Ispent the first year of my life in the forgettable state of South Dakota, a place people know for a few things: farming, Mount Rushmore, Native-American history and snow. South Dakota is, in all meanings of the word, simple, or, as my mother sometimes puts it, boring. It’s a wide, mostly-flat expanse of land whose main purpose is to cultivate crops and cattle, save the occasional landmark like the Black Hills or Badlands National Park.
I don’t remember much of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the city where I was born, but with every snowfall that blankets the landscape of Columbia, I think back to my birthplace. A few years have passed since I last visited my family who are still there, but in the winter they send pictures of when the massive snow drifts pile up around their property.
When the wintry weather reminds me of South Dakota, I become homesick for it. I barely knew what living there was like, yet I find myself yearning to go back. A feeling of longing comes over me, wishing for the simplicity my relatives who are still there find.
In today’s world of Instagram models and millionaire musicians, many find simplicity boring. A lot of people in our generation opt for superfluity, frivolity and always want more to post on social media. We are in a world full of celebrities showing off their Gucci and Balenciaga, posting pictures of gold chains draped around their necks and with rings on each finger. I, however, find a certain charm and source of warmth in living simply.
While I resent neither the life I live nor the place I live in, sometimes my busy schedule becomes too much. I wake, go to swim practice, rush home, shower, go to school, rush to my second swim practice of the day, rush home, shower, eat dinner and do homework. I repeat this process five times a week for 39 weeks of the year. Everything in my day has moving parts, conditions I must pay attention to, contingencies I have to prepare for. Add to this busyness the typical teenage struggles of identity and social life, and I think it’s easy to see how I could run out of steam from time to time.
Had I stayed in South Dakota, I think my life would have been radically different. I would wake, go to school, come home, help my aunt and uncle with farm work and go to bed. In other words, my life would be far less erratic than it is currently. While I would not trade my friends, swimming or academics that I currently enjoy, sometimes I wish I weren’t so busy.
While the madness of my life certainly keeps me busy, I believe the monotony of a simpler life allows me to focus on aspects of my life that are more significant, like family and learning how to make a living. My aunts, uncles and who are still up there have an incredibly strong bond with one another and are some of the hardest working people I know. Meanwhile, I run around like a madman from activity to activity, seeing my parents only over dinner and in the mornings.
Although I love the life I live, something about the simplicity of the life I left will always call to me when I’m overwhelmed by all I must do in a day. The common misconception of “simple is equivalent to boring” has been lost on me since childhood. In my mind, simple is honest, modest and determined. While high school is bound to be chaotic, when I live on my own, I will do my best to live simply. I will enjoy the little pleasures of daily life, like my morning coffee or reading a book in the afternoon. For now, however, I will have to deal with constantly being on the run.
Would you rather live simply, or do you enjoy having a busy life? Let us know in the comments below.