Maximize joy

She pulls her hair into a high ponytail while running across the field. It’s slick from the dew that the chilly dusk created but her balance is impeccable. Maisie, a sophomore in high school and all-star athlete, is riding high off the adrenaline of scoring the final goal in her last soccer game, although her exhaustion is starting to catch up to her. But she doesn’t have time to be tired; right now she’s going to be late to conditioning for one of her two soccer clubs. Plus she’s on the varsity school team. She’s got three teams going right now, which Maisie loves. Most of the time. She makes it across the field to her conditioning practice and shoves a smile on her face, even though all she can think of is her mounting homework and her burning muscles. Two hours later Maisie finally stumbles home and although she begins one of her numerous math assignments with good intentions, sleep takes over her and she crashes with her pencil in hand. Over time, with the compilations of many nights like this, soccer stops becoming fun for Maisie. It’s something she’s outgrown but it continues to control her life, her emotional and mental state. And then one day, she sends one text three times. It’s not even a paragraph, but the contents are life changing for her. All of them simply read, “Hi coach! I’ve decided that soccer is no longer fulfilling for me so I’m going to take a break and focus on my school work and other aspects of my life. Thank you for this experience.” After she’s pressed send she sighs and sets her phone down with an overwhelming feeling of relief rushing over her. 

Maisie decided to pursue greater joy. Will you do the same? Our lives are a whirlwind pie chart of activities. School, sports, family, friends, clubs, more extracurriculars, hobbies, phones, tv, sleep. The constant tug of war between all things vying for their attention. The school year becomes Groundhog day for many students. Sure everyday is slightly different but some days blur together as one goes about their daily routine, filled with classes, friends, practice, homework, and more. 

Many students the obligations they have become a huge burden.  Just like Maisie, who finds things they’ve loved for forever, no longer get them going in the morning. I know there are times and seasons of life, but I believe we should try our best to be happy during all of those seasons. Usually when we are happy, we are more productive anyways, and able to “grow eighty feet tall on the side of a mountain”. Of course we can’t quit school but maybe taking six AP’s isn’t the best course of action. Maybe it’s time we all reevaluate our lives. Similarly, Blair Somerville, a tinkerer from New Zealand said,  “You just need a shelter, some food, and a reason to be alive”. But we over complicate our lives to the breaking point. Especially in the whirlwind of all these activities, sometimes taking an audit of our lives is imperative. What truly makes us happy? What do we actually have to do? (You don’t actually have to be in 20 clubs to get accepted to college). How can we find a better balance between school and passion while still being productive? As we enter burnout season with the coming winter and final looming.  I implore you to take stock of your life and how you can maximize the joy and minimize the amount of time you spend waiting for certain activities to be over. After all there are no guarantees, you never know when “Death should meet and claim” 

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