This past Wednesday, I learned a surprising life lesson: Ambulances are surprisingly comfortable. Let me explain. On Tuesday, in an attempt to start eating healthier, I bought a nut-free, almond butter-esque spread that happened to have sunflower seeds. Upon consumption, I promptly began to have an allergic reaction, which devolved into mild issues breathing and my first call to 911 — by myself, for myself. So instead of spending my Tuesday night doing homework, I was whisked away in an ambulance to Cayuga Medical Center.
I have learned quite a bit from this entire ordeal. Firstly, I’m allergic to sunflower seeds. And having to flag down EMTs and then promptly being surrounded by a team and an ambulance is very embarrassing, especially when you’re on central campus on a weekday afternoon. I also realized that, in some weird way, I needed this break. Of course, I am also fortunate that due to my parents’ excellent health insurance, this little adventure was not astronomically expensive, as emergency room visits can sometimes be. Maybe it was the drowsiness from the drugs they gave me finally starting to kick in, but,sitting in the hospital room, flipping between Food Network and TLC, I felt this sense of peacefulness I hadn’t experienced in a while. It was nice to be forced to put life on pause and just do absolutely nothing.
It had been a pretty rough couple of days. I spent a large portion of the previous weekend working on two major essays for two separate classes, starting one essay just as I finished the other, since the deadlines were 12 hours apart. I’ve never been a big fan of coffee, but that weekend, I consumed an average of four coffees a day. So I’m pretty convinced this allergic reaction was my body telling me it had had enough.
By the time I landed in the emergency room, I was tired. I was tired of doing work, tired of trying to hunt down my professor for office hours and tired of dragging myself out of bed to make new friends or staring for hours at a screen, desperately trying to decipher reading for one of my classes and questioning my interest in every single subject I thought I liked. College is supposed to be four of the best years of your life, but why, at that oint, was the only thing I wanted to do go into hibernation?
Ever since I started college, I’ve felt this sense of urgency, that I always needed to be on the move, always doing or going to do something. Everyone warned me that college would involve a lot of FOMO, but I never took them seriously. Despite attending college in the middle of the pandemic, I always feel like I’m missing out on something, or that everyone else is ahead of me, that somehow all my peers already know what they’re going to major in, or where they’re going to intern this summer. In fact, while I was in the ambulance, I spent a fair amount of time looking at the tiny clock on the back wall, sulking over the fact that I would most likely miss an event on undergraduate economics research.
But I realized, sometimes, you need to stop and just breathe. Granted, maybe don’t take that break because you’re having a severe allergic reaction and need to go to the hospital. Nevertheless, it’s important that you give yourself a conscious break sometime. Later that night, after I returned from the hospital, I went to bed before midnight for probably the first time since I’ve arrived at college. And it was delightful. Turns out, your 9 a.m. lecture makes a lot more sense when you wake up 45 minutes in advance, as opposed to frantically forcing yourself out of bed ten minutes before it begins. College can be overwhelming sometimes, especially after I’ve spent six months doing, generally, very little of anything, and it’s important to acknowledge that and not be too hard on yourself. After all, it turns out, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to do nothing at all.
Wendy Wang is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Common Nonsense runs every other Friday this semester.