Stepping out of my last period, it was a warm, sunny day. The clouds had cleared to display a brilliant blue sky, proclaiming the joy of a special event: my last day of junior year.
It had certainly been a tumultuous school year. About three-fifths of it had been virtual due to the pandemic. I took classes from my bedroom and Facetimed friends to keep in touch. While it was more lonely than being in person, we came together in unanticipated ways. People created class group chats to connect and help one another out. I have made some of my closest friends this year, despite the virtual distance.
When we did return in February, life began to move at a rapid pace. I had in-person school and sports practices nearly every day. I was waking up earlier. I could no longer study or work on homework during lunch. Instead, I was thrown into a busy world. Despite the stress it added, however, it was an absolute joy to be back. Those last three months were some of the best of my life, as I was able to see friends frequently and get back into the swing of things.
Now, the school year is over and summer has commenced. Junior year was arguably the most significant of my high school career. Going into my senior year, there is certainly pressure to keep moving as quickly as possible and to jump on every possible task. For me, on the first day of summer, I was feeling unproductive. Isn’t there something I should be doing? However, I forced myself to take a deep breath. Rest was what I needed.
I feel that true recuperation is undervalued, especially for my age group. Often, we feel pressure from peers, adults, and from society to be doing everything all the time. We fail to take a moment to just breathe. On the treadmill of life, we keep running without realizing that the healthiest tactic is just to step off for a moment. It doesn’t have to be forever — just a moment to catch our breath and replenish our spirits.
Rest can mean a variety of things, too. It can mean sleep, which is imperative during all stages of life. It can mean spending time with friends and family. It can mean taking a day alone. However you define rest, ensure that you are doing so when needed. Burnout, or feeling absolutely exhausted and losing all motivation, can be avoided by properly resting.
During the pandemic, when many of us were stuck indoors quarantining, I, as well as many others, was forced to turn off the treadmill. At home almost constantly with more free time than I’d had since childhood, I was able to reevaluate my priorities, opinions, and what I deemed important. Spending time with family was a wonderful way to spend that time period. I also took up new hobbies, including art and baking. Most significantly, I became more attuned to my emotions by having the space to hear myself think. For me, this was a beautiful realization about the power of rest. We need it to be the best versions of ourselves. I am grateful this year (and I know I am not alone) to have unlocked this secret: on the treadmill of life, rest is simply the best.