The past can't be changed, so stop regretting it

Serena Van der Woodsen Keeps Her Past Behind Her And So should You

The Upper East Side wasn't always rainbows and butterflies.

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Like any true "Gossip Girl" fan, I watched Serena Vanderwoodsen take the streets of New York City religiously. Everything she seemed to do was flawless, along with the fact that she basically owned the Upper East Side. As the show went on, Serena's dark past was revealed. Not only was it a new side to our queen, but it gave her an edge, a bad side. The problem with wanting to know Serena's past, however, was the fact that it changed my opinions of her. The girl I thought was independent and innocent was a mess of a teenager. I began to question who Serena was as a person, as the writers of the show intended. The only problem was that if I judged a fictional character on her past, that meant I did the same to others, maybe even myself.

This brings up the point that the past should stay behind us. Who we were and who we are, are not necessarily mirror images of each other. People change over time. They realize what type of person they want to be and adjust. To judge someone on their past is an unfair measurement. This isn't to say that caution shouldn't be taken based on their previous choices, but so long as they have dealt with the consequences of their actions and made changes accordingly, there's a chance they reinvented themselves. People like S want a second chance. They work toward a future they'll be proud of, and still, get dragged down by the past they'll forever regret.

Being human means making mistakes, even if that means knowing you're making a mistake as you do it. It's not the best way to go about living, but it's the only way we can learn. Serena decided that who she was and the things she did shouldn't affect her future anymore. We can all live like that. The biggest issue is when we let our pasts dictate our futures because ultimately, we can't travel back in time. What's done is done and there's no way to change it. The only option is to change who you are and to change your next decision. Serena did everything in her power to keep the past behind her. Sometimes the consequences of her actions caught up with her, but she dealt with them. The fact is that no matter how horrible and chaotic S was in the past, she couldn't change it, and she'd have to live with that.

Becoming who you are isn't always a clear path. Many times it doesn't even have a good view. The importance of forgiving yourself for the things you've done is to make room for potential you have once you ditch your baggage. We only have so much time in our lives to be out living it, so instead of facing the past and all the horrors you can no longer change, focus on the future and the way you want to live. Serena decided enough was enough. Her past may have hurt her reputation but it didn't stop her from growing and moving forward.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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