My k-12 teachers always told me, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” I used to believe them until I started college. As a perfectionist, I strive for excellence and seek to exceed expectations. Mediocrity does not suffice. I used to believe I could always give 110 percent in everything I did. However, I soon realized that was impossible.
I started off freshman year pretty simple with 15 units, wind ensemble, and freelancing for the school newspaper. I added more campus media commitments, a job, more units, and playing for a worship team sophomore year. Despite all these commitments, I balanced them all pretty well.
Everything went downhill starting junior year. My gastritis and GERD developed right after the spring semester ended and flared up right when the fall semester began, On top of that, I accepted a new position as the Biola Odyssey community’s editor-in-chief, took on a position on the student magazine, and received more work hours. Plus, I enrolled in harder courses, which required more homework time.
Things started falling through the cracks. I started rushing through papers because I barely had time to finish them. I forgot to tell my writers about our meeting for the week until two hours before it began. My weak body could not handle the high amount of stress and work I faced and I quickly became very exhausted. I holed up in my room on the weekends, said no when friends asked me to hang out, and started practicing my instruments less.
More chaos erupted this semester. I stopped working for the magazine, but I took on an internship and a full course load. I frequently stayed up late and only got about four hours of sleep for about two weeks straight. In addition, I failed a test and turned in less-than-stellar assignments because I could no longer find motivation to complete work, even for the classes I enjoyed.
I learned some hard lessons this semester, but I’m thankful for the new perspectives I gained. The most important lesson I learned is that sometimes what we want isn’t necessarily what’s best for us.
I attended Forest Home as a Child Care Assistant for five years and loved spending the summer at camp. As a result, I worked at Forest Home and Camp Pondo for the past two summers. I planned to return to Pondo this summer, but I backed out the week before move-in. I cried for a bit and felt sad because I couldn’t fathom a summer away from camp.
What changed my mind? My doctors and parents cautioned me that working at a camp isn’t necessarily the best option for someone with a chronic illness. Time in the sun, high altitude, hilly areas, a high-energy environment , and little alone time can significantly drain any staff member.
“But I can push past it all if I want it badly enough,” I told myself. And then I remembered how many days I spent in bed and how I skipped a couple classes because I could barely move. Even though my health has improved significantly over the past couple of months, I realized that bodies have physical limitations. I could no longer act like Wonder Woman and save the world. I knew I had to take care of myself before I could take care of others.
Instead of working at camp this summer, I’m staying at my parents’ new home in Sandpoint, Idaho. I love the area and am thankful for relaxation time, yet I miss the idea of camp. Nonetheless, I sacrificed my dream and faced reality. It’s not what I wanted, but we must make hard choices in life and this was one of them. In the end, I know I will look back and thank God for this recovery time.
I encourage anyone else struggling with chronic illness to realize that sometimes we cannot do everything we want to because of physical limitations, but God stands by us during these times and continue showing us what’s next.