Commentary: There is bravery in letting go


Photo credit: Surya Patil

A handful of trophies, medals and certificates that I have won in various activities lie on the floor. These examples of physical achievements represent the visible wins but fail to reflect all of the hard work and challenges I faced throughout the process.

By Surya Patil, Staff Reporter

The breaking point: A point in time where it feels like your entire world is falling apart in front of your eyes.

Most high school students have experienced the breaking point at least once. Whether it be a result of stress or burnout, the little voice inside of my head makes it seem like I won’t be able to make it through.

It feels like I am trapped in my own body and brain; an endless cycle of walking, talking and doing everything robotically. My busy and tight-packed schedule begins to feel like a chore, one that is only done out of habit and not desire. I begin to hate the idea of tomorrow.

Yet, somehow, we almost always tell ourselves to push through the days we feel like we cannot get through. But when you feel like you are in survival mode every day, something has to change.

Why do we continue to pursue things we do not enjoy anymore?

From the time we are born, there is constant pressure from the family and friends around us to hit every milestone earlier than others. The pressure to always be the best in every aspect of our lives is deeply ingrained in us.

The truth is, people will always praise you for pushing yourself past your limits, but when life starts feeling like a list of tasks that you need to check off, your unhappiness is worth making a change.

Since elementary school, I have always been known as the girl who was involved in everything. By the time I was 13, I narrowed down my activities to three: tennis, dance and piano.

For a while, this worked out well, but when I became more serious about these activities, the time I had to commit to each one shortened. This past year was especially hard for me as I started a new school and tried to juggle all three activities at once.

I began to correlate my personal worth with how successful I was in my extracurriculars. I was constantly frustrated and unhappy with myself and my progress.

I could feel myself at a breaking point, and I almost broke.

A few weeks ago, I found out I passed a long-awaited piano test. I thought I would feel elated because my hard work had finally paid off, but the only thing I felt was relief.

Somewhere in the flurry of the months leading up to the test, I decided it would be the last one I took, and promised to rid myself of the unbearable anxiety the tests entailed. I found myself unable to see the point of all the years spent at the piano — practicing until my fingers were calloused and bleeding — if I was just going to quit. I felt like a failure and I know others have felt like this as well after quitting something they stopped being passionate about.

It is hard to let go of the activities you have done or people you have known for as long as you can remember, but I regularly remind myself to embrace change and the new opportunities that come with it.

While it feels great to have the medals, trophies and certificates, they do not define who you are. Your work ethic and own assessment of progress are infinitely more important than the physical achievements on display.

We need to stop caring about the opinions of other people because the people who see us, support us and are truly close to us will always see the entire person, not just our achievements.