The dining hall served potato smiley faces yesterday, along with dino nuggets. I was ecstatic. Dino nuggets were my favorite unhealthy meal in the world. It’d also been a while since I had potato smiley faces–they reminded me of my childhood. I was happy.
When getting the smiley faces, I joked that no one makes sad faces. I said I’d eat the potato cakes if they were crying faces, not smiley faces. My friends laughed. It was a joke, of course. Perhaps a dash of dark humor, but a joke after all.
Was it though?
I decided that it was.
When was the last time I had such a carefree smile unburdened with stress and tiredness? I can’t remember.
This was supposed to be my year. I was going to start fresh in junior year, free from the stresses I had piled on myself in sophomore year.
I smile into the mirror. It looks so forced. I peer at myself. There are dark eyebags forming– side-effects of sleeping at 1:00 am for the last week. Sometimes I had to, sometimes I just did. I could finish my work at 11 pm but still work until 1 am just for the sake of it.
It’s late nights like these that help me realize that productivity has become my serotonin, my anti-depressant: I can forget all my woes by being productive and trick myself into thinking everything’s fine.
Everything’s not fine. I’m stressing out about my grades and for once, I’m terrified of midterm grades. What if I do badly? What if my teachers don’t like me? What if my first impressions are horrible?
They kind of were. I met with my monitor and my advisor. They helped me realize that, yes, I did screw up first impressions in one or two classes, but there’s room for improvement.
Productivity isn’t actually serotonin–not really. It’s the satisfaction of knowing that I’m improving, that I’m doing better, even in the wee hours of the morning, that helps me know I’m doing ok, that I’m ok.
And I don’t get over my woes by forgetting. I get over them by laughing. It’s instances when I’m doubling over in laughter that I find I’m actually feeling better.
So that was my story of feeling better.
On World Smile Day, my smiles were all punctuated by dark eye bags and dead stares, but I’m going to sleep at 11 pm today, and I’m going to try better tomorrow, laugh it out with my friends.
Tomorrow, I might actually eat those potato smiley faces with a smile. And I’ll feel better about myself.
Smile. That’s the anti-depressant.