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"Don’t ASK. Just GO!"
A message for college students and parents
(Last Blog of 2016)
This time of the year always evokes an array of emotions. Some people get nostalgic about the ending of a year as they reminisce about certain events. Some get scared or even sad to say goodbye to a year that “was my best year yet.” Others get a surge of energy, raring to tackle a new year filled with the unknown. Swelled with excitement, they cannot wait to try something new.
I have always remained calm, taking one day at a time. I kind of flip the calendar, not celebrating the end of one year nor the beginning of a new one. I reflect, of course, like most people do, but I don’t use years to measure myself or my life in any regard. I never think how I will “be better” in the new year or how I slacked the year prior. For me, this time of the year is when I “flipbook” it. I recall the past year’s events as if they tell some type of story.
As this calendar year winds down and I look back, not only do I enjoy the journey of the last 365 days, I hesitantly embrace the changes that have occurred in my life the last six months. I realize change is relative and everyone’s tolerance of it is different, but for me, this past year has been filled with more change than any other year I can remember. I empty nested, moved states, and changed career directions. All major life changes. Still, I can’t bring myself to feel the way some of us feel at this place in time when one year ends and another begins. I can’t really say, “Next year has to be better.”, or “This was not my year.” I truthfully don’t KNOW if 2016 was or was not “my year”, but I do know some things for sure.
The locomotive of thoughts and actions that drove my brain for the last twenty-one years basically derailed. I was suddenly without the chaos that comes with raising a family. I had less responsibility, a lot of quiet time and a ton of time on my hands. There were days I questioned my self- worth and doubted myself- a horrible feeling.
These thoughts could have caused a major train wreck, mentally (Who am I fooling? It actually it did a couple of times.). Or, I could have bought the ticket and jumped aboard to my unknown destination.
I took a seat in engine number nine and buckled up.
I took a long look at what brings me joy, true contentment, and what I genuinely love doing. I reached deeply to formulate this into a new direction, and I ever so carefully evaluated the risks involved.
We have to do this in life from time to time, right? Jump on board, buckle up, and evaluate risks.
The number one risk that I faced for the first time in my life was having to be transparent. I get all nervous even typing the word. But, it is a must when you share with others. It is the key component to making my new life formulation work for me. I cannot carry out life on this current track unless I am transparent. I have to be available for others outside of my family. I have to tell stories of my life (“Noooooo!” I am sweating.) I have to make connections to people whom I may never meet in person. This is all new to me.
Change sometimes means feeling things we’ve never felt before; ending one thing to begin another. Who likes endings? It means “final”. It’s scary because we subconsciously relate final with “bad”. We recall some previous incident in life that caused a negative reaction and we automatically get uptight about moving from a place of comfort, our homeostasis.
And beginnings? Very few embrace the emotions attached with having to start over or chart some unknown territory. We become paralyzed when faced with the unknown.
As I look back and wonder how the heck I made it to the end of this year without meeting the town psychiatrist, the rational part of me that I fight with sometimes, emphatically says, “You are here, don’t ask, just GO!” Do what you have to do, embrace what you want to do and GO!
…This is the part you college kids need to read…
Most of you are only half my age. I have kids the same age as you. You are going to have these same moments in time from here on out. You are going to have conversations with your mind. You are going to feel alone. You are going to be uncomfortable, full of unease, even nauseated. You will wonder how and why you got to where you are. This is your gift! Unwrap that bow, take what is inside and use it. Give it away. Exchange its size. Whatever you have to do, but don’t take it back. You will be in many nondescript (figuratively and literally) places in life at really inconvenient, unrecognizable and unwanted times. You are there for a reason. Don’t ask. Just GO!
College students, you are not too young to look back and revisit your year. What did you love about it? What will you never do again? What lessons did you learn? What are some of the most valuable memories you will take with you? How do you want next year to be in comparison to this year? What have you learned about yourself? What will you change? What will you work harder on? Has your life direction changed from a year ago? Where do you see yourself in a year? Five years?
Self-reflect, my friends. It’s easy, cheap, and available at all times. Be transparent. Let those around you see the real you. Accept the real you. Truthfully and sometimes painfully experience all of the emotions you feel. Do not let the emotions attached to certain memories repel you from actually feeling, as you evaluate your life over the past year.
Even at your age, you should know emotions come and go. Regret, negative frames of mind, or sinister attitudes hold you back. As you think about mistakes you made, hurt that was placed upon you, or even why you didn’t read between the lines, you can only move forward at this point. Good grief, your slate is ready to be scribbled on, erased a few times, and scribbled on some more.
Enjoy this challenge as you unwind from exams, decompress from the stress of college life, and catch up on sleep. Ask yourself these important questions over the next few weeks:
What makes you feel most comfortable? Do the opposite sometimes.
What makes you feel the least comfortable? Do the opposite sometimes.
Give of yourself. To somebody. Anybody. Just not nobody.
Make friends with the thoughts in your mind. Don’t tug with them. Take them by the hand and make them your partner in life. Embrace them. You lead the thoughts sometimes, and let them lead YOU sometimes.
Life is a process. Endings are beginnings in disguise, and you will have many of them. Now, don’t ask, just GO!
Lori Bender, MSW
Professional Wellness Coach for College Students
Founder of Carolina Lifestyle Coaching and Consulting, LLC
The Stress-Less Lady
“Helping you stress less.”