This past Monday, I woke up as disoriented as ever: head pounding, sore throat and pressure localized in my forehead so high that I thought I was going to implode. I didn’t know why this was happening since I’d done virtually nothing of substance for the previous 48 hours (I finished my first round of midterms the week before!). Like any frosh scared to miss class, I rushedly showered, got dressed and met two people in my dorm at the bike racks to roll out to class together.
On the way to class, I knew something was wrong. However, when asked how I was doing, I said the casual, “I’m so sick” that everyone says during their frosh fall. Even after hitting the least amount of bumps possible on the way to class, my head was in disarray. But I prevailed! I went as if I were invisible.
I paid attention through lecture, ate lunch with joy, but struggled with the beginning of my pset; I was beginning to accept this lower standard of health. After rushing over to my math lecture, endorphins releasing as I sat because of the pace in which I biked to class, I started to get cold. This was strange considering that the math lecture room is usually 10 degrees hotter than the temperature outside — I should’ve been sweating for the lecture’s duration. It was also the time of day my thick sweater would come off — but no, I kept it on, hoping that I had more layers in my bag.
By the time class was over, I had had enough. Biking back to my dorm with the balance of a first-time unicyclist, I was lucky to make it back with enough energy to walk the 10-12 steps up to the second floor. Once I got into bed, I finally realized I had to do something about how sick I was. In the next hour, I found that I had a 102 degree fever in addition to the other symptoms that presented themselves throughout the earlier part of the day. Even though I was aware of most of my symptoms before getting back to my dorm, I felt the pressure to push through.
Upon further reflection, I realized this blatant neglect of my physical health was my first time giving into Duck Syndrome. When people asked me how I was doing up until that point in the day, I’d say something along the lines of “Feeling pretty under the weather, but overall pretty great.” In reality, I felt the intense need to take a nap and recharge.
I also realized this is the first time in which I had to decide to prioritize my physical health or academic success. It turns out, with all of the free time that is given to us to self-schedule, it is possible to do both. However, as someone who has always been scared to miss a single class, I never saw that as possible until now.
For the rest of the week, I has a terrible cough — I couldn’t even laugh without breaking into an endless spell of coughing. If you ever wake up feeling like I did, don’t be like me; as hard as it may be, give yourself a break.
Contact Kyla Windley at kwindley ‘at’ stanford.edu.