Blog 031 The Swing of Things 

By Mana Williams  15-20 Minutes

Early morning slogs uphill after missing breakfast in the rain without a pen, without sufficient sleep, without any money for food, this year I’ve taken on two separate degrees, Architecture and Public Policy. It sounds crazy and ridiculous, that’s because it is! This week is the first week back at University. It’s been nearly five months since last year’s study finished. I can remember and reflect on how under prepared and underslept I was through that entire experience. In the sense that I wasn’t quite taking things seriously enough to fully embody the stress and the expected workload that going to University has. This chat looks at getting back to University and getting back into the swing of things.

So what happened last year?

I’ve quickly learned last year that university isn’t a place to be going if you’re not treating it as your priority. I would choose to work on a few different occasions which later stressed my ability to work functionally or reach my full capacity in the work that I was doing. I made a promise to myself last year that I would go through the entire year in Architecture and never have to use the weekend to finish any assignment. I can announce, that not one weekend went by, where I stuck to my promise… Every weekend during the semester was used to catch up on something the week before. Not rare was a late night completing an assignment due in the morning. Not uncommon was a missed 8:00 am lecture at the top of the hill. Whenever a significant hand in was coming up, all of the architecture student’s would convert into banter less stress monkey’s carrying a pile of sketches and a Macbook Pro in a bag down the busy streets of Wellington. Occasions where we had to calculate how much electricity an elevator used, how much water our shower and washing machine used, how much energy our food had. A ridiculous amount of money spent on an interior architecture exhibition project that ended up being thrown out or cut down into itsy pieces and divided out among the crew. Days spent putting together paper cubes, spent stressing out over computer aided design programs and figuring out how to build a wall. If there’s a lesson to be taught about first-year architecture, it would be to expect everything.

So what’s changed?

Spent a long time towards the end of last year by myself. Kind of like meditating at work, just doing the daily, getting through issues, dealing with my anxieties that put a dampener on my productivity earlier in the year. One of the actions I thought was clever was using Instagram to take daily snapshots to record how I was feeling each day, how the weather was looking and a rating out of ten. A really simple but effective way of quantifying productivity in the long term.

Building family relationships up was also a significant change over last year. I’m really reliant on the support of those around me, probably not dissimilar to many of you. So it seemed logical to go through and really build up any lost connections with my family and my friends. one pretty epic little adventure was getting my biological little sister, as I’m adopted,  to come and live with me at home. None of which was possible with the highest amount of love and support from my two amazing step parents. But to have these reconnections gradually strengthened my grasp on who I was and what I needed to accomplish in order to feel like I have direction, have a purpose for doing what I am doing. Also to give me a whack in the head if I slack off at any stage.

Getting back into Martial Arts also helped me recognize some deeper analytical thinking and teach young ones and old how to protect themselves from confrontation without having to throw a punch or block a kick. Hobbies are really important getaways from the viscosity of University and life stress. Martial Arts really helped me distract myself from thinking about University or work stress. A really powerful but simple tool that I feel if used correctly and routinely would be a huge asset to the way I deal with stress when my head goes below the water.

Religion didn’t use to be a priority for me until I realized how significant it can be to help you find answers and be in a safe and open environment. Heading back to church was a conscious decision I made to feel more structured and work towards discovering God more and know what all the hype is about. It’s an ongoing journey. I really enjoy church because it’s grounding, it’s confronting and it’s difficult to hide.

How can all this be applied into your daily?

Routine is a hugely valuable tool, once I get into a habit of posting stuff to Instagram without having to make an effort of doing so and recording how my day is going in a public forum, where I can receive support and feedback, will make a huge impact on knowing entirely how my year went. Knowing and understanding that I am not invincible will keep me focused in on recognizing how important having good supports can be. Having a solid base at home and in the flat will ensure that the ship stays afloat in many ways. Applying time for Church and Hobbies into my weekly schedule is like gains to a gym junkie. The most important lesson is to remain sure about me. Continue to make conscious efforts to make time to reflect no matter how busy I am, and in a big way.

Getting back into the swing of things at University for me is reflecting on all that happened earlier and reminding myself of ways in which I can combat each daily challenge, one Instagram photo at a time.

This was today’s chat for you. I’m trying to make sure I can keep each blog posted at around 10:30 pm/am at NZT  each day, but I get excited, post two in one day, then it really messes with my system. Anyway, tomorrow will be a surprise blog topic so look forward!

Thanks for checking in.

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