525,600 Minutes

By Rebecca Mitchell
Distinguished Young Woman of Maryland for 2011

Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. I’m sure almost all of you have heard that famous song, “Seasons of Love,” from the musical Rent. If you have, I apologize if me mentioning it has now stuck it in your head and you can’t get it out! That happens to me all the time—the best thing I find to do is just belt it out at the top of your lungs, and get it stuck in everyone else’s head. Just pass on the love! For those of you who haven’t heard the song (along with those of you who don’t quite remember the words), let’s look at the lyrics:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
How do you measure, measure a year?
I’ve heard these lyrics a countless number of times (mostly a version by myself sung in the shower), but I’ve never, until recently, really reflected what these words meant. I mean, think about it—we only have five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes in a year. That seems like a lot, until you realize what your life schedule is really like. Unless you spend every single night staying up late “doing homework” *coughcoughCHECKINGFACEBOOKcoughcough*, you’re probably using up over a quarter of those minutes sleeping. Then factor in all the other crazy scheduled activities everyone has these days—sports, extracurriculars, school, eating, hanging with friends, and everything else in which you may be involved. Your minutes available to you are numbered, and it feels like there just aren’t enough hours (or minutes) in a day.

So this is where the problem comes in: how can you make the most of those minutes?
First of all, try this one: TURN THE TV OFF. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you just turn that magic box of entertainment off. I will admit that I am a “telestudier”—I almost always keep the TV on while I study. I always like having some background noise behind me while I study—it keeps the awkward silence between you and your roommate at a minimum, and it also prevents me from hearing small noises that could be mistaken for the Boogie Man. However, I finally realized that the moms on “Dance Moms,” the brides on “Say Yes to the Dress,” and Bear Grylls from “Man Vs. Wild” are not going to pop out of the TV and help me with my homework or cleaning my room or anything else I would be doing that was productive. Try going through a day without any TV. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually get done.

After getting that major distraction out of the way, try getting the other distractions out of the way. Yes, you can live one day without Facebook and your computer, unless it’s homework (or if you’re reading this blog!). Try cutting out any internet activity that is not homework for just one day, and see how many hours you can save. I mean, let’s be honest—what do you really gain from going through people’s entire collection of Facebook photo albums? Facebook stalking eats up time FAST. Trust me, I know how enjoyable it is at the time, but looking back on it, does it really matter if you’re the first one to know that Krissy and Jake are now dating?? Go one day without it and see what I mean. Video games, texting, and anything else of that kind will eat up time that can be precious to your day. Just think about it throughout your day—reflect on how much time you spend doing any of these activities. I think you’ll be amazed.

Now we come down to really utilizing the minutes of your day.

First of all, realize that you were given each minute for a reason. Each day, each breath, every moment, is a blessing. Everything in life happens for a reason, and in that, LIFE happens for a reason. If you are breathing right now, there is a purpose for you right now. I can guarantee you that your purpose in life is not to just sit like a bum in front of the television all day, doing nothing. In your free time, utilize it well by completing homework, practicing, eating, cleaning, and other necessary things first, then use the remainder of the time to truly live life to the fullest. You were made for a purpose, but you were also given life as a gift. Seize opportunities that lay ahead of you, because you never know what will happen in your life. Enjoy time with friends and family. Build relationships. Do what you love to do. Help out your community. Do what you were made to do.

Don’t dwell on the past. What’s done is done, and you can’t go back and change that. If you dwell on the negatives of the past, you will never be able to find a positive in the future. I found a photo one time that said “You can’t reach for tomorrow’s treasure if your hands are full of yesterday’s junk.” Yesterday is history, and it’s never coming back. Let it be. Find hope and joy in the present and the future, because that is what is going to determine how you live the rest of your life.

Most of all, live life with a positive attitude. Negative thinking limits your perspective, success, and relationships. If you go through your day trying to see the glass “half-full” instead of “half-empty,” a world of opportunities is opened to you. You stop constraining yourself into your own small world of self-pity, and start seeing the world for what it really is—huge, magnificent, and full of amazing options. Having this kind of view not only affects you, but others, as well. It’s amazing how much one positive attitude can snowball through a community. One smile, one greeting, and one moment of making a positive comment rather than a negative one, all give someone a reason to believe that there is something great in this world. If you see it, they’ll see it, too. I hope I don’t sound like a pyro-maniac when I say that I enjoyed playing with matches as a kid (with parental supervision, of course!! Well, mostly…). But by watching the match light up, I learned that it just takes one spark to start a fire. Will you set that fire in your community by being the positive attitude that people are drawn to? Try going through a day without complaining—a whole day just focusing and voicing the positives of a situation. It is amazing what a difference just that small adjustment can make.

If you’ve gotten nothing else from this blog entry, remember this: life is a gift, and your days are not guaranteed. You must make the most of every second that you have, whether you’re in an organized activity or not. Every thought and every action matter. You have the power to do amazing things in the lives of other people in everything you do. Be the person that makes a difference, just by being you—by setting an example and living for others. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t waste your life away. Again, you are here for a reason. Don’t waste that. You have been given this day for a purpose, and that purpose is not to sit around inside watching an electronic screen. It’s time to get up and make a difference in the world! Carpe diem! Seize the day! Be the impact in a world that needs a glimpse of hope! Ultimately, I can ramble on as much as I want, but now the question comes to you: how will you measure a day in your life?

 

Rebecca Mitchell is a college freshman at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama majoring in Elementary Education. Originally from Ijamsville, Maryland, Rebecca was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Maryland for 2011. Learn more about Rebecca here!

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