Simplicity is something that everyone needs. It’s something that makes life easier. It made my life easier. It adds a glow and a breath of fresh air to our world. But the strange thing about this is that if you don’t have simplicity in your life, you aren’t properly cared for. That is what happened to me. I fell apart.
I have fine physical health. I have my mother to thank for that. I take plenty of showers, brush my teeth, and eat right. It was my mental health that maybe wasn’t as perfect. I did not know how to love myself, to not always be working to make things better, to not be fighting with myself and come out bruised in the end. At nights, I wouldn’t be sleeping. I’d be kept awake by my fears of failing. And I forgot who I was. At the end of each week, I’d wonder what I was doing wrong.
This had started the summer after fourth grade. I don’t remember why, but I know it was at the end of school. Maybe I was worried about having less work to fill up my day. I remember crying to my mother, asking her what was wrong. I saw the tears in her shirt, and only cried more. But I didn’t know the half of it.
Fifth grade started in a few months. I was at the same school, with children that I had been with in school for a long time—the same shoal of fish. And before, I was part of that shoal, but now it felt like I was a newcomer—a different colored fish. Suddenly I felt like I had to push myself to extents that I never felt like I had to do before. I worked twice as hard as I had the year before. What did I get out of it? All I got was this feeling like I had done something wrong, like I hadn’t done enough. It wasn’t worth all the work.
At first my family pushed it to the side as me going through mood swings, but that didn’t explain why I wasn’t sleeping at night, why the world seemed to blend into one grey, straight line—something with no end, just continuing to run until I got tired. Something needed to be done.
Part of the problem was that I was always working on something. During school, I was doing too much extra credit work. I was in as many clubs as I could, and I was always on task and paying attention in class. After school I was doing an extracurricular activity—whether it was active, like ballet, or because of my religion, like Hebrew school, I was always working.
I realized that I had to do something about this. So I took a deep breath one day, and decided what was actually making me feel happy, and what I was just doing for other people, what I needed to do, and what I did just for extra credit that probably wasn’t worth it. Nothing like that is worth it, especially at my age. I wasn’t even in middle school yet. I was just pretending like what I was doing, all of the hours of work that didn’t make me feel good inside, was doing something for me.
I couldn’t figure this out on my own. I had help from my mother and the therapist I went to. I think that the reason it took me so long to realize what to other people is an obvious fact was because I didn’t want to accept that all of this work that I was doing wasn’t paying off. I was lost. My mind was twisting against itself, arguing constantly with itself, what I should do about it. I knew that I had to make my life simpler, and to enjoy how simple it was. To relax, and truly realize that there was more to life than just working all day.
I made the tough decision of no longer doing ballet. Ballet took a lot out of me and made me have low self esteem if I didn’t do a step right. I had been doing ballet since I was three, and my mother loved ballet and I loved it. I just didn’t love to do it. I thought in my head how it would make my mother feel bad, and how it would make me feel bad, because now I didn’t have an active thing that I was doing. So I continued to do it until I couldn’t stand the sleepless nights and horrible one‐hour‐and‐thirty‐minute classes of ballet twice a week. I told my mother that I had to quit.
Quitting ballet may of seemed like a small move, just a step down a long path of hard work, but it made a giant difference. My mother wasn’t mad, and was, of course, understanding. She even was a little relieved because she had seen how miserable I was each day after doing ballet.
Middle school had started for me and life only wanted to get more difficult. My homework amount doubled and I went from being in a grade with 40 children to 90. I wasn’t doing very well socially either. But quitting ballet made me quit doing a few more after school activities, and made me not want to try and do an overly big amount of work. I now had more time to myself. Some room to breathe. I was a lot happier. Life wanted to get difficult and bring me down, but I somehow made it more simple, and I benefited from it.
Simplicity is something that everyone needs, and I have realized this fact now. And now I’m a lot better when it comes to dealing with complicated issues. There will always be people that will tell me that I do need to work more. But I’ve found a happy balance. And I know that when school gets harder and there is even less time to myself, I’ll manage. I know this because I’ve thought long and hard about simplicity and its meaning, even if it does mean no longer doing things that I had been doing for a long time. I know that simplicity is something beautiful that everyone should have the privilege of having.