When I was close to the end of high school, I had little to no difficulty picking which quote I wanted below my senior photo in the yearbook.
"The only time I set the bar low is for limbo." - Michael Scott
While it did pay homage to my almost unhealthy addiction to "The Office," it referenced something even more prevalent in my life– the drive that I have to push and motivate myself to succeed.
I've always set the (metaphorical) bar pretty high for myself, even when I was learning the alphabet and playing club soccer. I made it my personal goal to exceed even my own expectations. Inside and outside of school, I put all of my efforts into everything I did and developed an intense work ethic.
As I got older and the things I did became even more important, that self-motivation just intensified. While I did go to a middle school and high school that gave me lots of work, I made it even more stressful for myself by expecting perfection.
Every assignment, no matter how small, had to be up to my incredibly high standards. And it wasn't like my parents, friends, or anyone else was pushing me. It all came from me.
This work ethic was arguably a great thing because I always stayed on top of my academics and got involved in a bunch of extracurriculars. Actually, I owe many of the things I've achieved in my life so far to my determination and care to detail.
But, every grade below an 80 that I got on was a huge letdown and any homework I somehow forgot to do was the biggest embarrassment. It was an unhealthy cycle, and I was perpetuating it. My mental health certainly suffered for it, but I was not about to let it defeat me.
Now that I'm almost done with my first year of college, I can definitely see how far I've come in trying to find the balance between working hard and giving myself a little bit of a break. While I still am super diligent in my schoolwork and make sure I'm always prepared, I've become better at knowing when I'm stressing myself out too much.
Just like in high school, I am still intensely involved on campus, but I have really worked on managing my time and not overexerting myself. In my opinion, I think it's better to find a few things that you enjoy and just stick to those instead of being a part of 100 different activities just for the sake of being signed up.
I firmly believe that life should always be about finding that balance. While it's totally great to want to push yourself to succeed, there comes a time when that push is too rough. So for the next three years of my college experience and beyond, I'm going to incorporate a new quote into my mantra:
"Work hard, play hard."