Sniffles, Snorkels, and Shakespeare

I plopped down in the middle of the Shakespeare aisle in the library.

And I burst into tears.

Mind you, I kept my sobs silent, my mouth covered. No one could see me. This was in Range 107 and 108 on Third Floor East in the BSU library. The hundreds of floor-to-ceiling shelves of books are spaced just far enough apart to sit with legs crossed. I love this place, getting lost amongst the stacks. I love the smell and feel of real books, old books. I love that so many people at one time or another were able to hold a work in their hands and be proud to have had their words published–in this particular aisle, so many many words about the bard, Shakespeare.

The criticisms and handbooks and guides on his tragedies and comedies mocked me from the shelves. “You’ll never have time to learn everything you need to know. Just look how much has been written! Ha ha! And you think you have something to say?”

It was a tragedy that I, a grown woman, sat amongst the stacks bawling.

It was a comedy for exactly the same reason.

Please, no one come by.

I can just imagine: “There’s someone up there crying,” a concerned student reports to the circulation desk. “And she’s, like, really old. Maybe she’s, like, having a breakdown?”

I can imagine the words over the intercom system. “Clean up on Third Floor East, Range 107.” And someone will come looking for me with tissues and a concerned face and maybe a straitjacket.

“I’m all right. Really. Just a bad day. And I’m just really tired.”

I glance North and South from my spot on 3 East. Aside from the occasional student passing by, no one even seems to know I’m here having my little meltdown. I wipe my nose on my shirtsleeve (gross) and lean against the stacks. A few deep breaths.

“You can do this. Just finish this semester. You can do this.”

By Nemoischia (Own work)

But it’s that little voice from college days that pushed me so hard to be perfect. Why do it if it can’t be perfect?

The doubts creep in. What am I doing here? Why am I doing this? What is the point?

A few more deep breaths. A prayer sob to the heavens.

“God, I know you want me doing this. I know beyond any doubt that you’ve walked me through this so far these last three years. I know that this is good for me in more ways than I can imagine. But I’m in over my snorkel . . .”

So God simply and quietly calms my heart and reminds me that he isn’t going to give me shallower waters; he’s instead going to provide a longer snorkel.

And maybe some swim fins.

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

4 thoughts on “Sniffles, Snorkels, and Shakespeare

  1. Linda, I know exactly how you feel. I’ve had more than one meltdown during my grad experience. When I got an A- in my first class two years ago I was disappointed, not because it wasn’t an A but because it wasn’t a B, and now I knew I’d be challenging myself to pull all A’s. Crazy at this age to care about perfectionism.

    Juggling FT work, volunteer commitments, family needs, church responsibilties plus grad school (not to mention blogging) definitely puts us in over our snorkel but you know what? We are still paddling to shore!

    Proud of you my friend!

  2. I think that if you don’t have at least one meltdown in grad school, you aren’t doing it right. Although: I’m sorry it happened! Think about who you will be on the other side of this–better, stronger, faster!

  3. Linda, I’m so glad God comforted you. I had a meltdown EVERY semester in grad school. I wanted to quit every week. But Linda, you were meant to do this! You’re a wonderful teacher, writer, editor–you wear so many hats well. God has gifted you to conquer!

  4. It’s good to know I’m not the only one! Admittedly, you’re in grad school, but I often feel so overwhelmed by my workload this year.

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