The longest day is only 24 hours.
September 21st 2022, quite frankly felt longer.
But like all days, it was merely 24 hours.
My alarm was set for 8:30 a.m., more realistically 9 a.m. I woke up; that wasn’t the issue. It was the brain fog-induced haze that gently guided me back towards the pillow as soon as I shut my alarm. My eyes fluttered open nearly an hour later — at the start of my English class. If it weren’t for good old Berkeley time, I would have been toast. I had already missed a couple of the mandatory classes due to a post-sorority recruitment plague that settled over my entire house. I could not sink into my white cloud-like sheets and let the world move through the morning any longer without me.
In ten minutes, I somehow threw on a uniform outfit and made it to the sweaty basement of Evans Hall. I expected empty hallways jeering at my lateness, but instead I was met with the entirety of my class standing outside of room 35.
Great, running only to stand still.
My body lifelessly sprawled across my bed as beads of tears streamed from my eyes. I couldn’t bring myself to find motivation in the hours that had passed since exiting Evans Hall. I couldn’t muster enough mental strength to get through another French history lecture.
I had a neatly printed study schedule staring at me straight in the eye. Watching four missed lectures each day would catch me up in time for the midterm — every hour counted.
A change of scenery was certainly needed, so I climbed a set of stairs to the roof and plugged in my headphones. I scrolled through a curated Spotify playlist and settled on Journey’s Separate Ways (Worlds Apart). As thrashing drumbeats began to exacerbate my emotional headache, I quickly shut off the music and grew reaccustomed to my breathy sobs for air.
Would this crying somehow pour out each iota of lethargy and render me able to complete my pre-planned itinerary? Would my puffy face obfuscate the look of clear confusion that would strike my eyes when opening the midterm exam?
A negative answer to each of these questions caused me to spiral deeper into a pit of stress-induced depression. A pit so deep I missed my Google Calendar notification letting me know that one of my club meetings had begun.
I had done it; I had gotten into a UC Berkeley club. I should feel elated, perhaps slightly cocky. After the bolded emails and congratulatory phone calls, all I felt was an overwhelming sense of dread. I feared new interactions, new vulnerabilities and new chances to pick myself apart after overanalyzing lukewarm conversations.
As I opened the Zoom meeting to go over my successful application, I quickly slipped into the facade I had newly created for myself. Whatever emotional turmoil endured in the last few hours was neatly tucked away and saved for later.
I smiled neatly at the camera, and nodded politely through a string of well-worded notes. But as time went on, each word I said unraveled the tightly stitched tapestry of myself that I had tried so hard to craft. Questions such as “how was your day” and “what do you see yourself doing” set off warning bells in my head.
My day? It was awful.
What do I see myself doing? Attempting to pay off thousands of dollars in tow fees
It was only until an electric silence filled the meeting that I realized I had said all of this out loud. I had broken a supposedly impenetrable barrier between the words that entered my head and exited my body. For the first time that entire day, my breath unraveled into a sigh of relief.
My second meeting of the day had wrapped up. I had somehow found my way out of Cory Hall and was heading home. A cool breeze had settled over campus and swept me up the hill towards Southside. Maybe I was at ease, or maybe I was exhausted, but my mind reclined into a relaxed state. Through the exhaustion, tears, and anger, I had somehow found peace.
The longest day is only 24 hours, and this one was finally over.
I am in no way qualified to give advice on mental health, but I can provide an honest account of a college student balancing all there is to balance. Some days are inevitably going to be like my September 21st, and I can assure you, those days will be made easier by confiding in those around you. This can be a close friend, club member, or a far away family member; it is impossible to bear the brunt of our emotions all on our own.