Photo by Caroline Keller
- Every once in a while, I experience a day that is so detrimental to my nerves that I shut down. My mind decides to initiate auto-pilot, and I effectively become a vegetable. My homework looks like alphabet soup, my head hurts, and the very act of thinking makes me nauseous. I tenaciously hold on to the one defense I have against these bad days. I believe in taking a hot shower. I don't mean a quick in-and-out-where-you-use-shampoo-and-body-wash-shower; I mean stepping in, turning the water to scalding hot, and enjoying a nice, steamy repose where I can take a step back form the tribulations of my day. I firmly believe that when I'm overwhelmed, the best thing I can do is take a step back; I've figured that out by experience.
At the beginning of my freshman year— and frankly every day since then— I experienced what it's like to be overwhelmed. I had new, harder classes; my friends I had made from middle school years were nowhere to be seen; I somehow chose to participate in the activities that ran until 6:00 at night; and my parents were recently divorced. Coming from the warmth and easy-going attitude of middle school, high school was a radical change. My world was upside down, and I was barraged from every possible front. Really, I was affected at what seemed like every moment by a change that had no other visible intent than to try to make me wave the white flag.
Well, when those changes hit, I eventually learned to force myself to take a step back. I scrounged up time in the day to simply exist without pursuing an objective. I learned how to take it easy. Before I learned to do this, however, I displayed a facade that I could handle every worry thrown my way without being overwhelmed; I acted macho and hoped that by saying I wasn't overwhelmed, I could trick myself into really feeling that way. Even though that sounds plausible, it didn't work on me. At first, I tried to keep pushing through all of my struggles and I kept persevering, but despite all of my pushing, I was overwhelmed. And so, I decided to take a shower. I relaxed. I decided to stop letting things hold a dis-proportionate amount of importance. I decided to stop sweating the small stuff. Social situations no longer made me so anxious; I could look at a bad homework grade and decide I was going to do better on the next one instead of wringing my hands off; and I began to make the most of my after school activities.
I made room in the day to simply not engage my brain. I didn't meditate or do yoga, but I took hot showers at the end of my day. They weren't spiritual like prayer, but they still helped me to cleanse my mind— and body too I guess. In the end, it doesn't matter what I did and still do so long as I actually step back. In that shower, I'm able to let all thoughts flee from my mind, and let the water trickle down on me. I believe in that fifteen - twenty minutes that I take for myself. I believe in stepping back. I believe in repose. I believe in hot showers.