You exercise patience, forgiveness, and acceptance.
You often think to yourself: “There are times when I’m an ambitious warrior blazing my own path, defying destiny’s claws to the last. But during times like today, I’m just alive.” Today started out fine. You woke up to the encouraging touch of dawn’s light and packed all your things for class.
But before you put your shoes on, you suddenly felt a waterfall of worries cascading off your heart. This semester is the prime time for finding the right summer plans so you have an answer you feel less ashamed of for the question, “What are your summer plans?” This past weekend was spent preparing for distant but extensive research papers or completing lengthy problem sets. And last night, you were contemplating what you want to do with your life instead of doing either task above. All of these reminders and thoughts are causing your heart to weep from their collective weight. So you turn on sad music from Spotify.
Closing your eyes, you allow your stressed, solemn soul to sit comfortably on your bed. Sad music reminds you of the crushing sorrow of a break-up but also the comforting hope of moving on. Yellow, orange, and red hues scamper across your closed eyes from the partly drawn curtains, leaving a warm trail of optimism wherever they run. And you leave your body to do its job as your mind climbs and trips recklessly in the colorless and comforting horizon of dreams.
You cherish the little things in life.
You’re leaning on the wall closest to Underhill Library in the Lang Music Building lobby, waiting for a friend’s face to appear among the crowd. Your ears feel a little off from spending an hour with the Woodwind Ensemble, but you still enjoyed it. Suddenly, your friend, who played in the concert, exclaims your name and before you know it, you’re wrapped in an enthusiastic hug. You lean in, beyond happy that you’ve finally found them. Then you walk them back to their car, trading stories and campus comparisons until you send them off with an unrestrained laugh. The red lights of their vehicle flicker fondly as it disappears into the night.
You’re texting with a friend who remained in your hometown after high school. You both spent the first hour demanding a detailed account of each other’s lives. Then you guys dove underwater. The both of you confided in each other secrets buried in the deep, reminisced over warm memories floating up to the surface, and exchanged life-long vows to always support each other. When hands waving goodbye sunk into the black screen, you both went to sleep. But before either of you drifts away, you both think, “I’m lucky to have you in my life.”
Soft petals brush the bridge of your nose at least twice a day. Once in the rousing glow of the rising sun. Again, when twilight jauntily pokes your cheek goodnight after a long day. This particular garden, en route between your dorm and the classrooms, is where you spend entire minutes smelling the multicolored plants: intoxicating, sweet, fresh with vitality, and dizzying. Yup, that’s why you always walk this route.
You take strength from the people you empathize with.
When you are overstressed or unmotivated, novels containing your wildest dreams are always present right under your fingertips. For example, you listened to the sincere thoughts of four strangers-turned-heroes as they left their normal lives behind to fight for the greater good. You experienced how each individual gradually developed loving friendships with one another while processing the revelation that one of their own was an unwilling traitor. You even got to save the world through each of their eyes, twice. You have yet to finish the third arc, but you can’t wait to cheer them on no matter what obstacles hinder them from saving the world a third time.
Sometimes, a growing black hole forms inside your soul. Danger! To expel that force before it consumes you, you seek out company. One of you joined your teammates for a pre-game dinner, feeling your soul swept upward on a high tide of camaraderie. Another met a group of friends in an out-of-the-way Kohlberg classroom, the blood in their veins rushing joyously as everyone belted out an Olivia Rodrigo song. And a few days ago, you were eating free refreshments while listening to the most interesting lecture, sensing that the mere presence of other humans (in moderation) was overwhelming the now-contracting black hole with something stronger.
You manage the poisonous urge to compare your life.
You know you shouldn’t open your Linkedin feed before bed, but you do anyway. Ashamed jealousy flares up like a screeching wildfire the moment your feed loads. “It’s as if the entire human population except me always has an internship or something great lined up for every summer,” you mutter with a defeated sigh. Turning away from your laptop and towards the night sky above, you stare longingly at the glittering stars. “I’ve tried hard at securing the best of summer plans, but it did not work out … Look guys, you know I’ll always try my best at the ‘getting a job’ thing. But admittedly, the jealousy and self-pressure get to me sometimes.”
You read good books by great writers, listen to skilled musicians perform, and watch people deftly type code that you’ll never understand. You benefit from other people in so many ways, but sometimes feel bad that you don’t seem to have a significant niche in the world. “What can I contribute?” Still, you’re always encouraging yourself to not think about other people’s journeys. “Through sweat, blood, and tears, I’ll steer my own path into the unknown. For as long as I live.”