Have you ever felt as if you’re missing something? You scour the details and habits of your life and everything seems to be there, yet you can’t help but to feel that there’s something amiss. That’s exactly how I felt about a month into this semester.
My life — and most likely yours, too — is a constant buzz between the excitement of being back in-person this semester, and the mountain of school work that grows over the passing weeks. There’s always a couple more homework assignments to complete, a subsequent extracurricular meeting and another social commitment. Despite enjoying this grind, I felt there was something missing in my life, and it wasn’t until a solitary, medium-length drive to visit my grandparents over fall break that I realized what it was.
Originally, my plans for the weekend of fall break — which were still being crafted 24 hours before departure — were to bring a few close friends along and share the 11-hour round trip between Charlottesville and my grandparents’ house in Maryland. However, due to the last-minute nature and overall uncertainty regarding the trip’s plans, my friends could not commit, understandably so.
Nevertheless, I made the trip anyway. I had this strange intuition that leaving Charlottesville would be good for me, even though I was plenty happy there and had the opportunity to relax and hang with my friends over the weekend. However, that peculiar feeling of missing something drifted in the background of my thoughts. I figured that whatever was amiss in my life couldn’t be found in my life at school, so off I jumped in my car and headed up the coast.
My drive from Charlottesville to Maryland started out tense. First, I drove through a labyrinth of tight back roads. Eventually, the road widened, but the traffic thickened as I approached D.C. I was not enjoying the drive to say the least. However, after passing through Baltimore, the interstate opened up and the traffic began to lift. Suddenly, the drive was relaxing and peaceful, and my thoughts began to wander. That’s when I realized what I had been missing in my life at school — time to think.
Of course we’re always thinking, but when are we ever truly alone with our thoughts? Grounds is always noisy, and I mean that beyond the music that echoes across Rugby Road and the Corner. I really mean that there’s always plenty to do but never enough time. As a result, the moments in our life in which we can truly be introspective are rarities.
Time alone with our thoughts is critical for taking good care of ourselves. A lot of times, we allow ourselves to be distracted by our busy lives in order to avoid facing our deeper, underlying doubts and fears — I’m certainly guilty of it. In reality however, that’s the opposite of how we should be handling our concerns. Instead, we need time to reflect on them and figure out a way to resolve them, which, without realizing it, was exactly what I needed in my life at that point in the semester.
But during the 100-mile drive from Baltimore to my grandparents, I finally had time to allow my thoughts to drift as I began to reflect on my life. I thought about everything, from how my semester had been going to the person I thought I was becoming. I then came to the conclusion that this time that I had — away from my phone, my friends and my responsibilities to just reflect and think lucidly — was something that we should all try to have in our lives.
As people with incredibly busy lives, we need times of peace so that we can think and be honest with ourselves about how our lives are going and who we are as individuals. We need time away from the steady bustle of everyday life. This hustle is like white noise — we can easily tolerate it but often don’t realize it’s there until it’s gone. We need time to not be busy in our lives so that we can be introspective and truly check-in with ourselves to ensure that we’re making honest assessments of our mental health and overall wellbeing.
I recognize that we all have packed schedules throughout the semester, which is why I’m challenging you to find time in your week to find some time away from the commotion of daily life. Perhaps it's an early morning walk or an afternoon drive through the countryside, or if you’re short on time, perhaps it’s an introspective meditation routine. Whatever it is, just remember to leave some time in your life simply for yourself.
Mario Rosales is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.