Where I am Now: Thoughts from a One Month Sabbatical

If you haven’t heard two peeps from me in the past month, it has been because I have been taking the time to reconnect with myself, explore new things, and generally detox from a grueling school year. I was seriously surprised at how badly I need a break after this past term ended. Without really realizing it, I had thrown myself into work, both school and extracurricular (less so school) and began to ignore the basic beauty of life. Yes, roll your eyes. I am aware of how cliche and sappy that sounds.

I was obsessed with putting The Point on top, building a strong and cohesive team of editors, producing enough energy and enthusiasm to earn acceptable grades in all my classes, getting a summer job, and keeping tabs on my social life, or lack there of. I was obsessed with making sure all my acquaintances and friends liked me, that I didn’t piss anyone off, and that I didn’t let my crazy existence make everyone write me off as a no-go. I was in the frying pan, trying to keep moving so I didn’t get burned.

Like most, I didn’t wind down from the term immediately after classes and exams ended. My brain wanted me to keep going momentarily, so I threw myself into finding the perfect summer job. I must have applied to hundreds of jobs since February, written dozens of cover letters, and gone through a handful of interviews. Like every spring, without any familial connection, job hunting was an extremely frustrating necessity and it pretty much sucked away my self-confidence.

Left and right, my friends were sweeping up jobs, some even ones I had applied to and not been considered for. After a year where I had worked so hard on my skills, beefed up my resume, and had real world experience to back me up, I was not expecting this kind of rejection. Not wanting to experience another ounce of it, I stopped calling on friends. My social life had always been an area of my life where rejection hurt the most, and seemed to come the most frequently, whether it was a skewed perception or not. Being a natural introvert and at times a loner, I didn’t crave the attention and felt more comfortable in my thoughts with only myself to rely on.

Around this time I was also slowing down on my job search. I’d exhausted Indeed, Craigslist, and UBC Career Services and had a few interviews lined up I was excited about. I immersed myself in warm, sunny weather and books. It was pretty certain you could find me out back reading or in my room watching seasons of The West Wing. I went on a few solo hikes into the Canyon where I veered off the path and explored some lesser known foot trails down to the river, not so much doing it for exercise as I was simply in love with the solid real-ness of nature. I didn’t need an internet connection to enjoy this beauty (though I did Instagram a couple of shots, naturally). I must have stared at the consistency of the rip-roaring river for several minutes from a mossy ledge over-looking the rapids before I realized that if something were to happen – like slipping on the wet moss – I would surely fall into the river with no control over my fate. I backed away.

In need of another book, I walked down to the library and picked up Into the Wild. Not immediately enthralled with the book, it took me a while to sync with its message about embracing the thrill, beauty, and reliability of nature over the meaningless fog of materialism that divides us. If you’re thinking that this is the point in the story where I throw out all my belongings, start wearing a burlap sack, and live out of a car, you’re wrong. I did clean out my closet, but it’s still uncertain if the two are connected.

The story did make me look at my hiatus from life a little differently, however. In a way, Chris McCandless’ adventure was a super extreme version of my post-term break. At the time I wasn’t sure why I did things that made my parents call me a recluse. Looking back at the last several weeks, I think I was doing the right thing. I took long moments to notice the happiness the small things brought me, like noticing the hundreds of wild flowers on the grass in Stanley Park framing the view of the city. Or spontaneously buying a pot and some seeds and excitedly watching them bud into sprouts and grow day after day (my bedroom now serves as a quasi-greenhouse for all the plants I am growing, including a lemon tree). For once I didn’t need approval from my friends or anyone. I felt lucky I finally had the opportunity to embrace my introversion, without the pressures to mask it. And at last, I got a job.

It has been this job that has broken me out of this detox, as I like to call it. Though I’m not crazy about admitting it yet, the job has reminded me of my ambitions, my goals, and my professional interests that I had so pleasantly and momentarily shunned. It is now back to the ever evolving social grind, spinning thoughts, and fear of screwing up. But on my window sill, I still have my seeds.

Here are some photos I took of these small but memorable experiences:

My windowsill garden.

My windowsill garden.

The day I found my first sprouts.

The day I found my first sprouts.

The closet clean out day.

The closet clean out day.

Finding the small things in Stanley Park

Finding the small things in Stanley Park

From the mossy ledge.

From the mossy ledge.

Backyard reflection.

Backyard reflection.

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