In college, my work study job for 2 years was peer academic counseling/study skills instruction, through the college’s Academic Resource center. I adored it. I loved the work, I loved my supervisors, and I loved my fellow counselors and learned so much from them. My own study skills and grades improved remarkably based on my training there.
One fellow peer counselor was a year older than me and just seemed wise beyond her years. Once we had a group discussion on the topic of test anxiety. Many students we worked with prepared well for tests but then choked in the big moment, so this was something we always tried to strategize around with them.
T, the above-noted wise colleague, said she found it often came down to focus. Often, students with a great deal of test anxiety have minds that interfere with their progress because they get preoccupied with worries of failure instead of staying focused on the task (probably also interferes with recall).
“I recommend to the students I work with to write ‘Be here now’ at the top of their test,” she said. It was simple, tangible, easily remembered. If their mind began to go elsewhere they can look at it as a reminder. I borrowed this idea and often suggested it to the students I worked with as well. And somehow that mantra leaked into my life in general. This conversation took place in 1993 yet I remember it plain as day. I wonder, does she have any clue how much her thought impacted me (and likely others)?
I do sometimes suspect I have a bit of adult ADD. There are times when I know there is a special moment happening and yet I’m not really there, I’m worrying about the next thing, the never-ending list to be completed. I want to be there but my thoughts are like a wily ball of yarn, rolling here and there and just out of reach. So when this starts my mind will shout, “Be here now! Be Here Now.”
Last Friday, we were in my daughter’s room. She put the radio on and was playing her new birthday bongos artfully to the song. She wanted me to come in and dance along. Sure, what the hell. I climbed on her stepstool and danced and swayed in my long twirly skirt. It was quite a scene.
Then, thoughts of “I should be,” and “Next, we can” started to creep in.
“Be here now!” my mind answered. And I stayed there as long as I could, dancing and swaying, extending my arms to the imaginary hippie crowd around us, inviting them to join the moment. Be here now, everyone.
Be with me and my little girl, a little one who mothers everywhere look at wistfully and scare me with their intense eyes as they say, “They grow up before you know it. You’ll see.” Like some scary prophetess. Like a rueful parent who wished they had been there more.