I had a mid-college crisis (I hope this means I won’t have a mid-life crisis) and transferred to IPFW to pursue a new dream of becoming a dental assistant. Previously, I was going to school to be a journalist then an elementary school teacher then a psychologists then a high school guidance counselor then a public relations professional. I seemed so inspired by everyone and what they did. I was constantly asking questions. What was your program like in college? What did you do right after graduation? Do you find your job rewarding? What inspires you? What is so challenging about your job? I would ask these questions to complete strangers, often tables I was waiting on a Scotty’s Brewhouse or Arnold’s Drive-In. I loved their responses. So I changed majors like the changing of the seasons.
And before I knew it, I was sitting in a lecture hall in Fort Wayne, Ind. The lecture hall was massive with more than 200 students. She started her lecture the first day.
“Look at the people beside you,” she said. “Look at the people in front of you and behind you. Half of them won’t be here by the end of the semester. This is a hard class; one that requires people to take more than once to pass.”
Sold. I’m out of here.
But I still went to the required lab, don’t ask me why. I was even more sold that this wasn’t for me after he told us we needed to know every single bone and muslce in the body, the function of it, and also had to spell it correctly when idenitfying it. By the look on my face, I’m sure he knew I wasn’t coming back. I imagine I looked like a deer with a learning disability caught in headlines on a snowy country road.
But the semester wasn’t a complete waste. I had a stress management class that really changed my outlook on life. My professor reminded me of the kindergarden teacher on “Billy Madison” — I am not sure if she ate glue, but she she probably metitated on front desk while classes were in transition.
She was a short blonde haired woman in her late 40s. She wore glasses. She spoke softly and clearly. She had a smile on her face 98% of the lecture, even when she told us that her ill mother passed away. She was the definition of calm. But she wasn’t always that way and she made it her goal to open up our eyes about our current lives and how we can live less stressful lives heading into the future.
In order to do this, she referred to an inspiring man, Richard Carlson. He was the author of “Don’t Stress the Small Stuff: And Its All Small Stuff.” I say “was” because he passed away due to heart failure on a plane home. A tragic story for a man who had a lot of life to live and save.
One of his rules was simple. When people ask you how you are doing, don’t respond by saying, “Oh, I’m just so busy!”
Everyone is busy. Our world is busy. I don’t know a single person who isn’t busy in one way or another.
Furthermore, responding like that just puts a damper on the conversation. People are then forced to ask you what is going on and thats when you go off, “I have three tests this week and I work 15 hours in 2 days. Then my roomate ate all of my food, so I need to go to the groccery store. And lord only knows, I don’t have time for that.”
I laugh typing that, but really I know I’ve said that before. More often than not. I mean, really, its easy to feel bad for yourself. One semester I was working almost 40 hours a week, taking intensive classes that required outside participation at events and projects, and trying to make time my family/friends/Justin. Its never easy. But it can be done.
So my new goal is to be aware of the way I respond to people when they ask, “How are you doing?” Because usually when people ask that question, they just want a simple reply, “Great!” or maybe a friend of great “I’m good!” or maybe a distant neighbor of good, “I’m doing okay!” Also, never respond with bad. Its just debbie downer. Simply just say, “Well, I’ve been better, but I’m working on it!” Then if they are concerned, they can ask you why. Now, I’m not saying keep eveything to yourself and bottle everything up. Thats not healthy either. But have a friend that you vent so not everyone is your source of ventihalation, ha-ha.
And while the urge to say, “I’m horrible” seems obvious after you got a flat tire on the interstate and then got a parking ticket while you ran inside to meet a friend for some meter change, it just isn’t worth it. I promise. Maybe instead of saying you are “horrible” — just tell your story and let other people feel bad for you. Or laugh. Because one of the best qualities one can have is the ability to laugh during times of trial.