Finals are quickly approaching. In fact, by the time this is published, they’ll be in full swing. Yesterday, as I was walking around campus throughout my day, to my classes, I reflected on the semester I’ve had and realized it’s kind of been a bumpy ride. I looked around and heard people talking and for a minute when I felt low and unhappy with where I was in that moment, I felt like I was struggling and falling behind. I texted my boyfriend to find some kind of reassurance and I said to him, “I feel so behind everyone, I feel like I study poorly and didn’t do well this semester and it feels like everyone else has their life figured out.” I went home after my classes and my worries had exhausted me. I told my roommate and one of my best friends how I felt, and she laughed in response. She then told me, “No one has it together!”
I had told myself that so many times. One of my favorite tiny comics I’ve seen make its way across the internet is one where a man walks through a train station and ponders at how everyone around him seems to know what they are doing and where they are going in the world, but what he doesn’t realize is that everyone is thinking the same thing that he is.
I wanted to write this piece to reflect on my semester. It has not been easy for me. I look at it two ways: on one hand, I’m questioning myself because it’s the end of the semester and as students, we’re all struggling to make the best grades and prove ourselves and on another, I’ve had a pretty rough ride in my personal life this semester. I’ve made some life changes that have offered improvements, and I’ve sought out happiness. Don’t get me wrong -- I’ve found it in so many ways. I’m a very lucky girl -- I have a roof over my head and everything I need: an education in the making, an incredible family, good friends, and a loving boyfriend. I love the city where I live, I’m learning, I’m having a good time, and I’m discovering more about myself as I move along. But being happy doesn’t mean everything is going right. Sometimes deciding that you need to have a good day or be positive, for you, is all happiness is in a moment.
This semester I’ve changed who I am as a student, I’ve moved on from groups and programs that weren’t benefitting me, and I’ve changed my lifestyle. This semester I’ve lost a lot of my friends because of differences we couldn’t solve or conflicts that forced us apart. This semester I’ve experienced loss and hurt like I haven’t before. This semester I haven’t been the student I made goals to be. This semester I struggled with stress and anxiety. And without going into details of each story that was a boulder in the trail of this semester, I’m recognizing that a lot has happened. As hard as it is for me to admit, as I crawl toward the finish line of final exams, I’m hurting and ready to head home for some time off.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not entirely okay. I see myself as a wobbly chair right now. I need to be repaired and I’m a little skewed or off. I’m not perfect, and I’m feeling kind of shakey because of everything that has happened, but I have learned, grown, and I know that I can still carry a lot of weight on my cushion (or my own two shoulders) without crumbling. I’m stronger than I thought I was and in recognizing that strength, I’ve grown more thankful for all the good around me. As a chair, I can see from my place of imperfection and struggle the beauty of the room where I sit, the people in it, and the home where I reside. As a young woman and student, I’ve come to appreciate the people I love, those who support me, and my journey even more than before.
If you’re like me and you find yourself wandering from extra credit sessions to office hours to class and to Starbucks again as you close out the semester, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever make it to that dream job or dream house or land that internship like everyone around you seems to have, know that you’re not alone. If anything, you’ve got me. But everyone is working and struggling and everyone has harder times. Don’t get lost in the fog of not believing you can succeed and talk down to yourself. Chin up, get that second coffee, smile even if it’s hard, and get to work.
Do your best; that’s all you can ask yourself. Know that it’s okay not to have everything together. No one does. Know that you don’t have to be the straight A student, the super-organizer, the girl who runs every student organization, or the boy who is involved in every club. Because trust me, I tried that. And honestly, I’m still trying that. But I am learning, and I hope everyone else does too, that everything works out in the end, and we all end up where we are meant to be because being happy is more important than a resume, a GPA, or an internship.
There will be bumps in the road, and your chair might get wobbly. I experienced things I wish I hadn’t this semester and right now, I’m questioning a lot because the end of the semester is stressful. But know that the bumps in the road don’t define you or your strength, and every day can be a fresh start if you make it one. At the end of the day, if you aren’t happy, you need to make a change because what’s in that book report, on that scantron, or that job offer isn’t going to save you -- your spirit and your strength will. Be happy for yourself, and focus on the good despite the challenges. This wasn’t my perfect semester, but I’ll be back stronger in January.