Photo taken by Austin Gray.

Expectations can be healthy or crushing. Obsessive thought and restricting criticism can engage someone to completely shut down. Letting go of control is freeing. I have realized that striving to be the best me is the greatest thing I can do.

Perri Rabbitt, Staff Writer

I gasped for air, realizing that there were two hands around my neck, clenching, pulsing. They would squeeze so tight sometimes. Sometimes they would squeeze so tightly that I realized there was no open passage for air to enter and quench my craving. This was a time like that, lasting longer than any time before. My hands extended outwards with urgency to grab for the air I longed for; I knew I could no longer live this way. The hands were my own.

The expectations were not by anyone else’s hands; they were simply a drilling creation of my own mind and thoughts. I had implanted them in the back of my skull. I say skull because if they were in my brain, I would be smart enough to know that they were ridiculous, but no, they were in my skull.

Expectations telling me every day I must look prettier, every day I must get better grades, every day I must do everything right and do it even better than the day before. Every day I must go without messing up, saying something stupid, embarrassing myself. Every day I had to get a boy’s attention, do enough, be enough, yet surpass enough because doing enough was not enough. I wanted to be beyond enough, beyond standards; I wanted to be the over-achiever and being enough was just so average. I was driving myself to insanity.

Thinking of it all makes me nauseous and overwhelmed. When I try contributing to anything, I have a hard time focusing on one thing. I am wondering of the next thing and the previous thing. There is not enough time for me to be involved in it all, and when there is time, I end up taking too long on one thing and doing nothing for the other. Everything takes me so long to do because I want to do it well and right. Then everything takes me so long that I lose track of time. I cannot spend less time because then it will not be my best. If I do my best, I do not have time to get to everything. I know I need to be doing a lot; I am always busy.

I wonder what I have been doing all this time. I look at my checklist at the end of the day and end up crossing off one thing, seeing all the other things pile up, and the crossing off process remaining at the same rate- too slow. I have been passionate about an excess of activities and find myself hoping to invest in an excess of more things. It hurts that I cannot do it all. Why? It is simply impossible.

I have been told, “do for one thing what you wish you could do for all,” but how do I choose? How do I calm myself down to remind myself of that truth? If I do not only focus on one thing then I will have to split my effort. If I do one thing, I can put all my effort in. If I do twelve things I have to split my time and effort into them all and, therefore, contribute less.

How do I meet the requirements of being well-rounded? How do I gain experience in a multitude of opportunities? If I choose one thing, what in the world is the one thing I should choose? Is the commitment too large, or am I afraid to commit? Have I gained bad habits by having too many things to commit to? Have I never completely committed to anything because I do not have the time or the discipline to fully commit?

I get worked up, exhausted, frazzled to bits, but then I get distracted and move on. Dare the process repeat when the issue winds back around, it becomes too large of a road block, keeping me from going forward.

Breathe, repeat the truth, breathe again, repeat the truth, stop holding your breath, and repeat the truth to yourself loud enough to block out everything else. “You cannot do it all,” they say. These moody time-bomb regurgitations of stress come from my internalization of chaotic needs to control everything.

“I just cannot do it all,” I finally say. This mumbled mess of mind takes away from my Ultimate focus, accomplishing its goal of distraction. What am I on this earth for? What is my purpose? I am in the arms of my Father. I can enjoy it all, and give my best in the time I have, prioritize, pray. Do it all in love.

I am making the conscious decision to stop, stop trying to do it all in my own effort and ability; I do not have what it takes, and that is beautiful. I am releasing the hands that fight to never let go. I am letting go, putting down my fight but raising my hands to the One who can do it all, and with Divine intervention I will breathe. Live. Rest in the arms of the Father. Repeat.