if they come up. Just acknowledge that you are thinking about them. Accept it, and move past it.
  • Manage the time you worry. If you really feel like you HAVE to worry than set aside 5 minutes a day to worry. Worry your little heart out. Then move on.
  • Change ‘what if’ worries to ‘how can I’ worries. If you play the ‘what if’ game then play it all the way out. I love doing this with my students. So what if the worst happens? How do you think you’d respond? What would it really feel like? Think it through rationally and you may find it isn’t as bad as you anticipated.
  • Prioritize sleep and write worries down before going to bed. Worrying can keep you up at night and one of the best tools to control it is to write all your worries down. It helps to purge them from your mind so that you can sleep better.
  • Stay in the moment. If I find myself getting really worked up over worrying about something I’ll try to stop and ‘be here now.’ Chances are, wherever ‘here’ is for you isn’t that bad of a place to be. I’m usually sitting at home with Salem, or watching TV, or driving. Life ain’t that bad is it?

Anxiety1{Image}

Are my stress problems all solved? Absolutely not. I’ve been so stressed for so long this Fall that my TMJ is the worst it’s ever been, my digestion is shot, and my back is one solid knot. I think it will take me a few weeks to truly feel like my old self again, but that’s okay. I ain’t going nowhere.

Why do you think you stress? 
Do you often worry about future events? 

I consider myself someone pretty familiar with the world of higher education.

I have a Bachelors and Masters degree in Psychology.

I worked for 3 years as an academic advisor at Pensacola State College.

I have been a TA/Adjunct at two universities for 8 years now.

Despite all the experience I have as a student, a advisor, and as an instructor I’m still shocked when I hear someone say they are $100,000+ in debt with student loans and don’t have a MD or PhD. I can count at least a few personal friends who took out that much just to pay for a BA or BA/MA combined.

Last week I came across a status on the Feminist Breeders facebook page. Here was her post:

Let’s play the “Do You Owe More In Student Loans Than Me?” Game.

(I love this game. Only in America, I swear.) The person who owes the most amount MORE than I do (and can prove it) gets a free subscription to TFB. If you already have a subscription, you can gift it to a friend.

I owe $127,132.73 so far. Go!

With over 300 comments on the post now I can safely say I don’t understand why anyone would think it’s okay to take out that much loan debt for anything outside of a PhD/MD/JD. For the record, the feminist breeder spent almost $130,000 on a BA in Business and a Masters in Public Health.

Debt

A few of my favorite responses:

  • From a bankruptcy attorney (oh, the irony) “$210,240.32 for me AND $113,567.70 for my husband so our family owes $323K. It’s a GIANT JOKE. So we pay as little as possible. If no legislation passes then we’ll get the debt forgiven in 25 years.”
  • “About $230k, plus $30k of hubby’s. Went into medical school with ZERO debt, not even $50 on a credit card, came out a quarter million deep. Wonder why American health care is so expensive? Also, my school (and most others) raised the tuition 3-5 grand a year and continue to do so like clockwork. Newer grads are in even more debt.”
  • “I have 280k from law school. Four years summer sessions etc .. I don’t even make enough to pay them. I can prove it … shamefully.”

Most of the responses from people living from outside the US were (and I’m summarizing) “What the F is wrong with Americas education system?”

Debt1

I asked my friends if I was being naive/ignorant to think that students should know better when taking out $100,000 for a Bachelors degree in Psychology (with a starting salary around $8-9 an hour.) Most of the responses agreed that it was ludicrous. When I started taking out loans as a Junior I knew it wasn’t ‘free money’ and that I’d have to pay it back. It was always very real to me. I think it’s irresponsible for students to be taking out debt they will never be able to repay. This student loan debt crisis is having a profound economic and cultural impact. Their non-repayment is contributing to our shitty economy, and had they graduated with less debt they’d be able to have more disposable income to spend which would boost our economy. Graduates are so in debt they are delaying marriage and having fewer children (because they are waiting so long to have kids and they can’t afford to have as many.)

So, who’s fault is it? The students for not knowing any better? The educators/advisors for not warning students? The parents for not helping the students make sound financial decisions? The banks/government for setting up students to fail?

Reading through that thread made me feel really, really good about the 21,700 I currently owe. I’m able to pay about 20-30% more than my minimum payment every month and should have it paid off a few years early. I always had at least one job when I was a student (sometimes three) and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expecting students to work part-time while in school. Learning how to juggle responsibilities is part of life.

Don’t even get me started on how I think the idea of college education as a ‘necessity’ for success in life is a total farce made up to force people to become indentured servants. I can’t stand that mentality that young adults have to find a career that they are passionate about that will bring them satisfaction in life, and they have to decide that before they turn 20. I don’t know a single person who is always happy with their career choice, and who wakes up every single day eagerly awaiting to sit down at their desk for the next 9 hours and doesn’t look at the clock at least every 30 minutes counting down to when they can come home and watch Netflix.

I always tell my students to look for a career that strikes a balance between doing something they are interested in, and something that will pay the bills. You want passion and meaning in life? Find a hobby. Don’t expect your 9 to 5 to do that for you. Unfortunately, many in my generation did and they are miserable at age 30 working in jobs they hate and stuck there since they have to stay employed to pay off their student loan debt.

/endrant

 

Are you comfortable with the student loan debt you have?

How do you think this debt crisis could be fixed? 

 

Here’s what I did for FriSatSun

October 13th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (18 Comments)

I warmly received these gorgeous flowers.october3As well as 3 pints of ice cream (one was not for me but I took a few spoonfuls anyway.)october2I took a walk. Something I hadn’t done in months. No running this weekend. Just walking.october1I read a lot from my new favorite obsession.octoberI laughed when I immediately recognized my entire life summed up in one comic shared by the lovely CarlaOctober4I snuggled with my favorite cuddle buddy.October5I blinked and it was over.

What were your big FriSatSun adventures?