Writing Makes it Real

By Megan Reilly

Two things about me:

#1: I am a list person. Notepads, post-its, the corner of a meeting handout, even draft messages in my e-mail inbox, it doesn’t matter. If I’m in class, a work meeting, or just talking to a friend and I hear something important, I feel much better writing it down. Maybe it’s because my memory is less than perfect and I’m afraid of forgetting things, but the simple act of putting pen to paper (or finger to touchscreen) makes me feel in control of any situation.

#2: I also tend to stress about things. Often very silly things, or things I honestly have no control over. I lie awake at night worrying about minor decisions and wondering if they were the right ones. Big decisions cause even more frustration. I obsess over whatever I’m deciding from multiple angles before even coming close to a decision.

These two things are facts about myself that I don’t see changing anytime soon. And just like my sunburn-prone Irish skin, another feature about myself that I can’t do much to change, I have learned to embrace them. And I have done this by writing down the things that cause me stress.

By writing something down, I can identify what it is that concerns me. I can create a plan and refer back to it when I start to stress about it again. I do this with post-graduate school job searching decisions. I do it with financial plans and budgets that help me keep track of when my bills will be paid and how many more months (okay, years) until I will have my student-loan debt repaid. I even have made lists about my long-term personal goals and even if life throws me curveballs and nothing happens according to the plan, I feel better having one. And somehow, my lists make me feel more in control. Once I put it on paper or type it out, it doesn’t look or feel as daunting. I can look at it, think about it, and know that all I want to accomplish is just a few steps away. And even if those steps are huge and intimidating in actuality, writing them down in a short little list makes them seem a little less scary.

Sometimes, even the illusion of control is all you need to get a good night’s sleep. And if it doesn’t work, I also really like chocolate, and that helps too.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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