These past few weeks, I have written about how we worry about the future and about how stressful life can be. I know everyone has a routine and a hectic daily life that sometimes gets us very overwhelmed. It makes us forget to appreciate not only the little things people like to point out, and I have talked about in the past, but the everyday life we see but do not appreciate.
I spend most of my days in a race with time where the more stuff I must do, the less time I have in a day. That makes me wish for a longer day. But right now, I am writing this while staring at a sunset in Washington D.C. after the most nerve-wracking seven minutes of my life, at least for now (by the time this article comes out, it will be a week from this moment). The sunset looks marvelous: purple, pink, orange, and yellow colors paint the sky and reflect onto the bay. Everything just seems so peaceful and calm, as if saying, “You just did that” to me. But guess what? I have not seen, paid attention to, or appreciated a sunset in so long. I have not stopped my race in a while, and in the process, I forget to appreciate everything or everyone around me without feeling guilty or thinking that I am wasting my time. I always get mad because it means less time to do more work, but today, it means closure or the next step for me in life.
Today (November 7, 2023), I presented my research at the Entomological Society of America conference. It was the first time I expressed and explained my research out of the University of Tampa to people who have doctorate degrees and are professionals in the field. At the same time, I was the only undergraduate presenter at the symposium. So, in the beginning, I was just thinking about how much they know that I don’t and about being afraid that they would grill my research and me. I was very surprised when people started to approach me after my presentation with some awesome tips that I could use to improve my techniques. It also encouraged me to keep going on in the future because I did a great job. This was all very overwhelming to me because I am not one to take compliments or just don’t know how to take them. After finishing talking to everyone, I decided to go, I guess like a little kid, to a Build-A-bear to get myself Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon (2010). I made that gift to myself for my work and as a memory of where I got it from.
I forgot how something as simple as a stuffed animal, or dragon in this case, can bring someone joy. How sitting and watching a sunset without doing any work feels so calming, how walking around and talking to a friend is relaxing, and how just being there and present at the moment without worrying about the next thing on my to-do list made it more real in some way. My mind was there with me, not running a hundred miles an hour, and it felt great. I don’t think I have stopped in a while, and doing it was amazing.
In the end, I want to remind you to stop, too. Sometimes you need to just stop. You don’t have to run all the time, and you don’t have to take it all in or hold the world on your shoulder always. Even though you know you are strong, you also need a break because life is so much more than your meetings, assignments, to-do lists, etc.