This I Believe

Margaret - Traverse City, Michigan
Entered on May 22, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

A Life Worth Living

Oftentimes I dwell on the past, reminiscing about those isolated moments of perfection, those unforgettable memories, thinking to myself, “That was it. It’s never going to get any better than that.” Other times I look forward to the future, obsessing over goals and worrying about tasks not yet completed. I’m simply biding my time, waiting for that better tomorrow. While the past and future have their merits, I frequently forget to live in the present. I get so wrapped up in what I’ve done and what I’ve yet to do, that I forget to appreciate what I’m doing right now, today. I believe in taking one day at a time.

It is a difficult time to be young. As a high school student, not a day goes by when I am not reminded how competitive the world has become. I am constantly bombarded with the unending message that in order to be a person of worth I need success, I need riches, I need fame. Essentially, I need to be the best. “Achieve at all costs” seems to be the motto of my generation. My typical day seemed to be one giant attempt at the insurmountable.

Each morning I would wake up exhausted. Always, as I slammed the snooze button for five more stolen minutes of rest, this question would cross my mind: “What do I have to get through today?” I would then list all of the various activities I had to endure before I could again attempt to rehabilitate my worn out body. School, practice, homework, club activities… Everyday the list seemed endless, and every morning I awoke feeling too tired to function and asking myself that dreaded question, “What do I have to get through today?”

I had taken on too much. I could scarcely handle the pressure. I was hanging on by my fingertips. But none of this mattered. What mattered was that I achieve, that I be the best, because otherwise what would I be worth? I worried about everything. I worried whether or not I would get into college, whether I could have studied harder or pushed myself a little bit further, whether I would make something out of myself. I had been told, repeatedly, that the world is a competitive place, that if you slow down, if you relax, opportunity will pass you by. I was bent on being the best, on being that image of perfection too often held out before me. But then I snapped; I couldn’t do it anymore.

“What do I have to get through…” It was this last bit of my morning mantra that made me see the light. A day should not simply be something to “get through.” A day should be lived. Each moment in time is special, unique, never to be lived again. Each day is resplendent with tiny marvels, the small wonders of everyday life. I needed to appreciate what the day had to offer; there will never be another today. Slow down. Breathe. Live in the present. I believe in taking one day at a time.