Transitioning to Peace... (and quiet)
On May 10, 2019 I graduated with my Master’s and this journey was rough. I kind of already have talked about that before but don’t worry there are many more stories I cannot wait to share about my time at a PWI in the Midwest; however, this post is more about the ending of this chapter of my life and the beginning of another one.
I feel like graduating college, graduate school, or professional school always followed by this awkward transition stage. I think it feels like purgatory, because you’re stuck in this place and watching everything move on without you. Even though you know you are going to stay here forever, it feels like that in the moment. At least that is how I felt.
Everyone keeps asking me am I ready for the next step and the answer is always “meh". In reality, I am extremely ready to leave the state of Iowa where I live now; however, just like anyone I am scared and nervous about the next steps. I am going onto to pursue my doctorate back in my home state but I am doing nothing over the summer. That is the part that makes me scared.
I have always been doing something during the summer months since the summer before my 8th grade year. Yes you read that right. I am now twenty-five years old and I have not had a summer to myself to just relax since 2007. And that is nerve racking.
What do I do when all I know how to do is be busy? I think that quite a few graduate students are often faced with that, and probably many folks who are not even in graduate school. I literally find myself sitting on the couch staring into the abyss on days because I have no looming deadlines.
In all honesty, you think that would bring some sense of freedom. (Yay no deadlines! Endless naps!) But when you have only been conditioned to operate within the construct of one due date to the next the uncertainty of the nothingness is extremely anxiety inducing. You are constantly feeling that you are forgetting something. Every day I personally feel like I have forgotten to do some assignment, my brain literally cannot compute.
So how can I learn to relax? How can I train my brain and my body that it is okay to not have deadlines? How am I okay in this transition to the next stage of my life. I also know that I am not alone in wondering these things. My therapist even asked me: Joy how are you going to relax this summer? How are you going to take care of yourself?
And then it hit me, that in order for me to transition into a doctoral program that I need this “lull” in my time. I need this time to learn how to be myself without the attachment to a school assignment and also use this time to recharge and rest and gear up for the the long haul of a Ph.D. program. That I should be grateful for this stage in my life because there are many students and others that do not have the chance to do nothing.
I honestly do not know what to fully do in my “time off” but I do know that I need to stop viewing this summer complete detached from my transition because putting myself first (for once) is necessary for me to be successful.
In a world that idolizes those who say “while you sleeping, I was working” (when in reality they just have a night job) it is hard to understand and conceptualize that sitting still is actually a skill that we need. That it too is “doing something.” I have slowly started telling folks that I am busy when in actuality I am just sitting on my couch with a good book and if we want to be frank: I am busy taking care of me. I am busy minding my business and reading a really great book.
In this transition, I am hoping to learn to appreciate and enjoy the quietness and even the solitude (I mean yes, my husband will be around but you get the point). Transitioning from a constantly moving life to a season that is slower is proving that I need a pretty high learning curve; however, I am up for the challenge.
I am declaring now that I will become a better me during this transitional season in my life. That I will be fine with not “always having something to do” and I will understand that my calendar not always being full does not make a lazy person or even a bad scholar. Don’t get me wrong, I have a few meetings lined up over the summer, but not that many. Even these meetings are on my TIME and not the other way around.
Transitions are scary and can feel like purgatory if and only if you do not learn to operate in a space where there is no deadlines and need for a rush. I still am learning this and working on changing my outlook as well.
But this summer, catch me on my couch with a good book a good summery drink or in the gym and I will willingly say “no” to anything that disrupts my peace.