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Keeping the Balance

Updated: Jun 16

Sam Stanley

*You have 7 new Google Classroom notifications*

I’ve woken up to relatively the same message since the spring of 2020. From the second I opened my eyes until the moment I collapsed on my pillow, all I thought about was school. A constant stream of thoughts consisted of the usual: What do I have due? How much homework are they going to give? Maybe if I do this first… and so on. Google Classroom wasn’t the only thing that invaded my mind at a constant rate. Emails, social media, texts and other school-related apps almost made me scared to look at my phone. Every time my phone buzzed, it was a reminder that I was a slave to my school life. Get good grades. Keep good impressions with your peers. Set a good example. Try harder. At the end of the school year last year, I was getting ready to go to bed. Walking up to the mirror, I noticed something about my appearance that I hadn’t paid enough attention to. I looked exhausted. My eyebags had never been so prominent. I was pale—my cheeks had lost their usual red tint. The gleam that was usually present just… wasn’t there. The bright spark in my eyes had vanished, leaving my pupils alone as black, wide orbs that stared at themselves through the mirror. I looked at the monster I had created. Only this was no monster—the only one present was the anxiety weighing on my shoulders. I decided that I would try and get rid of this monster by spending time focusing on myself.

Summer had begun, and I was finally given time to start this focus. Only I barely knew where to start. The notifications—the emails reminding me of that one big assignment I still needed to turn in—ceased. It was quiet. An uneasy silence. Those months had been dedicated to checking what was up next, what had to be completed. Now there was nothing to do. Nothing to complete. My life felt like it had no purpose at that point other than to sit around and think about anything and everything. Rather than do that, I decided to search my house—see if it had an answer for me in store. I peeked in every nook and cranny I could find to find this inspiration. I then went to the closet that sits next to my bathroom—containing limitless serums, moisturizers, face masks and any skin care product you can think of. Looking at my options, I had found a small cleansing serum and a small bottle of moisturizer. Better to start here than nowhere, I had thought to myself. So I went into the neighboring bathroom and put on the products. Looking at my reflection, the glow of my skin almost replaced the loss of the gleam in my eyes. I had appeared more alive through the span of a few minutes. So I continued the routine in the following days, and my skin was back to its usual vigor. The pink in my cheeks had returned.

After discovering this, I had realized I needed to enjoy myself further. I decided I would drive to my local Japanese Food Mart to see if they had any interesting food to offer. I encountered their sushi bar, which I had never seen open due to being at school so late. I ordered some, and it was some of the best sushi that I had ever had. I bought some more snacks and made my way home. Over the next few weeks, I was starting to find myself. Whether it be through the video games I had bought myself or the places I went just to walk to and listen to music, I had finally found my balance. Since then, I’ve really tried to think about myself more. When I see an assignment that’s due, I make time for myself to complete it—rather than have it loom over my shoulder for the days following its due date. The monster on my shoulder is becoming less bearing. Don’t let yours overcome you.

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