Thursday, May 19, 2016

Stress, exhaustion, and limits

The past two weeks have been very busy and stressful for me. I've been taking two programming courses--an intensive, 2-week Python course and a 6-week PHP course. Programming does not come naturally to me.

I've actually kind of enjoyed the Python course. The syntax is simple enough that I felt like I could concentrate on the logic. Some concepts just made sense while others are still sinking in.

Some of the homework assignments were quick to complete and others took several hours. There was a homework assignment each day plus the lab tasks if I didn't finish them during class. Class met Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday last week and this week.

Simultaneously, I have been taking the PHP course, which meets Monday and Wednesday until mid-June. Once again, there is a homework assignment after each class.

So Wednesdays, when I spent 3 hours in the morning learning Python, grabbed a quick lunch, then spent another 1.5 hours learning PHP, have been crazy, exhausting, and stressful. Also, confusing, as I try to keep the different syntaxes straight.

So as not to fall behind and to keep the concepts as fresh as possible when doing homework, I have pretty much spent each afternoon and evening after class working on the homework assignment from that day (although the Wednesday PHP assignment has been falling to Friday because I just didn't have the brainpower to do both assignments on one day). But, my Python course is now over, which means the next four weeks should be a little easier.

I know I've been stressed trying to keep everything juggled. I was so exhausted last night after the a day of both classes, coming home and doing the Python homework, that I went to bed just after 9. I only made it that late because I had to finish the assignment.

Each semester is its own bit of stress, balancing classes, homework, reading for class, kids, and everything else. I'm only a part-time student. I only take one or two classes each semester rather than a full-time load of three. I know three would break me.

And I'm old enough and wise enough to know that I shouldn't do that. My mental health is worth something to me, and graduate school is not designed with mental health in mind. Each semester there are 'relaxation nights' and 'destress workshops' and whatnot. But really, those are pretty much a joke. Because balancing a full load of courses with the amount of reading and coursework, plus the part- or full-time jobs many students have, plus families..... I have the luxury of taking my time to get my degree, which not everyone can do.

I'm getting better at saying no. Recently I was asked about taking a position on the PTO at the boys' school next year. I told them I just couldn't take anything else on. Despite the assurances that it doesn't involve much work, I just can't commit to it. I can't add another obligation that I'll have to juggle, constantly feeling like I'm not doing any of it well.

It seems to be a female thing, thinking we have to take everything on. I'm not a superwoman. I have my limits. Someone else may be able to juggle more than I am, but I can't. And that's okay.

I'm happier when I'm not exhausted, cranky, stressed. I've had a job that drove me to tears from stress. I occasionally have weeks where I am stressed with school work. But I don't need to add to it. I know my limits. And I don't have anything to prove.

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