Tag Archives: StressBucket

So *THIS* Is Burnout. (I’m Doing It For The Sweatpants.)

7 Jul

My friend Cornelius got a job in San Francisco! His dashing element of “*Pow* Bitch! MBA!!!” paid off, and now he’s settled in the lovely San Fran Bay peptalking me through the home stretch of my first trimester.

LoveMeDeux: I was doing ok, now I feel dejected.
Cornelius: Awwww
LoveMeDeux: I’m in the home stretch…4 more weeks of school. Did you ever feel that way?
Cornelius: All the time, all the fecking time.
LoveMeDeux: I was ok for 10 weeks, trying to scrap. but no matter how much I study, the test is still only about 60% of sh!t I know and the 40% is just fecking nebulous bullsh!t you make up?! It happened to you too?
Cornelius: Of course it did. You’ll make it by. You’re not comfortable with just doing that but it’s what happens. I was so worried I was going to fail out of the program initially.
LoveMeDeux: It’s like…we’re all at the point where we’re like bargaining. Like “Feck…I fecked up that test, it was a 7/10..so I need to crank this paper..will you read it?” “Yeah I will read yours if you read mine?” “I will totally read yours…we need A’s on this.”
Cornelius: You’ll be just fine. Don’t worry. This is not one of those times to worry.
LoveMeDeux: Yeah, that’s 2 trimesters from now in Finance. Ugh.
Cornelius: Come on, LoveMeDeux.
LoveMeDeux: UGH.
Cornelius: Cheer up.
LoveMeDeux: OH CORNELIUS…I am sick of it already.
Cornelius: I know. Ok. You know how much MBAs get post school right?
LoveMeDeux: Were you sick of it after the first semester?
Cornelius: Mmhmm, but I didn’t have a choice.
LoveMeDeux: Yeah, I got my business cards. I’m locked in. It’s final. It says “MBA Candidate, 2011” so I’m screwed.
Cornelius: No no. It means the end is imminent.
LoveMeDeux: Today I was thinking about the 15 weeks of pain that will start in September to December, the next trimester. And I felt like I felt the first week of classes…drowning. Panic.
Cornelius: No, no we all go through it. That’s part of the process. It’s not just classes.
LoveMeDeux: Those are some words of wisdom that I cannot process right now for some reason.
Cornelius: I know, because its tough to accept.
LoveMeDeux: Is it hilarious how having business cards locks you in? Like, “Oh snap! I had the official Pepperdine University business cards printed, I can’t back out and quit school now!”
Cornelius: LOL
LoveMeDeux: And the decal? and the sweatpants? I can’t give up the sweatpants. They’re like yoga pants. They’re blue. They say “Pepperdine”. I can’t.
Cornelius: Hahaha. I figured it was the student loans and sense of failure. But, yeah, sweatpants.
LoveMeDeux: Yeah. They’re comfortable.

Ha! “Student loans and sense of failure.” But no, I’m doing it for the business cards and the sweatpants.

That, and I don’t want to peel the decal off of my car if I drop out.

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The Most Important Thing I've Learned Recently: Try To Manage Feelings of Fear & Panic.

14 Jun

I learned that the original panic/fear combination one-two punch that one may feel when entering a situation as a fish out of water is not so bad if you take it in–one little bite-sized bit at a time.

I’m back in grad school after a 7-year hiatus from academia [I graduated from USC in 2002], and it’s a culture shock, emotional shock, brain capacity shock, everything shock.

Four weeks ago, at the beginning of the trimester, I felt ill after every quantitative analysis class, and even considered quitting the MBA program altogether. I thought it was a mistake that I got “let in”. I confess, I actually looked at the paperwork to see if it was too late for me to drop the classes and get a full refund, but I pushed down the nausea, and now I’m 7 weeks in, at the mid-way point in the 14-week trimester, and doing better, emotionally.

The panic/fear combination one-two punch is not 100% dissipated, but I’m feeling slightly better. The diploma is still two years and 5.5 trimesters away, but I have learned to worry about the mountain later, and work on crossing the molehill now.

Plus some classmates and I got a math tutor, so we *all* feel better. 😀

…But It Beats Working.

