In our modern society, we tend to measure time in seconds. At least that's how I feel every single day. We try to get everything done faster, constantly pushing ourselves and those around us to try harder, to be better.
In her recently published book Thrive, Arianna Huffington, the president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post, delivers many great advises on how to stay in focus without stressing out yourself and others. I cannot express how grateful I am for this body of work. I believe there is a place and time for certain things in life. Every day I am learning to accept whatever happens, good and bad, as a path to wisdom. And as any one of you, I am trying to learn from my mistakes, but I also hope that someone can learn from mine.
I am an international student, based in New York City. Full-time in college, night shifts at work. No one said it would be easy. But no one mentioned it's going to be this hard. I bet a lot of young people can relate to my situation. Not getting enough sleep (if getting some at all), gaining more and more bad habits, letting go of so much needed inner strength. Welcome stress, annoyance, etc. Even when we know deep down inside that what is happening is not OK, most of the times it takes a while to fully understand, that it is not the only way to move forward.
When you are this young, life seems endless. I was hit hard, when in the end of March I lost my childhood friend Sasha to brain tumor. She was only 22 and had a beautiful baby boy. While trying to process this terrible lost, I got more bad news. After long months of trying to find a not-to-the-moon-and-back expensive doctor (that's a different story of how great the American healthcare system is), I finally found one and she told me, that as a result of my hectic schedule, my hormones are all screwed up and there is a possibility that I have breast cancer. I don't know how to describe what I felt that day. Totally alone, with no family and no best friends around. I couldn't even tell my parents. Imagine that? "Hey mom and dad, your usually healthy 23-year-old baby is on her way to the oncology and then radiology centers! How exciting, huh?"
One of the things that kept me sane was Arianna's book. I remember sitting at Speedy's on 32nd street, reading page after page, trying to hold back my tears. As it is said in the beginning of Thrive:
" Your business might have a great bottom line, but you are your most important capital. There is only so many withdraws you can make from your health bank account, but you just keep on withdrawing".
Scheduling one appointment after another, I was feeling lost and a lot of times very angry and sad, but later I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Yes, I was grateful for everything God sent my way. It gave me an opportunity to finally make a full stop, look around and make changes I needed to make. I learned to move slower, sleep better, appreciate the world and people around me, and I learned to share. That's why I'm writing right now, and that's why I chose writing as my career.
After long days of waiting, my doctors gave me a high five -- I didn't have cancer. Not yet. So today, while I still have the time, I really want to spread the message to as many people as I can, especially to the young ladies out there -- it is much more delightful to get to the top of your dreams feeling healthy and empowered. No need to stress yourself out about anything. At the end of it all, nothing will bring us so much joy, as being strong and thriving sisters, wives and mothers. Connecting and caring for each other, we can build a beautiful world for next generations to come. One step at a time.
Photograph by Evgeniya Melnikova.