"I worry that I will never live up to my full potential."
Bite more than you can chew. That was my motto for a long long time.
Coming to college, I had way too many interests: theater, film, fine art, music, languages, environmental studies ... the list goes on. I thought there was no better place than college to explore all these things and I still do. As a result, every semester I ended up having a packed schedule with classes in a bunch of different areas and extracurricular activities in even more different areas.
I had this theory that if I could just take on a little more than I thought I could handle, I'd push myself to become more productive and achieve more than I would have otherwise. Plus I honestly thought I could handle the workload if I cut procrastination out of my daily routine. My theory worked, multiple times, except it was extremely short-lived every time.
Whenever I gave my theory a try, I'd always start with building a healthy lifestyle. There were times when I used to wake up every day before 6 and get to the gym by sunrise. I studied only during the day and was still on top things. I went screen-free for the first and last hour of every day. My diet was sugar free and I'd be in bed by 10:30. Those days were as close to my full potential as I had ever got. I had never felt better about myself.
Then came the buildup of major disappointments. I remember my most recent perfect routine was dismantled by a brownie. That brownie was my first dessert in a month. Soon enough I had my second dessert, my first late night, my second late night, my first late assignment etc. etc.. By the end of the semester, I was, nocturnal, stressed and 10 pounds heavier.
After that latest roller-coasting journey, I kept giving myself new things to do in hopes that a busy schedule would force me to get back on my A game. It never did and I wasn't surprised. Those good days I had were like a painting that I worked really hard to make, and that trip downward was like me spilling coffee all over it. The fear that I might never be able to replicate or exceed my best work was hard to shake off.
Now let's get to the happy ending before this gets too sad. After those failed attempts, recently I stopped trying to jumpstart myself to reach my best state. It took so much energy just to THINK about the things I had yet to do that I felt completely drained the moment I told my brain to stop. For the past two weeks or so, I've been giving myself the break my body and mind craved for.
A few days into my break, I came across this interview with Oprah. She said if she could go back in time and say something to her younger self, she'd say "relax."
"Relax ... get still ...
and think about what is the NEXT right move ..."
This is my new motto and I'm giving it a 5-star review. I wasn't paying attention when my stress level started going through the roof, because I was so focused on reaching a distant goal. Looking back, those countless stressful nights were countless red flags telling me that I took a round turn. Only I saw none of them - I was too busy looking at things miles ahead behind the fog.
I believe that there's a scenic path to where I want to go. That doesn't mean it takes less effort, though it does mean the journey becomes more enjoyable. I need to make sure I'm paying close attention to the view around me and looking out for red flags. I get, in return, to enjoy the view every step of the way. I'm not worrying about getting lost. I'll know when to go a different direction and I hope to know it the soonest possible, because I'm checking in with myself step after step. I'm still learning to do all this, but I'm already loving this journey.