The past few weeks have been one long sprint as I tried to get my speeches approved for travel with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln speech team, keep The Daily Nebraskan’s opinion section running and get all of my school work completed on time.
I managed to make it through without neglecting any of my responsibilities to others.
In doing so, however, I neglected myself.
During those two weeks I got very little sleep, I only ate one meal a day and if my mother saw how messy my room is right now, she would scream.
I have always been the type to take on way too much responsibility. It is against my nature to say no to a new activity, adventure or experience.
By saying yes to everything, I’ve learned so much about myself and the world around me; I’ve formed relationships with friends, teachers and colleagues that I don’t know what I would do without and I’ve been able to participate in projects and experiences that have broadened my horizons and introduced me to new concepts and ideas.
All of that being said, I sometimes forget that I need to allow myself to watch cars drive by, admire the weather or do absolutely nothing at all.
As students, we’re so used to going at 100 miles per hour all the time. It can feel like there is never an end to the work we have and all of our efforts are being spent just to get through the day so we can move to the next project.
Feeling stuck in a never ending cycle of “work, sleep, work, repeat” can be utterly suffocating. The responsibilities we originally accept as fun, much-needed outlets become the very things we wish to escape from. The things we need to stay sane like eating, sleeping or spending time with friends become obstacles in our way from finally finishing what we’re working toward.
Striking a balance between doing nothing and doing everything is a lot harder than it sounds. It can feel like it’s impossible to find the space in between, where you’re doing work you love without feeling completely bogged down by all there is to do.
I still haven’t found that balance.
What I have found is that taking time to slow my steps in the day goes a long way.
However important our activities, classes and responsibilities are, we can’t possibly enjoy them unless we take time to do something, anything else.
My reprieve of choice is making a cup of tea and talking with a friend. Asking someone else how they are and listening to them talk about the joys and sorrows of their day gives me an opportunity to experience someone else's life for a bit. For other people, reading a chapter of “The Great Gatsby” or watching an episode of “The Office” does the same thing.
It’s also important to check out for a few days after a big push. Starting up on a project immediately after finishing a different one makes it difficult to reflect upon the work you’ve done and why it is that you do it.
I had a million things to do last week. Today, I woke up early, got some coffee and some soup and looked out the window.
Stepping out of my responsibilities allowed me to remember why I wrote those speeches, why I work for The Daily Nebraskan and why I continue to do so much on top of that. It allowed me to remember how happy I am to be able to do the things I love every day here at UNL.
I’ll keep packing my planner with activities, classes, meetings and clubs.
But I’ll make sure to leave some space to remember why I do it.