When I first started at Smith in March of this year, I stepped into a new role with a new team and smack into the intensity of term D, when graduate students who were still seeking internships and jobs were near panic. There were so many people to meet, there was so much to learn, there was so much to do!
Gratefully, a baritone voice from my core instructed, “Don’t rush.”
Think for a moment what it feels like when you rush. Your attention isn’t focused on where you are, but rather on where you think you ought to be, but since you’re not there yet, your attention is focused neither on where you are nor where you’re going. It really isn’t focused at all, is it?
For first-year graduate students, no doubt classes are kicking in. The rosy days of orientation have yielded to real homework and team assignments too. Plus, you’re trying to get your career launched – finalizing your resume, figuring out HireSmith, polishing your shoes, meeting with alumni and recruiters, shaping your networking strategy. As well, you’re building new relationships, lots of them, all at once.
For second-year graduate students, you know the ropes when it comes to classwork and you’re probably savoring your electives, but you’re finding that the rigor doesn’t let up in the second year, it just intensifies. In the wake of your summer experiences, many of you are ramping up a full-time job search, aiming to take advantage of the fall job market, especially the employers coming to Smith to recruit. Maybe you’ve received an offer already, but you’re preparing for fall recruiting anyway, in order to create a choice for yourself. Maybe you’re working on negotiating the offer you want. Maybe you’ve accepted your offer, so you’re busy thanking everyone who helped you.
You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to get everything done?” Your heart beats a little faster, your breath gets a little shorter, you notice a faint headache. And an anxious voice insists, “Hurry!” Fear stirs.
Breathe. 5 counts in. 5 counts out. Six times. One minute of breathing.
Return your attention to where you are right now, to what you’re reading, to what you’re listening to, to what you’re writing, to what you’re wondering, to your sit-ups, your bicycle, your nap, your friend, yourself. Be present and get the most out of where you are right now. And when you take the next step, be present there and then, and get the most out of that. And when you take the step after that, you might find that you’re heading in a different direction than the one you were rushing toward, precisely because what you learned by being fully present took you somewhere better.