Take a breather


Skyler Froese

[dropcap style=”flat”]T[/dropcap]he scary thing about drowning isn’t the physical sensation of not breathing or sinking; it’s not knowing if you are ever going to get back to the top. I came face-to-face with this fear for the first time when I was four years old at a waterpark stuck under a hoard of vacationers in a wave pool.
I met this fear for the second time this past semester. A whirlpool of vacationers became a swift current of classes and extracurriculars that swept me far out in a sea of loneliness and anxiety.  
When I was four I went into the pool without a parent, that was the first time. I dropped my AUT and enrolled in challenging, time consuming classes. That was the second. Obviously this would be more than enough for a normal person, so it makes sense to play the sport with 5:30 a.m. practices and also take a place in other extracurriculars. I can’t claim that I had no idea that this would be a concoction for disaster, but I did my best to justify it. “If I can get through life not being a lot of fun right now, I’m making an investment for my future so it will be great later.”
To achieve highly I need to be a little selfish; it is MY success after all. The pursuit of A’s and a jacked resume was blinding. I wake up far before the sun for swim practice, far before any man or beast in fact. For this reason walking downstairs in my house and finding my dad awake and making coffee was bewildering, to say the least.
“I just wanted to spend some time with you, stranger.”
I started to add up the hours in my head. I go to practice before they wake up, and I’m usually at home around five p.m. because of school commitments. I try to be in bed around 10, so that’s about five hours at home. But wait, of that five hours there were three hours were usually spent at my desk trying to chip at the behemoth mountain of homework in front of me. Two hours. That’s it. Just two hours a day with my family, the people who are supposed to be the most important in my life. I wanted to believe that this was just a side effect of hard work and that it would go away soon. But seeing my dad up at this hour just so he could say ‘hi’ to his eldest child broke my heart. Resent for my busy schedule set in, as did irritation for myself making this mess.
The resentment wasn’t red hot anger, it was freezing. It nipped at my heart and my mind, and its frost started to cover everything I touched. It froze the food I stopped eating, my appetite replaced with exhaustion and stress. It took even more of my few precious hours of sleep. There were points when I couldn’t even make conversation. I knew something was wrong when my hands started to shake, and like the genius I am I decided that the best way to fix that was to push myself even deeper into the work I was doing. It helped jack up my resume and my GPA for a while, but everyone hits a wall. At that wall you aren’t socializing or being productive, mostly you are just laying on your floor staring at the ceiling.
The people around me saw the change. It wasn’t lunch if at least one friend didn’t say to me that they are worried about me. Even my teachers remark on how tired I seemed and looked. These remarks were only met with scorn and dismissal, but then came, like a crack of lightning, my realization of their validity. From the start of school to the Thursday of finals week I did everything in my power to always operate at 110 percent. As I worked silently on homework a single tear rolled down my cheek. It was perplexing but they just kept coming. From my prior experience, I thought you should know before you start crying why you sad. A good five minutes past, and I realized something. I was miserable. I had spent the last few months miserable. In the single moment I realized that happiness and health right now isn’t worthless, I could die at anytime. My schoolwork isn’t what makes me worthy. I’ll graduate, go to college, get a job and retire and a precalc quiz won’t be what follows me through those next few decades; it will be my friends and family.I have been trying to remind myself everyday of this. It has been my recent mission to take a step back and spend more time with my family. This isn’t to say I have disregarded my grades, I still care far too much about them, I am also just caring about other things as well.
School shouldn’t be that overridingly important to anyone. Not to say that one shouldn’t give their best effort in school, but it can’t be seen as more important to your existence than your health or happiness. No one deserves to feel like they are drowning. As we create our schedules for the next year, we must remember this. It isn’t worth it to lop off an AUT and sign up for five AP classes if we are just going to drown in them. I can control when I come to the surface.
What have you done to become happier during the school year? Leave your comments below.