And just like that, everything I have been stressing about is now over. Whew. I’ve always been a planner, a stresser and a worrier, and this time around I think I’ve finally realized that I need to do something about it.
I’ve worked and gone to school since I was 13. At the moment, I work full time at the newspaper, part time teaching writing at the university, and part time running Wildflower. I’m also in school full time. This is the last year of my graduate program so the end is in sight. I’ve decided to take a break after completing my Master’s before hopping into a doctoral program. I’ve gone back and forth on this for a while but I recently reached my breaking point and realized that I was spending too much time working toward something that I wasn’t even enjoying the good things I have going on in my life. I have been very fortunate to land a job that I love before even finishing my Master’s. However, I didn’t go to grad school just to get a job–it’s been my life goal since I was about 5 years old.
But I want to spend more time delving into my hobbies and interests outside of work and school. I need to stop and regroup. I’ve always been a little weird when it comes to my own success because I’m relentless about it, but by my own guidelines, I’ve already reached the levels of success I have wanted to reach all along. I’ve traveled, graduated from college, gotten into grad school, almost completed grad school, did some awesome research projects, landed a job I love, been published (which is my job), started my own business, met my soulmate, found a nice place to live and adopted a little kitty along the way. And I just turned 24. So I think it’s time for me to slooooow doooooown a bit.
Right now I’m in Las Vegas for the National Council for Teachers of English conference. I’m here with the Northern Nevada Writing Project, with whom I did a research project a while ago (on video games and narrative writing). I’m done with classes for the semester and with several large work projects, so I’m viewing this like a vacation, even though I still have some work to do while I’m here. It felt so good today to get on a plane and go somewhere. Of course, I wish it were Ireland or Norway and that Andrew had come along, but nonetheless, a free ticket out of town was just what I needed. I’m going to some great lectures about writing this weekend, and I’m also going to take some time to write more of my NaNoWriMo book, which I worked on today on the airplane. It felt good to just write for fun–and in a notebook with a pencil. I realized how much I missed journaling. I used to keep a journal religiously, and all of my notebook covers had elaborate collages. I’ve kept all of them since middle school so it’s fun to look back at the collages to see what my interests were at the time. I guess blogging has taken the place of journaling in a sense, but as much as I love technology, there’s nothing like writing in a notebook.
I bought a few magazines today at the airport, including Real Simple, which is a lifestyle mag I really enjoy. Most of the publications I read are about worldly affairs, so it’s kind of nice to focus on content that is, well, simple but still important. The magazine is aptly named. Anyway, they had a great piece in which they asked five writers to write about something they want for Christmas besides just material things. Writer Monica Trasandes said that she wanted “the ability to unitask.”
I’ve always felt guilty about doing things one at a time. On those occasions when I have, say, carried laundry and dirty dishes on separate trips, my evil inner critic has sneered at me: “Hmm, taking it slow today, aren’t we, unitasker? I guess some of us don’t want to succeed.” To which I should reply: “I want to succeed, evil inner critic! I just don’t want to have to achieve all my goals at the same time.” But I barely succeed. Usually I give in, reluctantly, to that bullying voice.
So, for Christmas this year, I want to make a change. At long last, I would like to embrace a slower way of life: I’ll read and only read. … I’ll be fully present when talking to my friends. Because with all the multitasking, I know that I’m missing so much.”
This definitely resonated with me. And I wouldn’t have even read it had I not decided to take a break from working to relax and read a damn magazine. Her advice is some I plan to take to heart throughout the next few months.
And with that, I’m going to go crawl into the hotel bed and read a book until I fall asleep.