From Cliff to Cliff

The Body in BalanceThe Big Question

In a fast-paced age of technology, in the “city that never sleeps,” and in a school system where excellence is not only stressed but expected, balance is the last thing I think of when I reflect on the life of a teenager like myself.

The other day I sat down and thought for a while about whether or not there really is any kind of stability in my life. And the first thought that came to my mind was: Well, it depends how you define balance. Balance in itself is a fairly vague idea. The American Heritage Dictionary merely defines it as “a state of bodily equilibrium.” The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that there isn’t equilibrium in my life at all.

Being a teenager is pretty much a perpetual state of change. Halfway between being a child and being an adult creates imbalance in itself. Change seems to be the force that counteracts any stability I could possibly have in my life. It seems as if it I am standing on the very edge of a cliff, not knowing when the next change will come about, and that I will be pushed over the edge only to find myself on the edge of another cliff. With this image in my mind, obtaining balance seems frankly impossible, especially with so much uncertainty and so many decisions that are not left up to me. It may seem that while I am standing on that cliff I am in a state of balance, albeit briefly. But recovering from being shaken by the last push isn’t real stability, at least not stability I would ever be truly comfortable or satisfied with.

I have gone through many changes over the past year and many moments where I felt like I have been pushed from any sort of balance I had. For example, Wylie, one of my very good lifelong friends, announced last May that after years of dreaming about it, she was going away to boarding school. Push. I have always had three best friends at school since Kindergarten: Selena, Holden, and Reese. Last April Reese decided to leave our school to go to a special performing arts high school. Then Selena decided that my high school would be too challenging and switched to a school outside of Manhattan completely. Holden, who used to live a block away from me, moved to the other side of Central Park. Push, Push, Push. I went to high school, and although it’s on the same block as my middle school, it is different—very different. I was used to always being at the top of my class, and with ease. My eighth grade teachers told us that with their help, we were fully prepared for high school. I would categorize this statement as an exaggeration. Fifty new kids joined my grade, a group of kids I had known since I was five, and used to know everything about. And these kids all took hard tests and wrote essays and interviewed to get in. They were the best of the best who applied. By contrast, when I applied at the age of five, I only had to draw a picture of my family to get in. No competition there. Push.

But what if I could jump from cliff to cliff? I played with the idea of putting myself in charge of the changes and embracing them, instead of just waiting to be pushed from ledge to ledge. And the more I thought about it, the better the idea sounded. Not all of the changes that I’ve been through in the past year have been bad ones, and even if they were, embracing all kinds of changes with a positive attitude allows me—instead of falling off—to drop from cliff to cliff and enjoy the ride.

What I can do is attempt to create balance within myself—allow myself to be okay with the ever-changing surroundings.

So I have come to a new conclusion. Attempting to create stability in my own, small, chaotic, universe may not be a very possible or worthwhile feat. But what I can do is attempt to create balance within myself—allow myself to be okay with the ever-changing surroundings. Once I am no longer worrying about what is constantly going on around me, or when I will be pushed next, I can finally embrace every change with new-found inner balance, and jump.

Katie Hartman is a 15-year-old girl currently living, going to school, and having tons of fun in the beautiful city of New York. She lives with her parents and her two younger brothers. She enjoys writing, reading, film, photography, being on the swim team, hanging out with her friends, and doing community service.

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