To stay or not to stay

At the beginning of this Carnival break, I went to a concert at the beach with a few of my friends. We had bought tickets months in advance and were looking forward to the occasion. When we arrived there, the beach was packed with people around the arena where the concert was going to take place. My friends and I, accompanied by a legal guardian, hustled to the ticket booth. The weather was becoming increasingly gloomy, and the sky was threatening rain.

By the time we made our way in, it had started to drizzle. There were couples, groups of friends, and individuals all around us, their bodies moving and hearts beating to the rhythm of the music. The light water droplets falling from the dark clouds grew heavier by the minute and before long, everyone was drenched. The humidity, the cigarette smoke that came from a mob of teenagers beside us, and the crowded setting made it difficult for me to enjoy the show. Through this uncomfortable atmosphere, I was forced to realign my priorities, and reconsider my motives for being there.

Never forget that the choices you make reflect who you are and who you want to be.

Just a few days earlier, I had been stuck in bed with a fever and a terrible sore throat. If I were to stay at the concert, I would have to withstand the rain and bear the inevitable cold; I was risking my health and well-being for just one night. My friends and I discussed whether it was worth staying or not, and we all agreed the better option was to leave, since none of us were willing to risk ruining the rest of our week together. The fact that we had paid for tickets, however, was holding us back from leaving. More than that, I realized we were hesitant to leave because we had not clearly established our priority: health or entertainment? If we stayed at the concert, we would risk getting sick. On the other hand, if we left, we would ensure ourselves an enjoyable and healthy week. The place reeked and was congested with so many people that it was nearly impossible to move. Was it even worth staying?

Had I stayed any longer, I am sure that my entire week would have been jeopardized. I could have endured a few more hours and seen the main attractions of the night. However, knowing myself and how vulnerable I am to illnesses, I chose not to; I would have spent the week bedridden rather than enjoying the beach with my friends. After our unanimous decision, I felt so relieved and elated leaving the show.

This experience allowed me to reflect and reevaluate my priorities more broadly. As a student, I believe in a balance between different priorities in my life—a balance between academic, social, and personal. As the second semester of the school year kicks in and my responsibilities begin to accumulate, I notice myself slowly losing control over keeping my priorities straight and focusing on what matters. Getting priorities straight is tough because we are constantly under the influence of others, whether it be friends, teachers, media, or society. We are bombarded with different ideas and ways of thinking. We need to be sure of what we want.

So this is what I learned: The sooner you set up priorities, the easier it will be to make the choices that follow those priorities. When you are not certain of your priorities, it becomes difficult to make choices, and you are more likely to be influenced by others. Never forget that the choices you make reflect who you are and who you want to be.  Not everything will go according to plan, so it’s important to be persistent: What are your priorities? And then, how are you going to achieve them? And when are you going to take action?