I was recently asked if I have any skills or qualities that I view as assets but are not traditionally valued. It took me a few minutes to come up with an answer. Is there anything I do that is out of tradition? The majority of my identity falls under the backdrop in the United States–white, Christian, middle class, expected to go to college and have a career. On a widely diverse campus, it is hard to not feel bland and disinteresting because of my traditional values and customs. After pondering this question, I came up with something that I think might not be traditionally valued–the mundane.
I grew up in a rural town that is slow paced and peaceful with a family that valued game nights and Sunday mornings more than weekdays and busy weekends. When I came to college, the hustle and bustle of everyday life as a student in a large city shocked me. Between late nights studying and late nights spent with friends on the weekends, I grew exhausted and I longed for time by myself spent knitting, reading, or even just enjoying silence. I felt drained during second semester and I was truly ready to leave school and return home to my family. It’s ironic how excited I was to leave my small town and come to a big city full of opportunities (and endless restaurant options), yet after being at Ohio State for a while, I became nostalgic and had a greater appreciation for the atmosphere that I grew up in that celebrated the mundane.
Coming into a new school year, I decided to prioritize time spent valuing the mundane and reflecting by myself. I try to carve out 1-2 hours each week to do something leisurely and peaceful whether it be going for a walk outdoors, reading a book outside of the reference and textbook realm, or going to a coffee shop with friends. I think that finding a balance between working hard and valuing the mundane is extremely important in our younger years. As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it.” I think that living by this mantra is key to feeling in touch with your place in the world. Most days, we are forced to live life in the fast place because our culture values efficiency and time-saving strategies. But I believe it is very important to consciously exit the freeway on our off days, mentally slow down, and spend time looking at a life from a simplistic perspective.