By Michelle Hwang
When my family and I stayed in South Korea, my elementary self walked around with heightened senses. On every street corner were delicacies I could only dream of finding back at home. Everything my eyes came across, my stomach wanted.
So when my grandmother took us to a high class buffet for Christmas Eve, and I saw that glorious spread of mouthwatering cuisine laid out in front of me, I. Was. Ready. I ate and ate and ate until I was more pasta and jumbo shrimp than I was Michelle.
Unfortunately, after leaving the restaurant, I threw up the majority of my dinner from the back of a taxi. The night before Christmas, my nausea kept me awake, until my stomach was empty and I was spitting bile.
This practice wasn’t something uncommon in my life at the time. No. Not the overeating and throwing up through the night, but the taking of more than I could handle for fear of passing up an opportunity. I was living with a constant “now or never” mentality.
The afternoons of my middle and high school years were packed with the horde of clubs I had joined. In sports, I drove myself to the very extent of my physical limits, thinking that if I didn’t hustle then, I would regret it later. Even with friends, I often went to parties or hangouts after a draining week of school for fear of missing out on the fun.
All that overloading never ended well.
With so many clubs to pay attention to, I was unable to give my best effort to any one activity. Constantly overexerting at practice led to a knee injury that took more than a year to recover from. And spending time with my friends while in poor condition put a strain on both my relationships and my own health.
For so long, I loaded my plate with anything and everything because I was afraid I would fail to realize my life’s full potential. But this toxic mentality always led to a period of “puking my guts out” and collapsing under the weight of everything I had taken on. Sometimes literally. It was only when I learned to match my eyes to the size of my stomach that I was able to truly appreciate the wonderful flavors of everything this world has to offer.