It’s been about a month since I’ve begun my research for the Dietrich College Honors Fellowship Program, and I’m happy to say I’ve finally found what I believe is the perfect balance of work and play within my schedule.
Since beginning my freshman year at CMU, I have worked as a part time employee and the Carnegie Mellon University Store. Though research is my full time job for the summer, I couldn’t quite part ways with my beloved bookstore. So, in addition to my research, for the past couple of weeks I have been working at the store a couple hours a day, not only to make some extra cash (gotta pay those bills $$$$), but also in an effort to give myself some balance. Prior to starting back up at the bookstore, I was spending most of my days just doing research. Though this was quite informative, it could be frustrating at times. And, because I had no other obligations, I would just continue working through this frustration at times when it would have been best for my sanity to just stop and take a step back. However, now that I’m “back to the old grind,” I am better able to balance the time I spend on my research with other things.
What has been most helpful to my balance this summer, however, both in terms of time and physically, has been my newest obsession – hot yoga. My wonderful housemates turned me onto hot yoga over this past year, but I never had the time (or frankly, the commitment) to go on a regular basis. Fortunately, once the summer came around, it seemed as though I had nothing but time. I signed up for a three-month pass, and though it was tough on my bank account, it’s been the best decision I’ve made in recent history. Going to yoga every day has bettered me physically and mentally, and given me yet another activity to balance my research with.
Over the past two weeks, I have gone through a crash course in linguistics. I read and studied a 600 page textbook in order to root myself firmly in the basics. If you’ve ever embarked on a self-taught a course in two weeks before, you will understand that it takes a massive amount of focus to accomplish. On the first few days, I was going strong. The information was new and interesting, and I was thrilled whenever I got practice problems right. Each paragraph took only one reading to absorb. Then as the days went on, I began to dread seeing the grayish blue cover of the textbook. The weight of the pages in my hands felt insurmountable, and definitions and concepts began to run together into a muddy mess in my mind. I would read the same paragraph over and over again and feel oh-so-tempted to take a nap or grab my laptop and let my brain melt into goo as I scrolled through Facebook.
On one of these dreary days, my housemate returned from New York and excitedly showed me an un-missable bargain at a nearby yoga studio. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but she assured me that thirty dollars for thirty days of yoga classes was a very good deal and that I would thank her later for it. It was just as well that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into because not only was it 9 am yoga, it was 9 am hot yoga. I felt sad and sweaty and sore afterwards, and I was very sure that I didn’t care about how much value I was missing out on, I would never go back. But the next morning I decided to give it one more try, and instead of letting my mind feel miserable about the sweat and the heat and the impossibleness of bending my body and balancing on one foot all at once, I forced myself to focus on the muscles I was supposed to be using, focus on a point to keep my balance. And I found that once I was able to find focus, I barely noticed how hot and sweaty it was, I stopped falling over and feeling frustrated.
I managed to apply this new-found focus to my linguistics readings and found that I was able to chug through more chapters more efficiently and remember everything more clearly.
So in the end, I did thank my housemate for great bargain on yoga classes.