When I was a toddler my mom and dad’s biggest lamentation was that I refused to go to bed. I didn’t want to miss out on whatever they were doing, and if there was company over–Heaven help them. They said that I would “yo-yo” in and out of bed.
Since my beginnings, I’ve wanted to do everything, be everything, and see everything. Reality is that I did all of these things for a very long time. I stretched myself thin and I rarely quit any activity. Reality was that I ran on very little sleep for a long time. I still don’t know how I “did” high school. I did five electives AND went to all church activities, including early morning seminary (a church class that started at 6:30 AM Monday through Friday).
When I arrived at college I didn’t have electives, nor did I have a job. I had myself, my friends, and my studies. I felt liberated, but I pushed myself to take as many classes as I could fit in. I found a job as soon as possible because independence mattered to me. I went from doing every elective in high school to trying to grasp every resume opportunity. I wanted to be successful, so I went to every workshop, every course, and every possible tutoring meeting. I wanted to be the best of the best. I didn’t want to leave BYUI with any regrets.
I graduated in the top ten percent of my graduating class. I killed myself for 3.5 years to perform my absolute best. I spent way more time on homework than any of my friends (partially because reality is that I’m a good writer, but slow learner). I received my dream job as soon as I finished student teaching, and I felt accomplished.
The summer between my degree and beginning said dream career, I was hit with a big dose of reality: I had been functioning with an unhealthy level of anxiety. I was so afraid of not doing everything that I let myself go. During college, I gained not 15 pounds, but 30. On paper, I looked great, but I didn’t feel good on the inside.
I decided that summer that I would change. I would focus on quality of life, rather than quantity of experiences on my resume. I decided that I’d work less for grades and more for knowledge. I decided that it is okay to let some things go. I decided that a healthy me and a C+ is OKAY. Honestly, this has all worked pretty well for me, but every now and then I find myself slipping into the mentality of “YOU CAN DO MORE!” and “NEVER SAY NO TO AN OPPORTUNITY!”
Once I started grad school, it was very difficult to push these thoughts out. I was so used to performing at a high level it was hard to find balance. At the same time, I was working two jobs–I was teaching as an adjunct professor and working as an operations coordinator for a new Amazon business/writing a book for the same boss. Working two jobs and doing six credits in grad school was too much. I crushed myself. I gained weight (even though I was exercising and doing CrossFit around three times a week). I found myself anxious and unable to sleep. I knew I needed change. I knew that I had to let something go.
Thus, I chose to walk away from my Amazon job. I loved working on Amazon stuff. I loved seeing successful monetary gains. Teachers work with tests, people, and understanding after all, so it was a rush to see monetary success as a result of my hard work. Also, I loved being able to practice my technical writing skills. I loved feeling like I was pushing myself to learn and grow every single day. I loved the people I worked with. It was the hardest decision I have ever made to walk away from that job. It is the only “real” job that I’ve ever quit for any other reason than relocation.
Here is the thing: I survived and things got better. My health bounced back. I gained control of my worries. I see my husband more. I have time to be a good friend.
Granted, I still find myself wanting to take “just one more class” every semester that I work towards my MA, but reality is this: One more isn’t always worth it. The fear of missing out is not worth it, because reality is sometimes “missing out” is the best thing that can happen. Sometimes when you “miss out” you realize what matters most.
P.S. I made the image at the top of this post my phone background–just an idea. 😉