For the past 8 years I’ve been commuting, these are the lessons I gained.
I started commuting the moment I commenced college. I could not afford a car and so I began to take public transportation to go about my daily routine. The commuting started lightly with only spending about 1 hour or two commuting on a daily basis from school to home and back and fro. This continued for about three years. By the fourth year I transferred to a university an hour away from my hometown and the commuting became a bit more extreme averaging 3–5 hours daily on the road. Regardless of where I had to be or how long my ride consisted of I was exposed to various factors which led me to develop a thick skin and learn six lessons to apply to life in general as follows.
The first lesson I learned was patience. No matter if my destination was a few minutes away or an hour having to take the bus made my stop location take double or triple the amount of time to get there. I could do nothing about it but to accept my fate. I had no control over when the bus would arrive, leave or any other kind of interactions that would come my way. During the waiting I did become inpatient, tired, and even frustrated because I felt as if I was loosing precious time. I learned to accept my situation, and wait. Eventually I will get to where I need to be. Patience is an important trait to have in life but to a certain extent of course. Everything in life takes time to reach. When I need to apply tolerance I tell myself, “Patient you must”as Yoda might say.
Public transportation can be a hastle. I was exposed to endure situations such as unfriendly weather, crowded places, odd encounters with people and let’s not forget dealing with my own basic human needs. Over the course of time though I grew a thick skin and learned ways to tackle these obstacles and work them to my advantage. For example I would find myself feeling uncomfortable around crowded places but I would pop my headphones on and go into bliss. I can’t tell you how many countless hours I’ve spent on Spotify listening to music or podcasts, and no I am not advertising for them. As you are exposed to factors you develop coping methods and prepare for your journey. Commuting exposed me to the unpredictability of the outside world and its people. Life throws curveballs but we all end up learning from these experiences and become more aware of our surroundings and ourselves.
Every public transportation has its set schedule thus planning ahead to be on time is always a must. It is vital to be on time or else you will be late. You need to plan your trip and if in case you need to hop on from one bus to the next well let me tell you, you have to calculate everything. Along with having patience as a discipline, time management is something you develop to get around wherever you need to go. There are always occasions where life gives you lemons and what could not possibly go wrong will at the most inconvenient scenarios go wrong. Always have a plan b, c, d, etc in your life! Discipline is not only needed to reach your destinations physically but mentally as well.
Sometimes the problem is not that there is not enough time but that we have too much time available. Commuting taught me to make use of my time since I was limited to the activities I could do while getting to my destination. I accumulated hours of listening to music and podcasts as mentioned before but I could not spend all my time listening. There were times I would work on my homework, brainstorm ideas, and write. A lot of creative energy flows when you are in one place and have not much to do. Of course I caught up with friends and family but the phone is not always the answer. So when I was left with absolutely nothing to do I pondered in thought. Sometimes I napped but most importantly I did nothing. I reflected on my life or got to plan on my routine and goals. The main point I got from commuting was to take a break, relax, and once feeling motivated work bit by bit on tasks that need to get done. Productivity sometimes doesn’t mean to constantly be busy but to actually take the time to be aware of yourself and those around you.
I’m not much of a social butterfly but having to be out for the use of public transportation made me be around people. During the times I waited or rode the bus I had various interactions which made me more aware of people. Some of the interactions I had involved small talk and others actually bloomed into friendships. For example, most of the friends I made at the university were from the bus I rode to commute. Other acquaintances I actually made from waiting at bus stops and had small talk with the bus drivers which I would waive hi and thank them. I learned about people’s lives and sometimes struggles from observation or actual heart to heart conversations.
One particular event that comes to mind is one night after work I was stuck at the bus station for about an hour. A young man was talking to the janitor, he offered her snacks he had just bought from the gas station across. What caught my attention from this was from the multiple times I’ve been at the bus station nobody really talked to this woman except to ask questions about the bus but this young man saw her as a human and had a very casual conversation. The young man looked at me and offered me a moon pie which I ended up accepting because I was hungry and we ended up having a conversation of our own. This interaction made me more aware to pay attention to people and be kind. Everyday we are exposed to people, it’s definitely important to be aware of others not just ourselves.
If I did not have drive I would not have done any commuting to go to school or work. Everything takes time and energy. I learned that there are no excuses to getting things done. If you have the drive you will make things happen. I am not just giving myself credit for the commuting I did but there are many people out there that go out of their way to survive and succeed. Some go through far more intense obstacles than the ones I’ve experienced and I always admire and give kudos for those who do. I just wanted to share my story for others to learn from it.