One of the most American parts of me is my constant desire for self-improvement. I like taking on new projects that will improve my life and make me a better person – health challenges, Sign Language classes, fitness goals, writing schedules; the list goes on and on. The goal of my gap year was to figure out my passion and purpose; for my first year of college, it was being a kind and good person; this past year, it was getting my grades where I wanted them to be. And every time a new school year or summer begins, I take a step back and think, in what area of my life would I most like to improve now?
As a result, I can’t sit still. I always have to be working on something, whether it be a novel, a blog post, or a final paper. There are positives to this, of course: I’m never bored, and I have lots of fun projects to do. But the goals and challenges, while they’ve helped me improve in lots of ways, have also sent a less positive message: you are never good enough. Fitness challenge? Be healthier. Writing goals? Work more. Grades? You can always do better.
Not this summer.
After one heck of a rough semester, I want some “time off” of self-improvement. I want to enjoy my summer for what it is: a few months of work and sunshine before I head off to one of the most challenging universities in the world. No charts and schedules; no hidden agenda. I want to take a step back and remind myself that I was created as I am – clumsy, imperfect, growing upwards – for a reason. And that that growth always happens accidentally, in the spaces between my plans. It happens when I least expect: when I am with a friend and I am suddenly reminded of what it means to love unconditionally; when I feel myself letting go of an old hurt or grudge; when I unplug, open my eyes, and let myself see the immense beauty of the world around me, which I too often take for granted.
It’s a beautiful life. I want to take those moments to heart, and remember that for all my plans, my true growth happens in the ways I least expect. Writing, cooking, working out – it’s all great and important, and it helps me make the most of my short time on this earth. But what’s important, too, is balance; to work hard, but also to be grateful for what we’ve been given and for the people we already are.
So this summer, I am letting go a little bit. I am doing my best to appreciate my life and let the growth happen on its own.
I guess you could call it my new self-improvement project. (;