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  • Writer's pictureSheri Tarrer

What is it all for?

I sat in the corner of my bed. Wall against my back, window to my right. I sat and the burning yellow-orange glow of the early evening shined on my tired face. I breathed that dying sunlight in like my life depended on it, in that moment it almost did. 


My mind was racing. I had 2 papers, 4 discussion boards, a blog, a short story, and a video narrative due within the week. Not to mention 2 jobs, family with expectations and friends with even more expectations. I was swamped. Overwhelmed, overworked, and constantly running out of time. And on top of all of that I had myself to satisfy. It was all becoming too much. I couldn’t eat, I could barely sleep, I was struggling to breathe. Struggling to keep myself from ripping apart at the seams. 


So, I sat down in the corner of my bed and looked out the window as the sun began to set. 

Leafless trees swayed begrudgingly in the relentless Chicago wind. Melting snow began to ice over as the temperature dropped along with the sun. Patches of dull, green grass stood out in a field of blindingly white snow. I pulled my knees to my chest as a tear fell down my cheek. Oh, to be beautiful and free and alive like nature. Even a 10 degree Chicago winter was more alive than me. Ha! Figure that. 


Alive. What does it mean to be alive? 


Breathing. Thinking. Feeling. 


I do all those things, so why do I feel so tired all the time? 


Maybe I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I’m going about life the wrong way. Everyday I wake up early to go to class or work or meetings or just to catch up on homework. I study for tests and spend hours writing essays only to go home at night and do more work for other classes or activities. 


And the thing is, I get good grades. I ace tests and write noteworthy papers. I’m a good student, but it all feels so worthless. What am I working towards? What is it all for? 


Me. Right? I’m putting in the work and building a strong foundation for my future. It’s all for me. At some point along the way I forgot that. It’s not a nice thought or sentiment, it’s a fact. I work myself to the bone, I deprive myself of simple pleasures like free time and sleep so that I can have more free time and lots more sleep once I graduate. I’m holding on, even if it’s by a single thread. I’m holding on for me. 


I stood up on my bed, grabbed my headphones from their spot in the window sill and turned on some music. I picked a random playlist, closed my eyes and danced on my bed as the last remaining pockets of sunlight disappeared along the horizon. I danced in the dark and I sang my heart out and I let myself feel and be in the moment. I let myself feel what it means to be alive, whatever that is.


I let time pass slowly and didn’t bother checking if it did. Once I was able to breathe again – once that blackhole that was eating me from the inside out disappeared – I paused my music, took off my headphones, turned my desk lamp on, opened my laptop and got to work. I’ll work hard right now, in this moment so that in the future I won’t have to wonder what it feels like to be alive. I’ll just live. 


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