If 2020 had a song, I think Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots would be a good contender. Everyone is stressed out -- mommas, kids, and your neighbor next door. Chances are just about everyone has taken a dip in the uncertainty cesspool called twenty-twenty.
Some people handle it better. Others just hide it better.
Like the song, I wish we could turn back time to the good old days.
But there is only one way and that is forward.
And we are blindly walking into the future.
Consider it a testament of your faith.
There are cancellations, disappointments, and so many unknowns plaguing our minds. With the start of school approaching – I’ve seen numerous posts about making the choice to keep kids at home verses sending them to school. If there is even an option in their community. There are stresses on the parents and then disappointments for upcoming students, especially Senior’s.
Sports are still on one day and then cancelled the next. Will they eat in the cafeteria or get to play with other kids during recess? Will there be band, cheerleading, pep rallies and prom? The questions are endless, compounding the stress in the atmosphere.
A couple of years ago, I met a high school student at the women’s hospital. She was stressed out by all of her expectations. Quite the opposite of this year, as plans are getting crushed. Whether her stress was fueled by her parents or self-induced, I’m not sure.
What I do know is the kids have been stressed out.
This is nothing new -- it’s not just a side effect of 2020.
The stats don’t lie about mental illness amongst our youth. The graphs show a sharp increase in the number of kids suffering with depression, loneliness, and anxiety. Sadly, youth suicides have skyrocketed over the last five years.
I hate to think about what the stats will look like this year.
It’s like a toss of the coin. Last year we were overwhelmed by the busy and this year we are underwhelmed by the lack of events.
Are we ever really happy? Is there a healthy median to achieve?
Hard work is a great thing, but we’ve become a society afflicted with burnout. Our planners are littered with activities and we read books about scheduling every minute of the day. Proficient, efficient, and perfect are our favorite adjectives. Even our underwear drawers are organized.
On top of this, we display our achievements and good deeds on social media. We document our daily happenings for others to read. Our kids’ lives are on display.
Growing up we got an ice cream cone and our parents put a bumper sticker on the station wagon if we made honor roll. You’d hear mom bragging to your aunt on the phone. But that’s it. We didn’t have our picture taken every second. We weren’t posted online for the rest of the world to see.
We were blessed with privacy and lack of information.
Not today. We suffer because of it and the children suffer the most.
So, maybe this year is a golden opportunity to destress by having little expectations. And less things to document. I’m not saying no education, no work, or do nothing at all, but serve everything with a slice of grace and mercy.
Live intentionally this year, taking nothing for granted. Grateful, even for a blank calendar.
A year of life standing still is not as bad as it sounds.
I learned more in a year of standing still than I had in a lifetime. It seemed as if everyone was passing me by at full speed as I stood motionless. But it was in the wait, I learned the most about what God wanted for me. I reevaluated what I deemed important in life. I spent time in reflection taking note of changes I needed to make.
Take the time to understand your efforts don’t make the world spin.
Life just doesn’t look like we expected this year, but you can take this experience and learn more about yourself and God than you ever have.
The girl I met in the hospital – she just needed a week off. One week without expectations or activities.
I asked her how she got checked into the hospital. She had said something silly in class and well the teacher took it the wrong way. That’s what she claimed.
She was smart, super smart. So smart, she knew exactly what would happen. She simply needed time off.
On top of advanced placement classes, she led the debate team and was concerned about missing an upcoming event. She was trying hard to let go and relax, but it didn’t come easy. I understood this all too well.
However, the last day I was there I put my head back and sang along to the radio. For hours, eight of us spent time in this tiny room singing and chatting. I watched as the girl and two new teenage friends rested on the floor with coloring pages. They were swinging their legs and singing.
In those hours, we finally learned to let go and let the world spin round.
Man, did it feel good.