I remember walking into 3rd grade and receiving a planner on my first day of class. Our teacher explained how this would help me remember the things I had to for homework and I had to get my parents to sign it, showing that we I was using it. What my teacher didn’t tell me is that I’d be using for most likely the rest of my life. Planners, calendars, reminder apps, alarms. All of these things to help me remember all the things I have to do while simultaneously reminding me how little time I have to do them all.
In the age of technology and fast paced lifestyles, we often feel overwhelmed with everything we have to do. Society pushes us to move on to the next thing quickly and productivity is equated with success. On my college campus, no one is moving slowly. We are always striving for the next thing: the next test, the next social event, the next class, and so on. Even a short break is often spent scrolling on social media which makes it feel like no time has passed at all. Which then shows the need to always be connected.
The article, The Disease of Being Busy by Omid Safi, writes about this business that so many experience in Western Culture. He writes, “For some of us, the “privileged ones,” the lines between work and home have become blurred. We are on our devices. All. The. Freaking. Time.”
This ongoing mental checklist may be pushing us forward as a society, but where is it leading us? Is doing more actually DOING more? To me, this raises questions about our emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Often when I am asked how I’m doing, I realize that I haven’t simply stopped for a moment to process my feelings and decisions. In some ways, I’ll use my business as a crutch so I don’t have to think about hard things I’m going through or difficult truths that make me uncomfortable. I don’t think I’m alone in this.
But how does this relate to a course that seeks to learn about genocide and advocacy for refugees? The answer lies in the mindlessness in the ways that we often wander through our days. If we as a society cannot process our own emotional well being how are we supposed to feel for others? If I cannot understand my own hurt and brokenness, how can I understand that of another person, whether they are millions of miles away or my own neighbor? Often my generation is called out for being selfish in only caring about ourselves. I don’t think it’s that though. The problem isn’t that we are thinking only of ourselves, it’s that we aren’t thinking at all.
Whether we are consciously running away from our thoughts or not, it’s important (and even necessary) to spend intentional, quality time with yourself and reflect. This can be done through journaling, talking out loud, or whatever way feels best to you. But if we as a society want to fight against ignorance, indifference, and even the stereotype of selfishness, we first have to take a look inward before trying to change the minds of others.
So set an hour aside out of your “busy” schedule, even if you have to write it down in your planner.