It was in my freshman year at college, in French class. There were about fifteen of us, and no one knew anyone at the beginning of the year, but we became close very quickly. I think it was because we all came from different majors and we were all taking this class as a little breather. We gathered there not because it was a prerequisite, but because we simply loved being there. We were only together there, but we had a lot of fun sharing the same moment and place.
I have many fond memories of this class, but I remember particularly this young man who sat across me. I can recall him vividly to this date because, after every class, he would part with a “take it easy!” directed at me – never before or since has anyone so clearly and directly told me to ease up on myself.
Back then, I could not understand what he was saying. I mean, I knew what the words meant, but because I never had them said to me, I was not sure whether I was supposed to take it just as a substitute for “bye for now” or “see you later,” or as a warning that I seemed too wound up and an advice to slow down and chill out.
To be honest, I was a bit offended by it. Up until I met him, I thought my life was going perfectly and I was handling everything without any problem. I never doubted whether I truly enjoyed having challenges and liked staying busy. I did not want to believe there were any reason for him to think I needed to “take it easy.” So I tried harder to make my life more perfect and handle more things much better, all the while remaining cool and calm.
But, throughout the year, he continued to say “take it easy” to me at the end of each class. And I continued to try harder. A year went by fast, and we parted for the last time… with one last “take it easy” from him. And, like I said, no one since has said the phrase to me. But that one year of “take it easy’s” made a difference in me ever since.
Looking back, I am so grateful to have had someone like him to acknowledge my hard work and watch over me with his “take it easy’s.” I can see now that he had been standing by my side and cheering me on through hardships. And thanks to him, I learned in time to let myself take it easy when I feel least obliged to, thereby maintaining stability through all the ups and downs life throws at me. Do you remember my “plus or minus one rule”? Well, it actually has its roots here!
Maybe you do not feel you need to be told to take it easy.
Maybe it is the last thing you want to hear, when you are trying so hard.
But maybe they are exactly the words you deserve to receive, because you have worked so hard.
So, here is a “take it easy!” from me, to everyone who is going through the ups and downs of life as I scribble this post. It is not a “by for now” or a “see you later,” nor is it a warning or an advice to ease up… it is just to let you know that there is someone like me who sees your hard work and will be here for you if you ever need them.