Why I Stopped Feeling Guilty For Having Free Time
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Why I Stopped Feeling Guilty For Having Free Time

It's time we stop basing our success on how busy we are.

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Why I Stopped Feeling Guilty For Having Free Time
Amy Jane Alice

As a Hope College student, I am lucky enough to attend a school that gives me a wide variety of opportunities to get involved. I am also surrounded by people who seem to be involved in everything. It's truly incredible to see people who are in Business Club, Student Activities Committee, Greek life, Young Life, and Hip Hop Club all while working 15 hours a week, volunteering four hours a week, and taking 18 credits. As a freshman, I looked up to these people, wanted to be these people. These were the students who were well known around campus and had a resume that was overflowing with involvement. So I did what they did—filled up my schedule with extracurricular activities, got a job, and signed up for a heavy course load for freshman and sophomore year.

The second semester of my sophomore year was probably my most stressful semester so far. I was taking hard classes, working a lot, and trying to juggle my five extracurriculars. Having anxiety was something else to deal with on top of all that. When summer drew closer, I couldn't wait. I couldn't wait to have three months where I didn't have to worry about anything that I was committed to at school. Don't get me wrong, I love being at school, and being involved had some fun times, but I was mentally and physically exhausted.

Over the summer, I stumbled across an article called "Let's Stop the Glorification of Busy" by Guy Kawasaki. After reading it, I realized why I was so burnt out. In the article, Kawasaki gives 10 tips for living a life where being busy isn't your biggest concernthriving is. He says:

"...we glorify being busy and the toll that this path takes on our lives. Our two main metrics for success are money and power, and they drive us to work longer hours, sleep with our phones and tablets, miss important moments with our families, and impacts our health...When you thrive, you take care of your health, get enough sleep and do not live to work."

Reading this article made me reflect on the way I have been choosing to live my life at college. I barely had time for my own personal well-being, because for some reason I felt guilty for having free time. But why did I feel this way? Why should I be guilty for taking time for myself? No one has ever said to me, "Sammie, why aren't you involved in more things?" or, "Sammie, how dare you take more time for your personal health and wellbeing!"

Upon personal reflection, I felt guilty for a lot of reasons. I come from a family where my dad's nickname is "The Energizer Bunny." He has always been someone I look up to because of his strong work ethic, and to this day I think I can count on one hand the amount of times he has taken time to relax. I am also surrounded by an amazing group of friends who love being involved in lots of different things and being busy is what makes them tick. It took me a long time to realize that it's actually perfectly fine to not be like them.

So if you're anything like me, you're actually happier having a planner that isn't filled from top to bottom. That's just how we work, and we don't have to feel guilty, or unsuccessful because of it. Am I still involved in campus organizations? Of course! Am I still working and taking a full credit load? Yes! But I willingly chose to quit a few things in order to make room for my personal wellbeing—I have more time to be with friends, work out, get sleep, read my Bible, or journal. My grades are improving, and I have more time to devote quality work into the things I'm involved in like my sorority or my job.

I finally stopped basing my success over how busy I am. Because of that, I not only feel the happiest I've ever been in college, I am thriving.

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