Beep, beep, beep. I jolt out of bed, again, looking around to see what is making that awful and scary noise. It’s my alarm. It’s the third time it has gone off today. Anyone would think that I would be used to it by now but even months after having this schedule, it still gives me a sense of panic. I do my three little kicks and shuffle the sheets in anger (very mature I know), then jump out from the halfway bunk to do my bed. Even though I’m fairly disorganized and messy, when you have a roommate you have to be on your best behavior. She’s been my friend since High school and I can’t let her down by making a mess out of this place. I pour water into the kettle and let it heat. Coffee is a must if you want to survive. I don’t have grandma's coffee but I do have instant, which is good enough for me. I get changed, always away from the window so no one can see me, you never know who might be passing by. I brush my teeth, wash my face, and put my concealer under my dark eyes. I thought that I had the dark undereye because of my lack of sleep, but it turns out it’s also because of my genes. Since it’s kind of normal I tried to not wear concealer as much, but when I don’t wear it, people think I’m sick. I put it on, put a little blush to *look alive*, and mascara because might as well. I know that doing all of this to not look weak in front of people that don’t pay much attention to me is irrational, but I also don’t know how to stop.
I head to class with my headphones in. I smile at everyone that passes by in case they hold grudges. When I get to class, I sit at the back. I learned that the front is the most vulnerable place. Freshmen year, someone was taking pictures of me, and I would hear giggles, and whispers, I was so uncomfortable that I had to leave the classroom and act like I needed to go to the bathroom or fill up my water bottle. I still do all that, but I also know that the people in these classes are much safer than before. I try to interact as little as possible, but I’m known as a good student. When people don’t want to participate, the teacher looks my way. To be fair though, I’m also at fault, I feel bad when no one answers so I think that if I say something, even if it is wrong, more people would participate and make the class less awkward. From time to time I feel like the spotlight is on me, and not for good reasons. In these cases, where no water or bathroom breaks will do, I go to my other methods. I take notes passionately, that way I focus more on my notes than on the people around me. I also chew gum, eat candy, and snacks, or do anything that distracts my mind.
Walking back from class, I practice my breathing exercises. Inhale. 1,2,3,4. Hold. 1,2,3,4. Exhale. 1,2,3,4,5,6. Over and over again. I’m counting, I’m smiling, I’m hungry. The cafeteria is packed at this time. My friends are busy, I have wasted my badass energy on class, and I don’t want to have to say hi to more people than necessary or risk seeing someone I know. So instead, I order my food online, wait for it, and go pick it up. Always leave a tip, to let them know I appreciate their work. Back in my room, I eat, nap, and rush to finish my homework for my worst class this semester. The only reason why I show up on time for this class is that my roommate has a class next door. The class feels long, our teacher is teaching up to the very last minute, but it eventually ends.
I walk back to the dorms not by myself though. I make small talk with one of my friends and get as close to the dorms as possible without crossing by anyone else. I enter the elevator, hoping that no one else comes in. I keep pressing the “close door” button even though it does not work, I still press it three years later filled with hope. I get to the third floor and rush across the hall. There it is, my safe haven, the floor lounge. It’s the second year now that it has become my study hall. People pass by but I try to stay away from the doors because my instinct is to look out and see who is there. I study and work the best I can. In the middle of my study session, my heart drops. My breath is cut short, and a panic attack is incoming, I feel it. I half-pack my things and rush to my room. I go down to the floor, put my head between my legs, and try to breathe as I was taught. I tell myself “I’m safe, my room is safe, I am okay, there is no threat”. I keep repeating the same things over and over again while I cry and try to catch my breath. Twenty minutes pass and my attack starts to wind down. I ground myself and lay down. After all that has passed, I go to the shower. I don’t know if showering helps but it at least makes me feel productive. After the shower, it’s time to head for dinner with my friends. While heading to the cafe, I try to keep up with their days and the people that pass by simultaneously. Once at the cafe, I order my food and stay as close to my friends as possible. We head back to the lounge, eat, talk, and do homework. Hours pass and other than the casual random person walking in to buy snacks that makes me jump, everything seems fine. I finish my assignments and stay up until 1:00 a.m. in the lounge. Then I go back to my room, get ready for bed, and hope that I sleep through the night this time.