On the first day of school, my AP European History professor, standing before us in his Star Wars collectible-filled classroom and running a hand over his spiked, frosted hair, told us to cut everything that did not have value. He called this a key to success before rambling about life for forty-five minutes in a ceaseless drone.
As the school year progressed and the pressure built, value took on a lot of different meanings for me. What is valuable on the page, what do I value in my heart, what will be valuable when kingdom comes: all of these were questions I had because I wanted to do as he said but I didn’t even know where to start. It felt kind of like I was shoved onto a moving swing and had to keep going higher and higher but my legs were made of lead. It was hard to start.
I valued the educational journey, all these responsibilities, but it was a lot. I was sort of drowning. There was the pressure of his class, there was the pressure of AP Chemistry (I had never taken any intro course except for a brief introductory class over the summer that didn’t really help to give me background knowledge), there was the pressure of seven extracurricular activities, and there was pressure to follow the college track–overall, enough pressure to form either a diamond or a crack.
I was cracking.
Apparently—I did not realize at the time—I was snapping at those around me whenever troubled to do anything other than work. I was well when I was working, but the moment I stopped, my wear showed in my words and actions. I couldn’t go to a party and not feel ridiculously guilty in the meantime.I was a workaholic at best. I’ve always been this way. I hate procrastinating and I love being challenged. I wanted to eventually become the diamond, and I valued the journey there. I like finding out what my limits are. But this time, it was killing me, and I could not feel the coffin being nailed shut.
Daily confrontations with my family were definitely a thing. It became so much of a problem that one day, after we were all already tired as hell, both because of life and because of this tension, we broke. There was yelling, there were tears, there were threats to take away everything that pressured me, everything I valued. I promised to do better, to fix this issue that I could not even see. I felt that I had been set up for failure.
I was right; the confrontations continued. These explosive days were The Actual Worst and made me want to tune out, run away, abandon it all for a few seconds.
In hindsight, I should have seen the irony of this. They’d been trying to tell me to stop occasionally, take time for myself, have a moment, and here I was fighting not to because I felt pressured, and yet all I wanted to do was escape from it all as I fought. This did eventually click, after many tears.
The workload has not lessened over the course of this year. It now has picked up and life is in full swing. My AP European history teacher still rambles while we annotate what is of value to us. Value looks different through every eye, but the eye’s beholder should be valuable too, for without the beholder to decipher the scene then what use is the eye? What I mean is: you’re valuable too.
After those bickerings with my family, I looked at what I held dear. I was putting testing myself and pushing myself above treating myself. Without ever treating yourself, you can’t appreciate all the amazing things that you are. It took a slap in the face (or many) for me to put myself as a priority again. I was in a downward spiral, and I hope no one ever has to experience what I did. Remember that you are the most important part of your life, and don’t ever let yourself forget that.