I signed a lease for an apartment in Cambridge last week! While I felt relieved after receiving the final confirmation email, the stress about moving itself soon sunk in: I have so much random sh*t strung about every nook and cranny of my apartment, I lack any sense of where to obtain boxes to pack this random sh*t once I get it together, and I still need to figure out how to attain furniture for my new place. I have told my friends over the past week or so that I feel stress adjacent – not stressed, because of my intensive use of emotion regulation strategies, though approaching stress, because moving blows.
On one level, I think I may feel stress adjacent because of just how much logistical effort moving entails. However, today, I made a to-do list of sorts to orient myself. Figure out where to get boxes. Ask about the parking situation at your apartment complex. Get rid of old clothes. Make a plan to procure furniture. Find a new hair stylist in the Boston area.
Sacrifice your values and seduce a rich man of color to finance your life so you can afford a 1bed/1bath right on the Charles River, an apartment filled with books and far from the man himself.
When I paused to self-reflect on my stress adjacency today, I thought about the urgency I felt throughout my childhood. From my earliest memories to the age of 18, I wanted to get out of my house as soon as possible. I memorized the admissions criteria from my top choice undergraduate college’s website, I studied SAT vocabulary while running on the treadmill, and I self-designed vigorous study schedules where I read supplementary AP test prep books from front to back so I could achieve beyond the classroom curriculum of my AP courses themselves. In some ways these efforts paid off – I got into my college of choice – though I think I would have benefitted even more from ongoing therapy, culturally-sensitive coping strategies, and/or a different mother.
These days I still do a lot. Not in a glamorizing work kinda way – I love self-reflection, spending time with friends, and my hobbies, just as much if not more than my work. However, I sometimes still feel a sense of urgency that perhaps stems from
me clearly being an Empowered Bottom™ some internalized white supremacy norms and my abusive childhood. Like, the other day I talked with a friend about a revise and resubmit I have on a paper for a peer-reviewed journal which I felt stress adjacent about, and in conversing with this friend, we both realized my coauthor and I still have over a month to complete the revise and resubmit. At times I try to pause and remind myself, Thomas, you’re safe now. Doing things a little closer to a due date or not having everything under control won’t kill you, or leave you stranded with your abusive mother.
I suppose my sense of urgency about moving may also serve as a mechanism to avoid dealing with a larger sense of grief. For the majority of my life I planned to escape, and now, I wish I could stay where I am. Though I feel excited for Cambridge, I’ve come to cherish the nature trail a five minute jog from my apartment in this city right outside D.C., my friends in the area who I gossip and analyze and process with, and my tennis pals. Before undergrad I had been traumatized, during undergrad I processed that trauma, and after undergrad, well, I’ve been more or less thriving. There have been negative emotions and experiences for sure, though their intensity feels so much less than during the previous, darker periods of my life.
I feel proud of myself for embracing the uncertainty of where I will find myself after residency; I have no clue where I will land because it all depends on how my job apps go. Right now, though, I have 44 days until my lease starts in Cambridge. Even with the stress of moving present, I plan to savor each remaining day in this city near D.C., cherishing every moment in this city I’ve come to call home.
Do you ever notice the way you get stressed or engage with stress stemming from your childhood? How have you coped with moving, other than finding a rich queer man of color to finance your lifestyle so you don’t have to do anything? I have been meaning to write about my parents so I’m gonna put that out there now so I’m held accountable to it for later, lol. Until next post!