Once, during finals week, all my sanity broke loose.
Over-caffeinated and sleep deprived, I sat in the library tapping my leg up and down as I feverishly attempted to cram a semester's worth of information into my brain. My heart rate was up. I was reading pages without an understanding of what was being read. I got to the end of a chapter and couldn’t tell you what my mind had been doing for the past half hour.
It’s the consistent emotion of college students world-wide. Perhaps it comes from the attempt to learn a wide range of material in a new environment, while still sleeping, and having a desperate attempt at a social life. Where can we find the balance? It’s a pick 2 society. You can’t have sleep, good grades, and a social life.
I’m hear to tell you that mentality is wrong. You can beat stress. You can have all three.
You can make the grades you are supposed to and have a social life, all while sleeping enough to maintain sanity.
Want to know how? Recollection.
Recollection? No, I’m not telling you to try and remember everything you didn’t learn. I mean you need to recollect yourself.
I’ve written a piece before on self-care, but recently have had my horizons broadened by this dimension of recollection. Recollection reveals to us our subjectivity (3). By subjectivity I mean an understanding of ourselves as person, self-acting subjects in the story we are writing.
What is your story? What are you writing? In the feverish pace of college I think we, or at least I, often forget to recollect ourselves and why we are struggling to get the grade. In focusing on the end, graduation, I loss the end of the present moment and myself as acting in it.
Let's back up for a moment. What is recollection? Recollection is not an activity per say. It’s not sitting in your chair and thinking really hard about yourself. If I simply sit and think really hard, I’m not getting at my individuality, my “Catherineness” you could say, but at characteristics about myself. No, recollection is more of an active receptivity in which I am intensely present to myself. Receptive of what exactly? From who am I receiving? It seems that there is an element of recollection that is necessarily theistic, belief in a higher power. But this is not the case, although I would argue that it is the most fruitful position. I am capable of recollecting myself through other means such as remembrance of my death and my place in the universe.
It brings to mind, what is my story? What am I writing? The end goal cannot be the only focus within ourselves. The end goal gives meaning in the present moment. And this moment, while a means to our eventual end, remains an end in itself. Rushing by the present moment to get to a conceptual end is not living. It befuddles subjectivity. We are no longer “I” but we become “student” or “aspiring entrepreneur” or “pre-med”. The identification with a role we play as our primary understanding of ourselves causes this scatteredness and this stress. The need to recover the personal “I” is necessary to overcome this. Who are you? What kind of story are you writing?
You might be thinking that this whole idea of recollection is overly self absorbed. In encountering the transcendent nature of the self we know ourselves more clearly. There is a dynamic clarity imparted. By recollection I am empowered to interact with others and the world. In our interactions with others, self recollection is necessary. If I do not know myself, it is impossible to give of myself. What sort of gift would I be?
Bringing this back to the original topic of stress. You do not need to be enslaved by stress. Allow for moments of recollection in your day. Be intensely present to yourself, your transcendent self, not the characteristics about yourself. If you know the kind of story you want to be the subject do not idolize it as an end. The present is an end itself because you are an end. In recollecting your subjectivity, a depth of being particular to you, you become more alive. Stress is not something you are entrapped in. The scatteredness of stress can be beat. Enliven your subjectivity. Recollect yourself before you wreck yourself.
1. Image One
2. Image Two
3. Crosby, John F., The Selfhood of the Human Person, pg. 102-106
4. Image Three
5. Image Four