Last week, I went to a job interview.
A very stressful job interview.
A couple of things made it stressful. First of all, the interview was for a position that I’m very excited about. If it works out, it would mean a lot to me as a writer. Second, it was a Skype interview. Third, I’ve been out of work for about a month now, and I’m starting to feel the strain.
And fourth, which I should probably have mentioned first, I had my wisdom teeth removed six days earlier and still looked like a chipmunk that had gotten into an elephant’s secret peanut stash. And, since I was also badly bruised from the experience, it looked like the elephant had then tried to strangle me.
It was awkward.
But, in the spirit of being an adult and needing this job, I forged ahead. For a solid hour, I sat up straight and attempted to smile while I stumbled over the answers to about a thousand different questions and tried to remember how to say words, not spell them. There is a reason that I am a writer, not a speaker.
Talking is hard.
Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just me?
When I finished, I was worn out. Completely. For an introvert, talking about yourself for an hour under that kind of pressure is more exhausting than a ten-mile run.
Trust me. I run. I know.
The trouble afterward was figuring out how to reenergize myself. I still had plenty of things on my to-do list for that day, and the world does not stop simply because your brain has been fried and you are tired.
In my time on this very weird earth, I have come up with lots of ways to cope with this emptied out, exhausted feeling. It’s a regular occurrence for me, as an introvert, and I’ve learned to react accordingly. Music, prayer and meditation, working out, and cooking are all ways to fill myself up again when I have been emptied, and they are all generally successful in their own way.
But, the best way to calm myself down after a stress is with words. Poetry, stories, prose. Words that soothe, words that empower, and words that remind me who I am and where I stand. For me, this is how I de-stress and fill myself up again. Here are a few of the words I run to when I am as stressed as I was last week.
1) Robert Frost: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
2) William Ernest Henley: Invictus
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the Master of my Fate,
I am the Captain of my Soul.
3) Cornelia Funke: Inkdeath
There was only the path, the endless path winding up into the strange mountains, and the desire in his heart that he couldn’t tame, a wish to ride farther and farther on into this bewildering world. What did the castle to which Violante was leading them look like? Were there really giants in the mountains? Where did the path end? Did it ever end at all? Not for the Bluejay, a voice inside him whispered, and for a moment his heart beat like the heart of a ten-year-old boy, as fearless and as fresh.
There you are. Some of my favorite poems and passages, and the words that always soothe my anxious heart when I’ve had a bad day or simply a stressful one. What about you? What are some of your favorite quotes from books, poems, or anything else that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!