How to Redefine Your Free Time

I’ve always known that I’m the type that likes to stay busy. In high school I took on as many extracurriculars as I could find, and I truly enjoy feeling like I have a lot of things to do. However, any college student can tell you that involvement in high school and college are two very different things. In the past few months, I took on a job, a harder course load and I saw my role in extracurriculars grow. I figured I would be able to carry on managing my time as I always had, since I had always been busy, right? Well it turns out that wasn’t necessarily the case. I saw my free time drastically decrease, and I was forced to be a lot more intentional with my time and how I spent it. 

Doing so made me realize that how you define your “free” time has a big impact on your motivation to do things and general outlook. When you look at your extracurriculars as resume builders, your classes as a means to an end and your job as a chore, you simply won’t be able to enjoy what you’re doing. Personally, I had to sit and think about why I invested time in certain areas. My job was bringing me genuine joy and new friends. This club was bringing me fulfillment and empowerment. My classes were teaching me about the world we live in, and opening doors to the future I want to build. Now, I can more clearly see exactly what purpose each activity in my life serves and I’m me more committed to making a busy schedule work. Free time isn’t the time when you’re not doing anything, it’s the time you spend doing things that allow you to be your authentic self and give you personal fulfillment.

Yet, all this needs to come with the disclaimer that people have different energy levels, different personal responsibilities and different internal perspectives that directly contribute to how much time and energy they can spend in an outward manner, and the time they need for themselves. Everyone is different, others choose to pursue different spaces or need and deserve to take more time to just chill. I just happen to have the right combination of circumstances and an extremely extroverted personality to allow me to grow into this new balance, but that doesn’t invalidate the needs and goals of someone else who chooses to outline their time differently.

In the past, I might have taken a step back from one of the roles I fill, or simply felt overwhelmed. Instead, I’ve chosen to dive into each aspect of my life. It’s become a hard, imperfect balance of being all there when I’m in one thing, but allowing my mind to switch gears and fully commit to the next thing on my agenda. However, I’ve found a lot of freedom in being whoever I am or need to be in one situation, and adapting to another as the day moves. It’s taught me a lot about how versatile anyone can be. I feel like in the past I had limited myself, unintentionally, by seeing my role in certain groups or places as one dimensional. I’ve since learned you can find a space in your life for all the different facets of your personality, and doing so will bring you personal growth you never knew you were missing. Being intentional and purposeful with your time is the biggest favor you can do at any stage in your life; it reminds you that life is meant to be enjoyed on a daily basis, not spent just waiting for the next moment of “free time” to arrive.