Finding my center helps me find my focus


“Are you okay?”

Accompanied by a worried glance and furrowed eyebrows, that same question was consistently asked of me over the course of my seven-hour school day. I felt like a broken record repeating over and over that “I was fine,” but in truth, I really wasn’t.

On a typical day for me, my brain is always racing with the upcoming tests for various classes or a number of after-school commitments, barely waiting for my body to fully catch up with it all. Usually that is perfect for me; it keeps me motivated to keep achieving, but it also stabilizes me to prevent me from stressing out. On most days, I’m like a well-oiled machine, where everything works perfectly and automatically clicks into place. This day was different. My usually happy disposition was gone and replaced by an anxious and dazed version of myself.

Stumbling out of bed at 6:36 a.m., I slowly went through the motions of my normal morning routine. By the time I finally looked up from my foggy stupor, it was way past time to leave for school, and my carefully planned schedule was wrecked before it even started. Scrambling for my belongings and some level of competence, I ran out the door, and upon arrival at school, I snagged a parking spot in the last row from the school. Hefting my school and cross country bags, I hustled across the parking lot and up the stairs to get to my first hour class.

From then on, my school day consisted of spaciness and missing out on entire conversations. It was like my well-oiled machine suddenly ran out of gas, and I had to push it up a steep hill. In the halls, pushing myself to make it through the day was nearly impossible, and I felt on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Because I had been so focused about maintaining control over my hectic schedule, I could barely see what was really going on. My life was missing a couple extra hours of sleep, and I was tangled in a knot made up of stresses and responsibilities. I had left no time to rest or recharge over the course of the long four-day weekend, which was bustling with activity.

I only became myself again when I stopped trying to play catch-up and turned my attention toward maintaining my health. After attempting to fix everything and failing, I stopped and took a moment to relax. I went to Meijer for some chocolate milk. I talked to my family. When I finally felt calm and able to breathe, the knot of stresses easily unraveled, and things fell into place again. Without that necessary sleep, organization, and break, my well-oiled machine broke down, and I was left to pick up the pieces.