Do you know that thing when you’re buying a new car and you decide on a car you think you want and then overnight, it seems that there are five million of those cars ev-er-y-where you look? It feels like that happens so often in life too. Kind of with anything and everything. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I spend my time. And then suddenly, without even trying, it feels like I’m stumbling across one million articles on time management. And finding apps about phone time management (Yes. An app. About phone time management. This world, you guys). And I talk to my friends, and they’ve been thinking about it too. Maybe it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of thing, or maybe it’s God being like “I’m going to slap you (lovingly) in the face with this until you pay attention (happily).”
More globally, the flashing, neon sign for me in this moment is the idea of opportunity. It’s been a little bit of a theme for me for the last year or so since graduating, and then even more so in the last 4-5 months since starting my new job and then EVEN MORE so in the last few weeks since the new year.
To get a little high school counselor-y here, life is kind of just a bunch of opportunities in a row, right? Duh, Julia. Ok, but bear with me here. Think fork in the road. In some cases, to choose the path on the right instead of left isn’t necessarily wrong, but it’s just choosing one opportunity over another. Or to just super beat this dead horse and over-explain this one more time, it reminds me of something I read a few years ago that stuck with me; people are rarely ever actually “too busy” to do something, it’s just not a top priority. You’re not “too busy” to work out, you just aren’t making it a priority. You’re not “too busy” to call that friend or to read or to do anything, it’s just not a priority. It’s a thought that is simultaneously so freeing and kind of crazy convicting.
Moving forward, I’m trying to look at life in more of that light. A stack of wonderful opportunities to choose my priority level. In an effort to actually follow through, I made a list of things that I would like to focus on prioritizing. That list was long. Way too long to actually be productive so I chose my top 3:
To spend time looking at screens or to do practically anything else
The love hate relationship of our lifetime. I love technology. I work in tech. I love the fact that I can order something on my AmazonNow App and have it delivered to my door within hours. I love that the entire world can reach me at any given moment.
And then also, I hate tech. I work in tech? I hate the fact that my phone is almost now a necessity of being a human like a car or shoes and that it’s essentially slowly morphing into my actual hand. I hate that no one uses their brains anymore to remember things or mull over things, but instead turns straight to Google. I hate that I never forget to bring it anywhere and that when I do, I run to find it in my house like a baby without water when I return home. I hate that it’s the last thing I look at when I go to bed and the first thing I look at when I wake up. I hate ‘likes’ and I hate filters and I hate that if I don’t ‘share it,’ my mind tells me that it’s not as valuable. I hate that the world can reach me at any given moment.
Note that my list of things that I hate is much longer than the things I love about it. And I could go on. So why am I accepting this constant accessibility and tiny, USB charged addiction as fact? Silliness. Not to mention the fact that there are about 20 things that I could think of at this very moment that I’d love to be better at. Reading (currently and on my list). Photography (no big deal. only been saying this for about a thousand years). Knitting. Look, there’s three.
Tentative new rule: No screens (TV, Computer, Phone) after 10:00 and before 8:00. Let’s start with that. Ugh. Just typing that seems impossible. I’ve deleted and retyped that three times. No. I’m leaving it. I can do this.
To be negative or to be grateful
As mentioned, I bought a very pretty calendar from Of A Kind for 2016. Everyday has a line and because I use my phone for a calendar (UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!), I bought it more out of want than need. So I’ve decided to write something(s) down on it every weekday that either makes me Happy or Thankful.
The last three days:
January 15: the sound of a sad fiddle
January 18: alone time, quiet
January 19: painkillers (hi, braces)
Ok, reading those back, I sound depressed and suicidal. I promise, I’m not. This list is actually mostly positive happy things! The point is that I’m working on making it a priority to look at life in a positive way. Some things are obviously happy and I believe it’s a good practice to actively acknowledge them and other things are difficult, but it’s helpful and healthy to also consider the good parts of hard things. I.E. Sometimes, life is lonely. But you know what’s cool about being lonely? Getting to choose the radio station always.
To use forms of instant communication or to use slow communication
This is a little bit of an extension to my technology rant. I promise this will be shorter.
Personal preference here, but how much better is getting a letter in the mail than getting a text? How much better do I feel when I write a thoughtful blog post about an experience than just instagramming it or posting about it on Facebook? How much more connected do you feel to someone when you are able to hear someone’s laughter and take unexpected turns of conversation over a phone call than on a text? I rest my case.
Sub Opportunity: To find my worth in my relationships/verbal approval from friends or to learn to be ok with being alone with myself and my thoughts.
If a joke falls in a group text, and no one responds, does it make a sound?
This one sucks. And could also sort of bleed into my thoughts on singleness. But it’s been an interesting process to learn that not everyone has to know every single funny/interesting/meaningful thing that happens to you at any given moment. Even good friends. Sometimes it’s good to just notice the things that one notices in life and just take them in and let them stay there. For only you. Still, sometimes I’d love to have someone to text in those moments. And maybe that thinks of me to text when things like that happen to them.
The word “slow” in that last one is a bit of a theme with me lately. Whether it’s the way I’m eating or what I’m saying (see: True, Necessary, Kind) I’m going to do my best to really focus on that more often– something that mentally sounds very up my alley, but is a little less popular in my mind when it comes to actually following through with that.
After writing this, I wonder if I sound a little sad or cranky to be putting this judgement on behaviors that I don’t have any sort of moral issue with. But I guess that’s exactly the point. When I think about where I want my priorities to lie, I want to continually become a more interesting and knowledgeable person. And– here comes the full circle moment, guys– dagummit, I’m going to choose to take those opportunities instead of ignoring them.