With the second semester of my sophomore year of college coming to a close, I've spent time reflecting on the past couple of months... how I've grown, what's changed and why I feel the way I do: unfulfilled. My grades are good, my family life is great and with an internship and exciting new leadership positions lined up for next year, my professional life is thriving. On top of all of this, I found myself in an amazing relationship with someone who truly cares for me and motivates me every day to be the best I can be.
Yet, at the end of the day, it felt like a huge part of me was missing — this aching, empty feeling that no amount of socialization or adventures could fix. It didn't take me long to figure out what had changed; I had stopped doing many of the things that I love and, in that sense, it felt like a part of me had died.
It's really easy to get swept up in your work or in the craziness that defines life in college. You focus on just getting through that one tough week until you realize that you've been saying that for months only to end up neglecting yourself. Self-care and doing things that make you happy is never something that you should put on hold. When you stop doing those simple hobbies that you do only for yourself, you start looking for other, more grand, activities to fill the deficit.
As a college student with a limited budget and fixed schedule, this never goes well. Actively doing smaller, contained hobbies gives you that much-needed respite from all of the different stresses you endure in your day-to-day lives. It resets your mind and reminds you that despite how hard things may be at the time, you can still find happiness in the smaller things. We all have to do things we don't want to do, sometimes on a daily basis. Taking time to still do the things you love makes those other tasks seem much more manageable.
I am someone who loves going out on adventures and constantly exploring the world around me. I like having exciting things to look forward to break up the more mundane tasks I have throughout the week. When I was feeling frustrated because I didn't feel like I was doing enough, I went to one of my closest friends to talk things through. He changed my whole mentality simply by pointing out something obvious I had completely overlooked. The problem with constantly trying to do something big is that it trains you to seek larger thrills to fulfill your happiness and makes the smaller hobbies you do seem uninteresting. Something I admire most about him is how easy it is to make him happy. With him, every day is a good day because he has the most refreshing mentality — he doesn't expect anything and therefore can appreciate much more.
Happiness radiates from within. You aren't unhappy because you don't like your classes. You aren't unhappy because you aren't getting along with your friends. And you aren't unhappy because you feel like what you're doing is unfulfilling. With every passing day and situation, we encounter we make choices. Choices that not only determine where we end up, but also how satisfied we are with ourselves. You can choose to be happy just like you can choose what pair of shoes you want to wear. Obviously, it isn't as simple as that, but my point is that your happiness is reliant on your decisions and your decisions alone.
Life moves at the speed of light. Our environments change, our works changes and people come and go; the only constant is ourselves. I firmly believe that you cannot do your best work unless you, yourself, are whole. No amount of stress or deadlines to meet should get in the way of your own mental and physical health. Taking a few moments to collect yourself and do something simply because you love it will not only improve your general mood and outlook on life, but will also make uninteresting tasks seem more manageable since you can approach them with a steady mind.