Honors Students away from campus for study abroad, co-ops, or internships are encouraged to write about their experiences to share them with the Honors community. In the post below, senior applied mathematical sciences major Raoul Bascon ‘18 describes what he learned about motivation in his internship last semester.
By Raoul Bascon –
I’ve run the Aramco Half Marathon in Houston five times and the Chevron Marathon in Houston once. The course has changed once since I’ve been running, so I’ve seen a good amount of Houston in the 13 plus hours I’ve run during the races over the years. But when I joined the other 20,000 runners at the starting line on January 16th earlier this year, I was not thinking about the miles I was about to run. My mind was focused on the weeks I’m about to spend living and working in this city that seemed unknown and new.
Fast forward three months later. It’s 4:30pm, I get to my uncle and aunt’s place from my internship, and I’m about to lace up my sneakers and go for a run…….on the same circular route……that I have run…… every Tuesday and Thursday……for the past I don’t know how many weeks…………and I really don’t want to go.
If you couldn’t tell, I love running. I also really love analogies. So, as I sat on the couch contemplating the existence of that day’s afternoon run, I was faced with the reality of my life: I wasn’t made to do the same thing over and over and over again.
I wasn’t made to keep making the same mistakes; I wasn’t made to achieve the same accomplishments; I wasn’t made to see the same sights time and again.
I was made for more.
Now, of course, I had come across this notion before in my life, but this semester, it really clicked. I was working in Houston while most of my friends kept taking classes at Texas A&M. I have a lot of extended family in Houston but often times my interests didn’t match theirs. So, I found myself bored and lonely, caught in the same routine, day after day, week after week: wake up early, go to work, do work, go back home, work out, shower, eat, read, go to the chapel, sleep, wake up early….
And now it was April. I had hit a wall.
Don’t get me wrong: I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have been given with this internship, I love the people I work with and the work that I am doing, and I understand that I am undeniably fortunate in the life that I lead. But, in the monotony of the course of my semester, I found it hard to believe that I meant those three statements.
Then, a mentor invited me and another member of the program I am in to dinner. While holding a beer in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other he straight-up asked me, “Are you motivated by money?” And like a good, little Christian, my direct, immediate response was (and is), “No.” And the conversation carried on.
Later that night, I found myself mulling over his question, or, more accurately, a variation of his question: What motivates me? The question literally begged me to think back to the beginning. The answer became my second wind.
For better or worse, I am a results oriented individual. As such, I am motivated by the results of my work, and if they do not match up with what I perceive is my best work, I am left unsatisfied. When I look back at this past semester with this realization, I am significantly less confused and significantly more ready for the remainder of my….well….for the rest of my life.
I lulled in the comfort and ease of what I was used to: the routine, the people I knew, the course that was familiar. But, I knew that I was made for more—that I wasn’t doing my best—and that left me unfulfilled, bored and tired.
When I settled for less than my best, I laid the foundation for the wall that cemented my aspirations and kept me from running the race that was designed for me. (Double analogy—bonus points!)
So, thank you Houston! Thank you to everyone I knew, everyone I met, everyone who helped me and everyone who challenged me to be better…to be my best. I’m done with metaphorically running in circles and ready to run the race God designed for me. I’m ready to take wrong turns, trip many times, and trudge through walls. But, most importantly, I’m ready to enjoy the race with friends, family and Christ running alongside.