Mon. Aug 15th, 2022

The five-day fall break that has come and gone was everything I anticipated it would be, and I don’t mean that in a bad way either. I relaxed in the comfort of my own home, hung out with some friends, and even participated in a couple of clichéd autumn activities (corn maze, anyone?) Returning to school after a great mini-vacation may seem like a letdown to most other people, but to tell you the truth, I was pretty excited to come back to WCU. And the reunion (perhaps that word is stretching it a tad) on Tuesday with my friends was really nice; I heard about what everyone did over break, told some funny stories, and passed out homemade brownies that I had brought from home. Everything seemed to be smooth sailing until nighttime rolled around. That’s when things started to turn.

It was the kind of night when as soon as your head hit the pillow, you knew you weren’t going to get any sleep. Maybe it was the change of “scenery” from home back to school, or maybe it was the medium coffee I had finished a few hours earlier. But something was contributing to my insomnia and it was starting to make me angry. The more I lay and pondered the myriad of possibilities, the more my thoughts began to file into my head, one by one, in a steady yet hurried pace. Aside from my own personal roadblocks towards a good night of sleep, Mother Nature had taken it upon herself to add to the mix as well. The shrill popping of the rain against the AC, along with the sporadic flashes of lightning seeping through the blinds were enough to keep even the heaviest sleeper from dozing off. The hours dragged on and no matter how many times I changed my sleeping position, I knew it was no use. It was going to be a long night.

In total, I probably got around two hours of sleep that night. The rest of the week played out in a similar fashion, with each additional sleepless night piling up to no forseeable end. A couple days of this vicious cycle turned me into a zombie-like version of myself; I would occasionally find myself dozing off in class or staring off into the distance as my friends were trying to hold a conversation with me. After thinking it over a bit, I’ve come to the conclusion that my lack of sleep transforms me into someone who I’m not quite sure I like.

Here’s an example: On Tuesday night -the first sleepless night, one of the many things that crossed my mind was the topic of relationships, specifically the relationships of my closest friends. Two of my best friends here started dating each other at the beginning of this semester. We all are a part the same friend group, so in a way their relationship brought all of us closer together. I love both of them, that’s inarguable. But that night as I was laying in bed and thinking about their relationship, I started thinking about it in a cynical, almost scornful way. Things that I (on any other day) would have found cute and endearing, began to seem annoying.

I began comparing the perfection (in my mind) of their relationship to the current relationships that I’m in, social, romantic, family-based, etc. My thought process became entirely about what I was doing “wrong” in all of my current relationships. Instead of turning the process into something positive, I stuck with the darkness of it all and went about my day. Most of the next day I was the proverbial rain cloud looming over everyone’s good time. The worst thing about my attitude shift was that I was completely aware of it, and I almost kind of liked it too.

But the more I thought about it, the more I knew I had to pull myself out of that mindset. To continue like that for any amount of time longer than a week would eventually leave me sick to the stomach (and possibly friendless).

It took a day like this past Friday to bring me out of my temporary slump. My two friends and I walked into town to look at an off-campus apartment and buy cupcakes at the local bake shop. I had a nice little break from school and from my cynical mindset, even if it was only for a couple of hours. So it goes.

So I’ll draw this week’s column to an end, knowing that I will inevitably have more of these dark days in the future, and that I’ll just have to ride them out and hope I come out on the other side a little lighter than before. Till next time, so it goes.

Rachel Alfiero is a second-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at RA806657@wcupa.edu.

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