My friend likes to remind me regularly that I am a mess. She will hear about the latest antics or adventures that I have somehow gotten myself into and just shake her head at me.

A recent example: While leaving for a work trip to New Orleans, I went through security at the airport and as I walked away, I couldn’t find my keys. I went back and asked if I could check the bins. Unfortunately, they had just been brought up to the other side, meaning the TSA agent had to go do it. The poor woman searched for five minutes and couldn’t find them. Thankfully, my apartment building has just installed keypad locks on all of the doors, so I wasn’t freaking out too much.

She gives me a card with the number to call for the lost and found and I continue on my way to New Orleans. As my cab is pulling up to my hotel, I pull out my wallet and I feel something else in my back pocket. Apparently, my keys had been there the whole time.

But I ask, how did I sit for a four-hour flight, use my wallet to buy lunch, and not notice my keys were in there? To be honest, I’m still not fully convinced that it wasn’t some kind of New Orleans voodoo.

Things like this happen to me all the time. It’s why another friend of mine comments that he and I aren’t allowed to do certain things without a chaperone present. Who knows what kind of havoc we would reign down on the world?

Personally, I think these types of things happen because I live in a perpetual state that teeters between exhaustion and stressed out. I have always been a person who schedules out my life to try to maximize the amount of time available. Sometimes I’ll recount my schedule to people, and they will reply that just hearing it makes them tired. But it’s the standard operating process for me.

Have you ever seen that meme that talks about having $86,400 in your bank account and asking how you would react if someone stole $10? For some reason, this meme really bothers me. It’s trying to say that you shouldn’t sweat the small things because there are 86,400 seconds in the day, and you shouldn’t let something ruin your day if it was only 10 seconds of it.

First: $10 is $10. So yeah, I’m still going to be upset. While it’s not a lot of money, if you stole from me, we are going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law and probably even go by prison rules. You steal from me, I come after your whole family.

Second: This meme, while well-intentioned, is just a little too simplistic for my liking. It doesn’t consider a lot of different aspects of what the situation might contain.

Maybe there is something to trying to be less stressed in my daily life. Now that I am (supposedly) older and wiser, I decided to try different coping mechanisms to deal with life. The challenge I gave myself is to not be as stressed all the time over the last month.

Things started well. After a week off, I went back to work and no one was going to break my stride. Rather than jumping right back into things, I let myself ease back in, and if I felt stress coming on I would take a second to breathe and let my levels return to normal. Kind of like in movies when you see a character starting to turn into a werewolf but are able to stop themselves from fully turning. That was me. Stress – 0, Me – 1!

It was going well, and I began to think that maybe I had been doing things wrong for the last 20 years. Could it be that this is the better way to live?

Well, after a week and a half, things took a turn.

I woke up one day in a mood that just wouldn’t change. Everything annoyed me. It’s the type of mood that makes you think that kicking babies is a good idea. I didn’t necessarily get stressed, but I was in a sour mood. I think my body might have been revolting from not having the elevated stress levels. My body was actually gasping for stress.

It only got worse when at the end of the week I came down with a stomach bug that sidelined me for four days. When you’re living in the bathroom for multiple days, there’s nothing you are going to do except wish for a quick and painless death. This was the nail in the coffin that it really was my body revolting against me. I haven’t been that sick in years. My body hated me so much for not being stressed that during this stomach bug, I didn’t even lose weight – the one upside to getting sick!

Finally returning to the land of the living, I decided I should listen to my body. Maybe there is a better plan of attack. Maybe if I just attempt to be more patient (a virtue I admittedly have never had) and try to be more understanding, I could achieve the same end result.

Here’s what I found though: It’s really tiring when you are trying to be cognizant of things all the time. If you aren’t being natural and authentic, it feels like work that you’re making yourself do. I am back to being exhausted and have had a headache for the last three days that only disappears temporarily when I take prescription level ibuprofen.

So, my month-long experiment has kind of failed – mostly because my body gave out on me. I am still attempting to be more aware of when I am stressed or get short with someone.  I’ve even taken to trying to do at least one nice thing per day to make someone’s day better.

I may continue to be a mess, but maybe I can brighten someone else’s day. If not, I can say that I tried, and I will continue to have endless stories to tell about my shenanigans.

Padraic Maroney hails from upstate New York, suffering from middle child syndrome.  His writing career began after moving to the Philadelphia suburbs while in high school. He wrote for The Bucks County Courier Times’ Reality section, written by local teenagers, and has the distinction of writing a weekly gossip column for a college newspaper at a school he didn’t even attend! His love of pop culture led him to intern at Teen People, where he met Janis Gaudelli, and realized he could turn being a millennial into a career. Since then he’s alternated between writing and marketing, but always focused on Millennials and everything they bring to the table. Padraic is a lover of shenanigans, 80s music, and the movie “Scream.”

You can follow his additional adventures on Instagram: @padraicjacob

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