December 17 – Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?
I have the tendency to be a very anxious person. Every academic year, without fail, I have a mid-semester breakdown over some assignment(s) that renders me paralyzed. Think writer’s block, but worse. At that point, I begin to procrastinate like it’s my job: I’ll clean my room, reorganize my closets, spy on everyone on my Facebook friends list, return the 20 emails I’ve been putting off for a week or two – anything to avoid the looming mountain of work. The thing is that the mountain is usually more like an anthill that I’ve drastically misinterpreted. This has been a yearly pattern since middle school and I never seem to be able to avoid it altogether.
This year, though, I learned that even when things downright suck, they really aren’t as terrible as they appear to be. The research paper will get done and I’ll probably have a bit of extra time to study for that test on the train to school. I’m much more resilient than I realized and can adapt fairly quickly to the changing tides of daily life. Earlier this fall, I was certain that the kidney trouble I was experiencing would derail my last semester of nursing school and I played out a most gruesome scenario in my head that ended with something like hemodialysis and my having to repeat the semester. In reality, here I am in December, having completed every assignment, graduated on time, and fairly healthy.
So what’s the moral of this story?
Keep It Simple Stupid
It’s difficult to avoid fear and anxiety since we humans are pre-programmed with that nifty ‘fight or flight’ response, but life is certainly more manageable when I don’t give in to my overactive imagination. Cliches like ‘rolling with the punches’ and other hackneyed sayings really do have a kernel of truth to them. That which does not kill you probably will make you a bit stronger for having had to overcome adversity in some way, whether molehill or mountain. In the new year, I’d like to remain cognizant of this fact when the going gets rough. I will remind myself that the anxiety isn’t a permanent state and that I am fully capable of achieving the tasks I before me. Change and challenges are good things, things that help move my life forward and encourage me to continue to develop myself into the person I really want to be.