You don’t have to try so hard

Last fall, while most students from my high school senior class were packing to move into their dorms, I was working to achieve an authentic life I have always wanted to lead.

At some point in our lives, we all probably wonder what it means to live a good and authentic life. Before I could move further in my journey I had to determine what an authentic life meant to me.

The meaning of authenticity can change depending on its context. To me, authenticity means living for myself first before focusing on others.

During my last two years of high school, I went through difficult experiences that led me to take a much-needed break before I embarked on my next academic and spiritual journey.

I was terrified of what people were going to think of me and my decision to take time off.

I didn’t want to be one of those people who intend to only take time off but end up never going back.

At first, I felt ashamed of my decision because everyone else was doing the opposite. When I saw my former classmates’ Facebook posts about their new collegiate experiences, I felt like I made the wrong decision.

This thought changed over time. As I got further away from five-pound textbooks and structured schedules, I began to accept my decision.

Most of my life had been spent in school. It was a completely new experience not having to wake up and go to school every day.

This break is the only time I remember not having some sort of homework or project to do. It was such a freeing experience for me.

I needed to have time away from the academic environment to start cultivating my own path in life.

None of us will be in school forever so we have to figure out where we fit in the world outside of crowded hallways and class periods.

The main reason I took time off was to nourish my tired soul. I didn’t have anything left to give at that point in my life. I had to prioritize my mental and physical health because without my body and mind, I have nothing.

I learned a few valuable lessons during my break from school.

First, it’s possible to binge watch a great deal of Netflix when there is nothing else to do. Most importantly, however, I learned that it is okay to do what is right for myself regardless of what others want me to do.

What I want you to know is that you don’t have to let other’s expectations dictate your life and what you do with it. I felt like I had lost my voice, but I found it during the time I took for myself.

It is vital to listen to your body and mind. If your body is telling you that you need to take a break, it will be okay. We aren’t able to go without stopping for nourishment, both physically and mentally, every once in awhile.

The world is a tough place. I still don’t know exactly where my life is going. I have a suspicion that no one does completely.

It is important to remember that you don’t need to know where you’ll end up. You just need to seek the life that you want, and prioritize yourself.