Living Truly Balanced Lives

Laurel - Ames, Iowa
Entered on January 10, 2009

Like the average American high school student, I am considered by most people to be busy. I am involved in multiple activities and clubs, filling up my schedule so that I have somewhere-or multiple somewheres-I’m supposed to be almost every school night, as well as each Saturday and Sunday. While I enjoy virtually all of the activities I occupy my time with, I am unfortunately left with little other time to spend with family or friends and especially not to engage in hobbies I enjoy by myself. This seems to be a common occurrence among American high school students, and I believe it is time for us to slow down. Our schedules are virtually filled to capacity, shoving out the things we should value most, such as time to relax by ourselves and time to build relationships with those who used to be closest to us, until we got too busy.

This epidemic of unrealistic expectations of how much can be crammed into one person’s schedule has unleashed another unfortunate and related problem. Communication between people has become increasingly-and alarmingly-impersonal. When we manage to make time to actually be with another person, it usually happens too quickly; we squeeze this time out of our schedules, making it less effective because it becomes just another event on our calendars. At one time, interaction between people had to happen in person, whether in the home or at church or in the town square. Now, we have available to us everything from email to Facebook to texting, for those instances when we can’t force any real time out of our agendas for other people. All of these can happen almost instantly-showing our country’s “need for speed”-but with no real personal interaction. While I am certainly guilty myself of succumbing to the pressure of texting and emailing (not Facebook yet, though I’m sure it won’t be long), I have begun to recognize the value in spending personal time with those closest to me. Part of this, unfortunately, may be because this is my senior year of high school and I have realized how little time I have left before I leave behind my family and many of my friends.

These friends are weighed down with the same ridiculous expectations I am for the same ridiculous reasons, such as the importance of being “well-rounded” or of finding out what our interests are so we can make a better career choice. It is well past time for these expectations to be abolished in return for more peaceful lives and more truly well-rounded ones. We must slow our pace, choosing relationships over living “balanced” lives, when in reality they aren’t balanced at all.