Ending long-term commitments is often necessary

     With conditioning for spring sports creeping up on student-athletes like myself, the next season’s commitment can be anxiety-inducing. Since I was six, soccer has been my passion, but in the past few years, I have fallen completely out of love with what was once my whole life. I spent countless hours and dollars on something that I’ve simply thrown away, which is a scary thought. Whether it be sports, clubs or other dedications, ending long-term commitments, while frightening, is completely alright.

     The pressure I put on myself to get into a good college kept me in my loveless relationship with soccer for longer than I imagined. Extracurriculars are crucial in preparation for post-high school paths, but sacrificing your mental health and happiness is not worth the prestigious college. If you are dead set on getting more involved, there are numerous sports and clubs offered at Kaneland, at least one of which is bound to catch your eye.

     On the contrary, many improve their mental state by playing sports or participating in other activities rather than worsening it. The repetitive, structured nature of organized activities can be an escape from everyday problems. Still, when you start to feel more anxious about extracurriculars than normal, that is when you need to get out. 

     Students who get to the point where they feel they need to opt out of a long-term commitment are often those who already struggle with mental health.

     “44% [of high school students] said that, in the previous 12 months, they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for at least two weeks in a row such that they stopped doing some usual activities,” the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in their 2022 Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences survey. 

     There is a point where people go into a depressive episode and experience no interest in activities they once loved, which must be taken into account before ending a commitment. While oftentimes the way to get back to true happiness is to cut off dead weight and embrace the things you will continue to love, you still must evaluate every nuance of your decision to make sure you will not make your life worse and feed into depressive feelings.

     Unusually elevated anxiety and depression in specific endeavors are not normal or healthy. It is vital to fully realize where you are mentally compared to what is considered normal to mend your mental health and grow as a person.

     Ending long-term commitments for your mental health can be terrifying. Questions like, “What if I made a mistake?” and, “What if I am nothing without this activity?” may run through your mind, but what is most important is you. You are more than a sport or club; you are more important than getting into an Ivy League college. You come first.