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Stop And Smell The Roses: Dealing with Discontentment

I’m sure a loved one, family friend, co-worker, or someone in your life has passively mentioned the colloquialism “stop and smell the roses.” Growing up, I’ve heard this phrase ever so often and never entirely took on what it meant or took the time to embrace what it asked me to do.

So what does Stop and Smell The Roses mean? This phrase can mean a plethora of things. A quick google search may bring up a quote stating

“an act of appreciation and given recognition to the source of goodness in our lives.”

Clicking on another link may bring you to the interpretation “to relax, to take time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life,” or another variation may state “slowing down and take time to appreciate the many things that life has to offer.”

Since I was five years old, I’ve been in school; kindergarten, elementary, middle, high school. I then persevered onto college, completing my bachelor’s degree in 2012 and my master’s program in 2014, and with a one-year break in between, I started my doctoral program in 2016. Three months ago, I celebrated one of my most significant accomplishments to date; obtaining a doctorate’s degree in Educational Leadership. It was a beautiful moment, a sought-after moment; when I look back on the past five years and especially within the time frame of July 2020-December 2020, my biggest prayers were to finish my doctoral dissertation.

If I’m being completely transparent, lately, I’ve been experiencing feelings of grief, loss, and discontentment. Here’s why: For the moment, there is no other schooling to tackle, there is no assignment that’s due, there’s no problem to solve, there’s no pressing issue or circumstance that requires my undivided attention, I haven’t changed careers as anticipated right after receiving my degree, there’s still a barrier in the way for me to get to where I want to be, and the continued work to reach my goal seems daunting. I began to question my life direction. At this point, this extraordinary moment was starting to feel like “another day.”

I’ve begun to question myself about why this level of success isn’t good enough for me? Why can’t I rest in the abundance of my moment? Why can’t I just be okay, knowing God’s continued purpose for me will continue in fruitfulness as it already has? The answer is simple. I do not know how to REST; I struggle with “take the time to relax” or “appreciating the goodness in my life.” We live in a culture where rest is no longer normalized. You are consistently being inundated with people’s “highlight reel,” so much so I started to feel discontentment over my own circumstances and began to feel envious of others and what I perceived as their finish lines. I began to believe that my accomplishment wasn’t enough. I began to question my journey and if I made the right choices. Fortunately, after a few “stay strong, baby girl” self-talks and reaching out to friends, I’m learning ways to Stop and Smell the Roses.

1. Celebrate!

Rather, your accomplishment was big or small; it deserves a celebration (remember, small wins deserve recognition too). Plan a Zoom celebration with family or friends, drive-by party, intimate dinner, weekend getaway, or whatever you desire, CELEBRATE! For a small win, try treating yourself to that shirt or bag you’ve been eyeing, schedule time to binge-watch your favorite show, have a solo dance party, or take a nap! Simply celebrate all of what you’ve done to get to this point. You deserve it.

2. Creating a New “Normal”

This term isn’t just for the pandemic we’re currently experiencing; sometimes, when you finish a big project or when something of importance has come to an end, you may experience a sense of loss or “what to do” feeling. Don’t fret! Creating a new everyday routine can be exciting; it allows you the chance to explore new hobbies. It also allows you to incorporate “moments of pleasure” within your day. As I’ve stated before, I’ve only had one year off in my education career, working and being a full-time student doesn’t leave much time for R&R. However, during that one year, I started to create hobbies, but I lost them when I went back to school full-time. I’ve learned that what I enjoyed in 2015 may not reflect or align with who I am currently. While creating this new “normal,” try testing out old habits to see if some of your prior interests are still around. If so, incorporate them into an ideal schedule. If not, find some new areas of interest that you may want to explore and see how you can interpret it into a budding hobby.

3. Be Patient

This is where I find myself struggling, being patient with myself in creating a new normal. This stage (if you’re already an impatient person) may seem overwhelming, terrifying, and have you questioning what’s next. If you’re currently residing in this space as I am, I’ve adopted the mindset of “slow and steady.” Rather you’re creating your new routine, figuring out your next big goal, or planning a big move, all of these require patience. You’re not going to reach the ultimate goal overnight; you have to play the course. Greatness takes time. It takes sharpening, strengthening, growth, maturity, and many other attributes before it emerges. My accomplishment wasn’t the last step in my journey. Honestly, it’s just the beginning. My previous season prepared me for my current status, and my current season will prepare me for my next. Allow yourself to be open to self-reflection, budding interest, rest, and new opportunities (they’re coming).

4. Find Community

Have you ever heard someone say, “I have different friends for different reasons.” It’s so important to find your “community.” I have different communities for friends, colleagues, family, girlfriends, my bestie, and so on. These people inspire various areas of my world; I thrive in these spaces, even if I’m just learning and leaning in on them. At times, my communities are where I recharge and remind myself to push through. It’s essential to find people who you can be open with, vulnerable with, those that motivate and encourage you, those that inspire you to be your best, people who are in your field of choice that you can learn from (that’s important as well, never be unteachable!). During this process, you’re going to need people to remind you of who you are, how amazing you are, and your “why.”

5. Finding Pleasure Everyday

It is essential to find things that bring you pleasure and make you “stop and smell the roses.” It could be your kids laughing, a phone call to a family member, a walk in a new park, reading a book, binge-watching an old favorite show, having a cup of tea, ordering French fries, or participating in a workout routine. Every day there is something to slow down for and find pleasure in. Try to schedule moments of joy; it could be in the morning, noon, or night. Take the time to find appreciation in the moment.

In closing, I’m reminded of a song entitled Closing Time by Semisonic. One of the song lyrics says, “every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.” This lyric reminds us that in order to reach our purpose, to fulfill our deepest desire, to get to the ultimate goal, we have to become comfortable with CHANGE. We have to be okay with saying goodbye, letting go of, and moving forward. To embrace the new in our life, we must be willing to say goodbye to those things that have been completed. Don’t be afraid of what’s to come; continue to encourage yourself to embrace new opportunities.

Change provides us with an infinite amount of space to create anew,

Change challenges us to do things differently,

Change creates the space to make informed choices.

Change grants us the opportunity to go at our own pace and provides space for rest.

Change allows us to Stop and Smell The Roses.


About Our Guest Contributor

Dr. Diamond Clark is a clinical supervisor for a behavioral health company in Philadelphia, PA. While Dr. Clark work has primarily worked within children’s mental health, Dr. Clark is passionate about relationships. She truly believes in the power of love and the healing power it possess. She looks forward to continued education for herself and the families she works with in this area. Dr. Clark is a Philadelphia native and has recently received her doctorate’s degree in Educational Leadership from Gwynedd Mercy University. In her spare time, Dr. Clark enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading for fun, and traveling the world.


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