It was the week before finals.
The campus library was bustling with students who were hastily typing papers, studying with their friends, or frustratingly clicking around in Photoshop like I was.
I was laying out my final presentation board for my interior design course, which usually wouldn’t have been a problem. Except that semester’s project was a 25,000 sq ft textile museum and I had to make my presentation board sixteen feet long to accommodate every drawing and rendering. (Little did I know that my thesis project the following semester would be a 95,000 sq ft museum with a twenty four foot long presentation board– what was I thinking?)
I was desperately trying to arrange everything so that it made sense. Concept sketches and inspiration were on the left side, preliminary drawings to the right of that, but then how should I arrange my floor plans? Should I make them horizontal or vertical? Should I have renderings surrounding it? And nope, I can’t make this rendering too big because it’s one that I half assed and I can’t have anyone see that. But what do I put there to take up the empty space?
As I became more and more frustrated with the composition, I kept thinking about how nice it was going to be when I visited my parents for the holidays. We could bake cookies, watch Christmas movies, I would get to see my dogs– it was going to be great. I just needed to make it through this first.
Almost like clock work, my mom had sent me a text asking how I was doing. Finals week was always extremely stressful for me, and this semester was no exception. I replied that I was doing okay, but I had a laundry list of things to accomplish by the end of the day and it was already 2pm.
I returned my focus back to Photoshop and tried to get the layout of my presentation board just right.
‘You should google mindfulness techniques’
I rolled my eyes and sighed. Did she not understand that I didn’t have time to be googling something? I needed to get my work done! But, I opened a new tab anyway and clicked on one of the first pages that Google suggested.
As I skimmed the article, I noticed ‘breathing techniques’, ‘being present in the moment’, and ‘grounding yourself’. I tried to take in what the article was saying, but a voice in the back of my mind kept reminding me about the presentation board that I had yet to finish.
I appreciated her sending that to me, because she knew how much I struggled with stress at some points, but I didn’t have time for this right now. I closed the tab and sent my mom a response.
‘Sounds interesting. I don’t have a lot of time right now to look into it though. I will later.’
I imagined her shaking her head as she read that.
Once finals were over and I had a little bit of free time on my hands, I decided to revisit mindfulness and see what it was all about. I read article after article and tried some of the exercises they recommended. And afterwards, my mind felt clear. I wasn’t worrying about what I was doing tomorrow or the long drive to my parents. I was only thinking about the present.
Now, three years later, mindfulness is always at the front of my mind. I’m constantly trying to live in the moment and not thinking about impending things. I believe it’s one of the main reasons why I don’t get stressed at work like I used to in school.
So, thanks mom. I might not have listened to your advice right away, but better late than never, right?