Not Waving But Drowning…

1 03 2010

Has anyone else ever read that poem by Stevie Smith called “Not Waving but Drowning”? I read it in AP English a million years ago but that last line always stuck with me as I faced tough new situations that were unpredictable for me…

Here is a link to the poem http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=175778

The poem is basically about a man whose wild thrashing in the ocean is mistaken as waving by people on shore…he is drowning but people think he is merely waving, leading to his death. While I don’t feel as though I am dying, I do have the strange sensation that I am not waving but drowning sometimes when I smile and pretend I have everything under control and I really don’t. The new work situation, the studying for GREs and trying to get grad school in order, trying to pay down debt and balancing a social life and boyfriend on top of that makes for stress. I know this isn’t as stressful compared to other people’s schedules but it is a matter of perception and what might not be stressful for someone else can be stressful for me.

I believe stress is a matter of choice, though…as in “I can let this stress me out or I can develop ways to manage it”…one of those ways that I handle stress is compartmentalization. I break down problems into smaller bits so I can focus on resolving them as pieces rather than a whole…this makes for less stressful breakdowns on my part and a bigger sense of accomplishment when those little pieces come together.

This week will be a matter of managing stress since I am reaching the end of my training rope and about to go onto the real deal…wish me luck…

Tell me: how do you manage stress? How do you react to stress when you know that a situation is getting beyond your control?

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