One of my friends asked to interview me for her market research class as her team is developing a plan for a mindfulness center at UVA. We ended up having a conversation about the toxic UVA culture and what it means to find rest. That’s the reason for this post. That, and the fact that I don’t want to study right now. So, here goes it…
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. Behind the Scenes about To Hell with the Hustle and The Mary Marantz Show with Hannah Brencher about our noisy world. Reflecting on it kind of hurts. As a college student, I’m always plugged into my email. My phone is on me at all times and technology surrounds my every move. In some ways, it’s a good thing. But too much of a good thing can take a terrible turn.
With the amount of tests and clubs and homework and activities, it is so hard to find rest here. But every podcast I listen to and every article I read is saying the same thing: we need to slow down. We need to stop. We need to unplug. We are in the burnout generation. We are in the midst of blue light glasses and end tables with charging stations.
It’s October of 2019 and we are so close to a new decade. But in order to truly chase our dreams and enter 2020 with wonderment, we have to reflect on our lives thus far. The endless scroll prevents that. I look at what other people have and I want that too. My eyes are full of longing for more, that I never stop and take a look around and see what I have is enough. When is enough enough? When can we stop buying and start living with what we have?
If my eyes are always stimulated for what’s next, what I have now will never be enough. When I was in high school, I dreamed of being here now. In college. With awesome friends. And though it’s been nothing like I imagined it, it’s still wonderful. I just get bogged down in the hustle culture – in the lie that tells me I have to always be doing something, going somewhere.
When we stop, we start to remember some things that we dropped along the way. At the beginning of this semester, I was taking walks and dreaming up posts for the blog, and I’ve literally put those things on the backburner. So easily, the things we love, the things we look for as rest are the first to go in our long to-do lists. And that’s unfortunate.
On the Mary Marantz Show, on a different episode with Emily Ley, she talks about the Good Life. She doesn’t mean this great life, full of things and people we “want”, things we think we should have, she means the good life. Often, we don’t need the things we say we want, and we create these lives full of activity, full of people, that are true desires get clouded because we’re distracted by having so much. In order to create margin, in order to create space for your soul to breathe (thanks Emily P. Freeman!), we need to say no more than we say yes.
When you have nonnegotiables in your life, you have a guide in which you can line everything up against. Sometimes in order to find rest, you have to say no to hanging out with friends. For example, every Thursday, my friends have a weekly game night, but due to an evening class and my 9 am the next morning, I have to say no. I have let myself get as much sleep as possible.
The other thing is we need to have practices in which we actually practice rest. What does rest look like for you? How do you prioritize it? For me, I crank out work on Friday and Saturday night, so Sunday I can relax. I go to church, I hang out with some friends, I read, I listen to a podcast, I take a long walk. There are plenty of things to do to rest. My suggestions would be to get away from your usual environment and get away from technology. Disconnect yourself and evaluate.
On the other hand, are you being reflective? We all fall into this pattern of work, work, work, work, work, work (thanks Rihanna), but have you really explored whether or not your work is even fruitful? Reflection is a time to reevaluate – to look back and respond to the rhythms and routines in your life. And making a change is as easy as recognizing that you want to change. Look at your life under a microscope and examine it for what it really is. After all, an unexamined life is not one worth living.
In terms of reflection, I journal daily, but I really want to have a quarterly reflection to look over my goals and adjust my course every 3 months. Some questions to ask yourself:
- What has been life giving lately?
- What has been life draining?
- What has work looked like in this season?
- What am I enjoying about work?
- What am I not enjoying about work?
- What has rest looked like in this season?
- What am I enjoying about rest?
- What am I not enjoying about rest?
- How are my relationships with others?
- How is my relationship with friends?
- What have I been learning lately – through books, podcasts, etc?
- What have I been consuming – music, food, tv, movies?
- How have I progressed/regressed in my goals?
- What are my goals for next quarter?
- How will I keep myself accountable?
These are just a few questions that you can use to reflect on where you are in life and where you want to head in. Friends, I hope that this post was valuable. Take time to rest so that you can come back to work ready and filled up. Reflect so you can move forward in purpose with an energy of motivation and action.
Take 5 minutes. Close your laptop. Silence your phone. What does your life look like right now? What do you want to change?