Society encourages hectic lifestyle

photo+illustration+by+Patrick+Smith

photo illustration by Patrick Smith

Lauren Puckett

photo illustration by Patrick Smith

Click here to listen to Lauren Puckett read her commentary.

Lauren. You’re not Supergirl!”

I immediately froze in mid-stride, halfway down the stairs. It was a chilly February day and all I wanted was to go home.
Forcing a deep breath, I faced my smiling friend, who gazed down at me with a combination of amusement and pity. His caring flattered one part of me; the other part wanted to slap that stupid smirk off his face.

It was a bad day. Though my bad days are few and far between, this was one of them.

My body slumped. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d slept a full night. My mind raced. Between homework, extracurriculars and hanging out with my friends, an idle thought seemed absurd.

Worst of all, writing seemed impossible. I would curl up for five minutes in an arm chair, but I couldn’t squeeze a single decent sentence onto paper.

It was infuriating.

I just couldn’t seem to handle everything going on in my life. The phrase was becoming more and more commonplace among my friends: Lauren, you’re acting like Supergirl. Lauren, stop trying to be Supergirl. Let loose every once in a while. There’s only so much a chick can handle.

They always meant well. People were tired of seeing me beating my head against the wall, stressed to my wit’s end. But the cute little pet name didn’t help anything. My friends didn’t understand; I wanted to be Supergirl — I wanted to do it all — and no one was going to tell me I couldn’t. I wanted to seize every opportunity, pluck success out of thin air. I wanted a 4.0 GPA and a ticket to All-State choir. I wanted scholarships and my stories submitted in prestigious magazines. I wanted to make my friends, my family and myself proud.

That was my philosophy until one day in mid-April when I completely lost it.

I did absolutely everything I could to maintain a pleasant exterior. I didn’t want anyone knowing that, inside, I was going a bit nuts. I smiled politely to whomever I met, and I kept praying for a positive outlook.

But when I collapsed on my bed in the evening, I fell into neurotic bouts of sobbing. My voice was swollen, so I couldn’t sing. My head was fuzzy, so I couldn’t write. My homework sat in unfinished piles upon my desk. My ironically blank calendar glared at me from the wall; it wasn’t blank because I had nothing going on. It was blank because I simply didn’t have time to fill it out.

I really couldn’t do it all. Gee, who would have thought?

But when I lessened my workload, I felt guilty. I felt lazy. I felt disregarded.

Yet I was strangely, almost deliriously, happy. I was sleeping for once in my life. Fresh ideas began to pour onto paper with the ease of breathing. I stopped fighting so much with my family, and we had time to share our lives and lessons.

Finally, I found a chance to reflect. I realized the problem with our society views buis that “business” is viewed as an honor. Workaholics may be crazy, but they’re respected crazies. One of the first things colleges look at is how “involved” you are. Being busy translates simply to: You’re important. You’ve got it all figured out.

I discovered when you act invincible, people start believing that, maybe, just maybe, you are.

But humans aren’t invincible. We don’t have it all figured out.

We can’t live every day on cookies and caffeine, forcing our bodies to function, squeezing thoughts out of our brains. Life can’t work like that or we’ll lose ourselves in the rush.

So for the first time in a long time, I filled out my calendar. I arranged specific days for writing, for resting, for visiting friends and for family. I erased anything that added extra stress, anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. I made long-term goals instead of stressful checkpoints. I stopped glorifying that infamous word: “busy.”

Maybe it’s time society did the same. I found life so much more enjoyable when I took everything in moderation.

So try spending an evening out on the porch. Make a few impulsive decisions. Stop judging other people for creating a little “me” time. Have structure without insanity.
You aren’t less important just because you have enough time for eight hours of sleep.

After all, even Supergirl needs her beauty rest.
By Lauren Puckett
This opinion piece is labeled as such on the desktop version.