I enjoyed my spring break last week. Chapel Hill has jumped headfirst into warm weather, and nearly every living thing is growing something green. During break, however, I was blessed to return to my hometown in the mountains, where spring still hides in the shadows of chilly winds and frost-coated windows each morning.

I found myself outside constantly this past week. Nearly every day I hiked around waterfalls and lakes, followed by some extra miles in my neighborhood. I’d be gone for hours, simply soaking in nature and its tranquility.

I realized that quiet environments can feel empty when we are used to cramming our lives with endless activities. For me, life is a seesaw between studying, classes, involvements and projects required to stay afloat in a semester. And if we’re not careful, the routine of functioning on 110% all day becomes a haven, where busyness is an excuse for working without appropriate breaks. Multitasking can become a normal functioning habit, a crammed calendar the usual.

Work is perfectly fine when we know not to identify our worth in it. That’s tricky because we worship what we think about or focus on. When we take refuge in work or accomplishments to validate ourselves or form excuses, it gives our opinion too much credit. I didn’t realize how often I distract myself with a crammed schedule until I took a break, where suddenly deadlines, the internet, and textbooks no longer existed.

It became me, my closest family, and nature.

And suddenly, not thinking about ten million things at once took conscious, repetitive effort. Obviously striking a balance when situations and expectations change is no easy ordeal.

When I returned to campus, I wondered if it’s possible to remain peaceful in a hectic world. Some might call this question idealistic, but our mentality is the key to success. What will you worship today? What will you choose to mentally value? Time, people, energy? Whatever it is eventually attaches itself to our identity. We won’t be remembered for the works we accomplish in life, so we can’t find our purpose in that alone. Instead, we can focus on the end result, the impact. Our hope must be founded in whose we are, not what we do. Our motivation is deeper than completed tasks and rests our approval beyond our own ability.

During a season of work, check your motivations and don’t let your accomplishments define your existence.

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