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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Flu teaches Shannon to be a kid

There’s nothing like a little sickness to remind you how much you can miss being a kid sometimes.

This week, I was struck down by an absolutely debilitating illness. And by that I mean I caught a bad cold and am a tad overdramatic at times. Still, there was no getting around it: I felt like crap.

Now, living as we do in the veritable cesspool of copious cup sharing, erratic sleep patterns and Easy Mac-induced malnutrition that is the college atmosphere, I’m sure not one college student is a stranger to my experience this week. We’ve all had our style cramped at one point or another by this nameless combination of sore throat, headache, exhaustion and hitherto unthinkable amount of mucous production. Not even the sexy raspy voice and excuse to skip a few lectures can outweigh the discomfort.

But on this particular occasion, while I lay pitifully in a cocoon of fleece tied blankets and watched reruns through a haze of Nyquil, I was forced to confront a hard fact to face for a self-assured young adult like myself: I really wanted my mommy. 

There, I said it. As much as I might fancy myself an independent woman of Destiny’s Child caliber, one little virus and I’m reduced to a whining 5-year-old who just wants animal crackers and an endless amount of sympathy, and possibly the elimination of all adult responsibilities while you’re at it.

I did my best to maintain an air of dignity, but my inner elementary schooler demanded to be satiated. Before I knew it, I found myself shirking all school-related reading in favor of rewatching “The Mummy” for what might be at least the 1000th time and loudly suggesting how much I’d like a cup of hot chocolate until my roommate got up and made me some.

What had I become? I, Shannon, the notoriously autonomous and obnoxiously adult-like college student, had devolved into a creature with the emotional maturity of a child.

I saw only one solution: I had to go into the Matrix. I had to accept the fact that inside my hard exterior, I’m just a sniffly little girl. 

It was a hard thing to admit, but once I did, what resulted was the best week ever.

I was just as surprised as you are. Other than the fact that I still felt completely gross, I was living the life. I called in sick to work.

I stayed in bed for 48 hours straight with nothing but a marathon of romantic comedies and a box of Kleenex to keep me company. I ate junk food, napped constantly, neglected any semblance of keeping up with schoolwork and took bubble baths. And although my sinuses were congested, I was blissful. I had found the nirvana of conquering adulthood, and it is this: Once in a while, stop trying to be such a grown-up and let yourself have a sick day—or five. 

At this point in time, I can safely say that my Flintstones vitamins have done their job. I feel better, and other than the mountain of accumulated homework I have to catch up on, I’d say I’m no worse for the wear.

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But the epiphany I had while I was sick has stuck with me.

Instead of stressing about responsibilities and schedules and being a grown-up, take a day once in a while to remember to be a kid. You’ll feel better in the long run and your brain will thank you.

Oh, and wash your hands. It’s flu season, and being sick really sucks.

Have you experienced profound epiphanies this flu season? Share your insight with Shannon at sekelly2@wisc.edu.

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