I’ve started to use this phrase a lot in my life when it comes to college—whether I’m talking about studying habits, cramming tactics, or juggling a busy schedule, it comes down to one thing: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I would like to think that if something is working well enough, then we can leave well enough alone.
Then again, just because I would like to think this doesn’t mean it always holds up. That would be far too easy.
After 21 years, I’ve gotten into a pretty good routine of how I handle myself and who I am to people. If it has anything to do with work, I get in and do my work well, then I get on out. If it’s people—considering the amount of mentorship and volunteer positions I keep throwing myself into—then I do what I can to make connections and make them matter in the process.
So far, I think I’ve done a pretty good job. At least in a few areas. Others though, they could use some work.
Because even though my grades are fine, I do what I need to do well at both my jobs, and I put everything I can into all of my volunteer positions, I usually forget about one thing. Myself.
I forget to take care of me.
Remember when I missed a post and came back to fill you all in two weeks ago? I told you that I needed to take care of myself better, drink more water, pay more attention, etc. We all need to do that, absolutely. The basics really are a foundation to our wellbeing.
But, I also think something we need to do even more than the basics is look a little deeper into how we take care of these things. Let me tell you why.
Maybe it’s just me, but someone reminded me today that even while what I’m doing is “working” for me, this doesn’t actually mean it’s a good system. More or less, I’m healthy and I keep up with the things I need to do, but I’m also not enjoying a lot of the things I should be enjoying. I’m also not liking the classes I’m taking even though this is supposed to be a fun quarter. I’m bored, but not in a good way, as somehow I still don’t have the energy/motivation/care to fill my free time I now have more of with things I love to do.
What I’m saying is that my system works. But it also might be broken too.
Ever since high school, I have decorated my walls with drawings and paintings and quotes that mean something to me—I can’t say I’m a big fan of mirrors, but these are like reflections of myself everywhere I look because each one is something I’ve drawn for a reason. In some way, they feel like reflections fo me. Before winter break, I took every last one of them down.
That should have been tip off #1.
But I just told myself I wanted to redecorate, rearrange things a little. So why did it take me until this quarter started to get them back up? It’s not like I didn’t have the time.
It’s because the drawing and the painting or even the songwriting and the novel writing, it’s not working the way it used to. There’s a break in my system, the one I used to ground myself. These days, I’m doing quite a bit of writing for class, as well as working on putting together my second (and possibly third and fourth…) poetry book. But it isn’t as fun as it used to me and that’s not great.
Tip off #2: These things are supposed to be my outlets and my outlets are no longer, well, working things out for me.
My routines have changed, with taking the bus and adding on consistent hours with my job at the writing center, and I have to adjust myself around it. Just like each of us face things, even small ones, they shift the ways we think or work with other people. These days, my world is shifting just a little bit.
So what I do in my world needs to do the same.
Yes, the way I study and go to my jobs or volunteer or mentor, it all works just fine. I don’t do things halfway—you know that by now—and I put my whole self into the things that I care about. It’s just that the way I care about it all and therefore the way I do it all, it’s changing. Because I’m changing.
With that change, little by little, I’m creating little fractures in my routines. If I don’t keep up with it all, the way I work and do things will actually be broken.
And I will need a new way of living my life.
Instead of waiting for it all to come apart at the seams, maybe it’s better to let things happen and just move with it. I can’t tell you what these new routines are going to be or what they need to become because I don’t know where I’m at right now in all of it. My health, my happiness, my work, my passions… All of it. None of this is as clear cut as it used to be. So maybe I’ll let it break.
After all, there are some things we can’t fix and lately, I’ve had a few good reminders that recognizing such a thing is okay. If you can’t fix something, sit in it. Sit in the brokeness and the reality of whatever it is and just exist there. At a certain point, it’s useless to do anything else.
If what I’m doing works, but not well enough, I’m going to sit here and wait until I know what I need to do to make things better for myself. I have no reason to waste energy trying to rage against a system that isn’t going to change just because I hit it with my fists. I built the system. Not I have to let it adjust to whatever else is going on around me that wasn’t there before.
And so do you.
Our lives are unpredictable. There’s no telling what will or will not help us get to where we need to go on a daily basis. But when the things you’re used to helping no longer help anymore, maybe it’s time to stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Let yourself readjust. It might take minutes, days, months, years even. Take your time, let the pieces fall where they may, and take care of what needs to be done when you can. The rest, it isn’t up to us.
If it’s going to break, let it. Then go from there. For now, that’s what I’m going to do.