Too often in the fast-paced and competitive culture that encapsulates Northern Virginia, we as teenagers and students feel the pressure to be on top of everything in our lives all the time. Many of us have to juggle clubs, sports, volunteering, and stay on top of all our schoolwork. This coupled with the environment we live in it often feels like every box should be checked and we forget about our own mental health. Over the last two years, I’ve really struggled to balance all of these different priorities but I’ve also learned that it’s okay to be overwhelmed and to slow down once in a while.
I can remember last year my plate was quickly overflowing with a multitude of tasks ranging from my DECA presentation, track and field meets, and of course my workload from school. As I was trying to keep up with these ever-expanding demands I began to feel like my mind was in a constant battle against itself. I yearned for a moment of peace and tranquility but I also felt the pressure to be the best in whatever I set out to do. During my junior year, I strictly chose the latter and I was able to accomplish many of the goals, but I’m not sure it was worth it. I took a step back and saw that it was no use being spread so thin that I couldn’t enjoy life and at the same time not being able to put my best foot forward in any of the activities I was participating in. After the school year abruptly came to a halt because of COVID-19 I suddenly found myself with more time than I ever had in the past couple of years. I found myself focusing on self-reflection and realized I needed to stop worrying about every little thing going on in my life and start to focus on each one individually, tackling life piece by piece.
This year, despite the craziness going on in the world I started to put less pressure on myself to check off a never-ending list of to-dos and saw my life change for the better. Instead of trying to do each and everything I saw in my path, I focused on what I thought I could do while still leaving me with time to spend on myself and with family. Despite not stressing over every single school assignment so much I’ve still maintained high marks and I think it’s because overall I’m a more positive person and have become more motivated when it is time to work. Instead of burning myself out, I leave time to recharge and allow myself to escape the tornado of competition that is Northern Virginia.
So, I urge you all to do the same and step back to evaluate areas in your life that are draining and take some of the pressure off of your shoulders. It’s okay not to be on top of everything all the time. Take your time with things and you’ll end up creating a better product in the end rather than rushing to finish each and everything on your plate at once. Right now is the best time to build these habits because with COVID-19 a lot of us have so much more time on our hands so I encourage anyone reading this to take a break from the college apps, the English papers, and whatever else is on your checklist and enjoy life.