Written By Malin Jörnvi
Published: January 5, 2017
I always prided myself with never doing things half-heartedly.
I’ve always been very black and white – either I do something fully or I don’t do it at all. This is a trait that I’ve been very proud of and I’m convinced that it’s partly what brought me to where I am today. It certainly served me for a long time in school, especially during those years in middle school that suck for everyone, when I felt the need to define myself non-socially and to become my own person. I then became the one who performed well. In everything. But then I started the IB, and the IB asks you to perform not only academically, but also creatively, physically, and morally (through the CAS component), and for someone who always did her best, this was a lot of areas to excel in. Add to that the complexity of being surrounded by very high-achieving peers. For a long period of time I could feel the exhaustion and stress build but I didn’t feel I had time to worry or care, it had to wait until after I was done. But then during the fall of senior year I collapsed.
I’m sure that our bodies know way more than our brains acknowledge, and my body finally said “enough.” It was a classic wake-up call; I simply couldn’t proceed with “business as usual.” Now looking back I can proudly say that even though I graduated with less points than I wanted, I also started my journey to a new approach in life. I started to accept that every single thing I do can’t be a 100%. I’m only human. As evident it may seem to another, this is a journey I’m still on today. And the same journey also took me to Paris during my gap year.
Paris taught me many different things, but perhaps the most important lesson I’ll aways bear with me from my time there was the realization I got after a short meeting with the manager at the restaurant in which I worked. After I had proposed an increase in hours he argued that my manners was an obstacle to any raise. I’ll never forget the way he said: “manière méchant” and how it came totally out of the blue and struck me profoundly hard as I had been on nothing but my best behavior while working, and when I talked with my colleges about it, nobody understood what he meant. What this taught me was that other people’s opinions about you are not always correct. It might seem self-explanatory but it’s a truth not always easy to retain. And for better or worse, it’s a truth that I’ve applied to any critique or grade I’ve received ever since. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to other people’s views, you really should. But unless it’s constructive, it really is useless. As useless as when we had a peer review in essay writing class and my classmate gave me the following note: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand your writing at all.” I later got an A on the very same essay.
I’m writing this in my bed as I’m trying to recover from a badass cold. I’m trying to rest, resting which has never been easy to me, even though I fully believe it to be so crucial. I’m convinced that rest is what part of a break or vacations must be. Rest for body and mind. Rest from the outside world with all of it’s opinions and lack of understanding. I honestly think that the hibernating bears have something figured out. Because when we make ourselves the time to fully rest, we regain the energy to get back into the game. To go back out in the world and do what we can to improve it. And this I think is every single humans being’s responsibility: To do the best you can. And remembering to take some time off.
Giardino di Boboli, Firenze, Italia