Second semester, junior year of college is when it hit me. I had to figure out what I was doing with the rest of my life and I needed to figure it out now. To do so, I had to give 110% of my time and energy to building the "perfect" resume. I was staying up until a.m. reading and rereading about the politics of the Middle East and North Africa so that I could somewhat understand it. I was spending whatever free time I had at the local elementary school volunteering. I was interning in Philadelphia in order to become the ideal candidate for my dream job. This is what everyone has always told me I had to do in order to be successful, so that is what I was doing.
To make all of this happen I was constantly on the go, which I loved at first. I loved being busy because downtime bored me. But I was crashing. I was constantly tired so that work that I stayed up all night doing was not as perfect as I thought. Although I was involved, I did not even enjoy going to some of the activities because I could not wait to go home and sleep. The worst part was this was happening without me even realizing it.
At a seemingly perfect time, I had the opportunity to hear Arianna Huffington speak in Philadelphia. She spoke about Thrive and right away the message resonated with me. It is amazing that such a successful woman valued her downtime just as much as anyone else, if not more. I could not believe that the Huffington Post offices have nap rooms because let's be honest, who doesn't love to nap?!
Ms. Huffington discussed how it is necessary to redefine success because at the end of the day, being successful is so much greater than what is in your bank account or the position you held at your job. I soon realized that striving to simply become wealthy would not only make me unhappy, but also cause me to lose sight of a lot of things that are important to me.
I began reading Thrive and I instantly felt refreshed. The importance of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving are the emphasis of the book. I realized these aspects of my life needed to improve, so changes had to be made. I had to stop pushing myself to the point of burnout. I had to tell myself that by staying up until 2 a.m. I was actually going to do worse on that test or paper. I had to put my cell phone down and "unplug" because checking my Instagram constantly was not really that important. I had to simply relax, whether that meant taking a nap or just sitting on my front porch. I needed to add some me time everyday in order to truly feel fulfilled. Something Ms. Huffington wrote really stood out to me: "Paying greater attention to our well-being - for whatever reason - connects us with parts of ourselves that now lie dormant and makes it more likely that there will no longer be any split between being successful at work and thriving in life." This is something that all people need to realize. Without taking care of ourselves, we can never be the best version of ourselves and isn't that truly what success is?
I am sure most college students would agree being stressed is something that is pretty frequent. To cope with that stress not only do I now make sure I have some down time each day, I plan my schedule around it. In the midst of all of the homework, working and volunteering, improving my well-being has become most important to me.
I now value the time I have to relax and "unplug" more than I ever have before. Of course I want to be successful, but success no longer holds monetary meaning to me. I need to become the best version of myself in all aspects of my life in order to truly be successful and I can thank the message of Thrive for helping me realize that.