To start off, here is a cool picture I took!
Getting to it… As I grow older and gain more independence and freedom there is one thing that seems to reemerge into my day-to-day life all the time. This thing is the need for balance.
Clearly, there is something to be said for the importance of balancing different parts of life but up until this year, my life has been fairly predetermined. I had a home life with my family, school and homework, sports, and relationships. While this may seem like a lot to balance to outside eyes, there was not, in fact, a ton of freedom in my schedule. Everything I did was according to a predetermined plan created partially by my parents, society, and perhaps some by myself. Even with the volitionary activities that I participated in like soccer, most of my time was scheduled according to my coach, as opposed to me controlling myself.
When I was nearing the end of my senior year of high school one of the most important things for me was my independence. I desperately wanted to escape from the dull, repetitive, conundrum of a controlled life. As I moved closer and closer to the date when I would move away to a new home 3000 miles away, I realized the importance of the loved ones that I held dear to me. I began to independently take the time out of my normal routines to spend it with my family, both immediate and less so. My mom never controlled me but she would often highly encourage me to spend time with the family, and like the typical know-it-all teenager, I was extremely opposed to doing anything my mother said (this I have learned since, was unwise, as she’s always right, but this is a story for another time). It’s interesting to look back with some perspective on even last year, and realize that once I had the freedom to decide what I would spend my time on, I wholeheartedly put myself in a situation that I had been vehemently opposed to just months before. The summer after my senior year was extremely formative to my independent understanding of both myself and the world.
While I did begin to prioritize the things that were important to me and that would become unavailable once I moved, I lacked the motivation to do the things that I had been dreaming of doing with my friends. Retrospect leaves me with regrets over the things that I could have done and a profound (not really) understanding of the importance of today (I’ll get to this later!) At the end of my summer I had done some of the things that I had wanted to. I spent a week on the beach with some of my best friends, I made the decision to travel to a far away place so that I could shake up my understanding of the world, and I dedicated myself to spending as much time with my family as possible. Overall, it was a copacetic summer, but I have digressed beyond my intended point. To get back on track I’m going to talk about my year at college and what I’ve learned about balance.
First and foremost, when standing on tall things whilst on fun adventures, balance is of the utmost importance! Failing at balance results in falling, which I can’t really say I enjoy. I’ll bet you think I’m just being silly with this adventure stuff, right? Well, what if I were to say that to me, life is a fun adventure in which I climb many tall things and perch on top? I’ll bet that would shake up your definition of silly.
Think about it. What more is life than a series of ups and downs? What is important while climbing these peaks and descending these valleys? Balance, forethought (and adaptability), and a truly adventurous spirit.
To me, the lesson that has become most clear as I have partaken in my first year at University is that finding balance in life is incredibly important. This sense of balance is not so simple as standing on top of a mountain or even standing on one foot on top of a mountain in tree pose. This innermost need for balance seeps into every crevice of my life, often slowing me down and reminding me that it is there, that I must succumb to a deeper and better thought out version of the life that I am living.
Since coming to college, I have been overloaded with so many different opportunities, emotions, people, and experiences. There have been peaks and valleys, both literally and metaphorically. I have met more people in a smaller time than I ever had previously. Most importantly, I have finally been given the freedom and the allowance to pursue myself before all else. In the past, life has been a series of boxes to check for me (excluding the love for the people and relationships I have with those who I am closest to). It has been a series of “learn this, participate in that, feel this, express that.” The genesis of almost everything I have done for my whole life has originated outside of me. College has really taken my perspective of the world and forced me to believe in myself and my dreams, to grab them out of the sea of thoughts drifting inside my head and make them mine. If this sounds amazing to you, then we are in agreement. However, let me express my profound realization that I was talking about earlier before I continue.
I have a limited amount of time in my life and every one of my moment’s worth is defined by the amount of care I put into creating it, sharing it, and living it to the fullest.
Remember how I said that I had a profound realization? Well, that’s it. It’s not pretty and it’s not original but I think that it’s something that every person who is successful in life realizes at some point. This realization led me to a panic over the significance that my life holds, in terms of simply being me and needing to live to my fullest extent. In addition to this self-centered idea, it was scary to think about how significant my life is in terms of how much I can affect the world if I simply put my mind to it.
My life and my time are so incredibly valuable and significant.
So significant, in fact, that I am incredibly terrified. I feel the crushing weight of every future responsibility that the perfect version of myself could bear. Imagine Atlas holding The Earth. That is how I felt when I first had this realization. I understand that perhaps it is a bit egotistical to think of myself like this, but in actuality, I really feel like I can change the world in huge ways, as can anyone else. It is a daunting thought if you have the courage to internalize it into your own mind.
Following up on my last post, I believe that I have a responsibility to follow the dreams, visions, and inspirations that seem to be tugging me forward. I have the responsibility to myself and the world to do what I can to help everyone out.
Sometimes I wonder, though, If I should live for myself or for the world. I think many people struggle with this problem. I have a deep-rooted dream to see everything that there is to see in the world: I want to see the seven wonders, I want to see where they filmed Lord of the Rings, I want to climb Mount Everest, and I want to fulfill all the dreams that I have fabricated for myself. These dreams are immense and require me to apply myself to such an extent that I don’t believe I have ever actually done in my life. Yet here I am using my time in college. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with this, but sometimes I wonder about why I am here and why I am not following my dreams today as opposed to tomorrow. In thinking about it, I realized I am here because I feel an obligation to exist for the sake of the world and I believe that being in college is my most efficient way to follow that path forward. The thing that keeps me positive is that I know that eventually those that choose to give their lives to benefit the world end up being the most fulfilled, but I can’t shake the constant reminders of the dreams that I try to put to rest in the back of my head.
The balancing act that I most struggle with is the balance between my dreams and my aspirations. These words may seem to be the same but to me, dreams are things that dictate the heart of a person and aspirations are those that dictate the mind. To me, dreams are the things that make people’s hearts ache and aspirations are the things that people stay up all night thinking of. Those of us who are most fortunate are those whose dreams and aspirations coincide.
Balancing such things as the mind and the heart is not something that is really explainable. To me, when I do a good job I feel like my body is alive and I am happy simply to exist, however, when I fail to care for my dreams or aspirations, I consequently feel exhausted, discouraged, and deeply rejected by the world around me.
In balancing two things comes the relinquishing of some of each. In economics, there is a simple principle that explains that when an economy is more equal it is actually less efficient. I like to think about it like I have 100 units of time and energy to spend and if I want to balance my dreams and aspirations, then I’m only putting fifty units into each, which is literally a halfhearted effort.
Soooooo, to wrap up (I think), I want to emphasize the big lessons that came out of all of this:
Individual life is significant. Time should not be taken for granted. The best lives are those where people’s dreams and aspirations are one and the same. Finding a balance between the things that are important is challenging but worthy of some introspection.
I end this post with a frustrated sigh at my computer because while I have summed up a lot of thoughts that I have been having over the past few weeks and clarified my thoughts both to myself and those around me, I have not made much progress on the decision-making tree of my life. I am still faced with the same challenges that I was before writing this. Maybe next time I’ll write about the virtue of patience and how I have none!