Like most adult children, I sometimes tire of the constant check-ins from my loving mother about my wellbeing. Unlike most parents, my mother always asks me to tell her about the last time I had fun every time she calls. She has been on a mission for most of my life to convince me not to take life so seriously and integrate some relaxation time into my hectic schedule. She knows that I often forget that enjoying life is the reason that I work so hard. For most of my life, having fun was such a low priority that I would spend weeks neglecting this ever-so-important experience. I truly felt that all time not spent feeding my mind or producing something was time wasted. I also didn’t allow myself to participate in any fun activities unless I completed enough of my unrealistic task list for the day. In college, my awesome roommate allowed us to dictate that we had to study together until 10 p.m. on Friday nights before we were allowed to go out and play.
Luckily, I have slowly moved away from this mindset. I realized that having friends requires nurtured relationships. Friendship requires being selfless, supporting others and lots of stress-releasing laughter. Also, taking time to enjoy life and live in the present is the entire point of it all anyway. The point is not collecting as many accolades and lines on your resume as possible. There is nothing wrong with the pursuit of titles and credentials (as I don’t see myself giving this up anytime soon), but there is something wrong with wagering all of your happiness on obtaining more. There will always be someone with more experience, credentials, knowledge and charisma than you. And we all know that we lose whenever we compare ourselves to anyone else.
When I was in my mid-20s, I spent a year without working out. I must admit that I felt terrible. It’s hard for me to understand how people can navigate through corporate drama without a physical outlet. Luckily, after one year I rediscovered the absolute bliss that I feel through physical exertion. What made the experience even better was that I didn’t have to depend on anyone working out with me in order to feel good.
Low and behold, I discovered an awesome way to have fun alone. This would often be my g- to escape when I felt stressed, lonely, or the need to reset my mood.
After integrating this into my life, I decided that I needed to figure out how to have more friends. When I was younger, I didn’t really have a refined sense of friendship. I thought that friends had to do everything together and speak to each other every day. Clearly in this modern era, my definition was completely unrealistic. In fact, I often walked away from friendships because I thought they did not measure up to my unrealistic friendship expectations.
Even though friendship has been a learning experience, there are people who have been in my life for a long time. One such friend is Muta Ali. We met in college at a NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) conference when I was 19. Over the years we realized that we ran in the same circles and had a lot of the same friends. We ended up working together in New York in 2001, which made our friendship more concrete. While we haven’t been the type of friends that keep in touch often, we have still been able to make each other laugh for over 17 years.
Another example is Joel, who I met at Stanford University at a different NSBE event. He helped me structure the initial chapter of NSBE at UCSC. We have been friends ever since. Luckily NSBE made me realize that not all engineers are boring antisocial individuals that don't know how to enjoy life. NSBE conferences were extremely instrumental in helping me shape my perspective towards life.
Fast-forward to 2014 and I try to schedule some fun every time I hit a particular milestone in my journey. I finished the first 100 hours of my teacher training and barely spent any time relaxing. Each 12-hour day was followed by another 12-hour day full of studying and practicing. So, I decided that for a treat, I would not make any plans for my 1.5-day break and just have simple childlike relaxation by the pool. It's funny how life comes full-circle and the fun that you had as a child end ups being the perfect answer to your relaxation needs.
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About: Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, known as the Wealthy Yogi, is a mindful wealth multiplier, business strategist, and author of Budgeting is More Liberation than Limitation. She has developed a 5-step blueprint for mindful money management to show any entrepreneur how to create a stress free wealthy lifestyle. Through her books, programs and retreats, she has helped thousands of entrepreneurs achieve intentional personal success. She is currently booking speaking engagements for corporations and corporate groups. If your company or group has workshops around these topics for your employees, please contact her.
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