Kevin Styba-Nelson is a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School.

Taking out the trash (not literally)

Kevin Styba-Nelson is a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School in Penticton

What did you have for breakfast last week?

If you’re anything like me, the short answer is something unhealthy. Beyond a general statement like that, most of us would find that question as difficult to answer as who was the second prime minister? We don’t know what we ate, and we don’t know who Alexander Mackenzie was. While not having the foggiest clue of what we ate a few days ago may spin some of us into an anxious panic about our memory, I’m here to explain why you forgetting your shopping list may be a truly great thing.

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Follow up question, has your brain ever felt overworked? When it seems like a million things are going on and it feels like you’re trying to stuff too many things into a bag at once. Even if they should all fit, they can’t at the same time. Or, maybe you’re tired, worried, stressed and that’s making the opening in your bag even smaller and even harder to get things into. We try to put things in their place and hold onto them, but then sometimes the harder we try the less we seem to keep. I see this far too often with people my age. Imagine you haven’t slept well in a few weeks, you’re worried about that project you need to do tonight and you just got a Snapchat from Josh saying he doesn’t feel the same way about you. Now try to remember these biology notes. The point is your mind is delicate. It can only handle so much at one time, and sometimes even less than that.

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It’s important to rest and only do as much as you can, but there’s another side to this bag analogy. And that is mental baggage. If your mind is your bag, there is probably some great things in there. But as with every bag ever owned by any person ever, there is probably some garbage and crap in there too. It might be that song you hate looping over and over in your head or that memory of the time instead of pulling on the door you walked straight into it, and every time you think about it you feel everyone thinks you’re an idiot. Regardless, it’s all the same stuff. Pointless crap that serves no purpose and just annoys you like that pile of old recipes at the bottom of your bag.

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Now it can be quite difficult to clean out mental baggage like this. After all, if it was easy, no one would still be holding onto it. One of the greatest ways to forget about it is to think about it like it’s throwing out that old garbage. Stuff that you never need and you never really wanted. The other best thing you can do is to know your mind does this on its own. It’s the reason you don’t remember what you ate last week because your mind sweeps it away so it won’t just get in the way. There is a very complex and beautiful system there, and it’s the reason that when it’s overloaded it just shuts down.

Just like our purses, backpacks and coat pockets, our minds all have some annoying crap at the bottom. Things we would all like to get rid of, and sometimes all we need to finally do this is to know it’s the right thing. Putting a bit of conscious effort into a system our brains already do for us is sometimes all it takes. And while forgetting your shopping list may be an unintended consequence of it, not fearing push doors is what we stand to gain. So if you can, try to throw it out, let it go and forget about it.

Kevin Styba-Nelson is a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School and a regular contributor to the Penticton Western News.

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