Some things I learned about myself so far and what I'd tell a new fellow:
SLOW DOWN. I hit the ground running the moment my fellowship started. I had a structured plan with a timeline and clear action steps. I was very focused. I hit so many of my goals but I also missed out on experiences, too. I WISH I HAD SLOWED DOWN to enjoy the many conversations, connections, experiences, and places that were both ON and NOT on my list.
PROTECT YOUR TIME. I'm getting better with protecting my time from distractions (projects, collaborations, meetings, invitations to sit on boards, etc). In the month of April (poetry month) I received many invitations to read/perform/teach/speak and I said "No" to all of them. My focus is theater and playwriting and I wanted to stay the course. For the most part, people understood and respected my decision and explanations. But sometimes, I wish "I don't have the capacity" or "Thank you but I can't at this time" would be enough. I'm learning about "I don't have the capacity" being a full and complete sentence.
BE FLUID. Some things might not be part of your plan and that can be a blessing. For me, going to DC for the White House Forum on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders earlier this month was not part of my fellowship plan but I'm glad I moved meetings around to make it happen. My friend Kaying Yang (2019 Bush Leadership Fellow) is one of the commissioners on the President's Initiative on AANHPI and she introduced me to the White House Forum organizers.
TAKE NOTES. I know it sounds cumbersome but trust me! Take notes! Not just of the logistical stuff but of the fun and sweet and soft stuff. I read Ross Gay's THE BOOK OF DELIGHTS: ESSAYS wherein he jots down delightful experiences and encounters throughout his day. He did this for a year. Delights could be small or big or medium. They could be inconsequential or very important. I bought a journal and made my own BOOK OF DELIGHTS after Ross Gay. Years from now, you'll want to look back on your fellowship year(s) and have these reminders.
BRING FOLKS WITH YOU. Invite friends and family to walk/move alongside you during your fellowship.
I'll end it here for now.