As I prepare to enter college, the main question people ask is “what are you majoring in?” and I always tell them English, but as much as I love literature, my most true passion is to help people. Many people believe in living for yourself, but for much of my life I’ve lived for helping others. It gave me a purpose in the world, it made me feel whole. While many people project their anger, sadness, anxiety, frustrations, and every other emotion onto others, I channeled mine into volunteering and helping people. I wanted to alleviate the anger, frustrations, and problems people face. However I could never fix those emotions for myself.
For most of my teenage years, I woke up every day and went to sleep every night feeling overwhelmed. There were times where I would cry myself to sleep because I couldn’t handle everything at once. Some nights I would not sleep at all because I was overthinking everything in my schedule and trying to plan how I could manage it all. For a long time, I didn’t know the power of the word “no.” I would pick up any task that needed to be completed without considering the other tasks I needed to complete because I hated seeing others disappointed. And I did everything that was asked of me, not knowing how much damage it was doing to my overall wellbeing.
Towards the end of seventh grade, I discovered that the characters that I read about every day weren’t the only ones with tragic flaws, but I had them, too. I began to make connections between the ways they felt when they were suffering and the way I felt. The feeling of being in a room filled with plants and still not feeling that there’s enough air to breathe. As I became more aware of the challenges I faced, the more I wanted to solve it. I researched different ways to help me feel better: activities that can help improve my health, healthier lifestyles, ways to feel at ease. Except, the solution was right in front of me all along– using the word “no”.
It was hard at first, seeing the disappointment in people’s eyes when I said ‘no’, but it made it easier to live for me. There was more time for me to do things I enjoyed, like painting and writing, and my schedule became more manageable. The hours I wasted crying, staying up late, and struggling to get up were now spent taking care of myself. I continued volunteering at botanical gardens and daycare centers, each of them playing a major role in shaping who I am today and how much I care for the world around me. After all the hardship, I found myself at a place I never thought was attainable, a place I could breathe as much air as I wanted and not feel like I was suffocating. It seems like a fantasy at the first thought, but you never know until you take the first step, and after that step, the possibilities are endless.