Bobby Pins

My mother helped me get dressed before dance recitals. She shaded my eyes in blue and painted my lips red. She pulled my hair back into a bun, secured it in place with a dozen bobby pins, and hairsprayed all the flyaways into place.

One recital, however, we forgot the bobby pins at home.

In a panic, we used an entire bottle of hairspray to keep the bun on my head for two minutes of choreography.

Before I went on stage I kept my hands firmly planted on my head, hoping the spray in my hair would dry but not attach to my fingers. My peers danced on stage with confidence, and I followed slightly behind the music, holding my neck still during the performance.

“Operating without bobby pins” is the theme of October. I have three midterms and six papers in the next three weeks, and I’m using all the resources at my disposal to keep it together. I’m creating self-imposed deadlines for drafts of my papers and starting to review notes two weeks out for my tests by making a study schedule. Every day, however, there is something that knocks me off my plan. I have to go to class, eat something near three meals a day, socialize, exercise, take a shower, study, and sleep.

Stress is becoming a familiar part of life as I approach the middle of the semester, and through the use of the rec center’s group fitness classes, fun extracurriculars, and occasionally taking a moment to breathe, I’m managing it. Extended periods of stress in high school created a deep impact on my emotional state, but college is proving a great place to experiment with routines that work best for me.

A late night study session

Learning how to unwind, cope, and exist as an independent person are part of the college curriculum you won’t find in a syllabus. I’m figuring out how to exist apart from my family, and in this moment that means communicating with myself and those around me about how I can best manage school and life.

I’ve got to learn how to color my eyes blue and my lips red by myself.

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