With the exception of a few summer classes, I am officially a college graduate. I have a job lined up for the fall that I’m really excited about, a summer job and lots of fun things to do during my last few months living in DC. I can’t complain.
My schedule is busy but it’s nothing compared to my school year. As president of the American University Social Media Club, I was in charge of planning the Social Learning Summit, a 300 person conference about the intersection between tech, social media and education. I ran our meetings and planned all of our other events which, in addition to 20 credits of classes, kept me booked solid.
This past semester was the busiest of my college career but also my happiest. I thoroughly enjoyed my classes, my commitments and especially working with AU Social Media Club. But occasionally, I found myself wishing I had ‘more free time’ for creative projects, freelance writing, and working on my own blog. I told myself that as soon as SLS was over or as soon as school was over or as soon as “x” was over, I would make time for these less-urgent creative projects. It was a classic take on “the grass is always greener” mentality.
SLS came and went and the semester wrapped up. My schedule now is moderately busy, but I have significantly more free time than the school year. My evenings aren’t filled with night classes, Social Media Club meetings, or late-night cram sessions.
However, I have yet to really dig into my creative and personal projects. I want to build a blog, work on my LinkedIn, give recreational creative writing and screenwriting a shot, and contribute to other blogs and publications. My schedule used to be exponentially busier yet I still wrote more regularly than I am now.
After a few relaxing days of vacation, I was able to clear my head and realize what the main problems are: self-discipline, balance and planning. I consider myself to be an “all-or-nothing” person. My old schedule was so jam-packed that I was in the “all-work” mindset. While it may have been extreme, this mentality helped me to accomplish a huge volume of tasks efficiently and effectively.
Now, with temperatures getting warmer, my schedule getting less packed and lots of fun summer activities on the horizon, I have definitely transitioned to a more relaxed mindset, which in many ways is good. However, my all-or-nothing tendencies have started to reappear. This time in an opposite form: the “all-fun” mindset. After spending the majority of a weekend hanging out, brunching and watching episodes of Girls, I have a difficult time transitioning back into work mode.
I get my class work done and complete my projects at work, but the autonomous creative projects are not getting the time that they deserve. I have yet to find one of the most important ingredients in my life: balance.
So what do I do? How do I find balance? Yoga? Therapy? Tai chi? I’m not totally sure (cue the Quarter Life Crisis moment of the post), but I do have a few ideas.
Like any other meaningful projects, creative projects take commitment and consistency. Whatever I decide to do, I want to do it well. So, I’ve decided to take a tip I’ve heard from others in the past, “make appointments with yourself.” I’m going to carve out specific regular times in my schedule devoted to these projects and honor my commitments to myself.
While this solution seems obvious and easy, it’s not. I’ve tried it and unsuccessfully succumbed to distractions. Sometimes it’s a particularly enticing Happy Hour or an episode of New Girl that somehow escaped my viewing or sometimes it’s just a trip down Facebook-stalk lane.
When I fail to honor these commitments, I feel discouraged, mad at myself and frustrated. I ask myself, why can I go to meetings with others, but not value and honor the appointments I make with myself?
There could be a million reasons, but I attribute it to self-discipline. I need to be more self-disciplined with myself and honor these commitments despite all of the very enticing distractions. As the daughter of two shrinks, I’ve always been told that realization is the first step to solving a problem, and it looks like we’ve got that first step covered, so, we’ll see how it goes.
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.