“Patience is a virtue” they say, but how many of us are really that virtuous? I for one am not. Playing what I like to call “the waiting game” was an extremely difficult time period for me. The funny thing is, looking back I’ve realized that playing the waiting game to get into University of Miami was the easy part, what was required of me once I was in the program was even more challenging. But why was the waiting process so hard for me? Honestly, looking back I realize that I was doing it all wrong. Now of course hindsight is always 20/20, but if I could have a 5-minute conversation between my current self and myself four years ago at the start of the waiting game, I know exactly what I’d say.
Maybe you’re reading this blog as a pre-PT student, as one of my classmates, as a friend or a family member, or maybe as a complete stranger. No matter who you are if you’ve ever struggled with waiting, especially for your dream, I hope that my mistakes can help you find some peace and clarity during your waiting game. Ultimately, we are all waiting for something at some point and I’m sure I’ll be much better at playing the waiting game during my next season of waiting.
What was my biggest mistake I made while waiting? Easy, fixating. I was completely and utterly consumed by the fact that I was waiting. I would check my e-mail accounts whenever I picked up my phone, even the spam folder just in case. If I had a voicemail or a missed call from an unsaved number my belly would be doing somersaults as I rushed to listen for the message. When coming home after work, before even uttering a word to anyone I would look for a piece of mail addressed to me. I’d check the kitchen, my desk, my bed… and if nothing was found “Hey mommmmmmmy, did you check the mail yet?” I couldn’t stop.
Now of course I think that being anxious to receive the big news making me a bit stir-crazy was normal, but I let this go on for two years. It wasn’t something always sitting in the back of my mind, it took center stage. The big problem here was that as the rejection letters did start coming in, my thoughts changed from optimistic and excited to doubtful and depressed. And being consumed by negative thoughts full of self-doubt had a way of warping my personality, my body, my confidence.
So what would I tell myself? First of all I’d say “Alyssa, enjoy this waiting game.” Simple. Those two years were my last little taste of freedom and youth. Yes, I was working a full-time job and I would argue with anyone who said I wasn’t living a “big girl” life at that point but, I was still a young twenty-something with a lot of fun left to be had. Don’t get me wrong, I still have tons of fun and love my life now but PT school is my priority and prior to my acceptance I had a lot less to prioritize. When I look back on the fun trips I went on, the late nights out with friends, the lazy days by the pool, the Netflix-binging rainy days in bed…I truly did enjoy those moments and often times I allowed my thoughts to shift to the present and I’d forget I was even waiting. Looking back, I’d tell myself to do more of that. More of being in the present moment and less of mapping out my future. Yes, planning your future is healthy and shouldn’t be neglected but once you’ve done your part in setting up your next step, don’t forget to enjoy the current moment and let God do His part! I can’t even count how many times I said “I can’t wait until I start PT school” or “I wish I could just start PT school already.” What was the rush?! Really, there wasn’t one and I got accepted into PT school at the exact time I was supposed to.
The other piece of advice I’d give myself is a checklist with the instructions to do these thing as much as possible, every day if you can!
- Go sweat – hit the gym, go for a run, go play some basketball… just go sweat. Relieve some of your stress and release some endorphins. Looking back, any time where my mind was fully focused on a workout I really was taking myself to a worry-free place.
- Eat – Alyssa, Alyssa, Alyssa… do not let this stress make you skip meals!
- Sleep – again, Alyssa… do not lose sleep over this. You will make it, staying up late staring at the ceiling playing “what if” won’t help.
- Find people in a similar situation – reach out on social media and find the other people who are in the same position as you. I definitely did not do this, and I really wish I had. I recently discovered the Pre-PT Grind page through Facebook and I wish I would have had that resource base and community when I was applying. One of the page’s purposes is for current PT students/PTs to provide what they wish they would have had when they were applying to PT programs to pre-PT students… how cool!
- Speak it into existence – cut out the negative language all together! Later in the waiting process I created a little mantra for myself that I should have created on day one. “Every day, you are one day closer to your first day of PT school.”
- Pray – I did not have a strong relationship with God during my season of waiting and I’m completely confident that if I had the relationship I do now that things would have been different. This is something very specific to me and it might not apply to everyone but I would encourage anyone to find a place that gives their heart peace.
So that’s what I’d do with my 5-minute pep talk to myself. Looking back it always seems so obvious what you could have done better but the trick is to ask yourself, whatever you should have been doing then… are you doing it now? There’s always going to be another waiting period for something and now that I’ve realized what I was missing, my job is to actively include it during my next season of waiting. So, what would you tell yourself in a 5-minute pep talk? What boxes would you give yourself to check off during your waiting game?