Thursday, November 30, 2006

How to Become a Stress Case

Since I know everyone's always looking for more sources for stress, here are a few tips and tricks I've learned through the long years of experience. Now, keep in mind that I'm no expert - though I was once told that the level of tension in my neck and shoulder muscles was normally only seen in car accident victims who were suffering from whiplash... Anyway, when I really want to stress myself out, here are a few things that I like to do:

1. Say Yes to Everything

Want to perform in my show? Why yes, I do. Want to perform in my show, which opens within a week of the previous show, meaning that you will deal with overlapping rehearsal schedules and many a late night, resulting in disappointed directors and no time to do your homework? That sounds great*! How about then auditioning for another show, meaning that while you're trying to polish up your lines and movement, get everything performance ready, and then actually perform for audiences, you'll also be trying to find time to prepare for and then perform at callbacks? Best idea I've ever heard. Oh, and hey, can you have a final draft of the 90-page play you've been intensively rewriting for months now to me sometime soon, requiring you to spend your Thanksgiving break going through the unusually extensive and time-consuming rewriting process you've set up for yourself as the only effective method instead of actually relaxing or spending time with your family? I'd love to! Can I help with the Stake Activity this weekend, too? Please?

2. Try to Be Perfect At Everything

Don't mess up a move in your Modern Dance class, get less than 100% on your Theatre History assignments, screw up your monologue, forget a line at rehearsal, show up late for a class or - heaven forbid! - leave the house without perfectly applied makeup every morning. Why, the world might end if you get something wrong! In order to really hate one's life, one must intertwine one's sense of self-esteem so closely with one's performance that the two become indistinguishable. This way, doing badly at anything can brand you an essentially bad person, giving you such a host of fears and insecurities that even daily massages from a good friend won't help you feel relaxed. The True Perfectionist is so afraid of showing a flaw that she would rather fail perfectly than succeed only in part. Ironically, the only thing many of us are able to get to 110% is our stress level.

3. Please Everyone

Don't talk to anyone unless they talk to you first. If someone else wants something, and it's in your power to give it to them, then do it, even if it was something you wanted. Do anything anyone tells you to do. Get in the middle of other people's business. Require everyone's approval, and worry constantly that you aren't receiving it. The list can go on and on.

4. Never Admit That You Want Things

Wanting things only makes it harder when you don't get them. Of course, not wanting anything makes anything you do receive completely meaningless, but that's beside the point. And admitting to others that you want stuff is clearly a stupid idea, because it's not like they would help you get it, right? Right?

5. Be Either Too Lazy or Too Ambitious

Actually, you'll probably get similar results from any kind of extreme. When you're too lazy, you never accomplish anything, so that you feel unfulfilled and worthless. But hey, I bet you watch a lot of TV, which could be a plus. On the other hand, be too ambitious and you'll inevitably sacrifice your personal life, meaning that one day you'll find yourself with everything you ever hoped for and no one to call and tell about it. Extreme behaviors can be a wonderful source for stress.

6. Trust No One

Once you realize that you have nowhere to turn - then, yes, the true self-destruction can begin. Never be vulnerable. Never tell anyone anything personal. Try to somehow convey to others that they can trust you without ever actually trying to trust them. Turn yourself into a happy little island - a party island if you want, like Jamaica or The Island of Misfit Toys, but don't let anyone come to visit because you're probably an island with a dormant volcano on it that could finally explode any day now and you just don't want foreign tourists around when a thing like that happens.

7. Care About Dating

This alone should be enough to send anyone off the deep end.

8. Run From Your Problems

Like if you have a ton of homework to do and it's past midnight and you have an 8 am class tomorrow, don't actually do your homework. Do something frivolous and wonderful like write in your blog instead. That's the smart way to live your life.

9. Love the Word "Should"

"Should" is a wonderful stress creator, because by using this word effectively you can create for yourself an entire imaginary world that will make reality look so disappointing that you'll never be really satisfied with it. I should be a size two. I should have a 4.0 GPA. I should eat healthy food instead of this food. This should turn the TV on. She should know what's wrong with me without having to ask. In the past tense it's especially powerful, because you can't even do anything to fix it. I should've known that was a bad idea. I should've just gone in there and told him what I was thinking. That should've happened six weeks ago. Oh, I could go on all day.

There now, by incorporating these nine simple tips into your everyday life, you too can know the joys of Stress. If you incorporate them and don't stress out, there's probably something wrong with you because really - these should work.

*The really sucky thing is, it is great!!