Habit of Writing: Conversation with the College Student Past

A College Student Story

Once upon a time there was a student who was one of many thousands of students attending the University of California, Los Angeles (henceforth known as UCLA). This student came from a very small town whose entire population would fit into the second floor of the main campus library. This student was totally lost in the woods known as her life.

The College Student and Catch-22

This was a very serious student who wanted to do something meaningful with her life. If only she she had the slightest idea what that would be.  She was completely clueless about what she wanted to do.  However, she was an excellent reader with wonderful retention. Having that set of skills she declared herself an English major  because that reduced the odds of her flunking out completely. (Much to her consternation, she was required to complete a semester course in “Physics for Liberal Arts Majors).

Since she had no intention of teaching, she was spent her days filled with malaise tinged with depression. The student had stupidly put herself in a Catch-22 situation:  she wanted a meaningful life, but she didn’t think her major was meaningful. She had a bad case of “failure to get into the groove of her life.”

Conversation from the Future

This is what I would say to that college student of the past. All unknowingly, you have victimized yourself with a bad habit. That terrible feeling of living your life in meaningless circles, and your endless search for something meaningful was the result of a habit I call the “dump myself trick.”

I think there are reasons underlying the creation of that particular habit: however such speculation lies outside the scope of this post.  The “dump myself trick” is an automatic habit of devaluing oneself and one’s efforts.  It comes of self imposed standards by which certain things are judged as meaningful while others are judged as meaningless.

The wonderful discovery that I have made is that any activity that you engage upon with focused energy and enjoyment is meaningful.  The creative energy brought into the world by the creation of a beautiful quilt is every bit as meaningful as the energy a physician brings to treating a patient.  In fact in today’s world, where so many physicians pass through their day like automatons, the enthusiastic creation of a quilt is probably more meaningful in terms of energy expended and joy experienced.

This is what I say to that college student of the past.  Replace that “dump trick” habit of self devaluation with the new habit of saying ” I am meaningful in myself, and anything I do with focused attention, energy and enjoyment is meaningful to my life and to the world around me.