I’m a fairly impatient person. My impatience stems from the easy instant gratification I can get from Facebook and Instagram likes and Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping. But for some things, I just have to wait.
Last fall, I completed my graduate school applications and then engaged in a long waiting game. With all of my transcripts, GRE test scores, and supplemental essays submitted, I just had to wait. It definitely felt like I was applying for college all over again: Asking teachers for recommendations, drafting and proofreading school-specific essays, doing research for which school is the best fit for me. Most of all, what reminded me most of my college application process was how stressed I was.
Mental health is something I am very passionate about. I preach self-care tips and being mindful in every day endeavors to my friends and community members. However, in times like this when I am stressed, I find it difficult to preach these same self-care tips to myself. Just as much as I need to hear these words of advice, I believe that you all should hear it as well.
Approach yourself with non-judgment.
During my application process, I found myself judging every little thing about myself. My head filled with thoughts like “You’re not good enough” and “Your GPA isn’t even competitive, why are you even trying”. I was judging myself harsher than anyone else and was breaking myself down instead of building myself up. When I started accepting myself and things as it is, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I may not have the most competitive GPA, but I do have a great passion for community engagement and outreach. Judging myself did not help my application or my wellbeing and it’s best to be mindful of how we treat ourselves.
Accept each present moment as it is.
Now that my applications are submitted, they are out of my hands. I am waiting for the next steps and worrying in the present moment will not hasten this process. If I keep thinking about the time I submitted the application, I will not be living in the present. Still, it is difficult for me to not think about it. Any feelings of uncertainty I have about the future are valid, but I should not spend more of my time living in the future if I want to be present in the moment. Living in the present moment and enjoying things like the falling leaves and cool winter breeze are much better experiences than wallowing in fear and anxiety about what my future holds.
Practice the art of letting go.
As humans, we have a tendency to hold on to what is pleasant and reject what is unpleasant. It makes sense because it feels good to do so. But if we continue to hold on and look back on fond memories and push away any unpleasant experiences, we will have a very biased view of life’s experiences. It is both the good and bad experiences that make up our life experiences. We need to neither hold onto nor reject these experiences but to acknowledge them as they come and then let it go.
As time after I submitted my application passed, I realized a spelling mistake I made on an essay and regretted not choosing a more engaging essay topic. I regretted not preparing more for an interview or for not getting more research experience in college. These regrets grew when I started receiving rejection letters. I found myself wallowing in shame and negativity but reminded myself that it’s important to practice self-compassion as the results come in and recognize that no matter what happens, I tried my best and should continue doing so as I move forward.
Many times in my life, there were moments when I felt that I wouldn’t make it. It was hard. I was struggling. I didn’t know if I would make it past this stressful time. But I always did. It feels good to know that I have made it through all of those obstacles in the past and that I am now here.
Whether it’s applying for college, graduate school, or jobs – being cognizant and practicing these three tips will make things better as we mindfully wait for good things to come.