When Things Feel Out of Control

By Emilee Leslie


This is what my eighth-grade science teacher dubbed me as after pestering him for days for a chance to boost my B to an A letter grade. This is also the asset my mentor urged me to use in the job market to offset my lack of experience. I squeezed this compound word into the skills section of my resume between “detail-oriented” and “time management.” What these soft skills really mean is that I am a workaholic in the making.        

I can remember a leadership organization I participated in during high school among the other extracurricular activities and rigorous academic programs. This was a student-run organization that taught us how to lead by leading others and being led. The head of the group at the time was a senior named Amber, someone I trusted for constructive criticism and to whom I looked up like a big sister.

Amber was giving each member of the group homework for the week to develop our leadership skills. I, being the perfectionist that I am, was told to meditate. Amber wanted me to spend some time alone, slow down, and clear my mind. I’m not afraid to say that the experiment lasted a handful of minutes before I found something “productive” to do and a nice way to tell Amber that I didn’t need to meditate.

Today I am a 22-year-old full-time college student, balancing a full-time job with volunteer work and trying to search for a better job and a new place to live. Yes, this is happening all at once and yes, this is normal for me. The real question. Is this healthy?

I am on friendly terms with the words “stress” and “anxiety.” However, if there is ever a moment’s rest, my friends and loved ones are quick to call me out for complaining that I have nothing to do. There must be a breaking point.

At the time of this writing, Coronavirus is alive and well, and although I am hoping it will cease terrorizing us soon, I have never been more grateful in my life. It is rare that any circumstances force the entire world to stop what they are doing and slow down. Coronavirus has asked us to do just that, at least for a while we wait for the fate of the entire population of the world.        

For me, these circumstances have required me to work from home until further notice. I am limited in exercise opportunities with the closing of some gyms and national parks. As someone that plans events and travel a year in advance, I am patiently watching as music festivals are canceled and airlines become obsolete. Entire states and countries are locking down one by one. Currently, I get the most satisfaction out of plowing through the last semester of my degree since UCF was quick to continue classes online.

We live in a face-paced society that praises the nonstop grind and puts immense pressure on everyday living. It took a pandemic to put a pause on that lifestyle. It took complete loss of control to put a pause on my lifestyle. If the universe was sending a sign, I got it.

For the rest of the world, things may be full steam ahead in a couple of weeks. While this is a time of worry and anticipation for many people, I am taking this as an opportunity to slow down. I am young, healthy, and ideally, at the beginning of the rest of my life. Habits and decisions I make now are likely to stick with me. I have some work to do on myself (and not the kind that includes schedules, mentors, deadlines and interviews). I recognize some toxic practices of our fast-paced society that are ingrained in my generation, and I no longer want to continue the trend.

Instead, I am going to spend time with those close to me. I am going to stow away my planner and think about the day that has already been given. I am even going to try to meditate and clear my mind. If Coronavirus has taught me anything besides washing my hands, it is that life can change or be gone in an instant, so instead of planning for tomorrow, take the time to enjoy your life today.

Photo titled “Slow” by La Chachalaca Fotografía found at Creative Commons.