Photo credit: @wornoutshoe on We Heart It
Returning from reading week always feels a little bit more hectic than before I left. I liken every reading week-return to be like a surfer battling to get up on a wave as fast as possible. The setup is never easy, but once you’re riding the wave, it almost seems effortless and in a state of flow. Though some years go more smoothly than others, optimistically, we search for that one wave we can ride all the way through to the beach.
Being an international student this year has marked many new challenges for me, which makes me feel like the one surfer who almost always makes it onto a perfect wave, but just as he gets on his feet, he gets knocked over by an unanticipated one. Moving from Ghana to Canada presents different challenges professionally and emotionally. In addition to these, there is the inevitable challenge of being 12,000 km away from my family for the first time. Truly, I am the amateur surfer riding on unknown waters, or a different beach with different wave characteristics and patterns. As the waves get bigger, and the school years gets tougher, I find it is very easy to get caught up in the “now” and lose sight of where I want to end up. As a surfer, it is important to take a second to look up, and ensure you are headed back to the beach you came from.
The winter reading week marked week seven of King’s University College academic year. As classes were on hold for the week, I took full advantage of my time off. The time was used mainly to put my surfboard away, and reflect, recharge, and learn the tidal directions so I didn’t go astray. And, somehow, that made me a better surfer.
I look forward to downtime for many reasons. At more busy moments in my life, I find reflecting and recharging makes me much more purposeful in managing time and planning for future events. I’ve tried many things to help be more prepared for hectic days, to better anticipate those unanticipated waves. Here are four strategies that helped to construct my recipe of surfing new waves on different beaches:
I’m lucky to be in an environment that allows for time to catch my breath whenever the going gets tough. Having done these things during the reading week, I already feel like I am better prepared to take on the next set of waves in this school year, and the downtime is the primary reason for that feeling. As Henry David Thoreau says, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find eternity in each moment.” Here's hoping you have a purposeful approach to recharging and refocusing as you approach the stressors of life.