I am Enough Rachel Griffith
Leveled classes, more freedom, my second year of middle school, I couldn’t wait for seventh grade!
When I got to school though, it wasn’t anything like I had pictured. It just felt like everything was crashing down on me and I was sinking deeper and deeper and couldn’t possibly swim up. On top of this, I was studying for my Bat Mitzvah and trying to figure out stuff like what I want to talk about there, and how to read Torah.
My schedule would look something like this: get up at six AM, exhausted, get to school where I felt like everything was going wrong, get home, exasperated, and do homework until about 9 o’clock at night. Yeah, it was NOT ideal to say the least. Stress overwhelmed me and I just wanted to give up. It felt like nothing could possibly get better.
School has always been a place that I felt happy in. A place where I could spend time doing something I loved. I’ve always taken my time to do everything my very best. Even when I was young, I felt that I needed to be the best, so naturally, in seventh grade, I wanted to be in an accelerated class. Within the first few days, I realized that this class just didn’t align with the way I learn best, with my methodical ways. There is this pressure that I felt society put onto me that I needed to be in “advanced” or “accelerated” classes to be successful in life.
While I was in the midst of this stressful time, I decided to FaceTime a friend, a few years older than me. “You NEED to do things that make you happy even if that means you aren’t in a more ‘advanced class’ or you have to stop some activities,” she told me. “You’re the most important thing in your life.”
This conversation really prompted me to look at my priorities and figure out the root of all this stress, so I moved to a lower math class. Everyone was so nice and supportive, and the year started to be a little better, but most days, even having one little thing go wrong would put me over the edge. Having a teacher announce an upcoming assessment or assign a project made me on the verge of tears. My heart rate would increase, increase, increase, and increase. Bum, ba bum, ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum baaaaa bum. Until it felt like my heart would beat straight out of my chest. Like my heart needed a new place to live. I was under the impression that the only way to be a success was if I did everything I possibly could and put 100% into it all.
Slowly, I realized that I needed to set specific times for MYSELF. Set time limits on my homework. Give myself opportunities to hang out with friends, bake, and even watch my escape from reality, Grey’s Anatomy.
I decided that I would begin to focus on rebuilding myself because the only way for me to do what I wanted, the way I wanted, was to be confident with myself while working toward goals.
By making these goals to put myself first, I became much more successful and my stress levels started decreasing. I had successes. I had failures. I learned a lot about so much, but most importantly how to treat myself.
Putting myself first is NOT a bad thing. Putting myself first just means I see my own value and want to make sure I am as happy as possible. This is difficult for oh so many and it’s a hard thing to learn.
The truth is, the hard times feel like they last forever and will never end. I was in a bad place emotionally and mentally, and it often felt as though nothing good would ever come. Life is going to be difficult. There are constant ups and downs, twists and turns, but self-love, that is the most vital to be successful.
© Rachel Griffith. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.