It has been a very, very long year.
Going through the first leg of my college career was as difficult as it was daunting. I've regaled my friends with tales of countless doubts and breakdowns that occurred the summer before I came to Western Washington University. I honestly didn't think I would have what it takes to establish myself in a new place and thrive there. I was terrified that everything I had worked for would come crashing around me and that I would crawl home ashamed, always knowing I had led myself to my own undoing.
But, obviously, that's not what happened.
Somehow, I was able to keep myself afloat. I made new friends, reconnected with old friends, powered by things that once left me utterly terrified, and worked harder than I ever had before.
The entire experience was extremely rewarding, but it was also completely exhausting.
By the end of this last quarter, I was so tired from schoolwork, friendships, and other personal affairs that I could barely think straight. I lost entire evenings to my fatigue, evenings I can barely recall. I was in desperate need of a break and the summer came along at just the right time to give that to me.
Surprisingly, I fell into my break without a single shred of guilt.
I say surprisingly because that sort of behavior isn't normal for me. I'm the type of person who is either constantly working or constantly thinking about working. If there is something to be done, I won't let myself forget about it until it's been done. Even as I try to relax and give myself a moment of peace, the thought of my unfinished task always lingers in the back of my mind. Usually, the summer is no exception to this. While there is less to do, there is always something I could be directing my attention to. Projects, paperwork, you name it. There is always something.
This summer, however, I'm not experiencing that same nagging feeling. I'm not bullying myself over every little thing, and I'm not forcing myself into a state of distress just because I'm not always giving myself a challenge. I think that this year has taught me a great lesson and led me to a very important realization:
There comes a point where pushing yourself does more harm than good.
If you keep leaping over hurdles, you're eventually going to run out of stamina. Maybe you can push yourself to clear a few more than you thought you could, but your body isn't meant to do that forever. You need to stop at some point. If you don't, you could tear something. You could fall and hurt yourself. Your body could give out from sheer exhaustion. There are limitations to how long you can keep going, and you have to respect them.
This may sound weird, but if you can't understand and respect your body's boundaries, it won't end well for you.
Some things just need to be let go.
So please, take it easy on yourself this summer. You may not be like me, and you may not struggle with these sorts of things, but regardless, let this be a time of rest and recuperation for you. Take time to reflect on yourself, to heal from wounds inflicted upon you this year, and to become stronger in a passive, thoughtful way.
Growth doesn't always come from times of strife and grief:
Minerals crystallize in quiet places where lava has gone away.
Flowers bloom in undisturbed forests.
You, too, can become more than what you are now by slowing down and letting time work its magic.