There were some dark parallels between how I spent my last undergraduate spring break and Sean Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” each of which closely correlated with one day of my infirmed vacation. Below are his habits, with my version beneath.
1. Be Proactive
Break this word down and consider yourself in favor of being active. So you woke up on Sunday and sneezed. So what? Ignore your symptoms and keep doing what you’re doing. In fact, do more than what you’ve been doing! Go to the gym for the first time in weeks and keep adding time to the elliptical. Even though it’s snowing, run from place to place and don’t wear a scarf! Set an alarm for the morning even though you haven’t slept a full night in weeks and you don’t have anything pressing the next day. So much to do, so little time!
2. Begin With The End In Mind
Your alarm goes off, your eyelids flutter open, you yawn sleepily… and then immediately begin hacking up a lung. Realize you are the type of sick that you describe as “hitting you like a Mack Truck.” Climb back into your bed and try to stay as still as possible. Wonder if this is just a hangover, then remember you only had a single beer, with your dinner, at 6 p.m. yesterday. Envision your inevitable death in excruciating detail. With all your roommates out of town and your entire friend group out of the state, attempt to calculate how long it will take for your decomposing body to be found. Pretend you are an epidemiologist and figure out who got you sick. Envision their death in excruciating detail. Feel slightly better.
3. Put First Things First
Even though you have accepted that you are dying and spent all of yesterday in pajama pants watching Gilmore Girls and feeling sorry for yourself, make sure your priorities are still in order: your personal health and wellbeing ranks far lower than the impact of your attendance at a basketball game. Painstakingly apply a thick layer of concealer over your raw and chapped nose. Realize you now look ghostly and add blush. Blow your nose and start all over. Against your better judgment, spend the game jumping up and down and screaming. Remain chipper when your team loses because it was such a good season!
4. Think Win-Win
Wake up and remember that your team lost last night and you will not be traveling to the NCAA competition to watch them play.
Feel empty (but full of snot). Remain horizontal from sunrise until sunset. Drink nine cups of tea and finish off your box of tissues. Watch a lot of television. Close all of your blinds because you want no reminder of the world outside. Go to bed before ten but do not fall asleep until sunrise. Wonder if you can develop an addiction to CVS brand DayQuil.
5. Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
Wake up. Go to bathroom. Blow nose. Get back into bed. Get up to wash dishes. Feel dizzy. Lie down again. Repeat several times. Watch Gilmore Girls. Dream about dramatically telling your neighbors how much you hate them. Answer the phone when your mother calls, even though you’ve lost your voice and she can’t understand you. Cry. Hate everyone who is sending you snapchats of their beach vacations and respond with pictures of your couch. Realize that Linus’s attachment to his blanket was the only accurate media portrayal of true love you were exposed to as a child. Take a bubble bath. Self-medicate in a way that ensures you’ll sleep through the night.
You did not sleep through the night, so you wake up tired again. Having since abandoned tissue boxes in favor of rolls of toilet paper, wonder if your roommates will make it home before you run out of that. Make it your goal to finish washing the dishes you couldn’t wash yesterday. Remember all the productive things you were going to do this week. Try to write a cover letter. Fall asleep. Play cards with the group of people who gave you this illness. Graciously accept their apologies each time you cough and curl into the fetal position. Discover that Alka-Seltzer’s Nighttime medicine stops runny noses AND congestion. Finally sleep through the night.
7. Sharpen The Saw
Wake up feeling almost functional. Finally finish the dishes you’ve been trying to wash. Finish off another roll of toilet paper. Frequently slather Vaseline all over your face. Make a detailed, colorful, drawing-littered to do list for the next two weeks of your life. Finally write that month’s Culture Shock posts. Mentally prepare yourself for the tan people you’re going to encounter. Drink a lot of juice. Say aloud “I wish I could sleep a whole week” and then remember it’s not as great as it sounds.