There are two weeks until my graduation, and sometimes I feel like I have nothing to show for it. My grades are decent, and have been most of my life, but sometimes I feel stuck in a rut—there is more to life than studying and acing that test, and it is something I can “feel in my bones.” What have I been missing these 17 years? What have I learned in my four years at Saint Joseph’s College? What have I accomplished?
Let’s start with my observations on people: We love them, and we dislike them. We need them, and sometimes we want them to get out of our hair. Some are there until we get to the next stages of our lives and we naturally grow apart, and others are engrained into our lives forever. When it comes to people, I’ve come to realize that sometimes people are not meant to stay in our lives. A good friend of a few years recently disappointed me numerous times, while a person who I’d only spoken to a week proved her friendship worthiness at that same time. Yet another friend, who I had dated at one point, continues to be my biggest supporter in all my work and education endeavors, even when, at times, I think I am unworthy of such support. People and relationships with them are complex. A variety of factors can influence a friendship: how often you see one another, what stage each person is in their life, mutual goals or separate goals, etc. One thing is certain, there will always be people as part of your support system, no matter the distance apart or quarrels you get into. However, one must be grateful for those who were also briefly in your life. At the very least, these people teach (or reinforce) the capacity to love, what sorts of values and personalities work well with my own, and the value of friendship and human interaction in general. Friends can come in all ages, shapes, colors, sexes, occupations, etc. For me, it is the mutual recognition of successes and the care of a friend that matters. Friendship got me through my school career when life did not hand me lemons, but squirted the lemon juice into my eyes (as life has done to everyone at some point or another). For all those who have come into my life, and even those who are no longer, I am grateful.
Being Positive: I will be the first to admit that I have not always been the most positive person, especially during my teenage years. What I have learned is that it really is possible to train yourself to think positively in light of negative situations. As human beings, it is easy to get caught up in the negative aspects or annoyances in life. Maybe this is biologically based, maybe it is from our culture, I really do not know. One thing I do know, is that allowing negative events and feeling to infest your body and grow within will only make matters worse. Though difficult, it is best to take a deep breath, step back, and not completely eradicate what is negative, but either focus on what positive things can be done to change the situation, or what positive things already possessed outweigh the negative. Furthermore, the world is full of opposites, positive and negative, happy and sad, good and evil. We must appreciate the “lesser” or more-avoided opposite in the pairs because without them, we would never truly experience positivity, happiness, what is “good,” and so on.
Being Me: Over my four years at Saint Joseph’s College, I know people have seen a change in me, and I have seen it and felt it as well. I am becoming comfortable with myself as an individual, knowing who I am, and not being afraid to let it be known. I’ve gone from a very awkward introvert to a more outspoken person and I have used this to my advantage. While sometimes what I say may surprise others (for better or worse), it is my own acceptance and knowing who I am that has allowed me to reach out to people. One thing has been a clear mission for my final year at Saint Joseph’s College—I have wanted nothing more than to be the cause of someone’s laugh, feeling of delight, or smile. I saw a quote, “Your life should not be measured by the amount of your success, but by the impact that you make,” and since then, my goal has been to make one person smile a day. Often times we get wrapped up in our daily lives and we do not realize how much a smile, gesture of acknowledgement, and a hello can go a long way to a stranger or someone you see every day. A simple expression of concern or a “how are you” to someone who seems unlike themselves can change their day, and that is the greatest feeling.
Finally, I have learned that I need to force myself into situations that could potentially be good for me, even if it may be difficult. I cannot always overthink; I must just do. On that note, I may make a move to Georgia to try out new things and pull myself from the monotony and comfort of my Maine home. I unfortunately have too much time to think about this—but I know I need to just “jump” and know I will find my way.
Saint Joseph’s College has taught me a lot, especially about English and philosophy—but it has also taught me about my strengths and weaknesses, challenged my thought process, and opened my eyes to how to be a better person. Come May 10, after moving my tassel from one side to the other with diploma in hand, I will make an impact—maybe only for one or two people, but that’s all the “success” I need.