The Art of Sitting: Filling the Time In Between
My last college deadline was to be completely packed up and checked out of my on-campus townhouse by 4 pm on graduation day. Yes, after the nervous excitement of placing my cap just-so, figuring out how the mysterious hood was supposed to sit uncomfortably around my neck, waiting to be called to claim my diploma, successfully navigating my way across the stage without falling, and after waiting through another speech and another send-off, I had to rush back to my room and leave my four-year home in two short hours.
What followed was more hurried tasks and self-assigned undertakings that occupied at least four weeks of my new life. I revised and submitted my teaching portfolio and sent it to New York State. I read a textbook cover to cover before taking the nearly four-hour Praxis exam for teacher certification in Connecticut. I accrued references and drafts of my resume, including one with the word “Connecticut” spelled incorrectly (which was sadly posted on a job site for three solid months before this error was caught). I followed dozens of funny Twitter accounts and posted Instagram photos of my boyfriend and me on summer adventures. I attempted to unpack, apply to jobs, see old friends, and get a little vitamin D. I was in a hurry and my to-do list was never finished.
Then I began sitting.
With two certifications in line and lengthy applications sent, I returned to the jobs I held as a teenager. I began babysitting, dog-sitting, cat-sitting, house-sitting, and, most often, sitting in front of my computer waiting for something to happen. Anything.
You know, I read somewhere that extended sitting is extremely threatening to your health. It heightens your risk of cardiovascular disease, destroys your cholesterol level, and, perhaps the most apparent, just makes you plain crabby. But here I am: sitting.
I feel like a student in elementary school who is told to sit on their hands to stop squirming. I am held down by the capricious timing of my new world. No longer am I waiting for bells to ring or excitedly crossing events off my calendar. My free time has gone from the 30-minute nap I snuck in between responsibilities to a sometimes-full-24-hours-of-aimlessly-moving-from-room-to-room. I find myself craving deadlines again and, suddenly, I’m concerned that I’ve been a student for so long I don’t know how to be anything else.
Then something happens. I realize that I can still be a student, soaking up knowledge from experience and misadventures. I can be a student of sitting (please forgive this pseudo-philosophical statement). I can learn from this and I can start by standing up.
Now, I am not here to say that I’ve had a dramatic turnaround in the past month. I am not one to preach, nor am I anywhere close to a post-grad expert. Hey, I’ve only been “adulting” for three months, if you can even call it that! But I have found a few things that help…
I rejoined the gym. I make goals that I know I can begin achieving. I take baby steps each time I go: try a new machine, add 5 minutes to cardio, try using the weights without breaking out in a sweat from pure embarrassment for looking dumb. For that time, I am able to put in my headphones and drown out the noise in my own head. For that time, I sweat out the worry of all the unanswered applications.
I began tutoring. I am now meeting students who are beyond stressed with the upcoming SATs as well as students who just make me laugh for the two hours I spend with them. These students remind me of why I chose to study education. My last student told me she’d like to run her own fashion design company when she’s older and to have four kids, two dogs, one cat, and a parrot. She’s nine years old. Her enthusiasm reminds me of how I once thought. Her goals remind me how important it is to dream. Her humor reminds me to laugh at myself every once and a while. Above all, her desire to learn is infectious.
I realize that I am learning every day. Even if my day consists of three episodes of “The Good Wife” and hours spent rereading my high school journals, I am learning about myself. And I am satisfied with that.
Sitting is difficult. It is hard to stay seated when all you want is to jump into the world. But sitting is necessary at this time in my life. It is important to sit and listen to myself at this overwhelmingly confusing time. It may just be the Netflix binge talking, but I do believe that sitting can lead to great things.
So here’s to getting excited about everything we will do when we finally get to stand.