Repeat After Me: You’re Unavailable

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Every time I try to not look at my notifications on my phone, I feel more than guilty. I can’t seem to stop checking my emails and I basically live on Moodle. My responsibilities regarding school have led me to believe that I need to be on call for everything I’m involved in around the clock. You can imagine the type of burnout I’m facing, and maybe you’re even feeling it, too. Let’s remind ourselves that we’re unavailable, and it’s okay.  

Obviously, as college students, we’re bound to be busy. In a place where “Lawrence busy” is a term often thrown around in conversation, we don’t have much free time. We have classes to take, homework to do, organizations and clubs to join and jobs to work. We have a lot on our plate. So how should we act when our schedule is empty? 

Having free time does not mean that you’re available. In the rare occurrence that we’re able to stop and take a breath, we don’t need to pile something else onto our already hectic lives. We, as students who are also real human beings, are allowed to have a moment of peace once in a while. 

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to blow off everyone you know. Obviously, obligations are important. Missing deadlines shouldn’t become the norm. Responsibilities are always going to be in your life. The key is figuring out how to manage them. 

If you work so hard to follow your schedule and get things crossed off your to-do list, I say you should give yourself a break and don’t feel sorry for being offline for a little bit of time. Breaks are necessary. You cannot be everywhere at once and do everything all of the time. Using your free time to relax instead of cramming in another obligation is productive, not lazy. 

If you don’t stop and take care of yourself, eventually you aren’t going to keep up with everything you need to do. In other words, not working actually helps you work better. So, relax for some time. Turn your phone off. Be out of touch with the world for a moment. You are allowed to be invisible once in a while. 

While you’re learning to take care of yourself, also keep in mind you need to treat others the way you want to be treated. Meaning, remember that just because someone isn’t in class or working doesn’t mean they can be with you. We need to start regarding free time as highly as work and school. After all, simply having a moment to yourself is just as important as going to a class, meeting or any other obligation. 

Even though I’m one to talk, as I usually put my homework above anything else, we need to start building our schedules with free time in them. Don’t list all of your other obligations first and expect yourself to take a break whenever you get the chance, because I can bet you will feel guilty for taking a moment to relax. Instead, put both your stats homework and taking a walk on your to-do list. Plan your day around your mental health and well-being along with your tasks as a student. Never push free time aside because the only way you can continue to function like a well-oiled machine is if you stop for a second and relax.  

Clearly, we Lawrentians have a lot of stuff to do. The worst part is we like to talk and brag about all the things we need to get done, as if getting the smallest amount of sleep is some sort of competition. While I believe we should pride ourselves on our accomplishments, I think we should start to shift the definition of an accomplishment when doing so. Finishing your ten-page essay is something to be proud of, but so is getting to take a nap after a long day. Every little thing is worth celebrating. 

Sometimes I get so caught up in life at Lawrence that I forget a world outside of campus exists. I am learning to realize that not everything is about school and work. While these are and will always be important factors in our lives, we are ultimately the most important task to take care of. 

With that being said, don’t feel guilty for taking the time to reset yourself. Don’t let yourself be so tense all the time. I think it’s safe to say everyone is lacking a little empathy towards themselves. So, when you get a sliver of free time, do something for your well-being, not for others’. Your job isn’t to be consistently available. Your job is to do what’s best for you. 

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