Diamond in the rough

They say that diamonds are formed under a lot of pressure. I always thought that was a nice metaphor for how something beautiful grows from the more trying parts of your life, like “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (although that’s not really a favorite of mine). But having been under a lot of pressure and generally having a rough time the past few weeks and months, I’ve grown to see a different side to that too.

I became really cold and hard inside. On the outside I still tried to sparkle and shine, but inside there was cold chaos that seemed to have no end. I didn’t like what the pressure was doing to me, but at the same time I couldn’t see an escape, no pressure valve that could relieve me. I was easily agitated, irritable, snappy and know-it-all-y. And what’s worse, it was clear that perfectionism was expected of me, even more so than my own perfectionism demanded, so that to the public eye we would appear to be the perfect university and other people wouldn’t have to stress out. But because I’m really good at not showing my stress, I stressed people out by appearing calm! It seemed a no-win situation and I was about ready to throw in the towel.

Luckily, my angels had guided me weeks in advance to plan a week off in May, and to top it off, they made the weather beautiful, after a really slow start to Spring. My main goal for this vacation was to get some charge back into my depleted batteries and this first and foremost meant there were no obligations, no deadlines, no fixed plans that must be kept, no must’s period. I had an appointment with my chiropractor at the beginning, which let off a lot of steam, took long walks in nature, went to a spa with my mom and had another massage there, … All in all it was just what the doctor ordered and I could feel myself turning more into myself again. Not hard and rigid and under extreme pressure, but someone who could breathe and smile and enjoy herself and laugh.

Of course no fairies did my work for me by the time I got back, but so far I did manage to maintain that “poise”. With one of the “public” events running towards its end, there was also less pressure. There’s still a lot to do, and to catch up on, but I’ve made it a point not to work till eight or nine in the evenings on a regular basis anymore and last Friday was the last Friday I would go into work on my day off.

It also set the question in motion, or rather pushed it more to the foreground again, if this is what I want to do with my life. I’m not thinking of quitting (anymore/just yet), but I know this is not the place I’m going to stay at till retirement. Seeing this as a stepping stone instead of a terminal also gives me some space to work on what I do want. What that is exactly, I can’t tell yet, but as I become more and more myself again, I can feel I’m getting closer to knowing it and realizing it day by day.

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