It's OK To Take A Break From What You're 'Supposed' To Be Doing

It's OK To Take A Break From What You're 'Supposed' To Be Doing

If you're looking for a sign, this is it.

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"My child is an honor student at __________ Middle School." Sound familiar? Ah, yes, the infamous bumper sticker of a proud parent to a young prodigy. All A's, all the time. BIG things in store. The future is bright for this one! But no pressure, right?

Wrong.

High school. Hormonal teenagers swarming the halls, racing with 50-pound backpacks to beat the tardy bell. It's terrifying even thinking about it. Every moment is meant to prepare you for that final walk across the stage, the few strides that mark your transition from childhood to independence. Finish that written supplement. Study for your SAT and ACT. Apply for financial aid. Interviews are helpful too! Speak to some alumni/alumnus. Don't forget to mention you joined 11 clubs and started 3. Be sure to volunteer, too, because colleges LOVE that. But, oh! It's important to enjoy yourself; these are the best years of your life!

But no pressure, seriously.

While I was navigating through high school, I was given tip after tip on how to be successful. I was told that if I studied hard and a million other things, I'd do great. Don't get me wrong, I'm more than grateful for every pointer I could get. But in complete honesty, when I came to college, I was hit with the brutal truth. I found out the hard way, but I'll spare you the details and get on with the good stuff.

Abigail Brandt: ASB. Robotics. Musical. Honor Roll. DECA. Softball. Soccer. Service trips. Athlete. Scholar. I was Abbey Brandt and I had it all together (or so I thought). And after weeks of slaving over applications, I made my decision: I was going to UCLA. I was praised by teachers, counselors, faculty, family, friends; everyone was so proud to see the fruits of my labor and couldn't wait to witness my bright future unfold. Boy, were we all in for a treat.

I wanted to get away from my baggage. I wanted to leave my 18 years behind me and move forward into adulthood with a clean slate, meet new people, make new memories, and tell new stories, at an amazing school, all while preparing to be the world's greatest pediatric oncologist.

I quickly found out what I wasn't warned of before. They tell you college is hard. They tell you all about the huge lectures, the professors who will never know your name, and the wonderfully sanitary communal bathrooms. You spend your life preparing for "the finish line" when, in fact, it is only one of many mile markers in the ever-changing marathon of life. I got homesick. I got sick. I struggled to find a friend group. I faced academic challenges greater than any before.

I struggled. And I thought my only choice was to move forward and walk it off.

That is the greatest misconception about college. About adulthood. About any worldly responsibility. Pause. Breathe. When was the last time you took a break? Not scheduled, not timed, no expiration date to follow. Think about your major, your job, or whatever is haunting you from your long-overdue to-do list. Are you excited to learn about microbiology, or do you complete those assignments because your parents think you should be a surgeon? Does that internship intrigue you, or does it just look good on a resume? Do you look forward to your commute, eager to start a new day in the office? If not, make a change.

Take a step back and find what makes you grow.

I go to the #1 public school in the nation (take that, Cal, go brus). According to my SAT report, I was "prepared to exceed" in college. Turns out I didn't have "it," or really anything, all together. But there's nothing wrong with that. I took a break. I mean, yeah, it was terrifying. Something had to be really wrong with me. Why couldn't I handle the life that everyone around me seemed to be handling just fine? Turns out, things had to fall apart to come together. Fighting my fears and insecurities, I withdrew from classes and went home. I focused on myself - something I have neglected to do for as long as I can remember. I took the time to ask and answer honest questions: do I like helping people? Yes. Do I want to dedicate the rest of my life to science? Not really; chemistry sucks. Yeah, being a doctor would be cool. But why pursue a career that isn't right for me? Definitely not to be cool. Are there other paths I could take to help people? Absolutely. Am I happy? No. Well, how can I change that? Start by helping myself.

I decided to take control of my own life.

That's right, you can actually do that! No one cares if you take some "me" time, as long as it's going to preserve your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Even if someone did care, they would need to seriously reconsider their own priorities. Spend time fanning your own flame before you give your light to others; becoming your own priority will help everyone around you. Take it from me; I decided to make a change. I switched my major. Narrowed my inner circle. Started writing. Donated what I didn't need, and began cherishing what I do. And last night, for the first time in forever, I found myself excited to live. And it feels good.

So, if you're waiting for a sign, or seeking approval to take that next step, this is it:

It's okay to take a break.

Trust me.


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What Nobody Is Going To Tell You About Freshman Year

What no one will tell you about your first step to adulthood.
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Attending college for the first time is a time filled with high expectations, excitement, nerves, and a lot of hope for the future.

If you were anything like me, you were lucky enough to get accepted into your dream school with a lot of high hopes about the upcoming year. I couldn't wait to move into my freshman dorm, no matter how little or crappy it might have been, I was undoubtedly excited. The year was fresh (literally) and I couldn't wait to start living a college lifestyle and meet the people I was going to be friends with for the next four years of my life and hopefully even longer. I had never been so excited about going back-to-school shoppingand started packing and preparing for the move weeks in advance.

I had this image in my head of what freshman year was going to be like and it looked a lot like something you would see on an ABC Family or MTV show rather than what the reality of freshman year really was. I would be sitting here lying to you if I told you my freshman year was the best year of my life and to expect to have a year full of parties and fun with no responsibilities. The fact of the matter is, freshman year is your first real step into adulthood. It is your first unsheltered, uncensored, version of the real world that your parents (for the most part) have no control over. While this truly is an exciting thing, if you're not prepared for it freshman year can be a lot more stressful than expected.