31 May

School is hell, but it beats working.

Oh Matt Groening, truer words have never been spoken.

I find myself in this kind of weird half-state a lot of times. Like, sometimes I really give a sh!t, and am scared sh!tless and dreading that whatever is taught in the next class period is something that I won’t understand.

Then I alternate between that and not really giving a sh!t, thinking “Oh well, if I don’t get it, then I’ll pass it next semester.”

Also, I freak out and write good papers two hours before they’re due…but some other times, I can’t be bothered, even though I know I really should be busting my butt on something.

Seriously, I don’t know where this range of emotions is coming from. I clearly need to work on this. Here’s a list:

  • Time management: Clearly, I have little to none in this arena of time management. I have come from a work environment that was working in a constant state of being reactionary. Which means I am still used to doing everything last minute, as I was given no real lead-time. Now that I have all this lead time, I really don’t know what to do with it.
  • Discipline: I sometimes succumb to having no discipline in my life. It’s literally been nearly a decade since I was a student last, and I have no disciplinary infrastructure, where I come home, do my homework, and go play. I need to self-enforce the idea of get up in the am, grab coffee and breakfast, hit the gym, shower, do some reading+homework, go home, make dinner, sleep. It is so hard, because when it comes down to it, I really just want to sleep in–and I end up kicking myself when it ends up being 5pm and I have read 4 pages out of this humongous chapter.
  • Quality(?): This is something I need to work with my classmates on, using them as a standard/reference, because oftentimes, I am finding that I have no idea what my profs expect from me. I’m feeling like, “Thanks for your übergeneric, seriously vague description in the syllabus of what you want from this paper, but what the heck is it that you really want?!”

The hilarious thing is, despite the fact that I feel like I’m internally struggling with all these huge “problems”, I have been asked several times during the trimester already, “Hey, what do we have due in this class today?” That just cracks me up, because I was the student in elementary school through to undergrad asking my classmates, “Do we have anything due in __?!”

I guess the fact that I am paranoid and overcompensating for my nervousness of being a student again makes me “appear” to be in charge. Ha!

A Slightly Irrational, Very Fundamental Shift.

20 May

For the 6 months after being laid off, all I wanted, and rather badly, was a job.

I wanted a job so I could feel stable again. So I could have health insurance. So I could put more money away in my CD. So I could fly to NYC or SF to visit friends, or just plain go shopping.

But aside from the emotional implications of having a job, which mainly meant gaining stability back, what we were talking about was the money. I wanted a job for the money. Because money meant that I could do things, pay for things I wanted, but maybe didn’t necessarily need.

But ever since the week of May 4th–the week I became a grad student again–it’s not the money that I want. The stability that I need to function, I will lean on my family for.

Now, all that I want, that I desire, and obsess over, is a grade.

Yes friends, now, all that I want is a C or better in my Quantitative Analysis course. That’s all I want. (I got my Organizational Behavior class covered, yo, it’s like a given that I’ll get an A in that class. I love it too much to get anything close to a B.)

Isn’t it funny how life changes overnight? Now, I couldn’t really give a shit about money, or getting a job.

Funnily enough, despite the fact that I stopped applying for jobs about a month ago, last week I got called back for a job interview, for a job I’d actually be pretty damned good at doing. But walking out of that 4-person panel interview, suddenly I got a bit disgusted.

Two of the four panel members were kind of rude and stiff. (Later, a fellow classmate of mine told me that she had a similar experience interviewing for the current job she has, totally rude people, and that she thought she didn’t get it.) All I could think as I went back to my car was,

“How could these people be so rude! As if that job was as important as my Quant grade?!! Don’t these people get what’s truly at stake?!”

[I know it was totally irrational, but that’s why this is being written on my blog, and not anywhere else.] The point is, I just realised my brain made a fundamental shift–I didn’t want to deal with their emotional bullshit, because it only served to aggravate me when I had “bigger” things on my mind than their interdepartmental shite.

