Turn Outward, Not Inward

This is a fantastic nugget phrase from Gwen that has become a mantra of mine. During some highly-caffeinated-life-planning-session in Starbucks in July, I emailed Gwen in a total tizzy. Not having her here is hard, and the only way for us to communicate is email. I told her about how stressed I was, how I didn’t know how to figure out what to do with my academic plan, how I was supposed to balance everything, and how I was growing up and making life plans. Yikes. I was stretching myself to the last possible millimeter…it definitely was not one of my best moments!

So Gwen, who has always been one of the most laid-back and down-to-earth girls ever, got back to me a few days later with that great nugget phrase (for other nugget phrases, see: lemons and birthplace lottery) . Turning outward means different things to different people, as does turning inward. For me, turning inward during this time was essentially self-destructive. Cooping myself up in a corner at a coffee shop and compulsively drawing up 4-year academic plans and researching post-grad opportunities only stressed me out. I am happy as a clam when I get to organize something (like my life), but there is a hard line that I crossed. Turning outward, then, meant forgetting my petty personal woes and channeling that energy toward serving others. For me, this can be having a genuine conversation with strangers, helping others with little things, and baking. I cannot begin to describe the difference in my mental health when I turn outward.  It may just be the extrovert in me, but I am definitely recharged by others and turning outward to them. Again, this is different for everybody, but take a moment to think about what turning outward is to you and how you can concretely accomplish it. You’ll thank yourself later when you can actually enjoy the time you have for just you!

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