"I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?"
What a great movie. Well, bit character from 'Ten Things I Hate About You' whose name I cannot remember; my answer to that question is absolutely. Yes.
It's crunch time for the school year, and it feels both overwhelming and underwhelming. Sometimes I feel like I am never going to get everything done, and other times I feel laid back in a way that I feel like I shouldn't be feeling at this time of the semester. I find myself questioning if it's not enough work. Actually typing that thought out makes me realize how ridiculous it is, and that yes, it is more than enough work. Perhaps I am just feeling as though the work being done isn't always the right kind?
I have been feeling that some of the work we are put to is arbitrary and not very well thought out. That said, I fear that my own students find some of the things I assign arbitrary, when, even if they have not been CAREFULLY thought out, they have been thought out well because I know the items are exercises worth doing. Perhaps that same stream of thought is happening for some of my professors.
I think this again takes me back to the idea of making decisions about what is most important; at the grad level, it feels like it truly IS your prerogative to decide where you will place your energy and thoughtfulness amidst school work and outside work like running a company, submitting to journals and conferences, etc.
Also amid this equation or school work and outside work; personal maintenance and good stuff - relationships, fun, that whole deal. Yes, that is a part of the equation that we are constantly trying to solve. I am made very curious by people who do not feel that it is worth their time to fumble over and over, trying to solve this equation once and for all. These are the people that either understand that at any time, a new mathematical idea can be found that will crack that delicate balance into a new fumble, or the people that just plain do not overanalyze every part of their lives. I both abhor and envy the folks in that later category.
Another function within this ever unsolvable equation: thinking forward. Yes, good, do it, but not at the expense of enjoying what is happening in the moment. For me right now, that involves trying to absorb and enjoy the end of the semester while not looking TOO much ahead to/ into summer. I know myself well enough to be aware that if I allow that kind of end-gaining, the summer will arrive and disappear while I am anticipating and preparing for fall . . . and the cycle goes on and on.
How do we break this cycle? Personally, I find myself consistently coming back to two ideas; 1) Ask yourself to be in the moment. 2) When you get there, check in; is that thing you love feeling enjoyable? If not, dig down to the reasons why you are doing it in the first place.
When it comes down to it, it's all about being present in the moment, something I know is hard for me and one of the main reasons why I dance. And there it is, the thing. I KNOW this same objective is hard for many other people. And that's the 'reason why I am doing it in the first place.'
Back to square one. Sometimes, arrival at that square is not a setback :)