Sunday, February 5, 2012

Preferences and Priorities

Last week some time I was talking to my mom on the phone and she told me about preferences. There are regular preferences, like preferring red over green or preferring cats over dogs, in other words, aesthetic preferences. Then there are preferences regarding the decisions you make in your life. Right now, I have to study. I would prefer to be writing my blog, but I would also prefer to do well on my midterm tomorrow. We talk about this in Peace by PEACE as well, except we call it "choices and consequences." It seems so simple, but it's such an effective frame of mind to have. If you don't feel like doing something important, which for me right now is studying for my midterms, then you need to reflect about what would ultimately benefit you (I happened to think that sharing my thoughts on my blog would benefit me more right now... It's good to get them out). This afternoon I decided to play computer games instead of studying because I haven't let myself relax by myself all week... I've been catching up on reading and working non-stop. So despite the fact that I have a limited amount of time to be working today, I thought that would be a priority. Sometimes it's hard to trust yourself on your preferences. But I think the important thing to do is to look at the bigger picture and try to think about what aspect of your life you've been neglecting. Lately, it has been my self.

Spending time with myself has always been pretty important to me. I love spending time with my family and friends, and of course it's very important to spend time doing school work, but spending time alone recharges me in a way that nothing else can. Often though, it is hard to justify making time for myself. It feel like I'm neglecting friendships, or that I'm inflicting a lame night on myself by spending it alone. It's hard to realize that sometimes I need to let myself do that. In The Artist's Way it was required of you to go on "Artist Dates," which were essentially outings that you would plan to go on all by yourself. I always felt like I never completely understood the concept. I think that's because I already do make sure to spend time with myself. I suppose the more daring aspect would be to go out and do something alone. Eat a restaurant, go to a museum, go for a long walk... do something in public, alone. And there were very strict instructions not to ever invite someone else along. I guess these "dates" were supposed to help you get in touch with yourself and your ideas. You aren't talking out loud, but conversations are going on in your head, and apparently, insights were likely to occur on these dates. I went to a movie during the time I was doing the course. I found it was actually alright going to a movie alone, except there was no one to whisper to about handsome actors and it felt a little silly to laugh out loud on your own. It was a romantic comedy, and at the time I got upset about being alone romantically (I think I was in a long distance relationship at the time). I'm not sure how successful it was. I guess if I kept up with doing one every week, I might start noticing the promised insights. Maybe I should start making conscious commitments to myself.

I hate it when you find yourself faced with many desirable options with how to spend your time, and you're forced to choose only one (sometimes you can manage to fit everything you'd like to do in some way or another, by compromising). I guess this is one of the main themes of life. This weekend, obviously top priority has been studying, but I was also invited to watch the Superbowl at my aunt's house. Upon accepting the invitation, I realized that my residence was having its overdue Traditional Ceremony tonight, in which the people in the residence get indoctrinated officially. Although I've been looking forward to Traditionals for a long time, I decided that I would much prefer spending time with my family. This decision was based off of what my mental health needs are at the moment. I'm really looking forward to it!

This week I had an amazing experience at Peace by PEACE. Our programming went really well, because we divided the kids up into smaller groups. There was also a substitute teacher in the classroom this week, and I found myself with the necessary respect from the children to be able to get them out the door for recess and get them settled down, as children often have a hard time reconciling themselves to listening to substitute teachers. It felt like something I could see myself doing everyday and feeling satisfied. I know that teaching isn't always peachy, and that some days it would be hard to control any classroom, and it would be hard to gain the class' respect in the first place, but for the first time it felt attainable. Since then I've tried to sort out my program of study to make sure I have teachables, to leave open the possibility of continuing after my undergrad to become a teacher. Right now, I've decided on a Major in Psychology, and Minors in Sociology and English (at U of T you have to do a Major and two Minors, or two Majors, or one Specialist). I was delighted to find out that Sociology is a teachable. The major in Psychology is useful for education in itself, but it will also set me up for any kind of career in counselling.

SO reflecting on preferences and priorities when making decisions, big or small, in life seems to be helpful. Though I've found it's still hard to listen to yourself once you have made a decision. I was reading about "Culture" in my Sociology textbook, and it seems like a hard thing to define, first of all. But I thought it was interesting that it said that often if you compare your culture with others, you can clarify to yourself what is important to you about your own culture. I guess that's what the purpose of this blog is, except that I'm also looking at other cultures and ideas and beliefs to try and clarify WHAT my culture is, or what my beliefs and values are. It's good to remember that and keep an eye out for more ideas and values to incorporate into my life. I have to be careful though, because the textbook pointed out that often we have "ideal cultures" and "real cultures." So basically we all have idealized beliefs about how we live our lives. I think that is very insightful. Of course we all have noble values and ambitious routines and things we would like to be practising, but sometimes everyday life just doesn't have room for them. It is hard to live by your own ideals. But the best we can do is keep those ideals in mind and implement them whenever we can, but also stay open-minded and constantly re-evaluate.

My poor wrist. It is aching from writing and typing. I've been taking a lot of notes this week... I just hope it doesn't turn into anything serious and that it's just a temporary strain. I can't exactly change how I hold my pen. Last night, I was worried I wouldn't be able to move in the morning because my back had so many achy parts and sensitive nerve strains. That's what happens if I skip yoga for a couple days, which, I admit guiltily, I had done. Today I did my yoga and then spent a few extra minutes lying flat on my back on the floor, and it seems to have worked itself out. PHEWF.

I've got a packed week ahead of me, but I think a lot of the little activities I've committed to are going to be fun. I'm going to see The Artist on Friday, so that's something I will really be looking forward to.

That's it for now. I hope there was some tasty food for your thoughts in this entry.

Your friendly neighbourhood Erin.

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