Perspective is Key

Since I moved in August my commute from school has more than doubled. I have two night classes this year that don’t end until 9:45 PM. Throughout the day I would obsess about how late I would be getting home, how little time to myself I’d have, and how little I’d sleep. Each time it crossed my mind I would get more upset about it, by the time it actually got to the commute home I was livid.

Recently, I’ve been working on re-routing thoughts like these. I’m trying to practice mindfulness by catching thoughts that fuel negative feelings and correcting the path. Yes, it’s a huge pain for me to get home at 11:30PM when I have work at 8:30AM but….

  1. I need to remember that being able to qualify for financial aid and attend college is a privilege that many people aren’t afforded.
  2. The classes are amazing. My Wednesday night class studies American Horror Films. It’s immersive and exciting to see the cultural connections in the genre and explore the feeling of fear. My Thursday night class is Creative Writing: Fiction I. This is the kind of class that I was looking forward to when I was trudging through my general education credits. I finally get to explore my creative writing and get helpful feedback!
  3. There are so many students at the same institution that have it way harder than I do. I know mothers who work full time jobs, rush to class, and rush home to try and spend some time with their children before they fall asleep. I know students who don’t have a stable home and frequently have to wonder whether or not they will experience homelessness. I know students whose commute both ways is as long if not longer than mine.
  4. Commuting at night is a great time for reading. The bus and the train are quiet and there are fewer stops. As long as I remember to print out readings, before I know it I’m home with less homework to do.

When I start feeling angry about my commute now I try to go through this list and think of each thing. Before I’m even halfway through the anger starts to dissipate. It starts to seem silly to be so worked up over something so insignificant. I have to be careful not to lean into this too much because I can easily start to feel guilty for being selfishly angry in the first place which will snowball into deeper self loathing.

I used to roll my eyes when the phrase about the glass being half full or half empty came up in conversation. In my mind either way it was a glass, so what did it matter how you viewed it? As I spend more time practicing mindfulness I realize that it does matter. It matters so much so that it can drastically impact how you see the world. If you’ve been a glass half empty person like I used to be, challenge yourself to see it from the other side!

If you want to read more about shifting perspective check out this helpful, fun, informative blog post from John Tsilimparis on Psych Central: “Got Stress? If Your Glass Is Always Half Empty — Get A Smaller Glass!

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