There are 1,440 minutes in a day. We often hear how carving out just a few to exercise or perform some type of self-care benefits us more than we’d expect. While we sometimes don’t bother with such, that idea of setting aside a mere five or ten minutes appeals to many of us, as it makes those tasks more doable.
When it comes to other people, however, we’re prone to say, “I don’t have the time for him/her.” Granted, some people don’t let you get away in a brief span…and with others, even a few moments can seem like an eternity! That said, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact we can have on others in just a short period.
I learned this first-hand over the course of several years. Like My Story shares, a group in my high school—particularly among the football team—gave me special support throughout my teen years. They took time out from their practices and comradery to cheer me on for my weekly hundred-meter “dashes,” which usually took me a sloth’s pace of around two minutes. Some visited with me for a few more minutes beforehand and afterward, amounting to five minutes or so. Still, those five minutes strengthened me as much as the physical exercise those walks offered.
Beyond that, a select few spared a short spell every day before and after school to catch up with me and include me in their circle. We never discussed anything monumental, nor did they spend a great deal of time rooting me on about my endeavors. Rather, they chatted about common subjects in a way that dignified me and made me feel “normal”.
I didn’t take those visits for granted and knew I wouldn’t always have them, even up to my graduation. I was younger than them, so the last of them graduated two years before me. When that time came, I didn’t look forward to returning to school without the prospect of starting my day on that note, but I figured I’d manage all right. I was sixteen, an upperclassman, and I had a good reputation among teachers and my fellow students. Besides, it was just five minutes, right?
Well, the lack of that five minutes rattled me a lot more than I anticipated. I was in the same building, among the same people I’d known for most of my life, but everything seemed different. I didn’t even think about my friend’s absence a great deal, but my self-confidence sank lower than it’s ever been. I became painfully aware of my disability and speech impediment, which even led me to drop a class for the only time in my academic career.
After I realized what lay behind my despair, my appreciation for those five minutes deepened still. Along with that, it impressed on me how I could impact others in the same way. Because of my limitations, I’ve doubted my ability to lend a hand, considering the only one I can use isn’t worth much! However, this experience taught me that a listening ear, compassionate words, and just a slice of time can mean more than anything to somebody.
While all of us benefit from this, I can’t overstate how much the youth need such attention. Recent studies have shown that young people are struggling with mental health now more than ever. The suicide rate is high, and as reported by “The Hill,” twenty percent of young girls and ten percent of boys suffer a clinical episode of major depression before they turn twenty-five. Though these disorders are often caused by biological factors, extending attentive care can certainly boost someone’s spirits and provide the strength to go on.
During those 1,440 minutes we have in a day, we can both accomplish much and waste much. I think we can all agree we do a little of both every day. We might tend to consider the moments we “waste” on ourselves to be more valuable than those we feel we waste on others, but we need to fight that mentality. What we deem just a short branch we’re extending to somebody may well be the life preserver that’s keeping him/her afloat.
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