My roommate once related me in the mornings to this dog who clearly has no chill. I feel pretty comfortable with this characterization one, because the dog is clearly active and two, because I am a super morning person who wakes up with the type of motivation to eliminate gender bias in the workplace, eat only kale, and hold doors open for people who don’t say thank you. However, in the past few weeks, a lack of my usual routine has thrown off my usual mojo, leaving me a scrapping to get back into the swing of things.
For some people, routine seems boring and arduous because its something their mothers made them do, like making the bed or brushing their teeth. But for me, as I get older and gain responsibilities, routine is the glue that holds the day together and makes up for the inherent variability of life. Whether its making actual meals at least once during the day or squeezing in time to do something relaxing, routines create a sense of stability and adds an element of healthy control.
One of the most critical aspects of my own routine is sleep. Remember when you were eight and sleeping was like so totally laaaaaammmeeee? Well, about 12 years later, I feel a legitimate burst of excitement when I’ve finished my homework and know that bed is just around the corner. Pre-programmed to get up on the earlier side, I need to be asleep before 12:30am in order to function like a human. What happens if I don’t get enough vitamin ZZZZ? Firstly, the bags under my eyes look like I’ve purposely embellished them with purple eye shadow. Chic, right? Secondly, I become ‘drunk tired’ which is a term meaning my attention is shot and I end up lying down in fairly inappropriate places. During these periods of time, I’m too exhausted to do much of anything productive and for a type A like me, its quite discouraging. Particularly right now, as I’m trying to get my post-grad life in order, I need the motivation to apply to jobs and finish my normal daily tasks. Even though being around my friends and staying out late is fun and certainly adds to the memorability of my senior year, I’m starting to realize that my FOMO often talks over my voice of reason telling me that I won’t be so pleased with myself when I have to wake up the next morning. With all the demands thrown at us everyday, there’s only a certain amount of Oh, fuck it that you can maintain. Spontaneity is an amazing quality and important to being a flexible person but, its also okay to be a little selfish if it means that you get what you need out of your day. I always like to relate this type of need assessment to the oxygen mask on an airplane scenario; you have to put your mask on in order to be of any benefit to anyone else.
Another part of my routine, one that might seem optional but is actually is only way I get through mundane class assignments and loads of laundry, are my creative outlets. From random notes in my journal to reading, these projects keep me energized and creatively ignited. Even more importantly, they mimic aspects of the job I’d like to have (#hireme). These projects give me the opportunity to practice and refine my skills with Photoshop and Premiere and have become the site of mental dumps (aka what you’re reading right now) where I can think through experiences I’ve had or problems I encounter. Reflection time is important and even if that’s not your intention going into a personal project, its likely the effect you’ll get when all is said and done.
In my experience, people’s biggest concern when it comes to routine is becoming that grumbly, old person who hates everything except saltines and tuna. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration but you get the gist — basically a square. I’m still figuring this out but am fairly certain the balance has something to do with prioritizing certain parts of your routine while knowing which one’s you can occasionally let go of. You don’t want to become so stuck in your ways that you can’t compromise but also, don’t let things go that you know keep you mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. Putting yourself a little out of your comfort zone can often introduce you to new activities to incorporate into your schedule that you may enjoy. So, lesson 101, be open to the unexpected, not susceptible to it and embrace your routine because in some way, shape, or form, you need it.