Tomorrow, I go back to the U.S. for the first time since moving to Ireland. I will be back to Dublin shortly but this is a reminder that my time as a Mitchell is quickly coming to an end. These past few major transitions in life (college graduation, end of last summer, etc. ), I have found myself nostalgic for moments before I have even left them. Here are a few things that I wish to carry with me though the nostalgia of leaving Dublin. 

Enjoying the journey as much as the destination has been advice we have all heard but I don’t think we truly implement. This year has made me see that even more clearly since I first heard those words from my high school advisor. To truly enjoy the journey, I have to slow down. From breaking up with my GCal to learning to walk painfully slow amongst the tourists on Grafton street. Only once I have physically slowed down do I have appreciation for the things that my perception glosses over. It also has allowed me to make space to reflect. Just more actively being in touch with how I am feeling, what I am experiencing, and what I am thinking. It happens when you allow time and space to wander both physically and mentally. What has allowed me to shift from my ultra efficient, type A, northeastern self is the realization that too much time spent on thinking about what comes next comes at the expense of what is happening now. 

Growth comes from change. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. There is a concept in human development called the learning trap. As children we learn through exploration: I think of my younger cousin’s fascination with a coffee stirrer or my advisor’s daughter’s questions about the various birds at the UCD pond. Over time we go from forming new neural connections through exploring to primarily exploiting which strengthens existing pathways. This year I exploited coding, becoming more efficient and optimized. I also exploited the pathways that get me on the 39a bus into city centre. I just don’t think about it anymore. But I find far too often, we are pushed to exploit even more. Optimize your morning routine, meal prep your sustenance, streamline your workflow. And while this exploitation is great, and exploration does still happen even as we get older, our default state shifts from one of exploration to one of exploitation. I want to push back and keep the learner mindset I had as a kid. We can keep exploring mentally but facilitate this mind state through experiences. From meeting new people with fresh ideas and perspectives to visiting new places with new traditions and habits, I try to push against the dogma that seeped into my life. Keeping this growth and mindset as I move to other stages of life will have its challenges but can be achieved. It will take more than one year to rewrite the habits, beliefs, and views of the past 23 years but this is the start. 

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