Inbetweeners: Rules

Note: This is a part of a small collection of short pieces written when I couldn’t decipher what emotion I was feeling. There I found the “in-between.” These pieces were written quickly when my brain needed an outlet and then lightly edited later.

I’m ashamed at the raw sting I feel under my eyes. It’s the second time I’ve cried in my car this week, and I’m frantically drying my eyes just in case someone looks over at me as we wait for the green light.

They probably won’t, but the “if” looms large in my mind.

I’ve trained myself to swallow my anxiety tears unless I’m in

1.) the shower,

2.) my office’s bathroom (only if it’s empty),

3.) a stairwell (it also has to be empty),

4.) my bed,

5.) or my car.

Part of my training has been tied to spending time on my makeup and scolding myself into not ruining it. I’ve broken this rule a few times when the panic attack makes me forget all of that, and I’ve cried in

1.) Dobb’s dining hall at Mizzou (RIP),

2.) the hall coordinator office at Jones (also RIP),

3.) outside of Ri Ra in Midtown,

4.) in the bus on the way to Delta Chi formal,

5.) and a Waffle House.

I hate crying almost more than I hate vomiting (which always makes me cry). Sadness (anxiety-induced or not) has been something I’ve always struggled with emoting. I feel constant guilt because my tears might as well be over spilt milk compared to the problems of others/the world.

My brain is sneaky enough to make me feel shitty about feeling shitty.

Sometimes Sunday Scaries turn into Monday Bad Moods that last all week. Sometimes a pang of despair hits the bottom of my stomach so quick that I’m numb for a second and then it’s like nothing happened. Sometimes hormones activate the tightness in my chest and the feelings I’ve tried to forget.

But most of the time I try to follow my rules. Most of the time I don’t feel the salty sting under my eyes. Most of the time the little happies hush the sads (if not for at least a little bit). Most of the time I know better.

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On your marks…

It’s been nearly two months.

It’s been nearly two months since I walked across the stage to a chorus of cheering and vuvuzelas (courtesy of Naif Bartlett), giggled at Dean Kurpius and promptly returned to the mini Prosecco bottle under my chair that I smuggled into Hearnes between my boobs.

It’s been nearly two months of waking up in my pink and paisley patterned walls of my room in my family home, always slightly confused that my bed is the same from my East Campus apartment.

Trying to figure out what light I am supposed to bear.

Trying to figure out what light I am supposed to bear, tbh. I don’t know if I am part of “the wise.”

For someone who uses the phrase “I’m crying” as often as I do, it takes unexpected timing and random things to actually make me shed tears. I didn’t cry during or after either of my graduation ceremonies (my makeup looked to good to do that, honestly). I didn’t cry when hugging the best friends I made and the ladies that lived with me for the crazy school year (we had our apartment pet dildo sign a travel journal and danced to One Direction’s “Drag Me Down” instead). I even held it (mostly) together when I drove home alone in my stuffed car when sad or overly reminiscent songs popped up on my mix CDs.

A T-shirt made me cry.

An oversized, disgusting neon Mizzou Student Health T-shirt that I was pulling out for my pajamas my first night home made me sob. Classic.

Pretty accurate description of me before gathering my Tiger's Lair troops on game days.

Pretty accurate description of me before gathering my Tiger’s Lair troops on game days.

I thought I had been adequately preparing myself for the big rip of the Band-Aid. I had been slowly becoming more and more “irrelevant” in the Mizzou world. I finished out my last season in charge of the football spirit section, Tiger’s Lair, and picked my new successor. I had already split from live-in ResLife duties, said goodbye to my favorite rickety hall, Jones, and was finishing up my duties of giving tours through Defoe-Graham (partially in an ankle brace). I welcomed the new class of Summer Welcome Leaders and did my crying about missing those times last summer. Except for being honored as a member of the 2016 class of Mizzou ’39, I was successfully starting to fade into the black and gold background. I thought that made me ready.

Shoutout to the legacy of ladies that make up one of my favorite traditions.

Shoutout to the Dobbs area and the legacy of ladies that make up one of my favorite traditions.

But, in actuality, that was my least favorite question to answer. I could easily converse with people that asked “What are you doing after you graduate?” and tell them how I wasn’t exactly sure but applying to this and that and had confidence that I would figure it out. I would always fumble when asked “Are you ready to graduate?” Of course, I was ready to leave the stress and schedule of classes and extracurriculars. I’ve always been slightly apprehensive of approaching change, but this was one I knew was coming and was too busy to even fully worry about it. So, instead of letting myself even contemplate that question more, I just ripped the Band-Aid off by leaving behind a lifestyle I was comfortable with less than 12 hours after receiving my diploma cover.

Although I would spend some days at home shaking and slightly holding my breath to try to stifle a panic attack or hopping on my bike to ride miles away from job applications, I don’t think I could’ve done it a different way. I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple weeks now, but there have been times where I couldn’t really grasp what all the different transitionary feelings meant. I wasn’t always sure what I was scared, excited, anxious or ready for. I just knew I felt different.

But, I’ve been lucky to have such a supportive family that let me come back home and gave me time to figure things out. I’ve been lucky to have friends who sent me job postings and wished me luck for interviews. I’ve been lucky to land a job only a couple months after graduating.

Looking at my little magazine children.

Looking lovingly at my little magazine children.

But, even when that landed in my lap I didn’t know exactly what to do with it. It’s a job, I should just want that, right? The people were cool and the company vibe seemed right, but it was different than what I thought people thought I should be doing and in a place I had only spent a maximum of a week in. Part of me didn’t think I deserved the offer and that I wouldn’t be good enough. It took two days of walking around Columbus, Ohio, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for me to really listen to my gut and accept the job.

Completing my education has taught me a lot more in the past couple months than probably my last month of college. Things don’t always have to be exactly what you imagined to be right. And I’ll always be kind of scared of change, but I know that in the end it will all work out. I didn’t work my butt off for four years to not feel like I deserve this. So, whether I am completely ready or not, I’m going to start this new race.