Empathy on Steroids (not the drug)

I’ve been thinking for a long time about how to put this into words, and it hasn’t been easy. Heck, I’m not even sure the following words will be the best way to explain it. Even so, they’re the only words I have right now, and I hope you’ll be able to understand all the same.

Maybe you remember that time in your childhood when you knew for certain that something you’d done or said was wrong. I’m talking about the immediate feeling afterwards that comes from observing the effect, such as seeing the other kid look sad or start crying. It’s the feeling that tells you that you messed up, and that it wasn’t right that something you did hurt the other person. For me, it’s always felt like a pit that opens in my chest, somewhere above my stomach. It appears instantly, and depending on the situation, the hole may or may not close. It’s the feeling that compels you to apologize, to try making up for what you did. It’s a learning moment, one in which we begin to understand what empathy is.

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Dreams Can Be a B

It’s Summer vacation, and I’m not used to being up this early. So, why am I?

Well, originally I thought it was going to be because I got excited last night/early this morning about maybe starting to clean my room today. I went over the Pinterest board I made especially for this task, full of neat little organizational tips and tricks to declutter my space.

Instead, I am up this early because dreams can be a real bitch sometimes.

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The Strange Sorrow of Summertime

Huh…sounds like the title of a novel. I’m not sure whether it would be a good novel or not, but I digress.

During every semester before a break, I yearn for said break. I look at everything I have to do for class, look at personal errands beside those tasks, and I count the days until I can be lazy as possible. The things I like to do when lazy during a break sometime manifest most clearly when I procrastinate for one reason or another. I watch YouTube videos, play a bit on my characters in an MMORPG, or browse the Internet mindlessly. When I’m in the thick of coursework and all the stress that comes with it, I wish for nothing more than respite in the form of not having to do anything related to academia.

The break we take for Summer is the shining jewel in the crown of this hope. I don’t just get weeks—I get months. There is suddenly so much time to spend pretty much however I want to spend it, and after all the stress of this last Spring semester in particular, this specific Summer break was something I sorely needed. I dreamed about not having to wake up early to catch a bus to campus for class, and instead being able to wake up whenever to do whatever as I pleased (for the most part). I reasoned that it would be a wonderful way to recover and prepare for my last semester (!!!) of undergraduate studies, and where Spring was hectic, Summer would be swell.

And then…then I remembered why part of me always gets sad around this time.

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On Your Mark…Steady…

Once I turned in my only final exam this last Tuesday, my second-to-last semester of university was done.

This was a semester unlike any I’ve had before. There was stress, which wasn’t new, but it was stress that came in different forms. Some of those forms were positive, while others were the usual negative. In any case, I got through it, and in the process I got to experience a number of unique experiences. There were a bunch of firsts that made my family proud, and I did some things I never would have expected to be courageous enough to do—and yet, I did them! This semester also stands out as my last full-time semester, since I just have one more class to take when Fall rolls around. Getting to this point in and of itself has been a journey in the making, something I’ve been wanting since I was a freshman for the first time seven years ago.

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Why My Brain Sucks 4

Two words keep coming at me: Graduate. School.

There have been a few professors who have mentioned it to me several times because they think I could do well. A provost even suggested that as the next step after the research competition award reception. So many people I started the program with are graduating, and I know some of them are going to attend graduate school.

It seems like a commonsense thought, so why is it the focus of the fourth installment in my Why My Brain Sucks series?

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What it REALLY Means to be “Triggered”

If you’ve been on the Internet for any amount of time, chances are you have encountered the word “triggered,” or have seen a “trigger warning.” It became a meme, but as many things often unfortunately do, it was then turned into a disqualifying phrase. To say someone has been “triggered” has been synonymous with calling someone overemotional, their responses overdone, and designating what they have to say as less-than because they responded in a certain way. It has also been used to mean someone strongly disagrees with a stance. I have seen this most often used against the discussion of social issues, namely feminism. Because of course, “overemotional” responses can be disqualified as valid right out of the gate, right?

As someone who has struggled with mental illness–as well as someone who has known sufferers of mental illnesses–I started using this word about six or seven years ago, and it wasn’t meant to disqualify a position or a person. Me and other sufferers I’ve known have used it to alert someone to our mental state, which could mean the difference between a good mental day and a bad mental day. It could even go unsaid verbally, but there would often be clear nonverbal signals that let other people know, “I’m not okay.” Likewise, “trigger warnings” have been used to alert people with certain stressors to avoid content in order to not experience undesired symptoms.

But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s take a look around, shall we?

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“I DID A GOOD THING :D”

Last week, in the third installment of Why My Brain Sucks, I said there was an upcoming research competition I’d be participating in. Seeing as I contracted food poisoning a couple of days afterward, I haven’t been able to recount the experience in text form until now.

I couldn’t sleep a wink the night before. I think I got less than five hours of sleep, and only from what can be called two glorified naps. Regardless, I woke up at 5:30 AM to get ready for the 7:30 AM bus out of town, dressed all spiffy in a slacks suit. There was another student on the bus sitting in front of me, so we were able to have ridiculous conversation in order to wake ourselves up from being complete zombies. A television show plot combing plants and CSI came up, but we thought it was really awesome at the time. I had originally been planning on taking a nap on the way there, and I think I took a short one just before the bus got to our stop, but I didn’t mind the least. I also value a hearty conversation, no matter how silly (especially when I’m sleepy).

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