Lesson #71: Grounded.


I am 19 and less than five days away from 20.

I have been a lot of things,

but I have never been grounded.

Until now.

I’ve called my mother three weekends in a row, declaring, “I’m going to lock myself in my house this weekend, and I’m not going anywhere with anyone until I-”

Week 1: Finish unpacking.

Week 2: Catch-up on my work.

Week 3: Catch-up on my work that I didn’t do because I was catching-up on catch-up work.

“Okay, Miajah,” she would say.

She knew me too well.

I don’t who I was trying to convince.

Her, or myself.

I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks treading water. Between classes, my job, three clubs and organizations, my head is barely above the surface. During the day, I am in class. When I’m not in class, I’m at work, getting curiously stared down as I lug video equipment across campus, or bumped aside on the bus. When I finish by 3:15 (That is, if I don’t return to work), I would love to go home and take a nap. But, that would only leave me an hour and some change to get home, sleep, and be back at campus for one of three club meetings, which I have on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. So I stay on campus and do what little homework I can for an hour. After whichever meeting I have that day, I am usually lucky enough to get one or two hours to do homework, and then I usually have another meeting, or a speaker, or campus event that I want to (or have to) go to. By then, it’s 8 or 9PM. (And I’ve missed Scandal or The Voice and I am crying in a dark TV-less corner). I want to go home and make something adult and cool, like chicken and pasta, or fish with rice and beans. But I’m tired, and I’m pressed for time to finish my homework for tomorrow. I have two classes the next day, or three, which means I have 20 pages of reading for each. So make that 60 pages, average. Oh, that doesn’t include essays, reading responses, or projects. So instead, I grab something quick on campus, and take it with me to the library, and do homework. I am up until 2AM, and then I am up at 7AM to do it all over again.

Stressed out?

But wait.

Now, it’s Thursday night.

And I don’t have Friday classes.

I should be shooting firecrackers off my roof.

But I am so tired and strung out, that instead of doing more work, or running amuck with the rest of the college world on Thirsty Thursday,

I go to sleep at 11.

And that’s my life.

I can imagine your wide, horrified eyes as you read this.

You look like you just got out of a horror movie!

I didn’t mean to frighten you,

Sorry, I’m fine, I promise.

I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for a life-time of college debt, and when I joined two new (and incredible!) organizations at once.

It’s awesome.

And yes,

very stressful.

I’m learning how to manage it, day-by-day.

But what I haven’t learned how to handle, though,

is life outside of all of this.

Which is why I grounded myself.

I don’t leave any time for me, or for fun, or spontaneity, or excitement.

And I’ve forgotten that somewhere along the way.

Until yesterday night.

I thought,

“Well fuck it. Fuck it all.”

And I went out, and had a good time.

And it was so worth it.

I actually regretted it less than the past three weekends I forced myself to sit on the couch all day and do work, only to end up not finishing everything.

I was grounding myself, because I thought that was the answer to my problems. I thought I needed restriction, and self-control, and that if I did this, one day it would all get better. That there would be less to do. Nothing to catch up on. That I would magically have more time during the week for myself, and for friends, and for fun. But only if I finished everything first.

Then I realized,

how stupid is that?

This is college!

The work isn’t going to end!

And it’s not going to get easier!

So forget it!

Live a little!

I’ve just come to terms with the fact that all the self-control and focus in the world won’t get everything done, for good.

Today, I learned that maybe I don’t need to be so hard on myself.

Maybe I don’t need to make it any harder than it already is.

Maybe I don’t need to be grounded.

The kids that are always grounded, always on restriction, on punishment, always over-monitored—are the ones that turn out crazy.

(Am I right)

And when has anyone ever liked the ridiculously strict, inhumane teacher? I always think of Matilda. Wouldn’t you choose Ms. Honey over Ms. Trunchbull?

Of course, crack down on yourself when needed.

But what’s the point of putting yourself in time-out indefinitely?

Loosen up a little, stickler.

Let yourself off the hook.

The truth is,

you don’t have to be grounded to stay grounded.

Day Seventy-One.


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