As I write this third blog post of my Mitchell year – seven months into an experience which I still find unbelievable – I cannot help but get a little sentimental. I have one more month of classes until I finish the formal portion of my Master’s degree in International Development and then only a few arduous weeks of dissertation-writing after that. Before I know it, I’ll be passing the baton off to the next cohort of truly impressive minds and joining the reputable ranks of more than a decade’s worth of former Mitchell scholars. It is crazy to think that one year ago I was anxiously waiting to graduate from the Military Academy and move to Dublin, and since then I’ve seen so many places, met so many people, and challenged my perspectives and opinions in so many wonderful ways.
So as the days grow a little bit longer and the wet Dublin winter slowly disappears, I have decided to embrace the nostalgia and sentimentality and approach my remaining time with a sense of leisure and calm (this may sound surprising if you are well acquainted with my gung-ho personality). I have this intense, somewhat aching desire to sprint to the finish and leave no stone unturned (a reflection of all my military training I think), but I see now that the anxiety inevitably induced from trying to squeeze everything and anything into my last few months would be wholly counterproductive. Ireland has already done so much in helping me learn how to relax and just experience, and I genuinely intend to continue to apply this mentality even as the clock ticks.
Thus, I’ve decided that through continued reflection and introspection I am going to focus on gratitude and patience as I finish up my studies in Ireland. I know I will never abandon my belief in the value of discipline and hard work (and I don’t want to either), but the beauty of the Mitchell program is that I have been given the chance to develop my mind and talents in less formal ways. Therefore, focusing on gratitude will help me nest all my amazing experiences into my upcoming military service and the challenges I will surely face, while remaining patient will encourage me to appreciate the here and now with as little anxiety and worry as possible.
So when I walk away from provocative discussions after a class or in between pints, I am not going to limit the time I spend dissecting the various points. I will take the long route to my gym, making sure to pass through the park and over the pond – rain or shine. When my innate desire for efficiency and organization threatens to consume my daily activity, I am going to pull out my favorite articles from my Peace & Intervention class or sift through my favorite pictures of Irish sheep, farms, cliffs, and rainbows. I am going to walk slow, breathe deeply, and continue to work on that Irish accent which I don’t think I will ever actually perfect.
I give everyone permission to hold me accountable to these goals up through the very end.