What is Most Important to Me?

What is Most Important to Me?

Allison Franklin

Post-card #1:  What is most important to me?

I always thought of myself to have a balanced outlook on life, and maintained a reasonable viewpoint on what was most important to me. I wanted to be a “normal” college girl, leading a fulfilled, accomplished, enjoyable life that included being active, social and healthy, while maintaining all my extracurricular activities. To me, it sounded manageable; sometimes you may have to sacrifice something—but who doesn’t, right? Unfortunately, however, I learned the hard way, that some things—relationships, physical and emotional health, are not worth risking. I recently became aware of the extent to which all of the things I was trying to do in life, in order to make myself feel productive, accomplished, and happy, would ironically lead me to a five day hospitalization, and bed rest. As frustrating and difficult as it was, this experience has ultimately been a giant wake up call, forcing me to look at my priorities, and see how skewed they once were, but it has ultimately given me much needed clarity and strength. As a result, I have come to understand what is truly important to me, and how that brings more meaning to my life, than anything else.

It began at the beginning of the summer, after I had finished school and was terrified about looking to my summer ahead, which consisted of four months with no plans and no job. I responded in somewhat of a panic, applying for any job that I was somewhat qualified for, and trying to overcompensate for my lack of activity, but trying to be “productive” and accomplished in every other sense. If I wasn’t working on a job application, I should be running or exercising, going to the gym, cleaning up, doing chores around the house, babysitting—being “productive.” In my mind, any thing else such as relaxing, spending time with family and friends, or enjoying the day I considered a waste of time. After obsessively spending time filling out job applications for a few weeks, I was pleased to have multiple work opportunities. I accepted offers to be a camp counselor during the day, and a hostess at night. Fully aware that working would occupy my day from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, I was content, because I knew that ultimately, I would be doing something for twelve hours and would feel accomplished each day. This sense of fulfillment was what I thought was the most important to me, and was worth it despite possible exhaustion. Working, making money, and exercising—all of my focus and concentration went into these three areas. I was unclear of the importance of relaxing and enjoying myself, often sacrificing spending time with my family and friends for my job or workout regiment. Pushing myself so hard for so long would ultimately have consequences, but I was oblivious, and unwilling to let up.

          But I found that despite my relatively lively energy and spirits, these consequences were just around the corner, as I went into the infirmary for a simple question one afternoon, and ended up admitted to Newton-Wellesley hospital. I was devastated, as I was not only unable to get up and move around, but I couldn’t do homework, exercise, work or do any of these “productive” activities that I had shaped my entire life around. Yet ironically, it was all of these behaviors, and the extent to which I had overworked myself, that brought about this hospital admission. Yet as I was forced to sit essentially put my life on pause for this extended period of time, I came to a much healthier understanding, of what was important in my life.

Being stuck in a hospital bed was not fun. I was alone, I was sad, and I missed most parts of my life. I missed being at school, in my apartment and in my own bed, I missed running and being active. I missed out on parties and social events. But ultimately, none of these things would have helped me out of they physical and emotional abyss to which I had fallen. What did, were people. But not just anyone. The doctors were great, the nurses were supportive and comforting too, but they were not enough. What I truly needed, in order to get through my hospitalization was support and this could only come from certain people in my life—those I had not been paying enough attention to, in my frenzy of trying to achieve too much.

But that weather I was in my deepest despair, or just upset, lonely or bored, my parents, and best friends were there. They were not just the people who were best at helping me feel better, but they were the only ones who could. This realization allowed me to see how important it is to have these relationships in your life. More so than any job, any workout, test, exam or activity, I needed my mother, my father, and my web of amazing best friends. They are they ones who know me best, who understand me, and are willing to sacrifice an aspect of their life, for my well being.

Realizing this was crucial, because their unconditional love, and what they did for me, ultimately taught me a valuable sense of importance and self worth that I had been previously so blind to. I was so caught up what I thought was important—doing my job, exercising, and working hard—that I forgot about what actually mattered in life. I now fully comprehend what I need to feel accomplished in life, and it is nothing that can be measured by dollars earned or miles run. Rather, it is a sense of love, compassion, and commitment that stems from those around you, that keep you smiling, and loving life.  


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