“Don’t Let the Smiles Melt Away with the Snow”: an Interview with Toys Koomplee ’17

toys-and-waffleIt’s finals and the beginning of three months of cold grey hell, so most of us are settling in to a period of grim, grouchy seasonal affective disorder. It’s also been a nightmarish year, and thus especially hard to find the bright side of anything. We Wesleying editors may be masters of cynicism and snark, but we still appreciate some kind-hearted positivity. Read after the jump for an interview with Toys Koomplee ’17, who might be the nicest, least jaded Wes person we (virtually) know.

Toys is a CA and sends the senior woodframes listserv lovely cheery emails, even when they’re just about trash collection. This week, he send us an email wishing us good luck on finals with some tips for staying calm, prompting me to reach out via email for a little more information.

We know about you through your CA emails–what else are you involved in on campus?
That’s pretty much it, actually. ^^” I’m also a team member of the Subway Ride magazine, which you all should have seen around campus by now. ;)

What do you do to stay positive, even during finals or the dreary winter?
It’s gonna sound cliche, but I just look at the positive side of things. I mean, I’m not a fan of winter, too, but I don’t really focus on its cold and gloominess. I usually think about going back to my house, putting my onesie on, having some hot chocolate and just appreciating that moment. You can always find some warmth in the cold, you know? You can try it, too, think about the plus sides of stuff. :)
Some other random things I do include having lots of chocolate in my backpack (and sometimes giving them to people. You want some?), reading some self-help books once in a while (my favorite one is: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie), and just smiling. :) Very simple, right?

Have you always been this positive?
Yes, since high school, I think. It’s really mentally healthy too, so I’m kind of addicted to it. Yes, I do have some down times too, just like everyone, but I don’t really let them linger. Telling myself that things will pass and that I’ll be okay always works for me.

Do you have any thoughts about why so many people at Wes (especially seniors like myself) end up so jaded?
I think it’s because many things also happened this year. So I think some of those incidents have left us with tingling feelings. and that’s totally understandable. It’s not what we have control over. The only thing we can do is to take care of each other–take care of ourselves. P.s. It’s always nice to take a break & treat ourselves for our hard work! :)

What’s your favorite thing to do to destress?
Bake! I stress-bake, and I do in big batches, too. lol The only downside of it is that it’s quite time-consuming and I don’t really have time to bake lately. So now it’s down to stress-karaoke (with my housemates)!

Your emails are notable for their cat pictures–what’s your favorite cat-related internet content?
I actually don’t have one. lol. I don’t look at cat photos on the internet that often (only when I’m stressed and need to calm myself). But when I do need some cat-related stuff, I usually just go on a random Tumblr that I found (like Cats n Cats) or my old friend, youtube.

Here’s part of Toys’ original email to the woodframes, with some tips for handling this week, and life:

1. Think twice before pulling an all-nighter. 
>> Because your body really needs sleep (U____U) z..Z..z.. If you really have to stay up late (or all night), try taking a good nap earlier in the evening. There have been some studies that found that a well rested nap (60-90 minutes) could be as effective as a night of sleep!! :) (on some certain tasks though… well a night sleep is always better, don’t you think? ;) )
2. Again.. napping is your best bud!!!
>> Some studies have found that even a 10-minute nap could enhance your alertness and improve your cognitive performance! ;) (Yes. I’m really utilizing what I’ve learned from the sleep class here). Technically, 20-30 naps are gold, but nap whenever you can. (Listen to your body.)
3. 4-7-8 Breathe!!
>> This is a technique that I’ve been using since sophomore year and it still works!  It’s like a quick meditation to pull yourself back together from scattered thoughts (like when you can’t concentrate on your study~~). 
1. Take a deep breath and count to 4.
2. Hold your breath and count to 7.
3. Breathe out (slowly) while counting to 8.
(4. repeat as many times as you wish~~)
>> Yup! Eat healthy! Add some fruits & greens to your meals. Eat Breakfast~ (I went to Usdan for breakfast this morning and it was crowded!! That made me so happy, guys!! :D) So don’t miss out!! Be a part of that breakfast crowd & have a wonderful start of your day!! :) :)
5. SMILE~~ :D 
>> Smile to yourself in the mirror. Smile to people you meet at the library. Smile to the squirrels standing by the bushes. Spread the love & positivity~~ :)) The weather doesn’t really help us that much this time around… Don’t let the smiles melt away with the snow~~ ^___^
That’s it! (for now…) I hope this helps! Good luck on your finals, everyone.

It’s important to note that this kind of positive thinking strategy doesn’t work for everyone, nor should we expect it to. Toys’ emails bring a smile to my face, but remembering that things will pass doesn’t always help me manage my anxiety, especially when that anxiety has to do with things outside of my life at Wesleyan. We live in a world where it is more apparent than ever that things don’t always turn out okay, and there is nothing wrong with finding that terrifying, infuriating and overwhelming. I find myself remembering this old post of Maya‘s “On Being Kind to Yourself,” in which they remind us of all the ways self-care is complicated and demanding differently for different people. I’ll leave you with their words:

I hope that [the upcoming] break can help all of you recharge in some way, dear readers, but even if it can’t, I truly hope that you treat yourself as kindly, as compassionately, and as respectfully as your circumstances allow, and that you receive the support you need from others — in whatever form that takes — to do so.

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