By: Brie Sandridge

What’s the most important word in the english language? Ask different people and you will get all sorts of answers. Happiness. Love. Ambition. Faith. Ask me, and I will tell you that it is balance. This is something that my dad has always encouraged me to think about, and it seems to apply in every aspect of my life.

Balance? That’s…well…kind of boring, you might be thinking. 

Well, I’m here to make my case. 

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? People across all different ages and cultural backgrounds use the January 1st mark as their “fresh start,” their “clean slate,” their “new year, new me.” Well, the question I should be asking is: who is still abiding by their New Year’s resolution? Though it is not even February, I bet that more than half of the resolutions have already been given up on. Now, maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I am simply speaking from my own experience. 

The reason that many goals and resolutions are lost so quickly is that they are not realistic. People say, “I’m not going to eat sweets for the entire year,” or “I’m going to give up all social media,” or “I’m going to go to the gym at least 5 times a week.” Now, I’m not saying that these are bad goals nor am I saying they are impossible. I actually love the idea of New Year’s resolutions; the hopes and goals of bettering oneself are something I absolutely encourage. 

I think setting balanced ambitions is the key to making them last longer. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “everything in moderation?” Well, that doesn’t have to do with just cheesecake…it can apply to nearly everything you do.

Take, for instance, the social media example that I mentioned earlier: “I’m going to quit social media.” Now, this might be easy for some people like my parents who get on Facebook once a week — they are not the ones who need to limit their social media time. The people who need to are probably teenagers and young adults. Social media has become such a seemingly crucial (and addictive) way to connect in our generation. I undoubtedly spend more time on social media than I should. For many, it’s hard to sit in class or go to the library to study for an hour without whipping out their phones to see what’s happening on Instagram. There is rarely a family dinner that goes without the teenage daughter checking Facebook beneath the table. 

But do I think social media is bad? Absolutely not. I think it is a wonderful thing that can be used to enhance our relationships with others, especially the long distance ones. Social media allows us to share thoughts and photos with anyone, anywhere in the world. 

I do believe, though, that most people overuse social media, myself included. And I can understand why many peoples’ New Year’s resolutions are to log off of social media altogether. 

But this probably is not going to be a sustainable goal for several reasons. Social media is important for more reasons than just looking at cute videos of puppies or browsing to see what your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend is doing (we are all guilty). It is an information avenue. Half of the news articles I read are brought to my attention through social media outlets. Social media is also a way to communicate with others who have no other means to communicate (i.e. friends studying abroad, friends on crazy international travels, friends from other countries).

Giving up countless minutes and hours of mindless roaming through your newsfeed — that is a great idea. So, instead of cutting cold turkey, maybe check into the social media world once in the morning and once before you go to bed. Use those small blips of time to catch up on the latest news in the presidential debates, answer that direct message your great uncle sent you, and maybe watch a Buzzfeed video on how to make garlic stuffed cheesy bread. 

Remember: if you totally shut out the world, you may have no idea that there is toxic water in Michigan or that yesterday was your childhood best friend’s birthday. 

Life is not about giving up things that make us happy, the things that make us human. Life is about balance. It’s about enjoying what we like, engaging with it in a healthy manner — doing it in moderation. Have that scoop of ice cream, but also be sure to eat something green. Go to yoga class, then enjoy dinner and drinks with your friends. 

Through moderation, we can all set more achievable and sustainable goals. We can continue bettering ourselves each day and each year.