I grew up as a camper at a Christian summer camp in East Texas, and I’ve spent the past four summers working at that same camp as a staff member. This summer, I had the privilege of being the director of the female staff.
Does my job at summer camp have anything to do with engineering, you may ask? Well, it may not directly have anything to do with it, but this job taught me how to bring life into perspective and how engineering fits into my life in a broader sense. I learned three important lessons:
One of the main parts of my job as “Head Women’s Counselor” was to check in on all my staff throughout each day and make sure that they were doing okay mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Through our conversations, I grew to care deeply about all of my staff. I believe they understood my commitment to them which, in turn, gave them the incentive to do their jobs better. This lesson extends to my future as an engineer in that my coworkers will get more value from their tasks if they feel that they matter, and I will be able to form better relationships and trust with them.
LIVE IN THE MOMENT
The one thing that I always carried around with me during the summer was my journal that had my daily to-do list in it. I stressed about it constantly.
However, I learned throughout the summer that I was NEVER going to get everything done. While I was trying to do the things on my list, I was missing important and precious moments with kids and other staff members. I learned how important and healthy it is to stop and be in those moments, make those memories, and set the to-do list aside.
APPRECIATE MY SURROUNDINGS
Living in a small cabin in the piney woods of East Texas, it was hard to not appreciate the beauty of the world around me. Each day, early in the morning, I would spend about 30 minutes in quiet time, sitting amongst the tall trees and crunching dead leaves.
While this was a spiritual time for me, it was also a time when I could simply pause the stress of the day and just take a minute to rest and appreciate the true beauty of the nature around me. This simple resting time was so peaceful and energizing, and I found that it actually brought each day into focus for me.
So no, these things don’t have much to do with the study of engineering. But I think that most of us are not great at applying these simple concepts to our everyday lives as students. This is something that I have been trying to change in my life, and I’ve been reminded that, while I am devoted to engineering, I need to live a life with balance in order to be truly fulfilled.
For me, practicing the above concepts is how I find balance. For you, it might be different. But I encourage you to find that balance because it really does help you find meaning in and appreciate everything you do.
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