Learning to Breathe, a guest post

Kindergarten2 '03

The Trace Academy kindergarten class of 2002-03, where Justin was the only boy. Rachel is 2nd from the right.

My son Justin grew up with Rachel, who wrote this guest post. They are 2 days apart in age, were in the same small class through 8th grade at our parent-involved school, then went their separate ways in high school. Though in the same youth group at church, they really didn’t connect after that. But Rachel is a special friend, eldest daughter of dear friends. I thought her story would be an encouragement for parents of college students, and students themselves.

To the girl who keeps pushing through

This is for the girl who tried to never be anything but the best. To the girl who always tried to have the best grades. To the girl who made sure she went to the school of her dreams. To the girl who pushed and pushed herself without taking a second to breathe.

That girl is me.
For my whole life I have been determined. Trying to reach my goals as fast as I could without stopping and when something happened that got in the way panic took over.
I spent so much time and energy trying make sure I graduated high school with as many college classes as I could, so that I could get through college as fast as I could, so that I could have my career and be successful and happy.
Until one day…
I realized my goals weren’t even my goals anymore. I was sprinting towards something I didn’t even want any more. My goals had turned into a mere destination I was trying to get to.
I’m 18, barely an adult by any means more than a simple number.
I don’t know what I want. I don’t know myself at all.
So what happens when dreams change?
I’ve never been one to quit. I keep pushing myself through, always trying to get bigger and better. Not so much that I could show people that I’m the best but rather in a small attempt to convince myself of my worth.
So what happens when I’m sitting at my dream school loving the city I’m in and the people I’m with but knowing that being there is not what I need?
It’s a tragic thing to love something deeply but to also know it’s not what’s best for you.
That leads to the question, “then what IS best for me?”
and the answer to that I do not know.
and that’s okay.
Well, all least I’m trying to learn that it’s okay,
that it’s okay to not have all the answers.
Cause quite frankly I’m freaking out. Deciding to pack up my room, move back home and take a semester off from college is far from anything I would have ever expected I would be doing.
Where’s the goals in that?
I don’t take breaks. I keep moving forward, I keep pushing on.
But it’s okay… It’s okay to not have all the answers.
At some point earlier in my life the realization hit me that my days are numbered and despite that number being unknown I don’t have one minute more or one minute less. I let that idea take over my mind. Because i thought if I could graduate early and be ahead of the majority then I felt like I was in control.
But life is not a race.
There is no prize for getting through everything the fastest.
Brownie points don’t exist in real life.
Learn to enjoy the ride.
Take the time to figure out who you are.
I’ll be honest again, right now I am not enjoying the ride. I’ve cried many tears the past few days. I’m mad that I finally felt like I fit in somewhere and I had it taken away from me. Nobody wants to leave their life, their friends.
Choosing what’s best even when it doesn’t feel best is hard.
But I’m working on letting go. Having peace with not knowing everything. Because goals are good and my determination to succeed is good. And what I’m learning is that taking a semester off does not make me any less of a person, it does not make me any less determined or any less of a goal oriented person. It does not make me weak. All it does is simply give me a semester off.
and now it’s time to just breathe.
Rachel gradRachel Knox is a 2015 graduate of Lake Nona High School in Orlando, Fla. Almost 19, Rachel is an accomplished dancer who’s just trying to figure out what God wants her to do. Check out her blog at Imperfectly Living – Perfectly Loved
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