At a young age I was conditioned to live fast. It started in elementary school when I kept up with grades by doing homework in the car, traveling with a nationally competitive basketball team.
I continued that busy trend in middle school; I became a member of student council, I held an honors GPA, I joined a forensics team (acting, speech, and debate), sang in the highest level of school choir, and I participated in sports teams each season.
I did all of that as an early teen while learning how to maintain friendships and not lose sight of family. For me, high school was no different, with sports, grades, relationships, choir, and now I added in work and volunteer projects to my schedule.
This fast paced life was something I was taught to achieve and a lifestyle many applauded. Looking back on it all I am not sure how I pulled it all together, but I did, day in and day out, yet I never felt it (I) was enough.
My life stayed busy even when I became pregnant at a young age. Up until 20+ weeks pregnant I worked over sixty hours a week, took on 15 credit hours at school, and maintained a few activities from before. Then, at twenty years old I had my son and I felt like I needed to keep at this busy pace all while learning how to be a single mom. I felt like if I didn’t keep going people would start to judge my work ethic or character differently.
However, life had other plans for me. I quit my job when Isaiah was born because I couldn’t afford infant care and the child care facilities around me weren’t accepting government help. Losing an income meant I lost my gym membership and other activities that require money.
I gave up a lot of hobbies and stayed home with my little one. The only thing I kept at was my schooling, but even that took a hit because I took on a smaller work load. Suddenly, my life wasn’t so busy and I was surprisingly content with that.
After eight months of staying home, I finally got a job as an infant teacher at a local daycare and my son was welcome to come with me. I finally got some of my groove back adding work to my new schedule of motherhood and school. I stayed at that pace for a couple years and I found inner peace, I enjoyed the busywork that came with school and a toddler, and work helped keep my mind off of my anxiety, yet I had just enough time for ME. I began to do things I enjoyed again and giving myself that time made me a better mother, teacher, and student.
I graduated university in May of 2016 with cum laude honors, working full time (majority of my five years), and being a single mom throughout. When school ended, I fell into a worried mindset, knowing school helped keep me busy and my mind focused. I scrambled for things to fill the void, as I am conditioned to do.
I got a new job with new goals and then I applied for a leadership position, I bought a house and now would be the sole caretaker of household deeds, I started a side business, and I revved up my volunteering. I thought to myself, “I used to do everything so juggling this time should be easy!”
Unfortunately, I was mistaken because my mental health started to dwindle and I felt myself questioning every decision. It took me a few months to realize that I am completely okay with a “slow” paced life. To me, university work, single mommin’, and work was a perfect pace. It kept me busy while giving me time to make me and my relationships a priority.
Now, I’ve learned a capacity I can mentally handle and I am 180% okay with others looking in thinking that my life is simple in comparison. I’ve learned that I am not living my life for the outside world to tell me I am enough. I don’t need 60 hour work weeks plus a billion side jobs to keep me going.
Just recently I’ve slowed down, and I am PROUD of it. I am not lazy or unmotivated, I have merely chosen to live my life differently from what the world says, and I’ve found peace in that. For me, it makes being in the now more attainable… and the now is so good.
My one hope for everyone is they find their pace. It takes a lot of trial and error, and I am sure I will continue to adjust my pace as I continue on in life. But learning just how much you can handle is a relieving sense I cannot begin to describe. I believe the boundaries I set aide in my overall well-being, making me a better teacher, mother, friend, daughter, and more.
Everyone has a different pace; some live a fast life and some choose to live slow. My one message is that YOUR pace is meant for you. I encourage you to find it and don’t let anyone tell you, it’s not enough.
Young Scholars Academy