Why We Keep Going Even When We Don’t Want To

I had a moment today where I just sat and did nothing for a solid hour. I was so overwhelmed by my schedule, my homework, my work, and life in general that I just sat there blankly staring at my Twitter feed. All I could think is, “why am I doing this?”

By this I mean going to school full-time, working two jobs, and trying to still live my life to the fullest balancing the social with the tedious tasks of day-to-day life.

The Back Story

Recently I had an opportunity literally get dropped on me. My Finance professor mentioned that there was a job/internship opportunity doing social media for the Career Development Center on campus. It was one of those class announcements that you don’t necessarily always pay attention to, but for some reason that day I had. And on a whim I decided to apply. I mean, I had the experience, I was looking for an internship and/or job more within my field anyways, and even though it all seemed to be happening rather fast, it felt right.

The day after applying I was notified that I had an interview. A couple of days after that I was offered the position. When I was asked if I still wanted the job my mind was racing, filled with thoughts like, “Wow, I actually got it,” “Will this work as well with my schedule as I thought?,” “Is this what I really want?.” And after ten seconds of deliberation (I’m a quick decision maker) I accepted the position.

Fast Forward

I’m in my second week at my new job and I love it. Everyone I work with has been great, I’m essentially in charge of what I want to do with my day, and I get to work and interview people I would never have crossed paths with otherwise. It’s exciting to have an opportunity to have a job that aligns so well with the future career I have imagined.

With the excitement of the new job also came a lot more stress. Looking at my planner right now I can tell you my only free time this week is Wednesday night after 10PM, Saturday from 1PM to 7PM, and Sunday morning. At any given moment you’ll be able to find me in one of these places: in class, in the Career Development Center, at Pagliai’s, on my back porch doing homework, or in my bed “doing homework,” but actually reading a book irrelevant to my studies, watching Netflix, or scrolling through social media.

Other than my crazy hectic schedule, life has been awesome. Actually the extra stress has done wonders for my health. I’ve been to the gym more than I’ve watched Netflix this week and I’ve cut back on caffeine, sugar, and dairy in my diet. Y’all my jeans are loose! What?!

I’ve also noticed something though. When I used to get stressed, I’d shut down. I’d be negative, crabby, forget to eat, and just miserable. I’m not sure why this time it’s different. I’m thrilled that it is, but I can’t help thinking it isn’t this way for everyone. Last year I was a wreck. I stress cried all the time. I’ve had legitimate talks with friends about how many times we’ve cried during the day because we “just can’t” anymore, so I know I’m not alone on this. It’s like we’re the stress ball and college is the person squeezing us.

Story Time

Before school started this fall I was working one of my regular shifts at Pagliai’s and had a table of eight freshly graduated from high school boys. Just from the general gist of their conversation I figured out that this was the last time they would all get to hang out together before they went their separate ways for college. The air was filled with jokes, laughter, and excitement.

When I went back to check in on them I noticed they were a bit more subdued. There were still jokes and laughing, but it was mellowed out. That’s when I noticed that one of them was trying to cover up the fact that he was crying. As a waitress I’ve seen a lot of weird things while working, but I’d never seen someone actually break out into tears in the middle of their meal. Not wanting to intrude on the moment I grabbed them refills and left them alone.

A little bit later the guy who had been crying got up and left the restaurant. Out of curiosity (it’s horrible, I know) I wandered over to a table that was in the same proximity of theirs, proceeded to “clean it off” and listened to what they were talking about. Apparently out of the eight of them the guy who had been crying was the only one who wasn’t going to a school anywhere close to the rest of them. While they had been making plans to meet up with each other on weekends, this guy had been quietly listening and realizing how much his life was about to change.

Why Do I Bring That Up?

That night has been on my mind for a while. I kept wondering why, if it had meant so much to that guy, that he had decided to go somewhere different and away from everyone he knew. Then I started wondering why I’ve done all the things I’ve done. I wasn’t really sure.

One of my professors put it into perspective for me recently. In the middle of a lecture on marketing she said, “The why is why we keep going.” Why we started out in the first place, is often the very same reason we find the strength to keep going, to keep trying, to keep moving forward.

That got me thinking. I decided to go to Mankato for school on a whim because I wanted to do something and be somebody different. I picked Music Industry as my major because some of my first and best memories involve me singing along to the radio as a kid. “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes anyone? I decided to apply for my job because it aligned with my goals for my future. And I’m sure that whatever reason that kid had for going to a different school will be the reason he uses to motivate himself to get through.

So, what I’m trying to get at is, be there for people. College is crazy stressful. Everyday I guarantee there is somebody somewhere on campus who is having a shitty day. Nobody is 100% okay all the time. And that’s okay. It’s times like this when we need to really support each other. Even if your friend appears to be handling everything alright just ask how everything is going. Check in with them. Remind them of the why and encourage them to keep going.


—Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow Mess In Progress for weekly updates. I promise a new post every Tuesday/Wednesday depending on how life’s treating me. Take care!


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