When Opportunity Comes Knocking

There is so much you can do. I don’t think I’ve fully appreciated that until now. There are so many opportunities calling your name, so many different paths to take, so many different choices to make, so many freaking chances. It’s incredible, the variety the world offers, even in your own personal, micro world. The World I’m exposed to, the Alex World, we’ll call it, it alone has so much to offer. Opportunity knocks at my door every day with a new suggestion. The clubs in school, the classes, the friends, the community activities, it’s all there, I just have to reach out and grab it.

And there are very few times when I don’t. I took on a position on the newspaper staff, as well as the broadcasting team. I don’t regret either of those decisions; in fact, they may be the most rewarding decisions I’ve made. That doesn’t mean they come with light workloads. The opportunities come with dedication and time commitment. Put that alongside APUSH (AP US History), Spanish III, and Honors English, and you’ve got  more to worry about. And when you begin to add Publicity Crew and Lighting Crew in drama club to the load, you begin to see all of the responsibility that’s going to be placed on your shoulders.

It’s a lot to handle, but nothing that I didn’t sign up for. I have to realize that, and charge into each challenge head-first. So much easier said than done, especially since I can’t seem to say no to myself, to any chance that comes up. Outside of school, I’m trying to get a job, I’m still attempting to keep up with friends, and I agreed to write the script for a fundraiser my theater group is putting on. I agreed to write the script for a murder mystery train ride, after never writing a script before, never having written a mystery anything before, and never, not once in my life, even seeing a play performed on a moving train. It was a great opportunity, and no doubt the gateway to so many more creative writing doors, but seriously. I am apparently insane. I am evidently a nut job.

I’ve felt like one for the past few days, weeks, basically the past month has left my mind in non-stop sprint mode, somersaulting and cartwheeling just to keep up with the workload. Stories for the newspaper, editorial articles, APUSH tests, edit the script, attend the crew interviews, cast the characters, review vocabulary, look up what the heck comma splicing is, re-write act III, I can’t stop to breathe. Okay, that’s a bit of stretch, but I had begun to skip eating. Breakfast became non-existent, lunch was an optional meal, and I even skipped dinner once or twice to get everything done on time. My sleeping routine had dwindled to four and a half hours a night so I could wake up at 3:30 and finish what had been a work in progress last night. It’s ridiculous, and it finally caught up to me last Friday, when my stomach woke me up at 2:00 in the morning, just in time for me to run to the bathroom.

I was miserably, painfully sick the entire day. I planted myself on the couch in the basement and didn’t move, the Brown Labrador by my side (probably wondering why I was dying and how he could help, the little angel), occasionally darting back to the porcelain throne or the sweet daydream that I was somewhere else, being rewarded for my hard work instead of penalized (a daydream that may or may not have included a very different kind of throne).

It only struck me afterward what was truly wrong with this picture. I was spending my Friday in a heap on the couch, and do you know what bothered me? The fact that I couldn’t work on the script. The fact that I couldn’t focus my double vision long enough to study.  The fact that I wasn’t doing my work.

Finally, I took a step back and realized this wasn’t healthy. If I had found out anyone I cared about, even remotely, even the girl who’s name I think starts with a T in my Biology class beside me, if I found out any one of them were putting themselves through this, I would’ve told them very different things than I was telling myself. Take a breath, instead of push through it. Get some sleep, instead of get off your arse and get moving. Give yourself a break, instead of if Annabeth Chase could hold up the sky for three days you can carry a homework load.I couldn’t treat myself worse than I would the people I care about. I need to care about myself.

Hard work isn’t a bad thing. Pushing yourself is a fantastic thing to do. Challenges are what help you grow. But, you need to accept the fact that you have limits, and balance things correctly. You can’t look at the world around you and see only the opportunities you could have, instead of the ones waltzing in front of your face. There came an opportunity for an incredible internship only a few days ago, with benefits I couldn’t believe and chances that could give me a boost in the area of creative writing, in the long run. I was invited to audition for a Christmas show with people I adore working with. It was possible for me to take on House Crew on top of Publicity and Lighting, or Costume, or Set, or so many others that would teach me so many things. The Business Manager of our school newspaper is looking for someone for her to take under her wing, a chance to build a base on business and marketing that could help me in any field I choose in the future.

But, the thing is, I can’t keep jumping at every opportunity I see. There are endless chances to improve yourself and get experience, to learn new things, the conflagration of choices is literally infinite. But looking at everything that you might miss instead of what you already have to work with is a poisonous mindset. It’s like sitting in the middle of the stars, and holding your own collection in your hands, your own shining, shimmering, splendid balls of luminescence and light, and thinking only of all the stars you could be holding instead. You can’t hold all the stars in your hand. You need to pick some, and lose many others, and that’s just the way reality works.

I have to ignore the internship offer, and elaborate on my script instead. I need to put aside the business opportunities and focus on opinion writing, and getting my stories in on time. I need to ignore the other crews that were available and build on the ones I’m already immersed in. I need to work on homework instead of memorizing lines.

The line needs to be drawn somewhere.

Sometimes, when opportunity comes calling, you need to ignore the voicemail.

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