15 September 2008


Posted by Jessica Ball

One of the things I least like about myself is my habit of getting very anxious and upset over odd things. Strangely enough, this doesn’t happen for big events – I’ve defended an undergrad thesis, presented a poster at a conference (and not in the undergrad section, either), started teaching intro geo labs, walked on hot lava, and (totally unrelated to geology), performed a Tchaikovsky symphony in a concert with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.

Oh, I get nervous, sure. But somehow the nerves don’t really screw me up for the big things. It’s other things – buying a piece of furniture that I turn out to hate (actually, a lot of impulse buys do this to me), or hearing people talk about what great deals they have on their rent and feeling like I’m an idiot because I didn’t find the same, or not wanting to turn on the heat because I’m afraid I won’t be able to afford the bill, or spending that extra money on sushi because I can’t stand to eat ham and cheese again. I get upset about stupid things. I have the feeling that I would be perfectly fine if I had to deal with, say, an earthquake, or a volcano suddenly sprouting up in my backyard (unlikely), or some other natural disaster; but something that I could possibly feel guilty about really screws up my day.

I guess this means I have the opposite of performance anxiety. I don’t think it’s bad enough that I need to get medication for it, but it’s certainly not helping me get through the day.

I do remember feeling like this when I was starting undergrad – not this bad, actually, because they kept us really busy and I ended up going home early in the fall because of a hurricane. But this time I think it’s worse – I’ve moved several states away from home, I live alone, I have no family nearby, I’m just starting to make friends and I’m starting grad school, which is a major undertaking in itself. Not to mention I’m constantly worrying about money and classes and teaching and research.

I think I need more people around. My decision not to try and find people to live with was, I think, because four years of dorm living has turned me off sharing small spaces with people all the time, and because I didn’t want to rush into a living situation that I might not be able to stand later. Unfortunately, that means once I leave school, my human contact for the day is over with, unless I call home. The entire situation stinks, and I’m going to have to start doing something about it before I convince myself that this whole thing was a bad idea.

On the upside, so you all don’t think I’m really starting to get depressed, I’m getting a lot of reading done for my research. At the moment I’m delving into autofragmentation and mechanisms for pyroclastic flow formation, as well as lava dome structure and collapse triggers. Cool stuff – I’m glad I really get to dive into it, because I’m learning a lot.