Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Breaking Out of the University Mindset

It's been a little over two months since I graduated university and I'm still struggling to break out of the "university mindset." In some ways it's been easy; I no longer spend frantic moments calculating how much sleep I've gotten each week and determining whether I can afford to give up more to finish a paper. In other ways though, I still have yet to shed some of the thoughts that permeated my mindset for three and a half years.

Being a full-time student and for several semesters holding down a 20+ hour/week job meant I had to make the most of every waking moment. I rarely watched TV/Netflix while in school; I spent almost all my time doing schoolwork, brainstorming plans for schoolwork, exercising as stress relief, or being at work. I spent my free time writing as a form of mental stress relief or reading books. The ultimate goal was to always be busy; if I spent an hour having not reached a conclusion of a task I thought I had wasted my time and felt guilty for it. Even my hobbies had end goals: how many words I'd typed, how many pages I'd read.

Now that I've graduated, this mindset shouldn't be there anymore. I have no years-long, overarching goal I'm reaching toward like graduation. I don't have a 5-year, 10-year, life-long plan drawn up like a to-do list with tick-marks. I've been enjoying my days reading, writing, finishing up an internship, spending time with friends and family, but each day doesn't bring the conclusion of tasks, and I finish most days feeling guilty for not having accomplished more.

Not that this lingering feeling is fully a bad thing - while I wouldn't classify myself as a workaholic, I do find life more fulfilling when I'm doing things, and being lazy isn't something I endeavour to achieve. But, I don't think it's a healthy mindset to only want to do things because they can tick off a box, and I'm trying to pull myself out of this mental process.

My life no longer needs weekends to be open to finish assignments or evenings to be open to cram in a few hours at the library. Instead, I have the time to pursue things that don't have a concrete end goal, like traveling around my home county or spending casual time with friends. It's a relief and it's a work in progress, but as I continue evolving my life from student to adult, I'm certain I'll bring myself to where I envision myself to be.

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