The Good Ole Days
If you open up your phone and check the screen time, I’d be willing to bet that a large portion of readers out there have a significant amount of their time on social media and other forms of digital entertainment. While we might try our best to set a time limit on apps, and then fall into the seemingly routine trap of pressing “Ignore,” it never fails to amaze me that I spent four hours on Instagram or three hours on TikTok in a given day. The perception of time seems to vanish right before our very eyes as we scroll, tap, and like in an endless cycle. Yet, it seems like throughout the day there are those perfect times where going on your phone is the only sensible thing to do. Long car rides, breaks during class, awkward elevator encounters, we’ve all been there. These situations are built into the very foundation of our lives, therefore causing the phone to be a reactionary measure for when our brain encounters these lapses of stimulation.
However, while many of our livelihoods have encapsulated the entire era of digitalization, it does beg the question of how people used to entertain themselves before the creation of phones and computers. Certainly, if we gave up our phones, or even reduced it to let’s say, a flip phone (*gasp*), there would be the giant piece of time we would suddenly gain. So what were many of our parents and grandparents doing with this surplus of time? Board games? Sports? ? It’s at least an interesting thought experiment to place ourselves in that position. Would we become geniuses with more time spent studying? Or would we be even happier as we get to be around friends and family more? These are serious questions that should be brought up, and it should be alarming that there’s a chance that our phones could be jeopardizing our potential.
With all that said, should you be worried? Should you smash your phone right now and live a reclusive life off the grid? Probably not. But I think it’s paramount that these facts are brought up. It should be uncomfortable to hear that our phones are partially holding us captive from a potentially better reality; otherwise, we would never change these habits. While that may sound bleak, this doesn’t mean we should be devoid of any enjoyment either. We’ve all either taken a break from our phones, or at least thought about the act of doing it, and begin to already associate the giving up of our devices as a period of poignancy. We miscalculate that with the absence of a phone, joy doesn’t vanish, but is simply infused by other mediums. Below I have listed just a FEW of the activities I do to wind back and relax without feeling guilty for being on a screen.
I’m sure I addressed this in the last article I wrote, but the foundation of reading into my life has been one I can surely say was for the better. One even newer habit I’ve picked up is waking up before 7 A.M. to go meditate and then read before school starts. I also make an extra effort to not use my phone at all until my first class. Having these quiet, relaxing mornings to myself is something that I can appreciate and gets me in the right headspace for the day. Also, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t necessarily matter what you read. While some may have you believe that you have to be reading something intellectual or motivational, that’s far from the truth. Whether it be a lengthy novel, or a cheesy rom-com, reading is supposed to be about your enjoyment alone.
Engaging in a Passion Project
While you might hear your parents, counselors, or favorite college YouTubers saying, “Join/Start a club in high school!” or something along those lines, I can relate to the overwhelming questions that may arise. How are we supposed to know if we want to be a movie star actor and join the drama club, or the next Nobel Prize winner and search for a STEM internship? Even if I did know what I want to do, how do I even go about accomplishing this? Will I be perpetually stressed as I pile too much onto my plate? All valid concerns. Yet, I can safely say that the only way of answering any of these queries is by putting yourself out there and taking the first leap. Throughout my four years of high school I went from Debate to Track & Field to DECA, and all three I eventually at one point or another stopped pursuing. Do I feel a poignant feeling of regret, like I’ve wasted my time with all my other opportunities fleeting away? No. Nor can I say that I’ve gained nothing from these extracurriculars; I continue to use the skills I’ve picked up in each one. And if you’re worried that if you don’t get it right the first time you’ll miss out on everything else; I know from personal experience that’s not the case. Heads Up Teens expanded the summer right before our senior years, and I’ve even been working on a clothing brand since just this December. The great thing about passion projects is that when you find the perfect one for you, you’ll naturally want to put more time into it. So if you fear that there’s just not enough time to squeeze something in your life, but you really love it, I encourage you to give it a shot. I know I’m glad I have.
Hot Take: Some of the smartest people I know tend to be the best at games. Unfortunately, I’m usually terrible at almost every game I play, but that’s for another time to discuss. While that’s a pretty bold and vague statement to make, I’ve picked up on a few key measures that games require you to have. And to preface, I’m not talking about book smarts or if how good you are at Poker will determine what you’ll get on your next math test. What I mean to say is that there’s a lot of value in putting time into an activity and getting better through obstacles. For instance, it teaches you to be competitive. While we tend to associate competitiveness with aggression, sore-losers, and arguments about scores, it’s a driving force that causes us to improve. Personally, I’m not very naturally competitive when it comes to playing games; in most instances, I don’t necessarily want to lose, but I also don’t feel the need to devote my full effort and “try-hard.” However, I’ve been trying to change this approach instead of being lackadaisical. Recently, I’ve picked up chess with a few of my friends. While I’m no grandmaster or Beth Harmon, I still find it to be enjoyable even when I get put in checkmate. Yet, I notice that I’m not really improving, nor is it becoming as fulfilling to keep playing. What I’m learning is that sometimes it’s better to take games more seriously, even if they don’t matter all that much in the bigger picture of life. To truly appreciate the little things, acting with intention is the first step.