Birds, snakes, and transcriptions: why it’s okay I didn’t get anything done today

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After accepting a free parakeet and deciding to buy boa constrictor, our family doubled in size in a matter of a few hours. Jeremy’s sister is going to college and most BYU apartments don’t allow animals, which means we got a free parakeet while we were visiting the fam in Arizona. Somehow it survived the drive from Arizona to Utah. We even stopped to visit family in Las Vegas and St. George and had to bring the bird inside so it didn’t literally roast in the car. In Vegas, the manager of a delectable restaurant we went to for lunch let us bring the bird inside so it didn’t die. In St. George, an aunt asked us if we “normally travel with the bird,” which I thought was ridiculously funny, whereas everyone else just kind of brushed it off like it wasn’t hysterical.

But here we are, back in Provo after a fun time in Arizona. Jeremy is eagerly awaiting early September when we can get our hands on the snake. To be quite honest, I was adamant that we were NOT getting a boa constrictor. No way, no way, no way, that sounds terrifying and gross. But when I saw that little glint in his eyes, I knew it was really important to him, so we are getting a “dumeril boa constrictor” that will be as long as I am tall when it’s fully grown. I’m still not sure how I feel about that, but we can sell it to a pet store whenever we want if I chicken out.

This summer, my focus has been my field study, where I have been collecting data for my anthropology thesis. I had a few families that I would spend time with in order to understand how Mexican families change after immigration. It has been the most stressful and most wonderful thing to spend time with families in their homes and get to know them as they just do normal things. I seriously fell in love with my families, and cried on the drives home after having to say goodbye to them. The photos on this post are some pictures I did for one of the families, as they have a part-time floral business. Anyways, the data collection portion of my project is over, which means that all I’m doing now is transcribing audio files of interviews. This is easily the most awful task that I have ever sought out to do, and I have almost died of boredom six times in the last 2 weeks. I have Googled things like “how to stay motivated” and “how to use time wisely” and “I hate my life why can’t I just pay someone to do this because I might die and I think I’m going to go play with the bird again because this is awful.”

You might just say, “Suck it up, Nicole. We all have to do things we don’t like, that’s part of being an adult.” Well, I was already rudely awakened that I am an adult when I went to the dentist today and didn’t have any cavities and had no one to celebrate with because it is now an expected thing that I don’t get cavities because I’m all grown up. Also, I found out that I was an adult when bills kept coming in the mail and WE were the ones that had to pay them, no. (In the words of my husband, “Now I know why people hate bills – you aren’t sure how much they are going to be and they just randomly come in the mail and you have to pay them.”) But now that we have established that I know that I’m an adult, let me say that I am no longer used to making myself do things I don’t want to do.

For those of you that served around me as a missionary, it is probably at this point that you are beginning to suspect that someone has hijacked my blog and is trying to get a good laugh by impersonating me horribly. Well… nope.

Here’s the thing – as a missionary I literally worked as hard as I could. I am not a person that gains energy by spending time with people; I recharge by being alone. However, missionary work is all about talking to strangers, and visiting their homes, and it’s like 110% a social thing. And for me that was very draining. But guess what? I just did it anyways. I pushed and pushed and pushed and at the end of my mission I couldn’t sleep anymore. For 3 months I didn’t really sleep, I would wake up 5 or 6 times every night and was eternally exhausted – but I pushed through it the next day. And I did that every single day, regardless of how I was feeling.

When my mission ended, I got back on track, I got some time to relax, and the sleep thing resolved itself.

Then school started.

I returned to my university studies and worked my butt off; I was either in class, doing homework, or at work every waking moment. I got the best grades I’ve ever achieved at BYU. I had awesome roommates. I met my husband, we dated, and eventually got engaged. It was a fast-paced semester where I was always on the go, and had enough will power to sit down at a desk for literally 12 hours straight on a Saturday and study without any problems because I ignored that feeling that whispered, “I’m kind of tired, can we do something else for a little while?”

A few months into the semester, the sleep thing came back. I stopped being able to sleep, although it would come and go depending on magnitude of the current stresses. But I was starting to get scared; “What if it happened again? I can’t take 3 more months of this.” One night I laid there all night and got about 3 hours of sleep total. I finally made an appointment with a doctor, who prescribed me gabapentin – which in higher doses is used for epileptic patients because it slows your brain down. This helped a lot and I was able to get the sleeping situation under control because I could finally “turn my brain off.”

About two months later, a few days before finals week, my habit of “pushing through” came crashing down on me. I had an anxiety attack in the library. My husband (boyfriend at the time) was wonderful and this was actually a huge blessing for our relationship because I could see how much he cared and that he really did love me and want to take care of me. It ultimately played a big role in us getting engaged the next week.

However, that anxiety attack was the biggest sign my body could have given me that I was working too hard. This was when I learned that it’s okay to listen to your body and have time to do nothing and relax. There is always this fear in the back of my mind that I’ll become a lazy bum that never gets anything done, and that makes me want to push push push until I drown. However, that practice just doesn’t work well for me. So maybe I look or feel lazy, or maybe I don’t get everything done by some arbitrary deadline I set for myself. Yes, it’s important to work hard and to get things done and accomplish things. But it’s okay if I have to take a break. And it’s okay if I don’t get straight A’s and it’s okay if the biggest thing I have to show for my life is that I love my family, I help people, and that I do what God asks of me – not some fancy 4.0 or top-of-the-class award. So transcriptions, it’s okay if there are days where I just can’t force myself to finish you. And homework, sometimes you just aren’t going to get done. That does not make me a bad person, and it does not mean I am lazy, and that does not diminish my worth as a human being; it means that I am choosing to be healthy and happy and that is a good thing.

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