Well it’s over. Done. Finished. Last week I turned in my final assignment for graduate school. As soon as the grades post I will officially have my Masters in Counseling. It’s still a bit surreal at this point.
At the beginning of May my internships ended and I walked in the graduation ceremony. Suddenly I found myself with extra time on my hands. Internship was over and school was winding down.
Once everything started slowing down and I had extra time on my hands, I thought I would be able to get so much personal stuff done. Graduate school is very time consuming and many of my personal interests took a back seat during the past 2 years. Now I have so many ideas I want to work on. So I was excited to have this extra time. I was going to be SO productive.
Suddenly my life resembled life before the accident. I could be home all day working on photography or other things. I could go shopping in the middle of the day if I wanted. With no internship, little homework and the only thing on my calendar was class on Thursday nights, my schedule was my own again. The only difference was there were no children to pick up from school in the afternoon. No family dinner to prepare for. There was nothing to say this is your time, so you’d better get your stuff done because kids will be coming home soon.
What I discovered was that the “I’m almost done with school” lack of motivation toward my schoolwork filtered into every other area of my life. (Hence the reason there have been so few blog posts lately 😉 ). I suddenly didn’t want to do anything. Because I had so much time it was easier to procrastinate. The more I wasn’t productive, the more guilty I felt. And the guiltier I felt, the worse I felt about myself.
I was discussing this all with my counselor and it dawned on me . . . I just spent 2 ½ years going through the most intense schooling I have ever experienced. I’ve done nothing but homework, stressing about homework, and thinking about homework for the past 2 ½ years. I am allowed a break.
I don’t have to be productive right now. I CAN take a break. I’m in a period of limbo. School is done, but I haven’t started my career yet. I realized I would never have a time of no commitments in my life again. How many people get a gift like that?
I could spend the month of June doing basically nothing if I wanted to. But I still had trouble allowing myself this time of rest. We are programed that we have to be productive to matter. So we are always busy. We fill our lives with tasks, to do lists, and productivity. But we don’t rest. True relaxation is hard to find in our society of constant achieving. So how do you find this rest? How do you set productivity aside long enough to truly relax?
I had to give myself permission. I had to physically say out loud say, “It’s ok to not be productive right now”. I had to talk to others about it and seek some validation. We are so ingrained to be busy and productive every minute of the day, that we don’t really know how to stop.
Knowing that soon a new chapter in my life would be starting, I chose to allow myself this time of rest. For once I was not going to push myself and I allowed myself to just relax. I have been sleeping in, reading fiction, shopping with my mom, talking with my sister, editing pictures, watching movies, and jotting down ideas for things I want to do. Overall I am enjoying just being able to relax.
On Thursday I will leave for my celebratory “I’m done with graduate school” vacation. I will be spending 2 weeks with friends doing nothing but hanging out and taking pictures. When I come back I plan to start implementing some of the ideas bouncing around in my head and dive into a new career helping others.
Is there something you need to give yourself permission to do?