Sides Notes: The Weak Moment When

Sides Notes: The Weak Moment When

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Sometimes when things are going so well, things start to go wrong. Isn’t that what happens all the time? Just when you thought the problems you had went away, they come back. It’s the ‘when’ moment that always smacks me in the face; always when I least expect it.

There is a lot going on right now. A lot. And it’s not going to slow down any time soon. I don’t even know where to start with it all. Let me explain every stress inducing event which might be causing my current anxiety, which always comes back to my stupid stupid stupid body dysmorphia and eating disorder/restrictive issues.

School at USC

I was so excited about this a month ago. And don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited about it. But seriously, shit just got REAL. How did I not anticipate this happening? Did I suddenly forget the type of student I was in college, hell, high school, junior high and elementary school? PERFECTIONIST to the MAX. And what happened to me my freshman year because of it?!?!?!?!?!??!?!

I had to be perfect in all my classes. Didn’t matter if it was in my major or not; if I did not get an A, I was a failure. I remember distinctly from college, my final semester as a senior when I was taking all of my major core classes but had to take a grad school level international law class. People, I minored in international relations and need to know nothing about international law (as of right now). I requested to take the class pass/fail; smart move on my part so I could focus more of my time on my environmental classes. What did I do? I spent every damned waking moment terrified of that class, my professor and not getting the best grade possible. But that’s just it, it didn’t matter if I got an A or not; I needed a C to pass so I could just finish my senior year.  I ended the year with a pass, focused my final project on the environment (international whaling! who wants to argue with me on that one?!) instead of how f’d up all the governments are…and my teacher told me I should have taken the class for a letter grade…because I would have gotten an A-. I’m sure you can imagine my fury, or maybe not, because you didn’t know me then. I have mellowed out a lot since then, but I was so mad about what that A- could have done for my GPA.

Summer after I graduated from college

Summer after I graduated from college; Green/Blue hair!

Anyhow, I ordered my books a few days ago and got thrown though a loop when I found out I was supposed to take an additional class this semester. I got the syllabus and looked at the class schedule, readings and everything in between. It’s like I thought this was going to be easy-peasy, all butterflies and dandelions. But it was the moment when that feeling came back: the feeling of failure. Am I going to be able to do this? Up to my expectations? Will it pay off, all the hard work, time and money? What if I FAIL?!???!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!??!

School has always been a tad hard for me. I get bored of a subject very easily, which is probably why it’s so easy for me to move from job to job so often because well, it changes and I get to experience so many new things. But school anchors me down and brings me back to reality: You are going to be doing one thing for an entire year. Or more. And you will be judged, graded and disciplined if you don’t do it right. You can FAIL.

I guess it’s an aspect of my life I thought I left behind after my undergrad. I never thought I would go to grad school. Hell, I talked about getting this certificate back in 2008 and it’s taken me…5 years?! I have refused to take the GRE for that long because I’m stubborn but here I am, signed up for classes at a scholarly institute I never ever thought I would get in to. I really didn’t think I would ever go back to school. But here I am, signed up and ready to go. Well, almost. Which leads me to my next point.


Such a sore subject, but I’ll be brief, since I just finished such a rant in the last one (sorry). I seemed to have forgotten how expensive school is. Seriously, a joke how much this crap costs. And I don’t even go onto campus, EVER, for my schooling. All of it is done at home! I am paying a lot for the name, I know that, but it’s a lot. I’m still paying off loans from undergrad and luckily have some support for these courses, but it still sucks. I have been saving for this really, but school work and field work never work out very well. Which leads to the next stresssor…


Many of you that still read this blog have been since the beginning, near 2007 and 2008, and know how my life works: with every earthly season, I move to a new place and start a new job. I’ve been to Australia, Florida, Texas, Peru and every inch of California. I work for little money, to enjoy the jobs I have and appreciate the environment around me. I don’t regret a second of it.

Western Screech Owl

But now I have to come out of that world. And I feel like I’m about to make a huge career change: field biologist to…retail? Guys, a biologists resume is like, 10,000 pages long (ok, mine is 6) because we include every specific aspect of our work experience, like down to the number of hours and individual birds we have caught birds in mist nets and banded. So…how do I apply for a job selling shoes?! Or food?! I haven’t worked with people (hahahahhaha) in a store since…2008. WHOA. That’s a long time to really be…away from people. Just ask Whit, just being in a crowd makes me antsy (a true biologist personality…sadly) and people just agitate me a lot of the time (ok, not all the time, but you get the picture. Which is probably why I work with animals because they only sing or rawr, and not in English…haha).


