When I was in high school I struggled a lot. My mental health wasn’t the best and I had little motivation to do well in class. Unsurprisingly, I graduated with a relatively low GPA.
Despite this as well as my vocal dislike for academia, I was heavily encouraged by my peers, teachers and family to go to college right away. So, I put in my applications all while feeling a general apathy about my impending acceptance or rejection.
In my heart, I knew that college was not the right step for me at the moment, but I went anyway. I went partly because of the almost ubiquitous pressure I was receiving from adults who meant well and thought they knew me better than I knew myself.
But another part of me felt that if I didn’t go to school now, I would fall behind the other students. Now I’m a senior, graduating in December, a semester later than intended.
This was an eye opening experience for me because I realized that rushing into something won’t help you succeed and I found ways to stop.
1. Put yourself first.
Before you decide to rush through something, consider who benefits from that decision.
Does the fact that you’re attending college benefit your parents because it gives them sense of pride on your behalf? Does it benefit you to rush through every workday, working tirelessly until you can finally go on an expensive vacation?
Even if you love your family and you would like to start the journey towards higher education, you owe it to yourself to take the time to realize what it is that you truly want to do. If what you want doesn’t align with the path that other people are pushing you to take, then that’s their problem, not yours.
The decisions you make for your life should, first and foremost, benefit you because you’re the one who has to live with them. If at any moment you were to ask yourself, “Does the decision I just made benefit me?” you should always be able to answer with a resounding yes.
2. Understand that you’re not a machine.
The idea of needing a break from the treadmill towards success can be terrifying.
We are fed the idea that we have to keep moving forward even if we don’t know what direction we want to go. We brag about working long tireless nights to make ends meet, drinking copious amounts of coffee instead of sleeping, and going into debt to go to college.
But you are not a machine that has a perpetual access to energy, and you will eventually have to take a break. It could be from anything including an injury to a friend’s birthday party. You’ll eventually have to stop working and if you have a pattern of rushing from project to project, you’re going to have a harder time finding value in the still moments.
Instead of celebrating or letting yourself heal, you’re waiting for this rare moment of respite to end so that you can start your next task. Not only is this not great for your mental health it can also alienate you from your loved ones.
To combat this, try to develop an appreciation for stillness in your day to day life. Give yourself an hour each day where you do something unproductive. This could be reading a book, cooking an elaborate meal or anything that you can do solely because you like doing it.
By rushing into college, I was setting myself up for failure. I was setting standards that I couldn’t possibly meet at the time and when I couldn’t do that, I was devastated. If you’re a person who finds themselves rushing from one commitment to another, you may face a similar issue.
Realize that rushing doesn’t guarantee success, and that it often does just the opposite. Realize that there is real value giving your time and attention to the things that are most important to you.