Prepare For The Wall

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I am a few days away from starting my second term at school after the holiday break. While I am faced with a wide variety of thoughts (mostly having to do with productivity), such as “Did I do enough during the time off?” Or “Is there something I am forgetting that I really wanted to accomplish during the time off?” Others are a bit more nonsensical, “Should I run with scissors?” I kid you not, I have wondered about it several times and somehow it seems both valid and weirdly time bound, “Must do before school starts!” Although honestly, is there a particularly good or bad time to do this?

But I digress…

Sharp implements aside, I also wonder what I need to do to set myself up well for the term (gotta take care of future Jill) but the thing that I really want to be sure to do is prepare for the wall.

Let me explain…

As you may remember, I was super excited to start school. I did a practice class over the summer, got a new backpack and water bottle and was ready to do ALL. THE. LEARNING. Then we began school, and it took a couple of weeks, but I found my rhythm. Everyone was nice, the learning was enriching, and I had a tremendous sense of purpose. While I was often tired, it just felt like a transition that needed to be navigated and I was ready to make it happen. I made it my mission to work ahead, stay on top of things, and get an A at everything.

But then… Around the ninth week of school, something shifted. Tired became exhausted, assignments became “one more thing” to do, and while I still felt enthusiastic, I also felt kind of defeated.

This was pretty disappointing, because the goal of becoming fluent in Spanish is something I am absolutely passionate about and being burnt out on it felt like I was betraying something. Also, cards on the table, your girl wasn’t that great of a student the first time. I mean, I did well enough with grades, but except for my major classes, there wasn’t a lot of joy in the pursuit. So, this time, I was going to get it right this time and be a model student.

Which meant I was neither prepared for, nor even able to truly comprehend why all of a sudden, I felt like a toddler who needed many juice boxes and a month’s worth of naps to right the ship.

Week nine coincided with Thanksgiving. Historically one of my favorite times (it’s pretty low pressure and there’s pillowy rolls and cranberry sauce). But this year, it didn’t bring the kind of joy it usually does. Additionally, I actually started hoping for wintry weather or major power outages at school, so they’d have to cancel classes.

In all honesty, I had to white knuckle the last three weeks of the term to make it through. And though I finished with the “A’s” I had set out for, I also felt pretty bruised by them. Needless to say, I was extremely thankful for the winter break.

With some time to rest and reflect, here’s what comes to mind….

  • No matter how excited you are about something, there’s always a wall. It may come sooner, it may come later, but it’s coming. So…
  • Plan for the wall. Know what strategies will help you reset, hold on, and hopefully be able to forge ahead, refreshed and renewed.
  • Watch for the signs… it’s likely you saw all the little signs of overachieving, “type A” perfectionism in my description of things, but at the time, I didn’t. Each person has to know themselves, but for me, hoping things will/would get canceled is a big red flag. Also, anytime something feels like “one more thing” instead of an opportunity, an act of love/service or a neutral task to be completed, I am personally off track.
  • Be kind to yourself in the presence of NEDs. NEDs are those things that are new, emotional, and difficult. Honestly, returning to school was all three. Yeah, I already have degrees, but school is different than it was, y’all and I am not in my late teens or early twenties anymore. Adult learning is brilliant, but it can also have the weight of a mortgage, other employment, caretaking responsibilities, health challenges, home inventory management, etc. to accompany it.

My second term will undoubtedly have its challenges, but I definitely have more of an idea what to expect. This knowledge will hopefully allow me to better prepare and pivot when the wall reveals itself.

Ultimately, the value of school isn’t just that you expand your encyclopedic knowledge of the world, but also of yourself. This journey gives me a chance to confront the unhelpful tendencies I have and multiple opportunities to try for better results.

Which makes me wonder… Maybe we should all run with scissors? That way when we meet obstacles, we can just cut right through them.