Southern Inspiration

My family has quite the farm property in Southern Mississippi. It's been passed down from generation to generation. Generally, the various families, most notably my first cousins, under my late grandmother's dynasty travel out to visit during the summer months. This year we all came out a little early for the semi-yearly cemetery cleaning (which is just a massive potluck, and paying our respects to the family lineage), as well as a service for my grandmother. It was, of course, wonderful seeing my aunts, uncles, and extended family, as well as reuniting with the ever-growing group of my cousins through recent marriages.

But what stood out to me is that things are just different in the South.

Roads aren't really paved. Everyone gives a little wave when passing by, even if they don't know each other. Most notably, the pace of everything is just a little slower. We ate slower, and we moved to our next social engagement slower.

This made me think about my everyday life. I am always go, go, go. This has been my normal operating mode for as long as I can remember. I am not even sure for how many years: definitely since my first year of college through graduate school, and every day in my current position. But I also remember filling my high school days to the brim as well. I think we are just conditioned to go through our day, always anticipating the next deadline or social engagement. Our society places a value on being busy and successful in many aspects of life.

But are we really "successful" if we are not enjoying these social interactions or the satisfaction derived from our academic or work accomplishments?

I remember being consumed by the pressure of a large paper or project in college, and anticipating the relief I would feel following the completion of the assignment. As weird as it is, I never fully felt this relief. It was always a fleeting moment where I would simply begin to anticipate the next 'big' thing. (The only exception is the moments following my successful thesis defense.) It seems like living in this sense of completion is not something I do.

Nor do I rarely pause to take the time to enjoy the little things. This is something I have been focusing on taking more time for since I started a full time position. Yet, as I was in Mississippi, I realized this is something the people do everyday step of the way. I found myself doing it more so as I was there. Maybe it was because the pace allowed for it. Maybe I felt inspired by being in a location that had no 3G network and sometimes one bar of service at various locations in our cabin. Maybe it was because there was no agenda, expect for family.

I plan to take this concept and make it my Happiness Project focus for April: savor the moment. I am going to remind myself to stop and visit with people I need to catch up with, to leave a little earlier so I am not always rushed, to not hurry to the next 'big' thing, and to savor my relationships and accomplishments. I think it's these in between moments that we derive most of our satisfaction and have an opportunity to do some reflection about where we have been, where we are going, and what inspires us!

Katie Schmalzel

Student Affairs - the First Years

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