There is a joke that appeared in the film “10 Things I Hate About You” where they note that the word “whelmed” doesn’t really communicate anything by itself in common usage. It must be adorned with a prefix (over or under) for the word to carry meaning for most people. While the word does exist (go ahead and do a web search) and does carry meaning (essentially that of “overwhelmed”) it was the first word I thought of yesterday when trying to define the feeling I was experiencing: Whelmed (read: overwhelmed).

My reasons will be different than yours (qualifying exams, caring for my son during the day, dissertation work, teaching, etc…) but the end result is that I felt out of it yesterday. We all, I think, have those days and it is important to understand that they are not the end of you. Sometimes we look into the future and feel that it is too much. High school takes four years. College can take even longer. When you’re looking at something from the beginning of the journey (or perhaps even before it has started) it certainly looks like a long and hard road… and it just may actually be that. The importance is taking one step at a time.

If you’re still in school you feel this (doubly so if you’ve just started high school or college). One step at a time is an important mantra to repeat. You cannot climb the mountain in one stride and neither will you complete every task before you all at once. You work on one thing at a time. You work on things in steps. You won’t write that research paper by sitting at the computer. You’ve got to do research first. Then you might decide on a topic (or clarify an existing one). Some people will do an outline in order to get the structure down. Then there will be several smaller sessions of writing that, at the end, add up to one big research paper (probably after revision). Phew! I’m feeling better already. So slow down, do what you can do, and don’t worry about doing it all at once. Oh, and have fun. Remember to smile.