One month ago, I was somewhere in the middle of the United States, making my way from Boston to Los Angeles.
One month ago, I hadn’t started working at the Study Abroad office — I couldn’t tell you about our different programs if a free trip to Australia was on the line.
One month ago, I thought I was ready for the quarter to come.
One month’s time doesn’t seem like much in the scheme of a decade, a century, or a millenium. But just like any other measurement of time, one month can move with the illusion of a snail’s pace while it actually passes by in flash. The last month has been exhausting for me — what a statement to write at the end of a Tuesday morning, when the day and week have not yet half passed. In the last four weeks or so, I’ve filled beautifully blank spaces on my calendar with a volunteer shift at The Pantry, along with miscellaneous tasks and meetings for the Parent to Peer study. I can’t seem to anticipate the real timing of my schedule before I add more to it. I always think I’ll have enough time for one more thing. Or five.
Even so, I’ve enjoyed the extra calendar fillers that might seem superfluous to an outsider: Agape workshops and rehearsals, puzzles, dinners, relaxing with a movie. And really, one of my goals for this year is to not be so hung up on what a month ago I might have considered a “waste of time” in the sense of using what could be study time for leisure activities. Instead, I want to be real with myself. Would I really have used that 8:00–10:00pm time block to study more? Hey, it’s possible. To say, “Definitely not!” is foolish, so I believe. But even if I would have studied during that time, to challenge myself by going to a jazz workshop is as worthy a use of my time as is studying. In light of a pending exam or lab report, not so wise, but worthy nonetheless.
I want to not regret the decisions I make. Knowing myself, I’m not convinced that this is wholly possible, but I‘ll try. I chose where I’ve committed my time, standing by those commitments even as I encounter unpredicted obstacles or realize that more time was required than I thought. If it becomes overwhelming, of course I’ll reconsider so I don’t suffer unnecessarily, but even with some suffering, I remember that these were choices that I made. We don’t have to regret mistakes. We can choose to learn from them. So, I choose to move on as an improved person, not as one wallowing in regrets about missed opportunities or poor decisions.
I started writing this on October 13, which was when those first sentences were accurate — I was on multiple planes on September 13. However, after taking a short break and then coming back to add more, some things have changed. I found out last week that I can’t read — the email containing my job offer way back in May said, “to offer you a position as a Study Abroad Peer Advisor at UC Davis Study Abroad for Fall 2015.” And unfortunately, because I didn’t read the above correctly, I found out after sending in my Winter schedule that I wouldn’t be guaranteed hours, since I had in fact only been hired for one quarter’s time. When I read the most recent email, gently reminding me of what I was not previously aware, I was shocked, frustrated, and I’ll even say a little heartbroken. It’s terrible to think you’re staying somewhere you like, and suddenly it isn’t so.
This is one of those situations where I had to decide whether to mope around, or make the best of the situation. The announcement of this unwanted news is a an opportunity for me to reflect on the good, on how I’ve been challenged to grow as a person in the little time I’ve been a Peer Advisor. There was a brief moment when I found myself regretting taking the job. It felt like such a tease to work for a few months before leaving! However, after cooling down from the initial heat of disappointment, of course I don’t regret taking the job at all, although I slightly regret not reading more closely and clarifying with my boss beforehand. But really, it’s been so exhaustingly fun to talk to hundreds of students about going abroad and the options that are available; it’s been good to constantly remind myself of the immense privilege it was to be able to go abroad myself. How could I have ever considered regretting taking the job?
And it’s through situations like that where I’m challenged in this goal of “no regrets.” It’s difficult to make choices because our next step can lead us where somewhere unexpected, maybe undesirable. But then we keep going, and see how it can turn out okay if not amazing (and hopefully not awful). Six weeks doesn’t seem like a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, but then it does when you realize how much can be packed into forty-two days. You see, so much can happen in a month. So much more can happen in a month and a little more.