An internship might start slow but it picks up pretty quickly. Now that you have undergone stage one and know all your moves, prepare those hypothetical boxing gloves for impact.
The middle part is always the climax point for any story and the climax of your story will be where you fight back. But first, you get beaten up!
All great movies have to take us through this phase, where the hero undergoes a very brutal beat-down followed by a physical or emotional breakdown and it’s a slap in the face for them that maybe after all the preparation, the fight is more about adaptability than it is about ability.
STAGE TWO: Rocky Middle
Before you win or lose, you struggle
Just as I develop a routine, my midterms were creeping up on me and suddenly my workflow doubled! Among assignments, exams, and my internship requirements, I started to lose my grip on the schedule I have set out.
I planned for this, I shouldn’t be picking up the pieces, there should be no pieces! I must have done something wrong, or maybe I am just not cut out for this, …… and the self-deprecating statements continue.
Flailing punches & inelegant kicks
To pick up the pace, you might take it a step further. I neglected my physical health from lack of sleep to an unhealthy diet, with everything going on I forget how not to push my body to some limit or the other. And while I was paddling like a duck; calm surface with hardworking feet trying to show the world that you can make lemonade out of these forsaken lemons. My finals were here, and I have been an intern long enough for everyone there to decide on whether or not I am a fluke. At that point, it was easry to link my self-worth with my performance both at work and school. Mistakes are being made left and right, and the word failure keeps echoing in the background.
STAGE TWO COMPACTED: The Pursuit of Happiness
All I am hoping for is to get by and be okay. And even though I keep fighting back, doesn’t mean that I was in the right ring. When someone punches you, your senses know what to do, it’s an instinctive reaction, there are no wrong answers. But when life knocks you out, it’s elusive, almost like a metaphor. And how do you fight a metaphor?! Fighting back is a retaliation technique that often makes us forget what is it exactly that we are fighting for. For right now the fight is more internal. It’s about being okay enough to keep going.
When you fight back, do it right!
And here’s how:
When all else fails, improvise
There is a time for planning ahead and then there’s a time where you improvise. Just because your routine falls through during this period doesn’t mean you give it up, you just deviate. If your grand plan for it all isn’t working at the moment, try being more specific, realistic and short-term. A Specific goal that you can accomplish today can go a long way in boosting your morale and making this period bearable.
Reevaluate where your routine went wrong and start restoring the gaps. Those gaps usually need you to get creative. Sometimes it’s not about the routine you set out itself but more about the tools you’re using or not using. Most of your troubles can be compacted with some technological advancement or the other.
There’s an app for everything now, from time management to remind you to drink water, to project management apps. Sometimes the answer can even be to delete an app or two. If you are one of those people who lose themselves to black holes such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, replace them with more informative apps, articles, audiobooks. You can see a spike in your productivity from such a small change.
Before you rebuild, devour
You are required to produce an extreme amount of physical and emotional energy and the only way you would be able to do that is by picking your physical and emotional health over quick fixes and others’ needs.
You need time for yourself, compensate for that time by putting some things on hold. Shift your priorities. Take time to recharge and do the stuff that helps you reach a balanced emotional and physical state whether it’s a sport, a hot bath or a hobby.
Learn to say No
Pick your battles, especially when you are fighting so many. Despite my predicament towards quotes, some quotes are worth believing in and “A man’s got to understand his limitations” is definitely one of them. As a generation, we have a lot of burdens to bear but being agreeable is definitely not one of them. When we say no to something our parents tend to see it as such a brazen display of disobedience but our non-conformist nature comes from knowing exactly what we don’t want. It can be a blessing if you use it right.
When to say No:
- During exams, see if you can take time off from your internship.
- Stay away from stressful relationships. Friendship drama can be entertaining at times but at this stage, you need to avoid being sucked into anything that is consuming or draining.
- Don’t volunteer for more than what you are already doing, helping others is nice but right now you can’t really afford it.
You don’t have to go around saying no to hangouts and gatherings just because you think it’s time-consuming. The key here is to balance it out. If it’s time consuming but not energy consuming then go for it.
Sometimes you get to be mediocre
There is this phenomenon in football that a player can be on top of his game the whole season and then when it comes to the most critical matches they’re unfocused and perform poorly.
Focus correlates with time. If you use it for a longer time it’s bound to fail you, especially when the stakes are high. You can’t really be expected to excel at everything all the time, so choose when and where you exert your focus. Give yourself license to be mediocre every once and awhile. If your focus is to be an extraordinary student then allow yourself to be a mediocre conversationalist, a mediocre intern or a mediocre friend.
Make your face, match your feet
The millennial duck syndrome is a term that first appeared at Stanford University upon the students who seem calm on the surface while they are actually stressed out and anxious. Just like a duck swimming, calm surface, hard-working feet. Having it all together is the anthem of this generation. You only share it if it glorifies you. Or if you really need to share it and it’s miserable, you polish it up first.
Like a movie, you think the part where you struggle must be in in the form of a fast-forwarded montage that only glorifies all the struggling. And that if it’s anything less cinematic and cool showing it will instantly take away from your success.
Running around all day, you are bound to experience a bad meeting, a stressful course, a disrespectful professor. Nothing about this will be glamorous and the only way to bear all this physical and emotional pressure is to simply call a friend and let it all out for a minute or two. The emotional and physical ramifications of communicating what you are feeling through a healthy outlet can be the thing that makes or breaks this whole balancing act.
There are only two outcomes to any struggle, either you prevail or you’re defeated. In both cases, don’t think that your journey is over. Whether you win or lose, know that it’s time for some very hard decisions.
After emerging from such a busy schedule whether triumphant or not you are bound to feel a sense of emptiness & unsettle. Avoid this teetering on the abyss feeling, or falling in the abyss in some cases and keep an eye out for our representation of the third and final stage!