I recently returned from my church’s high school fall retreat at Lake Geneva Youth Camp. It was an incredible weekend full of inspiring teaching, moving worship times and – of course – plenty of artsy photo shoots with the colorful fall leaves. Having the opportunity to get away from all the stresses of life back home, even if it was only for two days, was much needed, and I’m grateful for the time I spent growing in my faith with my friends.
Our theme for the weekend was learning to “press pause” – essentially, finding moments of rest amid our often crazy schedules. It’s a theme that applies not only to faith, but also to life, and it’s incredibly relevant for today’s stressed-out, overtired, drained high-schoolers. However, I think everyone, no matter what their age, could benefit from the powerful messages I heard regarding the importance of “pause” in our everyday lives.
In my AP English language class a few weeks ago, we read an article by Tim Kreidler, “The ‘Busy’ Trap,” which criticizes the mentality we have to be constantly busy in order to make our lives more productive and meaningful. I think Kreidler hit the nail on the head; most of us subliminally believe if we aren’t always running from one activity to the next, we are lazy, ineffective and, therefore, worthless. The busyness gives us a sense of purpose and routine, no matter how frenzied and draining that routine may be.
And yet, I wonder, is the “purpose” provided by busyness really worth all the destruction it causes? I look around at my fellow high-schoolers and see a group of anxious, depressed and overtired teens living in a constant state of overwhelmed chaos. It’s just not reasonable to expect anyone to live like that all the time, and I don’t think there are any upsides to that lifestyle – although that lifestyle seems to be a reality for so many of us.
That’s why the message of the fall retreat was so impactful; it reminded me to keep up with the societal expectation of busyness, it is absolutely crucial I take the time to rest and restore myself. Unless I make time to relax before running off to the next thing, I will not only be exhausted, I will be incapable of completing whatever task or activity my schedule has in store for me next. As my youth pastor put it, we can’t effectively “press play” until we’ve “pressed pause” for a little while first. It’s something I so easily forget, and yet I can’t afford to forget it for much longer.
I hope society eventually starts to move away from this expectation of constant busyness and instead toward an acceptance of the necessity of “pause.” Not only will we be less tired and more fulfilled, we will have the energy needed to make the most of everything we are involved in. Whether you’re a high school student, college grad or working adult, there is benefit in taking time to relax and refresh before continuing with our relentless responsibilities. After all, the greatest purpose isn’t found in busyness; it’s found in the moments when we slow down and remember what’s most important.
Emma Chrusciel is a senior at Geneva High School. In addition to writing, she loves Broadway musicals, playing piano, and spending time with her family and friends. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.