One of the most important changes I made to my life in order to become more optimistic, was to learn to enjoy the journey. I have always been an extremely goal-orientated individual, with my eyes always on the destination. Although this quality is one of the better components of my personality, it doesn’t allow for taking in each and every day. I struggle to live in the moment; I am always too worried about the future or too excited that I forget to be truly present in my everyday life.
It took me until the last month of school to recognise this and attempt to change my perspective. When I thought about my primary school and middle school years I had so many fun and hardworking memories to reflect on. These years presented the foundations for me to become who I am today. However, when I looked at my senior school years, all I could recall was thinking about graduation and life after school. And as much as it is great to be excited about the future, it did detract from the enjoyment of this vital step in my education journey.
So, with this realisation in mind, I set out to make the last few weeks of school about being at school – not about reaching the end. This was the first time I actively employed the skill reframing in my everyday life. I didn’t realise just how pessimistically I viewed even the tiniest aspects of my life until I attempted to change my thought process. Simple things like complaining about the number of staircases I had to climb to get to most of my classes and waiting in a seemingly ridiculously long line to the bathroom at the end of lunchtime, seemed to dominate my mind for most of the day. But why? As soon as I began looking at it from an alternative perspective, these issues seemed so unbelievably miniscule. Climbing the staircases not only improved my physical health, but the fact that I even had a multi-story school building equipped with the necessary facilities and teachers willing to share their knowledge, never even crossed my mind. I realised I rarely took the opportunity to appreciate what I actually have. Especially when you consider those less fortunate, my lack of gratitude was simply put, completely out of line.
Once I continued with my reframing, my disposition changed for the better. I was so much happier and even a mediocre day seemed like one of the best days of my life. I allowed myself a few moments to regret the last few years I had wasted being unsatisfied, and then moved on. This time around, I had learnt my lesson too late. But the journey wasn’t over. There was university, a career (whatever that may be), starting a family, and so many more to look forward to and enjoy. And with that notion in mind, I set on my tertiary studies with determination and an aim to get as much out of it as possible. I didn’t want to settle for scraping through, when I knew that with effort, I could do much better. I made the conscious decision to enjoy the journey and not just get through on the bare minimum in order to attain my qualifications at the end.
I am only a semester in at this point, but my love for university and my commitment to my resolution remains strong. I attend all my lectures and rarely procrastinate, even though this has required me to reduce my hours of paid-work. By fully immersing myself in what I am learning, I have grown so much and become increasingly inspired. I have found that studying is much easier as I crave the knowledge, not just the success of a good grade. I was lucky in that I was able to choose exactly what I wanted to do at university, and what I chose was something I was tremendously passionate about. It makes my 8am lectures that much easier to get out of bed for.
I take the time to focus my energy on enjoying the small aspects of the journey. As I walk across the bridge over the Brisbane River from the train station every day, I push myself to appreciate the sun on the water and the boats that line Kangaroo Point. I indulge in a coffee from the stand on the bridge, and although this expense could be considered unnecessary, it gives me an opportunity to stop before my day begins and centre myself. Without realising it, I have conditioned myself to feel overwhelmingly excited when I see the big university sign as I draw closer each morning.
It has become a part of my nature to enjoy the little things and to want to strive for my best, because I want to live in an atmosphere of growth. And through growth – happiness. I want to look back on the four years of my degree and think, I got so much more out of this than a piece of paper. Because ultimately, the journey is more important than the destination and the skills, mates, and morals you develop along the way will stick with you forever.