This blog entry is written neither to illustrate how stressed out I am, nor to illustrate how irrational I’m becoming. Au contraire, I’m almost being an anthropologist examining the innards of my own brain, a brain that is slowly taking on a cultural shift that I myself am almost not in charge of. It again illustrates how being laid off was a mixed blessing, because at the age of 28, I feel I’d much rather be concerned with my Quant grade, than some arbitrary job that will probably end up being a dead end.

Regarding the job, now I wonder what I would do if I were offered the position. Six months ago, I would have jumped on it. Now, I’m not so sure.

And if Murphy’s Law has any say in it, just you watch, I’ll be offered this job.

Nice To Meet You. Stressbucket*, Class of 2011.

13 May

I have always been a bucket of stress*.

Our buckets of stress are always a little bit full in our lives. Unless you live in a monastery in the hills of Tibet, surrounded by monks enveloping you in their peaceful ways, you are going to have some stress in your life as a given. Whether it’s a phone bill, or the threat of getting laid off, a family who is ill, or a broken-down car. I get it.

And for me, stress is at a constant, medium-level in my bucket. I know that it is just an aspect of my personality, and I know that I probably run best at this stressed out level. It’s as if I feel the pressure factor makes me propel myself forward. If I go to the gym, or relax and go see a film, or do something fun with friends, a small release valve appears and lets a little bit of stress go at a time.

Yesterday, however, something happened that has made my stressbucket overfloweth.

I started off my Tuesday with a great day at traffic court–haha, I know, traffic court?! Basically, I had a hold on my driver’s license due to lack of proof of insurance, and though the accusing police officer showed, both he himself and the bailiff dismissed it due to my valid proof of insurance and the extenuating circumstances.

But yesterday evening, I attended my second math class, more specifically Quantitative Analysis for Business. I knew that as a liberal arts major, the math involved in getting an MBA degree was going to be nasty, but I was not expecting to feel nauseous.

Yes, indeed. I felt like I was going to vomit.

I could see it happening.

Sitting there, in class, I felt the urge wash over me and I mentally mapped out how quickly I could do it if I had to make a dash for the ladies’ room.

At breaktime, a classmate wanted to talk to me about the assignment due in the Organizational Behaviour class that we were also taking together, and I know I made no sense in our conversation. I just kind of zoned out on the poor guy, and I feel badly. (And dangit, he is very cute, too. You know that something is very very wrong with LoveMeDeux when her mojo is impaired..!) I felt horrible. So this morning, I decided to speak with my academic advisor.

“Listen, I have had students who couldn’t even understand how to log into WaveNet (our online one-stop shop for students) take and pass this class.”

This made me feel better, but not that much better. I’m certain I’m an average student, but I don’t feel great knowing that there are those who are slightly lower than me who passed by the skin of their teeth. I mean, feck! I want to do well in this class, not just barely eke out a pass. Next person I called was my professor himself, who said:

“I have had Theatre Arts majors who haven’t taken math since high school pass this class. And the tests aren’t even worth that much in my class!”

That made me feel a little better. At least this prof is willing to work with me. And yes, I know it’s possible for me to take and pass this class with an okay grade. But sitting in that class last night, while freaking out, I actually pinged like crazy between the thoughts of,

“What if I belong in a J.D. program instead of an MBA?” to
“Is it too late to save face and drop this entire MBA program?” to
No, I’m sure I can get through this!”

I settled on the last one because I am not a fecking quitter. I AM NOT! But how does one get away from the pure anxiety and manic feeling associated with stressbucket mode to be able to relax and get through situations like this?

Oh wow, if I had the answer to that, I’d be the Dalai Lama’s BFF.

But I think that that will be the true lesson in my MBA experience. Not how to manage a underperforming department or provide brilliant leadership in a major Fortune 500 company. Not how to take game theory and apply it to forecast financial returns. Not any of that.

No. For me, it will be how to manage the stress, how to manage the anxiety and battle through it to get to my diploma at the other end of the tunnel. But I want tell you:

I held it, I did. I pressed down the overwhelming physical urge–but as soon as I made it to the parking garage after class last night, and as soon as I managed to lock myself safely away in my car–I threw up.

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*I prefer saying “Stressbucket” as opposed to “Stressball”, because “Stressbucket” is more accurate terminology.