I’ve always been an overachiever. I’m passionate and tend to overwork myself. Even if it means staying up until 3 o’clock in the morning, I push myself to exceed expectations and deadlines in both my work and my personal passions. I rarely slow down or take a break. Sometimes, though, I take my work so seriously that I forget the importance of self-care and my own health.
A recent near-death experience forever changed my perspective on overachieving, though.
My family took a vacation to New York City for the holidays and my mother’s 40th birthday. Between going to school during the week, writing, and maintaining a busy schedule, I’d been pushing myself hard for months before the trip. Though the days flashed by and I was about to be on vacation, nothing was going to stop me. I wanted to do it all.
Family and friends tried to warn me that I was overdoing it. People urged me to take a break and slow down a bit, or at least lighten my load. Looking back, I should have taken everybody’s advice. Little did I know that by overworking myself so much, I was actually pushing my body to the point of no return.
When it came time for the trip, I was a ticking time bomb without even realizing that I was harming myself. I felt exhausted, but I chalked it up to the early morning and lack of sleep. I shrugged off the weird body sensations, too. It was nothing, right?
Everything seemed fine as the flight took off. I started watching the on-flight television, and I remember telling my dad about some hilarious cartoon I’d flipped to.
The next thing I knew, everything went dark. I couldn’t talk or gather my thoughts, but I could feel my body shaking. Time passed, though I’m not sure how much because all I could see was darkness. Suddenly, I heard my dad screaming my name, and I opened my eyes.
I later found out that on the flight, I had had a seizure.
It turns out that my body was actually trying to warn me that I was working too hard, but I ignored all the signs. I pushed myself for months without listening to my body and taking care of my needs. I refused to slow down.
Thankfully, I am recovering just fine, but what if I had not been so lucky?
This experience taught me that it’s time to slow down and enjoy life. It’s OK if I don’t achieve all of my life aspirations immediately. Everyone puts their pants on the same way: one leg at a time. We all need to remember to enjoy the moments and balance out work with play. As the old fable says, “slow and steady wins the race.” I’m going to take that advice to heart and start being more like the tortoise instead of the hare. We should all take life one day at a time; our health and wellbeing depends on it.