This is my life right now: as most of you I was (joyfully) fired from my job at the University of Pennsylvania Health System in November. I had applied to return to The College of New Jersey, which I had originally attended from 2002-2006 without attaining a degree, less than a week before I was fired. There is something to be said about a responsive Universe that meets us where we are when we act with intention because within a matter of weeks I had the best of all possible scenarios - I had been readmitted to TCNJ and have been able to collect unemployment so, at least thus far, my only loans have been for class and not for living expenses.
Maybe because I loved the gender studies classes I took there more than almost any other, maybe because it's a degree that I can complete in two semesters, and maybe because I'm just trying to induce my parents to transient ischemic attacks, I am a women's and gender studies major. Compound that with the rest of my activities right now - a third course in Meisner Technique for acting and a two-day-a-week internship at First Person Arts, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to memoir and documentary, and they don't see me doing anything that is potentially fiscally sound. Mind you, they just cosigned my college loan application, but this is a conversation we've been having for far longer than that (and won't be addressed here at this time).
Without considering any additional reading I'll have to do for multiple research papers, my semester started with the purchase of 19 books and the download of over 50 additional resources, mostly scholarly articles. I have been reading at nights, on Thursdays before class (my only week day off of other activities before 5 PM), after class (and soon to be rehearsal as well) on Saturdays, and all day Sundays. I read walking the threeish miles from the train station to campus, because I take peak hour trains and can't bring my bike. In fact, I read out loud in an East Tennessee accent becuase that it one of the things I'm currently working on in my Meisner training.
In short, I have never taken on this much at once in my entire life; nor have I ever had higher expectations of myself to accomplish all that I set out to do at the highest echelons of achievement. For once, this isn't just a new kick like most people's New Year's resolutions that are unreasonable and are thus doomed to speedy failure. Instead, as a result of over a year of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual preparation, sometimes slow and sometimes lurching forward in spurts, and always unbelievably supported by friends, my flatmate, my fellow actors & instructor, a - I dunno what to call him, let's say loyal companion - all of whom, often without knowing it, have been teaching me to be an emotionally mature and present adult who refuses to settle for less than what he is capable of achieving or receiving.
I've learned how to prioritize, breaking readings assigned over several weeks into reasonable chunks with deadlines. I've learned how to let a man cook me a meal and then serve it to me, by candlelight, with flowers in the room, without thinking that it's corny or insincere. I've learned how to listen, take things personally and respond truthfully - it might have been training for the stage and screen, but it's made an immeasurable difference in my life.
Have I mentioned that this is the longest in my adult life that I have been without a major depressive episode, or even a hint at moving in the direction of one? I have never been so happy in my life, and still this is just the beginning. This year will see opportunities to get my work published, act in as groundbreaking stage productions with actors and a director who I admire immensely, and obtain my college degree. I should also mention that I've probably never been this stressed, and yet the unbelievably hectic schedule has forced me into such consideration for my time that I've never used it better or felt so productive. It is the positive kind of stress that makes one stronger and more resilient.