I’ve always been someone that tried to cram as much into life as possible. More, I thought, was better—from when, as a kid, I tried to combine as many desserts into one recipe as I could (Five-layer cakes? Chocolate-chip-peanut-butter-cookie-brownie bars? Yes, please) to growing up and juggling homework with hanging out with friends with playing sports with eighty other things just because I could.
As a grown-up, I’m all for multitasking: eating lunch while texting while walking to class, or brushing your teeth while checking your email while watching TV—some things are far too mundane to take up separate chunks of time, if you ask me. Time is precious, and it’s pretty incredible how productive you can be when you manage it efficiently. And besides, life is full of awesome things, at least 99% of which we just don’t have time to experience unless we try to cut corners here and there.
It’s not that I’m trying to be this amazing wonder-girl who wins the Nobel prize for multitasking. It’s like I have this obsession with needing to fill every hour—and truthfully, I’m not proud of it. I get restless on vacations if every day isn’t utilized to the utmost. I simply can’t bear to spend an entire day sitting around the house. I can’t sit and watch movies or TV without folding laundry during the slow scenes or browsing Pinterest during commercials. No matter where I’m at or who I’m with, you can bet that at least part of my mind is on where/what I’m going to do next.
It’s not, really, even a penchant for productivity at all: it’s that somehow, I’d developed this terribly misguided idea that life would be better the more I filled my time to the bursting. If I just kept going.
And that’s not true.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve worn myself out from going, going, going, or the times I’ve deliberately made myself insanely busy simply so I’d literally have no time to think about a problem or a heartbreak.
There’s nothing wrong with being busy or time-efficient, but I think there is something wrong with not being able to stop and enjoy the small, empty moments. There’s something wrong with having to fill every second with activity because you’re unhappy with the now. It’s so easy to get caught up in looking at the big picture and constantly trying to jump from milestone to milestone, and forget that the present is pretty great, too. That ten minutes you have in the morning to watch the sunrise? Do it. The half hour you can spend with a sibling or good friend, doing absolutely nothing? Savor it.
I’m trying to slow down and breathe, and sometimes even just stop entirely. It’s important to take things one step at a time. It’s just as important to walk when you know full well that you can run.
I still believe life should be lived to the fullest, and I honestly doubt I’ll ever be able to spend more than 25 minutes sitting still. But there’s just as much good in the moments that are calm and meaningful as there is in the moments that are busy and crazy and exciting.