This is simply what I need. A disconnection from a busy schedule, to breathe the cool air outside on my way to class, to gaze at the mesmerizing view of the Charles River in the spring, and to notice the shadows under my feet as I speed walk back to my dorm when it gets chilly at night.
…It has been almost 6 months since I freed myself from cycle of work, stress, and goals to fulfill. Of course, I’m still in school, still working on projects I care about, and still go to places. Yet, with minimal stress, at a slow pace. It felt good to be done with a frantic search for internships, with an overwhelming load of responsibilities, with scattering meetings throughout the day. I find my daily schedule shifting from 8 am or 9 am morning to 10 or 11 am sometimes, but it simply …felt good. It’s good to spend the day a bit more slowly, to take walks throughout campus and around Boston, and to invest time on personal projects or develop hobbies to discover myself more.
It has been a while … since I step away from the burden of fulfilling responsibilities that I might not entirely feel passionate about, from various roles of leadership positions, from stressful obligations to meet deadlines, and to facilitate conflicts and impossibly arrange meetings that work around many busy schedules at once.
College is full of hidden opportunities to explore. Academics, careers, network might be the more obvious ones…yet once I’m here for 2 and 3 years, I wanted to look for something a bit more fulfilling. Doing silly things with friends, checking out pottery classes, or finding a little escape corner for myself are what I also appreciate. I base a lot of my decisions on instincts. This time, my instinct tells me to take more breaks, to keep my eyes open for new ways of spending my time, and to feel and notice how I feel more often.
As I took an impromptu walk along Milk Street in downtown area with a friend, I remembered that before challenging classes and extracurricular activities took me on a roller coaster, my 4,6, and 8-year-old cousins and I were messing around in the kitchen every day, trying to be “creative” with baking desserts and mixing food ingredients together. We eagerly waited until 11:30 pm to have lunch while enjoying our favorite show together. Each of us had a bowl of rice on our lap while simultaneously stared at the TV screen to watch our favorite show – Word World. We mischievously made up our own “military naps” in which we lay on bed for 10 minutes to show that we have taken an afternoon nap as my aunt specifically mandated us to do so each day. I remember the mindless 4-hour-long walks in the morning to explore the city, one part at a time, almost every morning in the summer after 12th grade. I missed the time when my friends and I spent hours trying to light up a campfire on a hill until our faces were stained with soot and our body could no longer tolerate the hunger growls. It was these moments that shaped my optimistic and appreciative outlook in life for giving me these friends, these experiences, and these memories to laugh with others years later.
Since I started college, I was always on the move. Simply because I was truly eager to explore the opportunities out there, to try out experiences that I have never had, and to meet people that I wouldn’t have been able to meet if I weren’t here. I found myself carried away with work sometimes to even respond to messages or texts properly, to keep up with people that I care about, my personal health, and my personal happiness. I’m glad I got things to be busy with, because I truly have learned tremendously from these experiences and met so many inspiring friends that I will treasure for life. Yet, along the way, I sometimes forgot what it felt like to have hobbies, to have free time to invest on myself, or to get out of a fictional Harvard bubble that I have created in my mind. Sometimes I would feel bored from studying or completing some tasks, but then sat and found myself not knowing how to spend my time to take a break without feeling guilty, and then went back to studying again, not entirely effectively. I pursued my interests, carried out my ideas, and created things that I feel proud of. I trusted my instincts to change decisions, take actions, and make things happen. Yet, perhaps, at some point, I took in a little bit too much, did a little bit too much, and yet thought a bit…too little. I lost tracks of some of the things along the way, and the sense of guilt gnawed at me.
Last semester, when I realized that perhaps I no longer needed to be so anxious and worried about anything and that I can drop responsibilities, I started to think differently.
Gaining more control of my personal time has enabled me to learn more about myself, what is truly important to me, and what I would do voluntarily when there’s no obligation. I have more time and less distractions to focus on what I care about at a greater depth.
I desired the satisfaction from pursuing depth: depth in experience, depth in conversations, and depth in relationships.
I learned to balance between opening myself to outside influence and listening to my inner instincts & feeling what makes my heart beat faster.
I do less and live the presence more, letting life unfold itself and take me wherever it takes… And right now, life is giving me more time to breathe and to live the simple moments…with more thoughts and at a greater depth.