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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

This semester I am taking extra classes, trying as many extracurricular activities as I can, going to bed earlier, working out every day, trying to be on my phone less…you get the picture. This is all in an attempt to keep myself busy. As someone who struggled with depression during the COVID pandemic and other periods of my life where I find myself less occupied than normal, I have learned that when I am not constantly entertained, I tend to go a little insane. Now, I know what adults will say about this and the Gen-Z problem where we all must be constantly distracted because of our shortened attention spans. They are most likely right, but they forget to mention the more grim components of this problem. I have found that when I have nothing to do, it gives me all the time in the world to pick apart everything that is wrong with my life. With my current schedule, there is simply no time for that. In the free time that I do have, I try to play music, call my family and friends, read, or just end up scrolling on my phone—anything to avoid silence. All this is to say: I have no time to really think. 

The worst part is, it seems to be working. Although my days seem formulaic at times, and I often wish for a change, it is true that if I keep my mind and body occupied at all times, I am able to prevent myself from falling into old negative thought patterns. However, in the few moments of my week where I am forced to just sit with my thoughts, perhaps before I fall asleep or in-between the songs I blast on my walks, I find myself asking myself the question: Am I finally happy, or am I just distracted? 

So, I did what any reasonable person would do and typed this question into Google for answers. Unfortunately, Google told me that “You will know that you are truly happy when you are able to sit alone with your thoughts and emotions free from distraction, and still feel joy.” I didn’t need to try this out to know that it was not the case for me. So what do I do? Are my attempts to keep myself occupied at all times holding me back from truly living a happy life? My brother always tells me that the pain I feel is only making me a smarter, more multi-faceted person, and while I do understand what he is saying, I am not going to willingly torture myself in order to try and be more interesting. Instead, I could focus that energy into new hobbies that will ultimately yield similar results. Why should I stop using a strategy that is clearly working? None of these “coping mechanisms” are at all unhealthy, and I can confidently say that the past few weeks for me have been the most productive and upbeat that I have had in a very long time. Additionally, time is flying faster than the blink of an eye, which can be scary sometimes, but helps me feel like I am not stuck. 

I have decided that although this method is not perfect, and I must continue to work to make long-term changes to improve my mental health, I going to continue keeping myself busy. With my headphones in my ears and my Google Calendar packed with the most mundane of activities, I know that I will be able to keep a smile on my face. 

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Avery Becker

Kenyon '26

Avery is a first-year student at Kenyon College, originally from Los Angeles, California. When she is not watching a movie, she can be found running, playing drums, or listening to a podcast. Avery enjoys olive oil, Jason Bateman, and Nietzsche, and hates seed oils!