Too often, society forces us into doing things we don’t like, we don’t enjoy, and that make us miserable. Society gives us expectations about who to be, how to be, and basically what our lives should look like. Society defines success and if you don’t have the big job, big money, and ideal lifestyle, you’re labeled as “sucking at life”. We feel like failures. And for what? To make everyone else think we have it all together when we still feel like we’re failing? It’s an awful mess that our culture has allowed to become so normal.
I honestly truly believe this is a huge part of the vicious cycle with depression. We think we’re finally “succeeding” by doing what culture says we should and something else comes up that we find ourselves “failing” at.
But the truth is, who cares what everyone else thinks. Let me repeat this, WHO CARES WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS. We were not created to live up to worldly expectations and impress people around us. We were created to do what God intended, and to enjoy the plan He has laid out for us.
I think all too often we get caught up doing things in our lives that “get us through the day”. We do things we don’t really enjoy and just get by. We load our schedule up because that’s the “norm” and find ourselves burnt out and unhappy. But, that’s not how life is supposed to be. We were meant for more. We were meant to love life and spread that love and joy to others too.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. I went through a stage in college where I was so miserable. I would get up everyday automatically in a bad mood because I hated going to class, going to work, doing homework and having no time for myself. I was going through the motions. I craved that personal growth time that I couldn’t find time for.
What I found was, like many people, I was doing everything I thought I was supposed to do. I would load my schedule up to the minute. I was too involved, exhausted, and burnt out. I was trying to be a “successful” college student by getting straight A’s, being involved in clubs, trying to get volunteer hours, working as many hours as I could squeeze in without losing my mind, all while trying to have a personal life with friends and my boyfriend. I felt that I had zero time for working on myself and giving some time to deepening my faith. Whether you’re a mom, working individual, college student, or any other person on this earth basically, I think a lot of people can relate to this.
But one day amongst the craziness, I heard the whisper, “slow down, this is not how it’s supposed to be.”
First, I have to say I’m still working on this. I find it very difficult to switch my mindset from go go going to finding time for me. I find myself again and again lost in the busyness. Society (or should I say the devil) constantly throws things back in my face that make me think I need to be hectically barely making it by.
The biggest thing I started to do was say no. I put my faith in God’s plan and I started saying no and cutting things out of my life that weren’t truly important to me. I started asking myself why am I doing this? Because I really enjoy it or for a resume builder? Because it brings me true joy or because I feel obligated? I know God has a plan and part of that plan requires me to take time for me and to take time for Him and to do that some things had to go. I realized I was doing things for earthly rewards when in reality, does any of that matter when we get to heaven? To be who I was made to be and to get to where God wants me to I have started to really work on giving myself grace and slowing down. I’m learning how to truly enjoy and love life, with the good Lord’s help.
That’s not to say that there aren’t times where obligation does play a role in how you or I spend our time or that we shouldn’t do things we don’t enjoy for people we care about. These occurrences are a part of life. Those special situations happen and perhaps we should look at those events as a time to be joyful because we’re helping someone we love and maybe spending time with them (if you don’t particularly enjoy giving your time to that situation). But I’m speaking in general, most of the time, when you’re dedicating your time to things you don’t enjoy and find yourself miserable as a result, something’s wrong.
I encourage you to question what you’re putting your time and effort into. Do you love 80% of what you’re investing time towards? Then that’s pretty good in my opinion. Or do you find yourself miserable, overwhelmed and burnt out? YOU are the only one who can change that. And it starts by prioritizing your time and forcing yourself to do what you truly LOVE. Whether that means changing jobs for a potential pay cut but enjoying it, spending extra time with your family, or taking the time to do something you’ve been wanting to do. Whatever it is, it’s up to you to make the time for it. Get up earlier, say no to that volunteering you don’t want to do anyway, stay up a tad later than normal, skip your workout today. God didn’t create you to be miserable and follow what everyone else does. He has your WHOLE life figured out and He wants you to truly enjoy it.
And one last thing. You might be thinking well she’s just a college girl, how does she really know what it’s like to not have time? She doesn’t have a full time job, kids, or five different schedules to manage. And you’re right. But, what I do know is it’s very easy to fall into the “busyness trap”. It’s easy to load your schedule up with anything and everything because we feel obligated. No, I don’t have kids, but I still feel the pressure. I still feel the devil pushing me towards what society tells us is “normal” and finding myself feeling the overload. The devil pushes all of us in that negative direction in any way he possibly can. Kids or not, college or not, he finds a way to make us feel not good enough and like we need to add and do more to be “happy”.
But, that’s the farthest thing from the truth. Think about things that make you truly happy. Think about what your normal day looks like. Think about where you can exchange some of those obligations for a little bit of joy. Think about how you can truly slow your life down just a little bit to “take the time to smell the flowers” as my mom would say. Take some time to spend with Jesus. I promise you you’ll find yourself in a happier place when you do. And God will be smiling much bigger and brighter when you take the time to do the happy things He placed on your heart to enjoy in the first place.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences on this topic. Thank you for the words to express this exactly the way You want for Your glory. I pray that You lay this on the hearts of anyone who needs to hear it. I pray that You speak to them and show them how to change to do what they love, and how to make more time for You so you can help them. I pray you help whoever reads this to find that extra time for joy. In your holy name, Amen.
PS: please do not hesitate to contact me if this is something you’re struggling with and want to chat more. I’m more than happy to grab coffee, email, or whatever works for you. We all struggle with this. My door is always open 🙂