I wish someone told me that the people I met the first week of school weren't going to be my best friends the whole year and not to take it to heart when they stop talking to you. You meet SO many people your first few weeks of school and you want to be friends with literally all of them. But in college, unlike high school, you probably won't see those same people every day so maintaining relationships takes a lot more work than before. To be honest, you may forget what it was like to actually make a new friend, especially if you were friends with the same people all through high school.

I wish someone told me that my study habits in high school absolutely will not hold up in college. When you were told to “read the text" in high school for homework, you wrote “no homework" in your planner for that day. Reading your text book in high school was actually laughed at in most situations and if you didn't have an end of the year freak out about where your text books were, you were doing it wrong.R ead your textbooks, every page, every chapter. Write everything down, from notes to homework, it's all important.

I wish someone told me the “freshman 15" was absolutely not a myth. Despite the fact that I spent countless nights in our campus gym, the freshman 15 was still gained and stayed. I couldn't tell you why or how this happens, but expect to gain a few pounds your first year of college. Whether it's from all of the campus cookies you couldn't have passed your final without or from all the delicious new food options, expect to be a few pounds heavier when returning home for Thanksgiving. And most importantly, know that you don't look any different despite how you feel, and know that this will most likely happen to everyone.

I wish someone told me that it's OK to say no to people. After you get to know your hall mates and become closer with the people you've met your first few weeks of college, you quickly learn that there is always something going on. Learn that you don't have to agree to attend everything someone invites you to. If you need to stay home and study, speak up. Don't just say yes to please someone or because you feel like you will lose that person as a friend if you say no. Learn to put you and your needs first, and if someone judges you because you decided to study rather than go out, so be it. You're here to learn not to socialize. It's OK to decline peoples offers.

I wish someone told me to go to class no matter how tired I was. Fun fact about college: you don't technically have to go to class if you don't want to. But for the sake of your grades, please go to class. You only get the chance to learn the material once, and you will be tested on the lecture material whether you were there or not. One tired day may cost you a good grade in the class, no joke. Go to every class you can and take detailed notes. (Tip: you can usually take pictures of the slides/diagrams as well, it helps a lot.)

I wish someone told me that only my true friends from high school will remain my friends in college. Losing contact with high school friends is a given in college. Even the people you swore were your closest friends may forget about you in the craziness of freshman year. The good news is you are at a school with thousands of people looking to make new friends and they will fill the empty spaces that old ones left.

I wish someone told me to be careful at parties. Although it is very rare something bad happens, it is true that parties aren't the safest place. Especially for the freshmen, it's easy to just go to the party that everyone else is going to without knowing anything about the place or who is going to be there. Look out for your friends and stay together. Navigating a college town at night is scary and can be dangerous. Know where you are going beforehand and always have a way home. Don't always trust people you have just met and never leave a cup unattended.

I wish someone told me my grades aren't going to be as great in college as they were in high school. Expect your GPA to drop at least half a point, usually. You're going to have a lot of distractions in college and a lot less structure in your schedule. Keeping a balance truly is a difficult task and your grades aren't going to always be what you want them to be. You will learn the perfect combination to keep your grades and yourself happy. Give it some time and don't beat yourself up if you get a C in a class or two. You have three years to make up for it.

I wish someone told me that getting homesick is completely normal. The first few spells of homesickness I had scared me to death. I was afraid that if I was homesick it meant that I didn't like the school I was at or that something was wrong or missing. This is usually not the case even though it may feel that way at times. You're going to miss home no matter how much you wished your way out of it from day one. Home is what is familiar to you and what you know and it's easy to crave that when you're somewhere completely different. Don't let it get the best of you and just know that a call home will fix anything and everything. Don't be afraid to call your parents and friends from home. They miss you, too.

I wish someone told me that you only get one freshman year at the college of your dreams so live it up and learn your lessons. Have the time of your life, make all of the friends you can, join clubs and organizations you're passionate about, get involved on your campus and in your community, and take nothing for granted. You only get to do college once (if all goes well) and you're paying to be here and get an education. Make the most of every situation and learn about yourself and the people around you. There is so much to be done and so much to learn in your four years here but especially the first. Make the most of it and don't forget your morals or who you are!

Cover Image Credit: Cailin Austin

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What Is Really Wrong With The Lori Loughlin Scandal?

This scandal has really caused a debate on multiple platforms on whether or not justice will be given to the rich and the famous.

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Last week, news came out with a report that actress, Lori Loughlin, along with other important lawyers and doctors paid or cheated their way for their children to attend prestigious universities. So, what is really wrong with this scandal? Surely, the primary thing is that she considered herself at an advantage to paying $500,000 to the University of Southern California for both of her daughters to be accepted there. Due to both of her daughters' academic situations, the girls would not have been accepted as their grades meet below average qualifications. However, because of this bribery, they were put on as recruits for the university's crew team and accepted into the college as athletes.

These girls took away opportunities from other hardworking students who possibly deserved to be accepted into the university. Athletes who have trained for years and years were not put on the crew team because of the bribe. The girls, however, were allowed entrance to this elite school without ever having to compete in crew to be accepted. Students who have studied long hours and tried their hardest are being unjustly rejected because they can't pay their way in. Meanwhile, in one of Olivia Jade's videos, she complained, "I don't really care about school". She only wanted to go because of parties and friends as she states earlier in the video. Also, these universities aren't really considered credible to the fact that they have partaken in bribery. This produces a rippling effect that affects those who actually worked hard to get into USC or any other school. It causes people to question whether it is reputable in the admissions process.

Also, with Lori Loughlin, it seems as if there will be no harsh charges brought up against her. With her money, she was released on bail which cost $1 million. Many seem to believe that there will be almost no jail time at all for this crime because of the fact that she is rich and famous. That is something to be considering as this scandal continues to shape itself into a wake-up call from America's elite to the public.

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