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I Dreaded My Birthday, But It Subverted All Expectations

No matter how dark your year may look, your birthday should always be something to look forward to.

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My birthday was always a day I looked forward to every year.

The other 364 days, I hate attention. I hate having any sort of spotlight and I hate being talked about. I'm an introvert who enjoys school, reading, work and working toward my profession of journalism. But on my birthday, I love feeling celebrated, like I'm wanted on earth that sometimes feels like you can disappear and no one would care. It sounds depressing, but it's the truth. It's the one day of the year when people really pour their heart out to you, reminding you how much you're loved and how much they cherish your presence.

Maybe I don't necessarily love my birthday, maybe I just love seeing the raw heart of humanity.

My birthday was one week ago. And it was also the first birthday I dreaded. Over the past year, I lost friends to circumstances that don't matter enough to explain. I left the apartment I called home for two years. I searched for a new roommate and a house 30 minutes away from my broken relationships. And I had to pick myself up to begin an uncertain future in hopes of restoring a new sense of updated reality.

For months I only had my boyfriend. Don't get me wrong, he's my rock and best friend, but I couldn't put the pressure on just him to be the one there for me. It was a lot of pressure on him and our relationship. So I began to put myself out there and try to make new friends.

As aforementioned, I'm an introvert, so this was a battle I dreaded from the beginning. But in the end, I now have more genuine, authentic friendships because I began to look everywhere and see the beauty in people I would have overlooked if I still had my former friends.

But in those months I was alone, I would think about my birthday, the day I looked forward to each year, and I wept. I thought about being alone on the day I saw most beauty, how lonely it would feel to no longer feel celebrated. But I was cynical and I was wrong.

My 22nd birthday was the best birthday I had yet. All of my new friends were able to come together and meet one another at dinner without any expectations, and it felt pure to be the glue to new possible crossover friendships. We laughed, we ate Asian food, we drank sake and it was better than any expectation.

The purpose of me telling you this is so that no matter what season you are experiencing in life, you know there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter how dark, stormy or uncertain your future may look, you have to take your fate into your own hands. No one is going to drop friends, good grades, or whatever you desire off at your front door... you have to go get it yourself.

Push your personal boundaries and fight for what you deserve and what you want. I did, and it worked out for me.

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40 Small Things That Make College Students Happy

It doesn't take much...
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1. When class is canceled.

2. When the coffee shop you stop at five minutes before your 8 a.m. has a short line.

3. Coffee, coffee, coffee.

4. Open note tests.

5. Or even better, take home tests.

6. The unofficial assigned seating process that that takes place after the first week or so of classes.

7. Thursday nights. (because in college, Thursday qualifies as the weekend.)

8. Sales.

9. Or once again, even better, free things.

10. Specifically free food.

11. Dogs.

12. Dogs on campus.

13. Tailgates and Saturday afternoon football games.

14. Finding an already completed Quizlet for your exam.

15. Having an extra 30 minutes for a nap, and if you're lucky, an hour.

16. Netflix.

17. When your roommate takes out the trash.

18. Weekends after test weeks.

19. The rare blessing of a curve on an exam.

20. Getting out of class early.

21. How in college, it is socially expectable to wear a t-shirt everyday.

22. Being able to walk from class to class or eat in the dining hall without having to see anyone you know. (and thank goodness too because you probably don't look too good.)

23. Crossing things off of your to-do list.

24. Your best-friends that you make in college.

25. A full tank of gas.

26. Seeing a new face everyday.

27. Crawling back into bed after your 8 or 9 a.m. (or after any class that ends with a.m.)

28. Care packages.

29. No cover charges.

30. When adults tell you that it is okay that you have no idea what you want to do with your life yet. (regardless of what parents or your advisor may say.)

31. Pizza.

32. Finding out you weren't the only one who did poorly on the exam.

33. Deciding not to buy the textbook, and never needing it.

34. Finding the perfect gif to express how you're feeling. (Michael Scott just get it.)

35. Weekends at home because...

36. Pets.

37. Mom's home cooked pie and Dad's steak dinners,

38. Spring Break.

39. Road trips.

40. When it finally starts to cool down outside so you can show up to class dry instead of dripping in sweat.

Cover Image Credit: Abigail Wideman

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.

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I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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