by Jessica Myshrall, Storyteller for RU Student Life
January is not my month.
January is a bad hangover that I wake up to after three weeks of blissful lack of responsibility, a reminder that the holidays were just a rise before the fall. No amount of water, carbohydrates, and holiday cheer can ease my January blues.
I lose my body in January. My endless supply of energy slips beneath my eyelids and my body becomes a vessel of constant exhaustion, even if the only thing I’ve done all day was make my sixth batch of pancake rations. At night, the only way to get my body to rest is to keep it up late like a small child who will only surrender to bedtime once past the point of function.
I lose my mind in January. The muted hope that this year will turn out better than every other year disappears into the vesicles of my tired brain, only to reemerge as a reminder that I’m still stumbling through the same old patterns, like somehow I missed my stop at “Be a Better Person” Street. My plans for getting up early and not wasting hours on Facebook getting smaller in the rearview mirror as I head towards “Good Enough” Boulevard — a No Man’s Land where I float, unable to wake up, and unable to sleep. A dimmed existence where the only thing that gets me up and dressed is the brief holiday from my mind that I take when I pull on some jeans and go to work for eight hours.
This January is worse than the others that I’ve lived through. Scattered in my brain are flashing red signs that ask “NOW WHAT?” and beneath them, echoes: “When are you going to move out of this shit hole?” “How are you going to pay back your loan?” “How did you get so in debt?” “When are you going to get a job?” “What do you even want to do?” “Will graduation turn you into a functioning adult?” “Are you wasting your twenties?” “When are you going to stop wasting your time?”
It’s 3:10 a.m. and I am Googling the symptoms of a nervous breakdown. But how do you cope with bad feelings when you already know what you should do: meditate, exercise, get more sleep. The sense of impending doom in my brain always tricks me into thinking that these things don’t work. “Just spend time with me,” it tells me, before it drags me deeper until I realize that all I’ve done in the last 12 hours was scroll blankly through my newsfeed.
There are all these clever thoughts and words trapped in my head, yet my work remains undone, my books unread, and it’s only the first week of classes. I keep telling myself “tomorrow will be better,” but it’s 3:30am and my first commitment of the day is in six hours (not including shower and travel time).
I lie dreaming of New York and moments when I felt alive. I think about Montreal in the way someone thinks about a crush they’ve been eyeing. “Maybe they’re the one.” Maybe Montreal is where I belong. Maybe it’s another place I’ll soon tire of too. Maybe I should stay in Toronto.
“I could do anything with this year, with this new life,” I think wildly. “Yes, a life post-graduation…” I could join a band, pose nude, learn to use my 35mm, write a screenplay…”
… And just as quickly as these thoughts lift my spirits, the solemn voice of adulthood knowingly stunts my hopes with reminders of “money,” and the fact that I never finish anything I start.