Thursday, September 13, 2012

Being Intentional

Intentional1

Here’s the thing about this semester. I feel so lost. Studying for this candidacy exam or comps or generals or whatever it is we call it…it’s completely confusing. I mean, it sounds straightforward when they explain it to you. “Read this list of books. Take a test. Defend your answers. Pass.” But right now I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of reading in four different disciplines within my field and I am petrified that I am screwing this up. I can’t read fast enough or smart enough or carefully enough. There’s the time frame, too. 18 hours of writing…18 hours??? Who thought THAT up? I don’t even know if I have 18 hours of knowledge inside of me. And no matter how many times people tell me that I don’t need to know everything in every book, I still keep trying to read every word of every sentence of every chapter and I just don’t have TIME for that. The exam is two months away and I feel like I know less than ever. All that being said…this too will pass. Like every other impossible academic thing I’ve done so far, it will happen.

I’ve been realizing that a good part of my discouragement is coming from a feeling of aimlessness. I have somehow lost my intentionality.

And it’s not just my study habits that are suffering right now. It’s my downtime. I am realizing that I need to be just as intentional about the time I’m NOT reading as the time I am. It’s not actually restful or helpful if I spend every moment away from my books feeling guilty about not reading, worrying, making lists, or watching hours of mindless television streaming on the internet. I need to be intentional about seeking real rest and real renewal. I need to be intentional about physical activity. I need to be intentional about eating balanced meals and getting enough sleep. I need to be intentional about blogging.

Blogging has been a real place of solace and peace for me in the last couple of years. I really don’t want to lose its place in my routine. But that requires intentional time. I am choosing to blog right now. I am not watching TV. I am not sleeping. And I am not studying. I am blogging.

I guess the thing I’m learning is that being intentional in any circumstance requires you to live, if only temporarily, in that present moment. I need to live inside of a moment instead of trying always to bypass it, rush through it, always planning for the next crisis. I need to be here. With you. For just this moment.

love, elizabeth

9 comments:

shi said...

Ah, I know the feeling! College is just so overwhelming sometimes. Each professor assigns a ridiculous amount of work/reading that they believe is a priority...multiply it by X amount of classes and you feel like you're drowning. I've learned this lesson myself -- to take some time for you, away from the work. Without it, you'll just go crazy. Good luck!
http://shi-day.blogspot.com

KrystennMarie said...

I learned that in a sea of overwhelming college stress, that it's okay to step back. It's okay to grab a pillow and scream, to cry, to remember your purpose. You can do this Elizabeth.

ms.composure said...

college is very overwhelming!!! i am in a grad program and that is even worse!! LoL i am struggling so hard to get everything balanced but i am slowly making baby steps. i know i would not be able to do it without the love and support of those around me. it is hard but we always seem to make it! good luck girl!


http://infinitelifefitness.com
http://mscomposure.blogspot.com

SquarePegJer said...

Good timing on this one... I scheduled myself through July / August September into near insanity. I know I have downtime coming, but until I get there, juggling new and old projects, editing & planning and working both jobs... It's feeling much like I'm just treading water all the time.

Gotta force myself to climb on shore and just stare at the skyline once in a while.

Ashley @ A Recipe for Sanity said...

Hang in there, lady! You will pass. You will do an amazing job. So glad you are still blogging. I need to do the same!

Megan said...

Elizabeth, we all know you will rock this exam and pass with ease. I know it may not seem that way at the moment, but you've made it this far intentionally, and you will excel intentionally.

And thank you. Reading posts like this one make me feel less alone. I'm not even through week one of this first quarter of class and i'm already feeling like i'm not doing well enough or not studying enough. I find myself in class, failing to pay attention because i'm too busy already worrying about the tests and wondering if I'll know that information at that time. But in the lovely ironic way of life, my preoccupation with hoping to God that I remember what action potential a cell has causes me to completely miss anything the professor said about it anyway. So you're right, it doesn't help to spend time worrying or feeling guilt.

And I've neglected my poor blog. This post inspired me to collect some new thoughts (and pictures) for a few new posts.

You're gonna do great.

Mrs. Pancakes said...

Sending you positive thoughts!!

Justine Finnerty said...

I'm meant to be studying at the moment and your post popped up at just the right time. It's so reflective and makes me feel calm and productive; you have a really great way with words my dear :)

Courtney said...

I don't want to sound discouraging, but this is why I quit my PhD program after completing an MA plus two years of the doctorate. I didn't like all of the free time by myself once the coursework was finished. I think that's why I spent all of my free time working on improving my teacher rather than working on my dissertation. Teaching seemed more intentional. I think your idea about being intentional with your off-time as well is a very good one. It's also good to remember that it will pass... Unless you want to be a scholar and read for a living :) Many people (my brother included) love the lifestyle. You can do anything temporarily! Set small goals. You can do it!

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