August: To Love the Grind

I cannot believe that I am now a senior in college. A part of me wants to follow that sentence up with, “Wow time really does fly by…” but I can’t say that that’s actually accurate to how I’ve felt the past three years. Parts of college have honestly felt like a standstill. Sometimes, it was a reeeeaal drag. I mean even now, with school having been online for about five months, some days just turn out better than others. It all depends on how you look at it.

Being in my last year of college, I can’t help but look back on the previous three years to see how much I’ve changed and how much I’ve grown. My heart breaks for this year’s freshman class. Freshman-year-me tried really hard to keep a smile on her face while looking for diamonds in the rough. While I do think that sometimes people tend to overhype and over-romanticize parts of freshman year, even the worst moments of that transition period add color to your overall college narrative. So while the circumstances of this year are definitely far from ideal, I hope that if anything this year makes the rest of your time in college even sweeter.

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not like life after freshman year is all rainbows and unicorns. College–and life itself–is a grinddd.

I went through phases in college where I thought and saw “work” (however you choose to define it) as the abnormal; you could also say, disturbances to life. I thought “life” was at the end of the tunnel and tough periods of “work” were the gatekeepers to those viewpoints.

Then I came to a point in college where the viewpoints themselves felt like valleys. There seemed to be no end to “work.” It no longer seemed like periods; it seemed to not cease. And even if there came a point of rest, it didn’t feel like it. The moments of rest didn’t feel worth it.

It’s such a gift and a blessing to love the daily grind.

We are made to do work; having nothing to do at all is only good for so long and only gives you so much rest. But the rest that follows good work is so sweet.

With each new year and life stage comes new struggles. It’s so easy to get bogged down by the pressure, weight, and responsibility of things, but I hope that wherever we each find ourselves that we come to love the grind. It’s really a gift to be in that place.

It doesn’t mean that you have to love the work you’re doing but it means to love that you’re doing work. Working doesn’t necessitate evil, but it’s how we cultivate our relationship with work that can make things go awry. That’s a gamechanger and whatever personally brings you to that realization is special.

In college, I’ve learned to love the grind in new ways and for that I’m thankful. I’ve learned to live in remembrance of the struggles that have led me to this point, remembering not only the joy of overcoming but more so the joy of what is to come.

To be honest, lately, I’ve been finding myself pretty deflated and out of touch with what “making the most of this year” really means. As a senior, I’ve fooled myself into thinking that enjoying this last year means having nothing to do at all. But that’s not the case. I would hope that I would fill my time (reasonably) this last year so that what I end up enjoying and fondly looking back on are all the things I did one last time in this chapter of my life: cramming for and being sick of exams, making spontaneous plans and memories with friends, indulging in the limited and filtered exposure of the fullness of adulthood, etc. It’s not merely the time itself that will make this year memorable but rather it’s how it’s filled and how I choose to spend it.

In March, right before COVID-19 hit, I remember sitting in our school’s library exhausted. I had had a packed week of midterms and instead of being in my apartment to treat myself to some ice cream and Netflix, I was sitting on the fifth floor of Moffitt reading court cases for a paper I had to write. Sitting in the silence of that packed library, at night, and with a 10-page paper looming over my head, I remember feeling so thankful. I recall the memory differently now–more wistfully in light of the pandemic that has completely changed the college experience–but regardless it was one of those moments where I realized that I’ll only be here, in college, for so long. I have been afforded the luxury to learn, grow, and be surrounded by some of my now closest friends. Not only that, but college has provided the option to have options. It’s an immense privilege to decide not only how you want to spend your day but also where you want to go from here. And yes, I could wish that I had had this mindset all four years of college but that’s not realistic. I only have the freedom and perspective to think about time the way I do now because of all that has led me to this point.

It’s funny that we expect ourselves to comprehend the advice that we’re given as we enter college. It happens at every graduation, at the dinner table, sometimes warranted and other times not: people impart words of wisdom. As college newbies, we are spoken to in terms of hindsight. We receive guidance, take what we can from it in that moment, but miss the depths of what is shared and why. We can’t help but obtain a fragmented understanding because we aren’t yet equipped with the same scope of knowledge. But soon enough we find ourselves in that place; we begin to understand why people said the things they said when we first entered college. Over time we develop our own set of regrets and things we wish we did differently, and we pass those experiences and what we’ve learned onto the next. And the cycle continues.

Change can be hard and being in the thick of challenges sucks, but in the end, those hardships are what make the victories so sweet. You can’t have the good without the bad; you can’t know or even fully appreciate the good without the bad.

For my college friends, I hope that at the end of this academic year we can look back and be content with how we made the most of this unusual season. But more immediately, I hope we can come to a place where we’re thankful for what visibility we do have right now. I hope we can enjoy the grind, to soon enough find ourselves with more reasons to be grateful than what we initially considered in the moment.

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nicole

Hello! Welcome to my pursuit of poking at my creative itch. My goal for 2020 is to write one article a month. Here’s just a glimpse of life & what I can gather: