Life is hard. We wake up, go to school or work, come home and take care of chores and all that, do so homework, squeeze in some down time, check social media, and somehow manage to get some sleep in the short 24 hours we're given each day. It can get overwhelming. And different people handle their stress differently. Some people exercise to release their endorphins. Some people paint to try and bring their feelings to life. Some people make music to ponder their emotions upon. Some people- and I fall victim to this occasionally- swipe their stress away at the mall or at Target. Sadly, some people use drugs or alcohol to numb whatever it is they are feeling. But for me (and this is a recent and surprising development), writing has become my outlet. To be able to put a pen to paper- or fingers to a keyboard- and get my thoughts and emotions out feels so refreshing. You see, sometimes in life, we get so caught up in ourselves and the world around us that we forget to breath and stop to soak everything in. We forget what it's like to spend time with our family or friends without being attached to our cell phones. We forget what it's like to feel the sun on our face because we would rather be indoors. We forget what it's like to smile and laugh because the world and the people in it can be so dark and cruel. We forget what it's like to love because we've been broken before and are scared to put ourselves back out there. For me, writing has been like remembering how to do all that. Sometimes, I find myself depressed and alone with my thoughts, and for a while, I didn't know a way to overcome the way I was feeling. When I expressed my troubles to a friend, she simply told me to find a outlet; find something that makes me happy and cling to it. And let me tell you, that was hard; I felt at a point in my life where not much could make me happy. But then, I picked up a pen and found a spare notebook and I remembered. I remembered how it felt to be with my friends and family and converse and spend quality time together. I relished the feeling of the sun warm against my skin. I smiled and I laughed, and both felt real and natural and freeing. And I loved. I loved myself for the first time in a long time, and learned that some things aren't worth loving and some things aren't worth losing love for. I opened my notebook and wrote and all of a sudden, I could breath again; it felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest and the world no longer rested on my shoulders. You see, life is hard- I won't sugar coat that. But it's also beautiful and exhilarating and crazy and wonderful and- most importantly- worth living. So find an outlet. Find something that makes you smile again. Find that sunshine breaking through the clouds and bask in it. Hang on to that last shred of hope and let yourself breathe lighter again.
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Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.
My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.
1. What's my favorite type of food?
Wrong: Mexican Food
2. What's one food I hate?
3. What's my favorite restaurant?
Wrong: Panera Bread
4. What's my favorite movie?
5. Where was I born?
Saint Mary's Hospital
6. Who is my absolute best friend?
7. What's my favorite thing about you?
8. What is my dream job?
9. What's my favorite color?
10. What's one thing I'm really bad at?
11. What's one thing I'm really good at?
12. What would you say is my greatest weakness?
13. What would you say is my greatest strength?
14. Who am I closest to in my family?
15. How did I get my name?
"They just said it"
Wrong: They based my name selection on my hair color
16. Who is my role model?
Wrong: my cousin Kristina
17. Who is my biggest supporter?
18. What is my biggest regret?
Watching a scary movie too young
19. What is my greatest fear?
20. What is my biggest insecurity?
I survive a day alone in NYC.
It was six in the evening. I was sitting in the courtyard of a Renaissance-era Italian villa, glancing around at the statues, most notably one of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Despite the supposedly relaxing setting, I was incredibly anxious. My phone was at less than 5 percent battery, and once it died I would be completely disconnected from my family and peers, alone in one of the largest art museums in the country.
Last weekend, as a perk of being a honors student here at Loyola, the entire freshman honors class set out at seven in the morning to New York City and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I felt fairly confident about the whole thing; I had packed all I needed, and made plans with some friends from my Messina group the week before.
On the bus I asked if they were planning on staying in the museum all day like I was. I wanted to get as much as I could out of one of the most prestigious museums in the world. I was honestly quite surprised when they had made plans to see" Les Miserables." To be fair, it was last minute on their part as well, and I accept some of the blame by not following up on our initial conversation. I wasn't upset at them. I figured I was okay as long as I didn't leave the museum.
After improvising some lunch, I headed over to the Greek and Roman wing to take a tour guided by our Messina teachers. Afterwards, I meandered through the museum, having the time of my life, pondering the wide variety of art on display. After getting some dinner at the basement cafeteria, I noticed my phone battery was running low. It was 4:30 in the afternoon, and was not supposed to head back to the bus until 6:30. Now, as grown adults, the bus would not wait for us -- it left exactly at seven. I'm serious. The itinerary even gave numbers for the train station.
I was a little nervous at that point. My phone was my only clock and only connection to my Messina group, parents, and the rest of the world. If I stopped taking pictures and texting, the battery would last until I was on the bus and could text my mom I was safe. However, after a round of souvenir buying and coming clean to my mom, who thought my friends -- or at least my teachers -- had been with me the entire day, my phone was dying. And then I was there, sitting on one of the few benches I could find (my feet were killing me) and trying to stay calm.
Thankfully for my nerves, one of my last few texts was from my Messina group, a majority of which were meeting on the stairs. As we congregated, I tried to text my mom, only to have my phone die in my hands. I was nerve-wracked at that point, afraid I would be left alone to die in the city. I stayed with the crowd of students as we wandered through the streets of the city, and eventually onto the bus.
The first thing I did when I got back was text my mom I was okay, after my phone got some juice. The day had been good. It may have been nice to have someone else with me, but I took care of myself, like the independent adult the rest of the world considers me to be. It'll probably be a while before I consider myself such.
Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.
With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.
By now, instructors are posting their syllabi and laying out the direction of their respective courses. One of the most helpful things to do is invest in a day planner and write in all important due dates, test dates, and other relevant information so that everything is easily accessible in one spot. Alternatively, keeping a Google calendar updated with all of this information makes the calendar easily accessible from virtually anywhere with an internet connection on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Another way to ensure success is to make a list of all the supplies necessary for the start of the school year and hit the last minute back-to-school sales. As college students, we are always looking for ways to save: time, money, energy. Planning out the essentials for the coming year and doing some quick research to find the best deals makes starting the fall semester much easier. Most importantly, don’t be bashful; ask about discounts for college students. Sometimes, even the most unexpected things come at a less expensive price for college students.
No doubt much of the summer was spent partying, eating, and probably getting very little sleep. Now that school is back in session, it is time to get things in check once again. A healthy body fuels a healthy mind. Eating right and exercising regularly help manage stress, increase attention span and ability to focus, and overall leave the body feeling good. It is important schedule in time to exercise each week, as staying active increases blood flow to the brain, aiding in many of its functions including memory and information processing. It is also important to make sure to get enough sleep. Seven to eight hours per night is ideal for students, especially those taking a rigorous course load.
Take Time For Yourself
Although school, work, and social events often crowd any college student’s schedule, it is important to designate a few hours of “me time” each week. Whether lying in bed reading a book or watching Netflix, or taking a dip in the pool or an afternoon trip to the beach, making time for yourself is important during the school year. It helps manage stress and prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed and never having time to relax. College life is all about planning, and if you take action, avoiding procrastination, and stay ahead of the game, the school year should be much more manageable.
Salvage what you can; if you can't, it's alright to walk away.
We met at a bar.
A place I had been once before.
I pushed the bittersweet memories back,
told them they could come out another day.
The contrast between this and the last
it was packed, and noisy,
trivia night was in full swing.
He made the comment, "We can stay if you want to,
but when I saw they were playing a game with electronic gadgets,
I knew this place was not for me."
Oh, the contrasts; becoming more vivid with each cheer.
I made the effort to salvage, the date, the night, the time.
"Coffee then?" just a few steps away.
At the coffee shop I stood back, pretending to miss the confusion.
Coffee, it should be simple enough, the menu was sparse
a gentle nudge, suggestion, for simple,
anything to take away the bewilderment.
Sputtering conversation grasping for connections, commonality
Tales of youthful folly
resulting in a life of pain.
I knew, this was my sign, call it.
My life was already filled with pain,
from someone else's youthful mistake.
I understood what this would mean.
Was it fair to judge, on pain?
Fair to whom?
What of the contrast…
Either way, I walked away.
They may be the worst sometimes, but this baseball team has given me more than I could ask for.
On September 3rd, 2001, a sea of children littered my home's navy-carpeted den to watch baseball during my dad's 40th birthday extravaganza. A baseball game flickered on the TV, and a red and blue bubble of a scoreboard sat in the bottom right corner of the screen. The New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies were in a wild game at Veterans' Stadium. As I, a five-year-old boy with a jumble of curly blonde hair, sat in the back of the kid clump, I wondered which team I should root for. After a long debate with myself, I decided that I should root for the team that's winning (duh). But, as the ninth inning rolled around with the Phils maintaining a 7-5 lead, some magic occurred. The Mets put up five runs in one frame, stunning the Phillie fans in the room and winning the game 10-7.
That was my first experience with the Mets. To my five-year-old self, it was as thrilling as a roller coaster. That day I was introduced to my favorite baseball team. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of the wild ride that is Mets fandom. From 2001 to 2006, the daily routine at home in Blue Bell, PA always included checking the Sports section of The New York Times, searching baseball scores for a Mets victory. It was just a regular part of my day and didn't seem like anything big, but right after my 10th birthday, things started to change.
In May of 2006, I was diagnosed with Chron's Disease. I spent seven miserable days in the hospital, with only PlayStation games and Sportscenter to keep me sane. On the 5th or 6th day, I was watching baseball highlights when it came up: a snippet of Carlos Beltran whacking a 16th inning walk-off home run into the New York night against the Phillies. All the stomachaches and blood draws of the past week faded, if only for a moment, as I watched Beltran belt that ball into the sky. In that instant, the Metsies made me happy, and their dominance and division championship in 2006 got me more excited than I'd been for anything in my life.
Sports tend to do that with me. They drive my brain like a truck into splashes of excitement and mountains of agony. The first mountain of agony popped out of my sports world about 5 months after my first stay at the hospital. The Mets had reached the National League Championship Series, and in Game 7, Carlos Beltran stepped back into the same batters' box where he smacked that May home run with a chance to send the Metsies to the World Series.
But the magic didn't happen that time. And history refused to repeat itself, as Beltran watched Strike 3 swoop by him, ending the Mets championship chances.
It was a ball. It had to be a ball. Even if it was a strike, how did Carlos not swing at that? There's no way that just happened.
Tears trickled down my face, and angry curses flew out of my mouth. I couldn't believe it. I was devastated, and I didn't even know it was about to get way worse.
In 2007, the Mets blew a seven-game division lead on the Phillies in the last two weeks of the season. Living in suburban Philadelphia, school the next day was hell. Every two years my Jewish middle school would celebrate Sukkot by going to Hershey Park. This year, every student had to wear red, and every kid wearing a Phillies shirt came up to me and just kinda laughed. After that, not even roller coasters and chocolate could cheer me up and knock down that mountain of agony.
From the next year on, the Mets drove me insane. After collapsing again in '08, the Mets consistently put up losing seasons into the next decade. It makes sense actually. Going through middle school and parts of high school were tough, and swirling that with my bumpy Chron's Disease didn't help.
But somehow, 2015 is looked a heck of a lot different.
The Mets are in first place in the N.L. East and they're finally fun again! While I was away at camp this summer, the Mets finally decided to make some big boy baseball moves, just like in 2015 they called up touted prospects and trading for Yoenis Cespedes, a monster hitter.
I think it actually makes sense that this is the year. After a challenging freshman year academically and socially, Year Two has rolled around beautifully, and I'm loving being a sophomore at Muhlenberg College. After a lonely single last year, I now have an awesome roommate. I'm taking classes that I really like and I think I might have discovered what my major is. My Chron's disease has been under control, I have a great group of friends. and for once, I have a great sense of where I'm going.
It's been fun, and once baseball season ends, I might be a little less happy with just basketball to watch.
But hopefully, I'll still be winning, just like the Mets.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign