Learning to focus and prioritize yourself

It started with a wrong turn.

It was a hot, bright July day, same as any other and I was driving to work, when I turned onto the wrong street. While I was detouring to get on to the right route, I got into an accident and totalled my car. It was the kind of infuriating wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time mindless coincidence that left me in a sour mood for days.

Passersby who could afford to lose a few minutes came over to help. It was bad — a chunk of the intersection was closed off, two cars were totalled and Apple maps on my phone displayed orange dots at my location for slow traffic.

People kept asking if I was okay. I nodded, despite sobbing horribly, because I really was fine but my car wasn’t. I was crying for my damn car.

But really, nobody — not even my dad whom the car belonged to — gave a crap about either of the cars because everyone involved in the accident walked away with nothing more than bumps and bruises. A theme emerged the following days regardless of who I was with, from police officers to my co-workers to my friends. No matter what I said of the accident, it always came back to one question: “But you’re okay, right?”

Often, when it comes to our own well-being, our worry may be a little misplaced. It’s so easy to get caught up in school and work and life that we frequently forget to take a step back and think about ourselves. After all, if need be, everything that can be put on hold if continuing in such a manner will ultimately be detrimental to your health. The frivolities that come with life will never be as important as you are.

People care about you. Strangers you’ve never met will care about you. It’s up to you to realize you have got to care about yourself too, especially now when thousands of students — one of whom may be you — are moving away from home for the first time to conquer post-secondary.

I’m going to tell you something, and it’s going to be contradictory, but no advice is black and white. It’s okay to take a break from school if it’s starting to wear on you. The transition from high school to university is a tough one to make and not everybody will be able to make the leap as successfully as others. You’re not a failure if you take a little longer, or if you don’t end up making the transition at all.

It’s just not worth it to beat yourself up for school. But, having said that, this is not an excuse to shirk your responsibilities and commitments because your work, your grades, your education — they’re all important. As a resident in a first world country, it’s easy to forget the luxuries afforded to us are not enjoyed by others around the world. Post-secondary education is a wonderful opportunity and only a handful are able to access such facilities.So no, it’s not all studying all the time, but neither is it all you all the time. There is a balance that needs to be struck. It’s about knowing when to prioritize yourself and when to prioritize your responsibilities.

There will be failed tests, bad marks, maybe lousy car accidents and a few bruises, but if you make it out in one piece, then consider it a triumph. You are not just made up of your successes but also your failures. Those crummy mud-in-your-fingernails, heavy-bloodshot-eyes moments define you more than your golden moments ever will because failure is the most precious teacher.

After all, no puzzle is made up of perfect individual fragments. Some carry prints of flowers while others a smudgy black chunk of the sky. But they all come together to make a whole, and that whole is the most important of all. Learn to take care of yourself. Learn to craft a life around your responsibilities and learn to think of yourself once in a while.

You are so, so important. Don’t ever forget that.

Leave a Reply