I have always been a workaholic. I like doing things, and I like staying busy. In fact, it’s hard for me not to be doing something. I know that this characteristic has always been a problem of mine, but I never fully comprehended just how problematic it was until after spending time in Vietnam.
Compared to America, Vietnam has a slower way of life. I spend most of my days at my internship and then spend time cooking, eating, or just talking with family. I also spend quite a few hours each week just enjoying a drink and talking with people about cultural differences or just silly things. When I first arrived, I constantly felt the urge to do something and felt uncomfortable “wasting time,” but now, I am enjoying this slower way of life and discovering the value of it more and more.
I learned a few lessons this past year, and if I had to give any advice, I would
encourage people to take things slow. You still have a long time; there is always tomorrow and the rest of your life. Rather than doing seven different activities, do two and focus on them so that you do a good job. A notable example is my current internship in Vietnam. Although I love it and respect the director very much, she has big ideas that she likes to immediately pursue. On one hand, it is great that she wants to do so much to help her community, but on the other hand, overextending her staff and resources can cause greater problems. This situation leads to moments of dissuading our director to slow it down and focus on a few projects at a time. Then I would encourage you to just take a moment and do nothing. After a busy day of constantly working, take a moment to relax and slow down your mind and body. Not only will it feel good but your body needs to recuperate. Health is wealth! Also remember that constantly functioning at a fast pace is not good, and if you don’t slow down, things will pass you by. This past semester, I had my mind on so many things that I lost track of appointments, emails, my thumb drive, and my shoes (still looking for them 🙁 ).
Our society often forces us to choose between work and our personal life. Thus, we will most likely encounter this choice countless times in our lives. I hope that when you do, you will keep in mind three things:
1) Know your values and priorities.
2) We are human beings, not human doings. Don’t focus on the accomplishments but be the person that you want to be. People will look to you and remember you for who you are and not necessarily for what you do.
3) At the end of the day—even with the insane work hours, stress, and piling obligations—make sure that you are happy.
Do you have any advice or similar stories that you would like to share?
Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm™