American life has been described as a rat race, and I think if you’re not careful it can be. We as Americans are always darting around, running back and forth, sprinting from one thing to another. When you’re younger it’s school, after-school activities, school trips, sleepovers at friends houses, not to mention the family events we all attend. College is very similar – class, studying, working, groups you’re involved with, sports, romance, family, the list just keeps growing.
As young adults we are thrown into the work world when the race really starts to become frenzied. At this point we may have started our own families, and have the responsibility of taking our kids to all of the events we used to be involved in when we were their age. Only now, we have work, our own lives, our kids lives, our activities, our friends and their kids, and our families.
It seems like we are always living towards another phase of our lives with more and more responsibility and less and less time for ourselves. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – there are plenty of people who love their jobs, families, activities, time with friends and lead very full, rich lives. But the question of whether they are taking time for themselves is an inevitable concern. Many, many people are so used to being on the go, or sprinting from one thing to the next they forget to slow down.
For me the only time I slowed down was when I had worked myself into a rut and I had no choice but to slow down due to illness or simply general fatigue. I did this for many years, and thought it was completely natural – just the way life goes. But it’s not. Balancing life is difficult, nearly impossible for some, but it’s worth the time it takes to master the skill. Life moves fast enough without our driving it at top speeds – make time to put on the breaks.
After struggling with taking time for myself for years I finally realized something: It’s okay to take time for yourself and not do anything but something you want to do. Yes, yes, we all choose to do what we do in life, but I mean something completely self-indulgent. Sit for an hour and read your favorite magazine, watch your favorite TV show (undisturbed), go for a walk with the dog, get your nails done, take a day and block it off and do the projects you’re always taking about doing but never “have the time” to do.
Without a balance between social, family, and self we aren’t able to recharge and refill our vessels with the energy we need to be the best we can be in life. Burned out, tired, and irritable are not desirable ways to go through life – for you or those around you. Making time for yourself may seem selfish at first, but eventually the reward of it will outweigh the unnatural guilt we all seem to feel.