During my adolescence, routine was necessary. My day usually consisted of the usual things a third-grader might do such as eating, learning, exercising, and sleeping. Socializing was usually a part of every event, but even so, one would think that this is an uneventful day. One would think that, but these are the days that I strived for.
Looking back on elementary school days, where the halls smelled like diapers and crayons and the entire faculty adored every student, worries came rarely. For me, my worries were fitting in, looking cool, and all of the usual thoughts that run through a naive third-graders mind. But if my routine was altered in any way, my universe would be completely out of sync. I remember loving my teacher, classmates, and everything else about the third-grade. There were a few particular instances though that irritated me so much I became sick, and they came on the supposed happiest days of the year, the holidays.
When Christmas came around my teacher planned a lovely party for us. This party was not a regular party, this party was not to be reckoned with, this was a surprise party! The party had decorated cupcakes, candy canes all around, and gift bags that would make you burst just thinking about what they may contain. Everyone in my class spent the afternoon in ecstasy about the celebration, everyone except me. I remember looking out the window nauseous with a fan on me, not wanting to look at the jubilee going on behind me, and pondering why this teacher I adored would want to stray from the arithmetic we had planned. It was as if she threw a wrench into the gears of my day which was running smoothly. How could she do this to me?! For once in my life I was proud to be referred to as the teacher’s pet (a term that makes me cringe) but now, after this, I had no choice but to reconsider my title. What would the rest of my day bring? My neighbor becomes Ralphie Parker and thinks he shot his eye out? Charlie Brown and the gang come by my house to sing Christmas carols? The thought of it all sent my mind into a whirlwind. A horrendous day, meant to be monumental, finally came to a close, and I was sent home a cold-sweat wreck. I was left to spend the Christmas break sorting out my problems either with a teacher with a huge heart or with my mind with little flexibility.
I came to peace with the whole surprise, forgave my teacher (chose to remain teacher’s pet) and enjoyed my foreseen gift bag, suspense-less. Ever since that Christmas break, when I figured my mind was guilty, I catch my self experiencing large amounts of stress over frivolous things. Preventing panic attacks has come from the enjoyment of being carefree toward routine, and being open to surprises. This quirk of mine has led me to believe that a day should be approached like a finger-trap. Relax and let things come smoothly because when force is used, progress and enjoyment diminish and frustration sets in.
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