Sometimes, in life, it is best to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It sometimes becomes easy to lose the true essence of “me” with all the demands and responsibilities that life can place on a person. Whether it is a father trying to balance family, a job, and meals, or a student balancing clubs, community service, school, and friends, many of us often forget about the time for self-exploration and the “me” piece of ourselves. Looking back at freshman year, my life seemed like the interior of a Costco warehouse, vibrant and bustling with people and unexplored aisles of goods. I was just another young soul looking forward to approaching new challenges and people. By then, I had already shaped the type of student I wanted to be: an active club member, a leader in the academic community who is committed to my volunteer work, job and internship. As the years passed by, I proudly accomplished each goal on my list, but a thought ran across my mind: Am I forgetting something? Sleep, friends, downtime… Who needs those? In the end, I came to the realization that those were the essential pieces of myself lacking from my list. In this busy life painting of mine, my extracurriculars and responsibilities became the artist and I became the stroke of paint getting stretched too narrow. Deep down inside, I felt over-committed and ineffective. I knew that I would need to regain control to balance the colors within my portrait. By the end of sophomore year, I felt the need to scrap my old canvas and start anew. Embarking with a clean canvas in my junior year, I began choosing the palettes of my interests and taking on new leadership challenges that I had never faced before. I partook in clubs geared for my interests, chose volunteer work that I truly enjoyed, completed internships that provided me with the experience and skills necessary to discover my true passions, and served in several leadership positions that allowed me to develop as an individual and leader. With a less obscure canvas, there was so much more focus and time for the “me” to unfold and come to light. Newfound talents and qualities became an important part of my life that I had never imagined before. I was able to retain the original colors of my portrait: extracurriculars, community service, internships, and everything that made me before. However, I was able to participate in new activities such as tutoring and interning, allowing me to become a well-rounded and vocal individual. I was passionate about all my interests, clubs, and activities which led to more effective and active participation in several aspects. Taking a step back and viewing the big picture taught me to make decisions that were best for me and not for others. I am able to create my own painting masterpiece even if others only see it as painted colors. The exploration of the “me” is a lifelong progress as we continue to carefully define and unravel ourselves, adding more colors and depth to the paintings. However you decide to develop your canvas, always be the artist that define the colors of your “me”.