The Savannah Thorpe Brand™ is characterized by great engagement, a very noticeable (read: loud) presence at events, an eagerness to be involved and to contribute, and high levels of general gassed-up-ness. I love being in the tight-knit (read: tiny but mighty) community that is the City of Lancaster, and it’s important to me that amid all the political unrest, I’m doing my part to keep my friends and neighbors feeling safe and represented.
I was a very good and very obedient child. The oldest of five, I appreciated rules and worked hard to stay within them. I trusted from a young age that our parents set the rules for us with the best intentions for us, and I liked the positive externalities of being obedient. When I asked for permission to go to events or stay up late to watch a show, my behavior made it easy for my parents to say yes.
And so, when signed up to take lessons or to volunteer or to take care of something, I always did — and man alive, were we signed up for a lot. My mom schooled me and my siblings at home via cyber school for nearly 10 years, which gave us the flexibility to do all the volunteering. We weekly delivered Meals on Wheels to homebound elders. We picked up trash along our roads. Never did our Church host an event that we didn’t help to plan, prepare, and/or clean up after. Every year on election day, we handed out pamphlets at the polling station. We took every genre of lessons imaginable, from tennis to piano to swimming to writing, and we spent so much time at library events that the librarians knew not only our names, but our frikin birthdays.
Even after I started attending school outside the house, I believed in following the rules and guidelines as they’d been either explicitly dictated to me or implied to me by what was considered “normal” in our household. In high school, I signed up for every club, played sports, participated in productions, and wrote for the school paper, all in addition to onerous course loads. In college, I held down a tutoring in addition to my two majors, and I participated in a poetry club, a fencing club, and a Black student newspaper. Involvement has always been the name of the game for yours truly.
Now I’m an adult, with total autonomy over where and how I spend my time — and spend it do I ever. I pour volunteering events and classes into every crevice of spare time I can detect. In the two hours between my day job and my night job, I’m getting certifications, attending meetings, practicing comedy, and still eating and sleeping and what not. Whereas some people lack the financial or physical ability to participate beyond a social media like, I’m young and (mostly) financially stable, so to me, it would be miserly of me to withhold my energy from the people and places who need it dearly.
But god bless my planner and my friends who work in tandem to hold me together, it’s a lot. And the work is often thankless, long, and an enervating black hole. I wake up tired all the time. Events like the death of Edward Crawford bring me to tears. I see my friends in 100% leisurely fashions — not a meeting-where-my-friends-are sort of a thing — pitifully infrequently. And as An Adult™, there’s no one there to stop me from signing up from another thing or make me sit down and take stock of where all my time goes when I’m not looking.
So, in hindsight, I’m deeply grateful that my mom taught me and my siblings the importance of giving back and being an active participant in a community. We were always eager to lend a hand when we could, and to this day, all my siblings practice helping those in need when an opportunity pops up.
But, we did much less practiced, scheduled relaxation, and I can say with confidence that my sisters especially are terrible at relaxing. We’re all programmed to be involved and to wedge in commitments any way they’ll fit. We feel guilty to the point of a minor depression when we miss an event or chance to help out, even when we’re exhausted and would exchange US dollars for a full, restful night of sleep. Every parent who over-schedules their trusting child for fear of producing an adult who is “not well rounded” needs to balance healthy socialization and activity with times reserved for staying home and doing puzzles or playing with play dough.
As one of the Burned Out Millennials I’m sick of reading think pieces about, I just ask that we take all the self-care we praise on the internet and apply it to our kids. Socially conscious kids are fantastic and a blessing, but kids who become adults with a sense of balance and fearless of FOMO are the ones who are gonna make it out the most mentally stable of us all.