Today at one of the orientation sessions for graduate school, incoming first-year students (that’s me) were asked to write notes to our “future” second-semester selves. We jotted down reflections about our hopes and expectations. Also, our worries and challenges.
Then we sealed them in envelopes. No one will read them … except each student opening and re-reading his or her own note. Next year.
Yes, these notes will be mailed out to us next March. They will serve as a check-in about where we find ourselves toward the end of our first academic year.
We’ll read our notes to ourselves, and gain some perspective.
- Have we each accomplished or experienced what we hoped?
- Have we resolved the issues that concerned us?
- Have we found balance?
- How are we doing?
- What’s going on during the spring semester?
It’s a good idea to check in with yourself from time to time. Reflect. Recap. Take a step back, and remember there’s a “big idea” to many of the decisions we each make in life. Ideally, we’re not just reacting … not just getting by. Optimally we have made some focused, goal-driven, value-laden choices that provide meaning and context to our home, relationships, career, education, community, health, and other commitments.
Many of us are in some form of transition. Moving. Changing relationship status. Working toward sobriety. Seeking treatment for better health. Entering or hunting for a new job. Taking up new pastimes. Giving time to special causes. Going to school.
Whatever the reason for change … and whatever the nature of such a transition, it’s easy to worry about details, and forget about the new chances that await us. (This presumes that we can view the cause or result of transformation as an opportunity, which may not always be the case.)
In times of flux, we may lose perspective. In my case, I’m sometimes overwhelmed by a litany of anxiety about juggling loan payments, train tickets, textbook purchases, work projects, class schedules, commuting times, registration info, family time, community service commitments, and many other logistics.
Instead, today I literally wrote a note to myself. Months from now, I’ll open up that envelope and read it as a reminder about why I’m back in school. My reasons include personal growth, vocational development, and the integration of professional and spiritual experiences.
You have your own reasons for whatever changes you’re making.
We can each care for ourselves, metaphorically, by checking in from time to time. Maybe you, too, will write yourself a note and open it sometime in the future, like a time capsule. Or you could flip open your calendar and make an appointment with your “future” yourself … to pause and take stock. Or make it a diary entry. Or a prayer.
However you do it … take the time to reflect. To appreciate. To observe.
And hopefully, if circumstances permit, to celebrate.