It’s 4 AM. Birds chirp as I walk home from O’Neill Library. My head spins after countless hours spent on an International Relations paper, studying for a Microeconomic Theory exam, Econometrics projects, and Philosophy terms and definitions. An impending sense of doom filled my mind as I collapsed into my twin XL bed. Before I could process anything, my 8:25 AM alarm jolted me awake for my 9 AM class. Head and heart pounding, the only thing that ran through my mind was a question: Why? Why do I do this to myself? What does all this studying do for me, since I seem to still be doing poorly no matter how much time and effort I give? I returned to my feeble mantra: one day, all this work will pay off. However, as I often do, I proceeded to sacrifice mental, physical, and emotional health to complete my academic work.
As I reflect on my sophomore year, I have learned multiple things about myself and my choices. I will share two here: the first, I seem to be afraid of free time; the second, I restrict myself to the confines of my all-powerful schedule. Without my watch, I don’t know what to do with myself. In the rare case that I forget to wear it, I’ll be looking for any display of the passage of time: checking clocks all around me, asking a friend, or repeatedly checking my phone. If I don’t schedule my appointments, fitness activities, or meals with friends, I’ll become immensely stressed. As I cram and pour my energy into these assignments, I respond to school pressure by shutting myself into an isolated box in order to complete my work. Going through the motions of life is not a new process for me, I seem to have perfected my own game. Although I am familiar with academic challenges and high stress levels, the past months have become a new record for the most academically challenging and nerve-wracking. Despite encouragement from family, friends, and professors as to how to manage this work, among other stress-coping mechanisms, I inevitably return to old unhealthy habits without my own realization. However, I am blessed with wonderful friends and peers who know me well, and immediately know when something is off. I am eternally grateful for their kindness and support, and I will never take them for granted.
One Sunday night, before a hellish week filled with exams, someone close to me saw that I was struggling. He woke up the next morning, went across the street to buy Pillsbury cookie dough from Richdale’s, and made me cookies all before he went to his classes. The moment I received the tupperware, with his handwritten note on top, I felt an immense sense of relief, mixed with gratefulness and humility. In my sleep deprived state, I went outside and cried. On the outside, it appeared as though my lack of control demonstrated weakness, maybe my inability to control things. However, I think that this display of emotion shows internal strength. Accepting help from others requires you to let go of what you think you can control (in my case, stubbornness). The realization that you cannot control everything, no matter how much you try, is a core part of the human experience. Regardless of how we respond to this fact—whether we run, hide, or refuse to accept—does not matter. In the end, the truth remains that we must be open to receiving help from others. That day, I learned that his simple thoughtfulness and kindness in the act of preparing me those cookies was everything I needed to get through my work. He laughed when I said that these were the best cookies I’ve ever had, but I meant it. I hope you’ll experience this same release when you try this classic childhood recipe.
Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookies:
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
- Heat oven to 375°F.
- In a large bowl, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg with an electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with a spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
- On an ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool 1 to 2 minutes; transfer from cookie sheet to wire rack.
This article is dedicated to Nik Simonsen.
Cover photo courtesy of King Arthur Baking