Distracting Myself from Me

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There are moments in our life when the hustle & bustle of real life pauses…when there are no incoming call or text messages…when there are no pressing deadlines or projects due. It is in those moments that you find yourself alone with yourself. What do you do when you are alone with your thoughts? What internal conversations do you hold in your own mind? How do you turn down the volume to your innermost murmurings & dial up the volume on your deepest conscience?

For many of us, simply finding the time to breathe is a small victory. However, when you are able to glean quality time with yourself, you might find that your mind begins to hold a myriad of conversations on the stage of your brain. If you are like me, your mind wanders around to and fro tap dancing on every imaginable topic from career to family, what-ifs, why-didn’t-Is, and if-only-I-coulds. The beauty in this moment is that as the only living expert on you, it should be easy to control these conversations right? Wrong! The mind, unlike other parts of your body, consists of trillions of mental files on millions of different topics, experiences, and perspectives you have gleaned in your life’s journey. Put all of those combinations together, and your mind could literally wander for trillions of miles!

Moldmakers not only think outside the box, their minds wander outside the box as well. Learning to mentally control your cerebal pathways allows you to discover new ways of thinking about old concepts. But what happens when you cannot control your mind & you try to “turn it off?” What happens when you try to distract yourself from you?

Jessica Perianza found herself in this very situation recently. She is a vibrant & intelligent moldmaker & college student who is spending the summer immersed in the heart of academia. She has been afforded the opportunity to live in Cambridge, MA & work at the Avery Dennison headquarters in Westborough as a project management intern for the summer. Over the past few weeks, Jessica has been following her dreams & surprisingly found herself alone with herself. Below she gives us a detailed & intimate glimpse into her mental journey & what she found when she looked within…

Undergrad has been a gateway to growing as a professional, engineer, & leader in my community. At any given time I’m either at a meeting, class, volunteer event, or just spending my bits of free time with friends. Being alone in a completely new environment was an experience I had sought out for as long as I can remember. I envisioned a fresh, clean canvas where new friends would be made, delicious food would be consumed, and alone-time would be enjoyed. Surprisingly, it’s not the party I thought it would be…granted I have met wonderful people & I have eaten enough to feed an army. For the first time in my young adult life I have the ability to ask: what does Jessica want to do today? When? Where? How? With who? Turns out, Jessica has difficulty answering that simple question when structure is the one thing lacking, & so begins the cycle of figuring that out, sometimes for hours, which ends in frustration and often ice cream to repair the damage.

What’s one of the first things a friend will advise when you’re having a rough day? It often begins with, “Why not find something to distract yourself?”

Ah! That’s just it! I should not have to distract myself from …myself! My mind should be my safe haven from the craziness of the world and not the one thing that leaves me wondering if I fit the description for a lunatic. It’s easy nowadays to distract ourselves & avoid spending time alone. To blanket unwanted thoughts or empty gaps of time with short rushes of euphoria obtained from food, exercise, other people, or sleep. No appointments are made to enjoy the silence within us. So now that I find myself with a 3 month long stay with my mind… I have the knee jerk reaction of rescheduling with concerts, trips, and (you guessed it) food. Don’t get me wrong, it’s healthy to enjoy the pleasures of travel. I just don’t want it to be what I do to hide from me. I want to be able to close my eyes & be filled with endless amounts of peace which is something I feel eerily confident about being able to achieve. I may not be there, and I may not have a direct roadmap to it, but I have the alone time I so often asked for, and two more months to take a few steps closer to finding that peace within me.

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