October 07, 2021
Heto na, papalapit na talaga.
One day, it was the end of your school break. All your KDrama and KPop days, your late night movie marathons, your complete sleeps are all gone.
Just like that, enlistments and orientations started taking place. The thought of requirements and deadlines have started looming again.
We were hopeful last year that by this time, we’d be transitioning back to face-to-face classes, gatherings—everything! But that’s not what happened at all.
And so, we tried to brace, yet again, for impact.
We wanted to be optimistic about this school year, and maybe we still are, but we also can’t shake off the feeling that we’re still not ready to get back into it all again.
Heto na, andito na naman tayo ulit.
And now, we’re at least a few weeks into the new school year. Hopefully, our schools have made good adjustments. But, how are we? How are our relationships? How’s our health?
We’re back in the same setup, but are we sustaining the adjustments we’ve made or are we slipping back to playing catch up, sleeplessness, and sacrificing health and relationships just to counter the seemingly endless cycle of backlogs?
If we find ourselves especially in the latter situation, there is hope yet for all of us. How? Is there a better and healthier way to go about our responsibilities?
Let’s draw wisdom from Ecclesiastes 3:1 where it says,
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . .
In the next verses, it would then proceed to detail seasons in life, though not exhaustively. We may have heard this and the other verses in one way or another, yet it conveys a timeless truth for all of us to apply:
“There is a place and time for everything.”
Probably one of the biggest challenges we have with this principle is how we can’t seem to find the proper timing and/or placing of the things that we do.
The first thing we can do is realize and accept that there is a unique pacing for each one of us. When there’s a timing and place for everything, that means we don’t need to be overly-pressured by how others finished tasks faster, understood the concepts better, and still found time to do other things.
Maybe some of us already discovered this pacing in the pandemic context last school year. That’s great! Hopefully you get to sustain it. But if you’re still figuring it out, then this is a sign for you to keep discovering! Your struggles from last year aren’t a waste.
Recall the times you were overloaded and underloaded with requirements. Remember how you went about those weeks. Did they change to the opposite or did they stay the same a week or two after? Reflect then on what it reveals about your personal pacing and then apply what you learned as adjustment to your current pacing.
Of course, we have to consider that not everyone is equally capable in terms of internet access, dedicated space to study and focus, and overall comfort at home. That’s why, beyond just finding our proper pacing, we also need to look at our decision-making.
“When priorities are clear, decisions are simpler.”
Since everything has a timing and placement, not everything has to be the priority in every season. I learned this from when I struggled with juggling my priorities and thus, asked advice from friends and mentors to find solutions. They all had this advice in common and so I hope it’ll help you also.
I also discovered that indeed clarity does help make decisions simpler, but it doesn’t always make it any easier.
The second thing you can do is to find the gap between your ideal and actual priorities.
Assess the ideal priorities in your mind. Arrange them from top to least. Now to know your actual priorities, look at the ideal priorities and now indicate the actual time you spend on each, both in a day and in a week. How different does your actual priorities list look like now? Analyze the difference and now you know the gap.
Great! Now you know your pacing and how far (or near) you are in terms of following your priorities. But, that’s still not enough. Why? Because both are nothing if not for consistent follow-through.
“You do more by doing less.”
Again, drawing from everything having a time and place, it won’t be any less of us as people to focus on a few things as opposed to spreading ourselves too thin in fear of not keeping up. As ironic as the principle seems, it actually makes so much sense. Knowing our pacing and priorities gap helps us to draw limits and establish better boundaries.
The third is to establish healthy boundaries and then honor them.
Whether that’s time allotment in work and rest or refusing additional responsibilities for this season, there’s actually more freedom when the boundaries are clear.
Especially in pursuing personal passions and advocacies, we must accept that we don’t have to do everything now and expect all aspects of our health (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual) to be intact. Passionate people without proper boundaries will inevitably burn out hard.
“Consistency is still key.”
The fourth is to regularly and consistently reflect on and reassess your priorities (every week or two) and then follow through with concrete action.
Hold yourself accountable to the boundaries you’ve set. Involve trusted friends and mentors to regularly check on you and help you be consistent in following through. The dynamic nature of the pandemic has shown what works in one week, isn’t always as effective the next.
Yes, you can play games. You can watch that Kdrama episode. You can rewatch that Kpop comeback. But, remember not every day is a rest day also.
“Come to Me.”
The fifth is sometimes, the most restful thing we could do is only do what God has asked of us this season.
Have you taken the time to ask the One who knows you the most? In Matthew 11:28–30, Jesus talks about coming to Him for rest, but also, taking upon His burden, which is light, and His yoke, which is easy. How much of what we are doing God didn’t ask us to in the first place?
Could it be that maybe some of the difficulties you face aren’t because it’s just the set up and circumstances, but God signaling to you that there’s a better and healthier way to do things?
God faithfully fulfills His promise of never leaving us nor forsaking us, and sometimes He’ll use problems and challenges to catch our attention to come to Him, seek His wisdom, and make those changes.
I hope that from these tips you figure out a healthier way of navigating and eventually thriving in this new school year!