I get to spend a bunch of time with my students, especially during the summer. And I love it. We get a first-hand view of them learning how to do research, busting a move for the GRE and searching for the *most amazing* graduate opportunity out there among the gazillion options available (read: can be kinda challenging). We get to eat with them – quite often actually – and workout with them – sounds weird, but really cool – and just hang out on occasion – think sitting campfire-side + maybe crashing weddings, but I digress.
The point is: we are teaching our scholars a lot about the process of becoming successful graduate students, but we get to learn a lot along the way too. Win win you say! That’s what I say. In a sense, we’re all experimenting with this idea of what it means to live your best life. We all want to do work that matters. We all want to reach our potential, challenge ourselves. We want to feel good while we’re at it, which means taking care of ourselves too. It’s an ongoing dialogue, it’s trial and error, it’s sharing breakthroughs and challenging each other to step up to the plate. Which could mean applying for that reach school or doing that strict pull-up by December first.
Either or … or both! lol
One thing in particular that happened this summer is: singing in the car. That’s right, singing in the car. Like a boss, I might add. (okay, maybe I stole that line from my students) McNair road trips have translated into having the McNair playlist ready to go, and I have to say, it’s been pretty interesting for me. You see, I’ve always been shy about singing. I remember being at church and feeling the pressure to sing, and just not wanting to. I guess I was just really self-conscious about the whole idea. Not that we sang a ton in the family vehicle (two-tone blue station wagon), but in those scenarios I wouldn’t sing either. I’m not sure if it’s more awkward to sit mute when others are singing or to make myself sing, but probably not “do it full-out” since I’m shy about singing in the first place. I would say it’s a bit of a catch-22.
I admire people who can sing. We’ve had several scholars come through who consider themselves “singers” and it fascinates me. I think it takes a lot of courage to sing. So when I found myself in a vehicle on the way down to Kentucky with a group of scholars who like to sing along to the radio, I found it pretty entertaining! Let’s just say that not only did I find myself loosening up and smiling a lot, I learned the words to some new songs as well (that’s as much as I can say about that). So it happened that this same “sing along group” would congregate in my vehicle throughout the summer. I’m now the proud owner of an aux cord and I have a monthly subscription to Spotify. So I can access our McNair playlist, of course!
The reason I bring this whole thing up is that I think it’s good thing to loosen up sometimes. Let yourself go and just ease on into the moment. Let yourself be yourself. That’s what my scholars were doing as they all sang the Journey classic, Don’t Stop Believin’ at the top of their lungs. I’m still not singing full-out, but I’m loosening up if just a bit. And I’m definitely looking forward to that next car ride. Turns out my students have a ton to teach me + I love it.