Alright, it’s time for full disclosure here – how many of y’all in middle school captioned a picture you put on Facebook or edited with Picnik with the classic Maya Angelou quote: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”? Did your sixth-grade-self truly believe this? Do you still believe this today? Even if you didn't use this quote to caption the pictures of you and your BFFs before Mom drove you to the school dance, I’m sure you've at least heard it before.
As corny as this quote may be, Maya Angelou speaks some serious truth. Our lives are filled with numbers - not just the number of breaths we take, but also our grades, our GPAs, the number of miles we walked or ran, our sizes, our weights, and many more. It is so easy, especially on a large college campus, to feel as if these numbers are the extent of our value. It is so easy to think that if I can just make a certain GPA, if I can just get down to this size, if I can just lose however many pounds, I will be happy. If I get the numbers that I want, then I will be fine. What happens, then, when we forsake those “moments that take our breath away” to try to achieve these numbers, and then when we finally get there, realize we are still not happy? That is an incredibly difficult place to be. The best way to avoid getting to this place is to take a preventative approach: recognize that these numbers - your GPA, your size, your weight - have absolutely no bearing on your worth. Consider the people who love you and know you best. Wouldn't they still love you if you didn't make a perfect GPA or get down to a certain size? You know that they would.
Here is the even more important question: If you don’t achieve these ideal numbers, would you still love yourself? I don’t care what your “ideal” numbers are; the answer should be YES no matter what. Yes, your academics and your health are very important, but the numbers that are used to quantify academics and health do not define these aspects of your life. If you challenge yourself and put your best work into school, then you have succeeded in academics. If you maintain a balance by eating and doing activity you enjoy and that makes you feel good, then you have succeeded in health.
There is no “perfect” number to define success or happiness. We already established with the help of Maya Angelou that the happiness of life is not measured by any number. So, get back to the moments that take your breath away.