Time to chill


[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The 2:30 that read from my phone screen seared into my eyeballs.

“I don’t know how she does it,” I thought to myself in a state of delirium, momentarily lapsing from a first to third person perspective of my own life. “I’ll have to watch that movie sometime.”

I stood motionless in my bedroom for a moment, stirring up the motivation to complete my last task of the night: a simple stretch routine, spurred by my deep desire to not only do well in school, but dance too. And everything in general. I was really tired, but I did it, feeding off the inertia of determination I had going from my freshly completed homework assignments. This, the nightly stretching, was part of my plan of achievement, and going to bed without working on that, without working on my future, was not an option. Somewhere in the midst of my junior year, all my aspirations and the work I did for said aspirations collided, and the explosion it made left me shell shocked.

By the second semester my work ethic was going strong, but I was not. I began feeling burned out just when things were starting to get hard. I’d sit down to begin my homework as soon as I got home from school when all I wanted to do was take a nap, but I didn’t think about it too hard and pressed on, having to reboot my efforts to accomplish papers and math problems late into the night.

Blinking would burn my eyes. I’d shake my head and try to focus, attempting to untangle the exhaustion from my head like it was caught in my hair. My eyes blurred every word I read, rejecting the task before them. I found myself entangled in a cycle of fatigue, each morning began bleary eyed and with an intense desire to return home to my bed.

The pressure I felt to excel bubbled just below boiling point, and any random inconvenience, no matter how minor, could set off a ridiculously excessive reaction. And while there were many voices that led me to believe the choices and work I made or accomplished in high school would affect the rest of my life, many of that pressure was self-imposed. I struggled with the benefits and consequences of everything I did, every homework assignment and project was pedestaled above my own health and happiness. The exchange of powers between the choices I made for my current comfort, and the benefits I wanted to reap in the future were unbalanced and disproportionately labeled.

What I failed to realize was by taking every class and goal so seriously, I was only sabotaging myself. Had I relaxed a little, I suspect the work would have come easier, the alleviation of pressure would have left more room for creative projects and rest time which, in turn, would have correlated to a more productive school day.

When the end of the year finally came and it was all over, I didn’t feel the relief I thought I would. I mostly felt ticked off, a little confused and angry that I had spent so much of my time in a perpetually stressed state, and for what?

The general message being broadcast to students is that hard work pays off, and no one’s arguing that, but that statement isn’t applicable to every situation, and the deceptively easy “Work hard” motto can become skewed into any number of interpretations.

Academic success is very important, and people should apply themselves, but when dark circles become a badge of honor, something has to change.

There’s no reason to be complacent within an intensely uncomfortable lifestyle. There might be phases in your life that are easier than others, and that’s OK to acknowledge, but there are going to be bad days in a good week, or bad seconds in a good hour. If the message for students is to keep our heads down and muscle through until the day we get our payoff, we become conditioned to a mentality that lives for the future. I’m concerned that the “payoff” is a mere concept, in sight until you one day realize it’s in front of you, and your hands slip through it like a projection.

It’s important to keep your ambitions and work toward your goals, but I think it’s important to find a way to do that while still leaving time to feel not miserable, right now, at this very moment. Because this moment is the only thing that’s real.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]