All of this boils down to one thing: when I get stressed, I take into control the one thing I know how to control, my eating disorder.

Such a silly thing to take pride in being able to control, but from there so many other aspects of my ‘self’ are controlled and I think everything is cake. Yeah, not so much.  Most of my undergrad was spent believing I was fat, not beautiful and not worth it for people to be friends with me. I know this is not the case, and know it for sure now, but it still lingers.

It’s like the body dysmorphia I have written about time and time again: I think I’m being judged for the way I look, how skinny I am, and if I don’t fit into the mold that I think everyone thinks I should be in, I fail and no one will like me. Obviously not the case, since I finally convinced myself otherwise this last summer when I gained ten pounds and no one said anything or thought anything less of me!

This happens every time I get stressed out though, and I know it, so the good thing is I know how to lessen it now. I know how to control those negative feelings and distorted ideas in my brain to make everything go at least a little smoother.  I guess it’s just the initial shock of it all…but if I give it time, talk to great friends to relieve my stress (here’s looking at you Jenn!) and have Whit make sure there is chocolate and my running shoes around 24/7, I’ll be ok! Right!?!?


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16 Responses to Sides Notes: The Weak Moment When

  1. <3 you are amazing, and it's so awesome of you to open up like this! I totally relate to the nervousness of going back to school, but be confident. You will be AMAZING and you are so much wiser and stronger than when you were in college! Always here to chat

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks for the encouragement Clare. I know you have just finished your first set of classes and it sounds like you did great, especially with your recovery going on! I’ll let you know if I need anything when school starts…less than two weeks away! crazy!

  2. Floey says:

    <3 hang in there. I totally know how you feel about school, I'm the same way. Would love to meet up someday. Keep in touch! Are you in Cali right now?

  3. Kim says:

    You know, I hate feeling out of control as well. But I hope that all the work you’ve done will allow you to get through the transition well and maybe even enjoy it. Good luck!!

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks Kim! It’s going to take some adjustment for sure and hopefully I’ll be able to use what I’ve learned for sure! :)

  4. Pingback: Five Things Friday 8.9.13 - Fitting It All In

  5. G says:

    I did grad school all wrong (even writing this is making me realize how guilty and anxious I feel about the experience). I started out feeling like I had something to prove, isolated myself, and pushed myself so hard I ended up in a really bad place. It wasn’t school, it was the pressure I put myself under. I finished, with a good product, but I did not enjoy any of it. My advice to you is to try to really be in the moment-not dwelling on what you have done or dreading what is coming, but try to appreciate each class, day, success, and failure. Science is all about testing hypotheses and that inherently involves failure. It is not an inherently bad thing, but as a perfectionist you will be tempted to see it that way. Recovering does not mean never facing these issues again, but knowing how to deal with them and knowing your limits. When I feel the anxiety creeping, I know I need to use my tools: therapy, yoga, meditation, and “reality checks” ( which of my thoughts are honest and which are disordered themes that I get sucked into?). Lastly (geez finally) try to form study groups and participate in events/clubs/etc. It can get lonely in school, especially as a distance learner. I know you can do this. I hope I didn’t scare you!

    • G says:

      Sorry one more thing- I was untreated and undiagnosed when in school. I had no healthy coping skills and no awareness of how messed up I was. I believe you will NOT have the same experience I did, because you have your ducks in a row.

    • Melissa says:

      Ah G, I totally know what you mean and you didn’t scare me. Most of my undergrad was like what you talked about; I was a troll in my room, never coming out for anything but classes and never went to social gatherings. I will use all my recovery tools to keep me in place and am looking at this experience in a whole new light, or at least as much as I can!

  6. biz319 says:

    I think now you are in such a better place than where you were in 2008 – you are older, wiser, and you can keep the eating disorder in check because I know you are stronger than it. And the support of Whit will be great too.

    Getting a B is not a failure, although my daughter has high expectations on herself too when it comes to school – I was never that good of a student!

    Sending hugs!!

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks Biz! It’s always so hard for me to not be so hard on myself as it has been for years, but maybe this time, it’ll be different! :)

  7. I feel like recognizing it is a huge part of it. You know that you are vulnerable. I’ll be praying for you during this season. We’ll have to do a girls weekend with Bobbi!

  8. Peggy says:

    Found you today (I commented on the zucchini bread post). You were discussing your concern about changing jobs and I have a suggestion for you. Have you thought about tutoring? Check into some home school groups in your area and see if any of the parents want someone to work with their child/children in science. They would love to have someone with your experience I’m quite sure. Just a thought.

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks for the idea Peggy, I never would have thought! I’ll see about looking into that! Great way to make some extra money I’m sure!

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