Some of us spend so much time slacking off that finishing an assignment punctually becomes an accomplishment; conversely, some of us work ourselves to the point that we are almost always physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, too drained to enjoy hobbies and simple pleasures we once did. I’ve been all over this spectrum, but I realize now that stress is created by individual mindset.
Whenever I spend time on a leisure activity, I inevitably feel guilty that I am not instead working or actively improving myself, even though it is implausible that I spend every waking minute engaged in relentless exertion. I always feel like I could be doing more, or when looking back at failures, that I could have done more. Yet we are human, prone to all kinds of errors, emergencies and unpredictabilities that algorithm-driven machines
are not. We are very much imperfect—and that’s okay.
I created an ideal in my head that I could never reach: one that never made mistakes, perfectly balanced work and
play and achieved every goal. While it’s great to set high expectations, we hurt ourselves by looking toward impossible ones, the kind we push for when we forget our own limits. Whether or not each one of us will be returning to school this fall, by all means, seek out challenging and fulfilling activities—but for those of us who
too often bite off a bit more than we can chew, remember to take time to relax. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break before you break yourself.