“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.”
Ask any grad student how grad school is going and there will be one common word among the answers: intense. Between classes, an assistantship, a part-time job and the endless opportunities in the present and future it can be quite chaotic at times. But the silver lining among all the stress is that there are so many opportunities right here, right now that it’s like being in an adult candy shop.
Recently, I had the opportunity to apply for service trips, one was a domestic trip and the other, international. I decided to travel to New Orleans for Winter Service Week in January and work with the Saint Bernard Project. I heard from friends that the trip is such a transformational experience, so I decided to go for it. Luckily I was accepted.
For the international trips, the decision was a bit more dicey. I initially applied for a trip to Poland, but was weary since I didn’t have a lot of experience with kids and the team would be working in a summer camp for at-risk kids. There was the option of Guatemala to learn about the struggles of the country since their civil war. Unexpectedly, the idea of India even enticed me. I’d be able to learn about untouchability in a country that has a devastating prejudicial caste system. No matter where I went I know I would have a fantastic experience, after all, I have seen so many friends who have grown and matured through the process. However, with the higher intensity of the trips came with it a process of team meetings and seminars that would allow you to prep for the journey. That process, while necessary to embark on the journey, would be more of an obligation rather than an enjoyment, especially with everything else on my plate.
I plan on taking a couple summer classes after the upcoming semester, along with trying to prepare for a writing program in Los Angeles after my current program is done. Not to mention, I would like to do an internship in my current field to get some real-life experience. It’s exhausting just to think about, and the process for the international service trips I know would become something I felt I had to go to and maybe even perhaps dread going to.
That’s not how it should be. All the opportunities that await me I want to be exciting. I want to be able to enter them with a thirst for unexpected and unimagined learning. I want to enjoy the process, not just the end result. What good is an opportunity if you can’t enjoy the ride there?
So while I toyed with the decision for days and stressed myself out to no end, I decided to wait on the opportunity for an international service trip until next year. When my classes will be limited, I will be done applying for writing programs and I can just enjoy my final year at Canisius. I can’t think of a better way to end such a transformational experience at such an amazing place.
So, if you’re feeling stressed with the endless opportunities that await you, don’t be afraid to take one step–or opportunity–at a time. That way each opportunity can be enjoyed for the treasure that it is. Know that if it isn’t now, it will be someday and if it is truly meant to be, God will get you there.