A week or so ago, someone asked me if I was glad to be back in school – and I really, really am. I told them as much, and they seemed surprised – who wants to be in school, amirite?
A certain phenomenon has been on my mind lately. As great at the last year and a half were, with all the traveling, self improvement, and general life-living, the days were short, and also long. They dragged by, as I went through yet another day working at a grocery store, to go home, hang out with friends, or maybe just to to bed early so I wouldn’t be too tired at work tomorrow. With the exception of the trips I was taking, my life was boring. The days seeped together, passing by meaninglessly, and I felt more like someone going through the motions, living to work, rather than someone working toward something. The days dragged on, but weeks could go by without anything noteworthy happening. And I wasn’t really present for much of it.
Not to say I haven’t benefitted from this, however. The last year has taught me some important lessons. I have learned to be aware of what I’m doing with my time. I have learned to ask myself, “Is this what I want to do with my time? Is this what I want for myself?” every single day. I have learned to be one thing, and not 100 different things for 100 different people. I have learned to appreciate a safe, dry and warm place to come home to.
It hasn’t even been a month since I’ve been back in school, but my days are already fulfilling. I wake up each day with a purpose, a goal to work toward, something to do. My calendar is full of lectures and labs, and shifts at work go by like water over a waterfall. I don’t get trapped in them, watching the time tick slowly by. My head is full of things to keep me from getting bored. My days are long now, and also short. My days are full of chemistry and nomenclature to remember, equations and deep time scales.
It’s easy to forget the value of an education. It’s easy to forget the things you want out of this life when there’s no deadline to earn them. And while it’s important not to rush, I can not overstate the importance of working toward something. Pick a goal to achieve, a skill to learn, a life to live. There’s no better way to spend a day than investing it in yourself.