To See the Forest, You Have to Look Past the Trees

You know those times when life gets crazy? And I mean like REALLY crazy. Yeah, this is one of those times.

Guys, I started grad school. It’s kind of surreal to think back in December I was graduating from college and now I’m swamped with work for grad school (on top of work itself). To say I’m exhausted 200% of the time is an understatement. To quote Lorelai Gilmore – I NEED COFFEE IN AN IV.

So concerning grad school itself, overall it’s been good so far. Granted, I’m only a couple weeks in, but I’ve definitely enjoyed it. I’m taking two classes over the summer – Writing for Turabian (ugh) and Economics & Public Policy.

Turabian. Well…it’s a class on how to write papers. Now, please do not misunderstand, I will NEVER undermine the importance of knowing how to write a well-thoughtout, highly analytical argument, but, I had to take a class just like this in undergrad. It’s only slightly tedious to have to do it again for my masters. Alas, I have to do something to help me reach that Ph.D. level.

Then there’s Economics & Public Policy. For the sake of transparency, this was the class I was insanely worried about. The last time I took an Economics class was for dual-credit in high school. And I took it online because all but three of us dropped the class and therefore there weren’t enough students for Hill College to actually send the professor to the high school campus. I was completely overwhelmed and everything WAY over my head. I tried super hard, but I still finished with a C in the class (and I had the highest grade of the three of us).

That brings us up to this class now. I was really worried. But maybe it’s a maturity thing, or maybe I’m just studying harder, who knows, but this time seems to be going better. What I’ve realized is I can’t let my previous experiences dictate how this class because that’s when I get thrown off.

Think of it this way – you know those times when someone compliments you, and it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since the compliment, you’ll never forget it? Well, I had a really good friend of mine do that for me in undergrad. We started off freshman year together and basically stayed in all the same history courses throughout our time at Baylor. During our last history class together, we were studying one night and I got beyond stressed out. I was drinking coffee, eating pizza, and felt like I was on the verge of having an anxiety attack. Renie pulled me aside and basically told me to stop (you could also see a little bit of the Marine Corps officer coming out in him when he said this, so slightly intimidating). But then he told me to take a deep breath and just breathe.

He proceeded to remind me how he’d known me since freshman year and that I was very smart and highly intelligent. He told me to trust him when he said I knew the material better than majority of the class because he had heard me mummer answers and arguments under my breath in class (we sat next to each other). Whether I wanted to hear it or not, Renie told me I lacked confidence in myself and mostly my intelligence. He said if I just let my mind flow, the solutions would come and I would be okay. He was right.

I will never forget that conversation with Renie because it was true. I feel so often I try to control everything, I lose sight of the bigger picture. I think of it like the idea of focusing on each individual tree when I really need to be focusing on the entire forest. Everything he said was right. It didn’t really hit me like a truck at the time because I was so tired, but it does now. I can’t control everything, and when I let my mind process and simply do it’s thing, that’s when the answers/solutions/arguments/whatever I’m looking for will come.

One: I think it’s important Renie told me that. We should never underestimate the power of our words to someone, especially a compliment they likely don’t hear very happen. The bottom line is I push myself to be book smart because I desire to be good enough, almost like I have something to prove if not to anyone but myself. Having a peer tell me that I didn’t need to try so hard because I was already on a level higher than where I needed to be is what made this conversation so special.

Two: Whenever I begin to feel down and discouraged in grad school, I think back to this conversation with Renie to just have confidence. So what if I got a C in Macroeconomics in high school when I was 17. I’m almost 22 and in my first year of grad school studying a different form of economics. I never should have shut the class down before I even gave it a chance. Especially since (as I’ve since learned) when I just go with what I know and let things happen, the outcome is generally positive.

I mean, I have a topic proposal due for my research paper soon. I’m still struggling figuring out what to write my paper on since I don’t really understand all the ins and outs of economics. However, what I do have are 12 copies of The Economist from September to November. And per Renie, I am confident that as I sift through those I will surely find a topic to peak my interest for my research paper. I just have to let my mind do it’s thing.

Life may be crazy lately. We can all agree life tends to get crazy, a lot. In years past when things like this would happen I had a tendency to curl up, stress out, and shut down, but this time I’m fighting forward. I wouldn’t be in grad school if my parents, the university, and most importantly myself, didn’t think I could do it.

I still have a huge chunk of the summer semester ahead of me, but I remain so excited to see where this goes. I’ve already learned so much in the past few weeks and it’s been fun. Give me a little bit of coffee and whole lot of Jesus and I’ll be conquering the world in no time!

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