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.
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.