The Blog

What I've Decided Is No Longer Worth the Anxiety

I pledge to de-stress my life, even if it's a handful of minor things that clutter my mind and leave me feeling weighed down.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

College is a bizarre four years in which you must perform a balancing act between the friends who surround you and the books that relentlessly pile up on your desk. As a rising junior, I have had four semesters to ease myself into the transition from king of the hill high school senior to tiny freshman fish in a huge pond. And everyone seemed to have it together. Freshman year, I envied the captain of the tennis team who somehow also managed to be pre-med and find time to be the life of the party at every red Solo cup social event.

For many people, college is an incredibly fun time, free of the "real world" stress of paying rent, dealing with insurance companies, and finding time to stock the fridge for the family. Although the "real world" hasn't quite given the average college student a wake-up call yet, there are still stressors that can be easily forgotten when looking back nostalgically on "the best four years" of their lives.

As an admittedly type-A go-getter, I am most definitely not immune to the stresses of everyday life, whether they are significant or ridiculously insignificant. I am hopping on the train that my colleagues on the Healthy Living team have already undertaken. I pledge to de-stress my life, even if it's a handful of minor things that clutter my mind and leave me feeling weighed down. So here are some things I'm working on worrying about less:

The Success Of My Peers: The competitive academic environment at school has definitely made me feel insecure about my own competence at times. It's almost impossible not to compare yourself to those around you, especially when you are constantly crossing paths with your classmates in and out of the classroom. With the rapid growth of social media and fast-paced technology, it's never been easier to see what Sally has been up to (she just tweeted that she got a 4.0 this semester AND took on two new minors in Spanish and art history?! What have I done that's noteworthy today?). I must admit that a little bit of competition motivates me to push myself a little harder, but this constant evaluating and comparing is unhealthy and only impedes my ability to find my own version of success and happiness.

Being Slightly OCD: You can't fight biology, and I blame my OCD on my mother (thanks for the genes, mama). But it's time I evaluate my reaction to stressors out of my control. My OCD is mild (or at least I have convinced myself it is), and mostly affects me by way of making me extremely obsessive about organization. I am a master at making to do lists, and I get a genuine sense of satisfaction when I make my bed or clean my closet (extra smiles when something is color coded!). But the truth is, constant organization is simply impossible, and it's time I try my hardest to shed some of my compulsiveness and not let it eat away at me. Living recklessly is fun, even if "recklessly" entails baby steps. Maybe I can start with the rebellious act of not making my bed one morning (gasp!).

Not Loving Make Up: I've always wanted to be a girly girl, and like every 5-year-old, I sincerely believed I'd grow up to be a Disney princess. I played dress up and "beauty school" with my girlfriends, but I never quite felt I fit the bill. I always preferred sports and even went through a tomboy stage in which I'd don my older brother's basketball shorts and baggy tees to school. As I grew up, I learned to love shopping and fashion, and my friends even criticize me for being a shopaholic. But as much as I love getting dressed up, I loathe make up. I skip over every "how to" improve your daily make up routine section in magazines and have never shopped anywhere for make up besides the local drugstore. Something about the cakey feeling of powder on my face makes me feel suffocated, and I've never been a big fan of flashy eye make up. I think it looks wonderful on most people, but I've never liked it on myself. So when I do wear make up, it's a little eyeliner and dash of mascara. I sometimes wish I had the expertise, the desire and the passion for the art of painting my face, but it's time I just let that one go. I'll never like make up, and if that makes me "less of a girl," so be it.

Skipping Workouts: I am an avid runner; I've run two half marathons in the past year, and I get that tingly runner's high feeling after I finish a thrilling long run. I work out most days of the week because I feel fresher and more focused when I exercise regularly. But like everyone, there are mornings I simply don't have the energy or the willpower to get out of bed and lace up the sneakers. I sometimes feel guilty when I skip a workout, especially when I had previously planned I would hit the gym. But it's time I relax and let it go. If I'm tired and lazy one day, I will allow myself a day sans movement and full of mint chip ice cream and TV.

My Lankiness: Around the end of ninth grade, I hit my growth spurt and went from average-sized high schooler to extremely tall girl. At 5'11'' I am pretty much taller than most boys I meet, and my height has always been a source of insecurity. I envy my cute little munchkin friends who get to casually rock their five-inch wedges and still fit like a perfect little puzzle piece under their boyfriends' arms. I must come to accept the reality here -- I am lanky and will always be lanky. I pledge to go out and buy my first pair of real heels. When you're 5'11'', what are a few more inches anyways?

My Peanut Butter Addiction: Out of all things to crave constantly, I know it's not even close to the worst. But I have an overwhelming obsession with crunchy peanut butter. I go through about a jar a week (but at least I buy natural, organic PB, right?) and can be found in my natural habitat taking giant spoonfuls of the creamy buttery goodness. I love it on bananas, apples, and mixed with Nutella. My favorite candy is hands down Reese's cups, and once I start eating those, there's really no stopping me. One day I proudly exclaimed to my roommate Kelly that I had gone "a full two days without having any peanut butter!" as if that made me some sort of hero. From here on out, I will embrace my PB addiction, because a life without peanut butter is a life without fun (sorry to the multitudes of those allergic to PB out there).

Loving Alone Time: I love hanging out with friends and I consider myself a very social person. But I also have the very natural hibernation instincts. I love curling up on the couch in sweatpants and not speaking to human beings for hours on end. I also got into an awesome routine last semester in which I would run early in the morning before any of my roommates were awake and then head to the dining hall with my newspaper in hand and eat breakfast alone. I am a morning person and found peace in being alone in the morning hours before anyone else was awake. When I need my alone time, I definitely feel the FOMO creeping up, but I need to learn to remind myself that the reason I can function in social situations is because I do get my occasional and much-needed alone time.

Falling In Love: Every girl wants to fall in love. You know, the whole head over heels crap we're told we all deserve? Well that hasn't happened for me yet, and it sometimes makes me anxious and concerned. But really, if it's meant to be it's meant to be, and there's not much control I have over who I meet and what clicks.

Not Being A Funny Tweeter: In today's world it sometimes feels like our impressions of ourselves are wrapped up in our impressions on the world of social media. I often find myself categorizing people as "really funny tweeters" or "that girl with the super artsy instagrams." I love browsing Twitter and refreshing my Instagram feed, but I definitely don't take to social media verticals to express my every concern, movement, or display my newest ice cream cone. I admittedly sometimes look at my Instagram account and realize with shock that I haven't uploaded a picture in a week. But stressing about recording my life is not worth the time. I can be a funny person without being a funny tweeter.

For more by Cathryn Woodruff, click here.

For more on stress, click here.