2014 has been a full year. I’ve learned, worked, read, seen, traveled, written, listened, wrestled, mourned, celebrated, and done a lot. 2014 took me to Uganda, Istanbul, Northern California, Seattle, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, and Austria. It took me through three internships and one volunteer placement. It reunited me with many dear friends, it introduced me to new wonderful people, and deepened some of the relationships I cherish most. In looking back on 2014, several overriding themes emerge – the lessons I've been learning, the ideas that have challenged me, and the things that have shaped my year and, as a result, me.
One of the greatest, most painful lessons I learned in 2013 was the importance of rest. I saw how detrimental perfectionism, over-commitment, and an overall stressful lifestyle were on my well being. I realized how idiotic our culture’s over glorification of busy really is. So in wrapping up 2013, I vowed to prioritize rest in the New Year. However because of commitments I had made I wasn't able to put this into practice until studying abroad in Hungary this past fall.
My life in Budapest was full, but not overly so, and I know my life back at Calvin will be much busier than my life abroad. However through those fourth months, I experienced the benefits of living a restful life. I had the space in my life there to do the things that are good for my soul – like writing, reading, and volunteering. Instead of plowing through life, I was able to reflect on everything I was experiencing which brought me greater insight, appreciation, and meaning. I felt much more awake and alive. I was filled up, and so in addition to being more content and joyful, I was also in a better place to love others.
Living this way is so counter-cultural to the American society I grew up in. I was talking recently with a friend on this topic and she was saying how we have ceased to be human beings. We are human doers. We are defined by what we do, not who we are. I believe we are called to a rich, flourishing life. And going through life on auto-pilot, over-caffeinated, depleted, and depressed is not how we were made to live. As hard as it is with a demanding schedule, in 2015 I want to continue to prioritize a high quality of life.