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.