If I wrote a list of my favorite things, making lists would reside close to the top. Oooh inception…sorry, I’ll get my head out of the 2010 gutter. All jokes aside though, I do love a good list. They help me organize my thoughts, visualize a plan of action (another thing I adore), and give me an outlet to doodle and be creative.
Despite my affinity for lists, I have come to hate bucket lists. Maybe I’m just jaded by years of making overly ambitious summer to-do lists only to greet September realizing I didn’t have the time (or parental permission) necessary to accomplish all of my lofty goals. I know it’s important to set goals for yourself and I’ve been taught the more concrete, specific, and quantitatively measurable these goals are, the easier it is to actually achieve them. With that though, it’s also so easy to feel defeated or like I’ve failed myself or society and it’s image of the perfect summer. As I’m discovering in all aspects of my life, finding a balance allows me to be a happier and better human. After a freshman year full of setting strict deadlines and quotas for myself, I’m allowing for a more fluid summer plan and created a list of ideas and intentions.
These intentions are things that I’d like to keep in mind this summer to help me refocus and recenter. The ideas are things I would like to do in my nearly four months home before returning to school, but I’m resolving right now that I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t check off every box. This is why I purposely have kept some of the items on my list vague and free of quantitative details.
-building a terrarium
-add listings to Poshmark
-eat more mindfully
-take more polaroids
-keep a thankfulness list
-try aerial yoga
-visit farmers markets
-host friends for a feast
-take lots of walks
-read, don’t scroll (read a book before bed rather than trolling the internet)
-have early nights
-have late nights
-listen with your eyes
-put the phone down
-drink more water
-have spontaneous beach days
-make a Swedish meal
-wander through Chicago
-take your vitamins
My list is pretty hefty and many points are self explanatory, but if you’re still with me, I’ve gone into detail below on a few of the ones that are special to me.
•Listen with your eyes & Put the phone down
I think these two intentions go hand in hand. By listen with your eyes, I mean make eye contact and be fully present when talking to people. I used to focus a lot at being comfortable with making eye contact, but got out of the habit when I met so many new people during freshman year. It’s just plain hard for me to sustain eye contact with new people. I never know if they’re comfortable with it and so I revert to letting my eyes lose focus and wander or worse yet, redirect my focus to my phone. I find it really hard to feel fully present when I’m constantly playing on my phone while with friends. The more comfortable I get with a person the more likely I am to aimlessly scroll on my phone while we’re talking or instead of having a conversation with them at all. I hate that this is such a common activity across my generation, but I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t try to start changing my own ways. So, I resolve to set my phone down, look people in the eye, and actually listen to what they have to say.
I am so far from perfect but I’m a terrible perfectionist. It’s in my genes to be detail oriented and my parents have always expected nothing but straight A’s in school. As I’ve gotten older, I have taken on the onus of expecting straight A’s in life from myself. If we did get grades for everyday life, I would have a teetering tower of C’s, D’s, and F’s.
A couple months ago, my friends and I are were talking about the part of our body we liked the least or were the most self conscious about and I was shocked to discover that the features my friends disliked the most were the things that made them so uniquely beautiful. If only it were my natural instinct to focus on the beauty in imperfections instead of trying to change them. I don’t want to just accept my imperfections, I want to love them. The song Stars in the City by Old Dominion really captures the essence of this intention.
•Eat more mindfully
This last one is another bad habit formed during freshman year that I’m trying to rectify and was 100% inspired by Lee From America. I’m so lucky because in high school, my parents and I were able to sit down for a family dinner almost every single night. The rules of the family table are as follows:
1. Someone other than mom has to set the table/clear your own dishes.
2. No singing during dinner (don’t ask.)
3. Absolutely no phones.
These rules allowed me to appreciate the delicious food my mom had prepared, take a break from my day, and partake in healthy and often nerdy conversation. At school though, I got so caught up in my new schedule that I treated the blessing of eating meals as a chore or a task on my to-do list—eating on the go frequently, rarely coordinating with friends unless it was super convenient, and eating at the most random times. Unless my friends and I went off campus on a weekend to grab dinner, I didn’t put down my phone or look away from Netflix or my school work. It seems silly that I have to have a special occasion to appreciate the act of enjoying a meal…now that I have (slightly) more time this summer, I’m hoping to share meals with friends or on my own sans phone-scrolling or netflixing so I can pay attention to the flavors and of what I’m eating.
I hope you enjoyed walking through my own little list and maybe it even sparked an idea or two for yourself! Whether you’ve got a list or not, comment below to say hi or share your thoughts!