It scares me quite a bit how fast time moves the older you get, and roll your eyes if you must, but we know it to be true. It feels like last week I was buying my carefully planned color-coordinated dorm accessories, and nervously counting down the days until move-in. This year, it hit me like a semi that I move into a new apartment in two days.
While I spent last summer meticulously obsessing over my first year of college, this summer was spent working and passing the days. Following the common theme of my life, this summer was a contradiction. I was simultaneously busy and bored. I was both happy and miserable. I was hopeful and I was discouraged. I juggled between improving myself and loving myself as I am.
I learned a few things from this confusing time, and I am summarizing the top three.
Spend Time Wisely
I did the scary and adult thing and got a job this summer, and experienced actions and people I was unfamiliar with in the process. Working as a waitress, I often worked the double shift, waiting tables both in the afternoon and the night. For someone with little patience and people energy (introverts can relate), this was often a physical and mental challenge.
Because of this job, I had a pretty limited amount of time to spend compared to the freedom of last summer. Therefore, I had to choose very wisely when and who to make my plans with, and this lead to a lack of any kind of social life outside of my family and boyfriend. And more often than not I felt like just going to bed after work, feeling annoyed and drained.
I learned this summer how to plan wisely, dedicating the precious amounts of free time to only people that build me up and give me energy and go to places and events that brought joy and peace.
Take Advantage of Resources
One of my Clifton Strengths is Learner, which means that “I am energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence”. While I don’t like to think of myself as “ignorant”, there are certainly things and subjects I desire to understand deeper. It’s just my personality and who I am.
Without any type of education structure during the summer months, I find myself turning to other things to satisfy my drive to learn. Whether it be listening to a customer, asking my Dad for advice, watching my Mom take care of the house, or watching documentaries as I laid by the pool, I tried to absorb all the additional resources that I don’t get from my college town.
Acceptance and Trusting
I still have an issue with control. I like things done my way, and I like them done on my time. And if this doesn’t happen, expect a downpour outburst. However, I’ve been working on letting go of my need for control through meditation and other calming practices. Whatever stigma is associated through the act of mindfulness (think: monks sitting cross-legged in a dark cave silently for days), I found that it truly has healed my instinct of immediate judgment and misperception.
I’ve struggled a lot with fear of the future, whether it be finances or destination or health. I’ve struggled with self-image, and the way I looked and felt. I’ve struggled with comparison most of all, of putting myself down rather than recognizing my strengths.
Through an awareness of acceptance, I’ve been able to release any pessimistic thoughts about myself, my family, my career, my relationship, and my current situation and replace them with ones of prevailing trust.
Overall, the most important thing I’ve come to accept is that it is very real and possible to be both happy and unhappy at the same time- a word called “ambivalent”. I am both happy and sad that this summer is over, because I both struggled and I grew. I am looking forward to this upcoming interval in my life, and to juggling each season with acceptance, patience, and a desire to recognize and understand the patterns of the world.