Life Lessons From My Pet Bearded Dragon

4 Life Lessons From My Pet Bearded Dragon

Who knew reptiles could be so philosophical?

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This summer, about two weeks before I was supposed to move into my new apartment back at school, I decided to adopt a bearded dragon. I had been wanting my own little pet to have at school and these guys sounded perfect for a college student living in an apartment. They don't have to go outside (although you can totally buy harnesses for them to take them out), they don't bark, and they hardly smell at all. However, when I took on this little buddy and the commitment of being his caretaker, I hardly expected to become as enlightened about life in general as I have from just giving him a home. Here are four things Mr. Bojangles has taught me about living that I think everyone should know if they don't already:

1. Trust the process

A few weeks into the semester, I took Mr. Bojangles to the vet only to discover he had an intestinal parasite. Since we discovered the parasites, I've had to give him lots of medicine and care. From daily baths and lots of general messes caused by the parasites in his digestive track (you know where I'm going with this), it hasn't been easy. It can be frustrating and annoying at times trying to deal with it all and not see improvement some days, but I would never give up on him. I just have to trust the process and know that it will get better—just like all the bad things we encounter by just existing in this world.

2. Get hyped about the little things

Check out the raspberry juice on his mouth.

Nothing warms my heart like making lunch for Mr. Bojangles. He is pretty smart, so he knows when I'm going to make his "salad" and will wait in the little corner of his tank where I always put it down in when he suspects the time is near. Obviously, all living things need food, but it still makes me happy seeing him get excited (or as close to excitement as a lizard can get, I guess). It reminds me that sometimes the small things like a good meal, a good book, or even that cup of coffee in the morning are worth getting hyped about to really get the most out of it all.

3. Take time to relax

Fact: bearded dragons love to snuggle

Ok, a pretty general life lesson but Mr. Bojangles embodies this so I couldn't leave it out. For bearded dragons, the main portion of their day is spent basking under their heat lamps/the sun. When they bask, they start to get pretty toasty and so they will actually pop open their mouths to regulate their temperature, like how a dog pants. So, when I get home and I may have had a pretty busy and/or crappy day, seeing him there just chilling on his log under the heat lamp with his little mouth just hanging open, it reminds me that sometimes I just need to chill for a second. We don't always need to be trying to take it all on 24/7.

4. Be patient and diligent—the right things will come around eventually

So, as you probably guessed, Mr. Bojangles loves bugs. I knew this was something I was going to have to be comfortable with when adopting him and I decided my distaste of insects was not nearly as great as my desire to have this little guy. Anyways, his favorite type of bugs to eat are crickets and they're pretty fast. This means Mr. Bojangles sometimes has to chase after them around his habitat. However, they are much smaller and can hop so it can be hard to catch them sometimes. Yet, instead of waste his energy trying to get them, he has developed a sit-and-wait technique. I assume he realized the tank is only so big and that they are bound to crawl within range of his mouth eventually. Maybe we need to look at this hunting technique and apply it to ourselves. Sometimes things can be out of our reach or seem impossible to get to, but if we are patient and diligent in what we want and are trying to achieve, the opportunity will eventually present itself to us.

Despite their harsh appearance, lizards can be pretty personable creatures at times. I think there is something to learn from not only our reptilian friends here but maybe all the living things around us every day. They can teach us so much about the basic nature of life itself if we just stop and really think about it.

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A Letter To My Freshman Dorm Room As I Pack Up My Things

Somehow a 15' x 12' room became a home.

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Dear Geary 411,

With your creaky beds, concrete walls, and mismatched tile floors, you are easily overlooked as just another room we were randomly assigned to— but you were different. Inside your old walls, I have made some of the best memories of my life that I will hold on to forever.

Thank you for welcoming my neighbors in with open arms who quickly became friends who didn't knock and walked in like you were their own.

I feel like an apology is needed.

We're sorry for blaring the music so loud while getting ready and acting like we can actually sing when, in reality, we know we can't. Sorry for the dance parties that got a bit out of control and ended with us standing on the desks. Sorry for the cases of the late-night giggles that came out of nowhere and just would not go away. Sorry for the homesick cries and the "I failed my test" cries and the "I'm dropping out" cries. We're sorry for hating you at first. All we saw was a tiny and insanely hot room, we had no idea what you would bring to us.

Thank you for providing me with memories of my first college friends and college experiences.

As I stand at the door looking at the bare room that I first walked into nine months ago I see so much more than just a room. I see lots and lots of dinners being eaten at the desks filled with stories of our days. I see three girls sitting on the floor laughing at God knows what. I see late night ice cream runs and dance battles. I see long nights of homework and much-needed naps. Most importantly, I look at the bed and see a girl who sat and watched her parents leave in August and was absolutely terrified, and as I lock you up for the last time today, I am so proud of who that terrified girl is now and how much she has grown.

Thank you for being a space where I could grow, where I was tested physically, mentally and emotionally and for being my home for a year.

Sincerely,

A girl who is sad to go

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When Was The Last Time You Were Alive?

If you can't post it for everyone to see, was it truly a remarkable moment?

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Being alive is an essentially effortless act.

In theory, as long as you're eating food, drinking water, and performing as a human, assuming no major health conditions, most of us are living.

The tragedy I see most often is so very few of us are alive.

Now, I'm not suggesting you drop your textbooks and sprint up a mountain, or go broke trying to find yourself in new activities and events.

That's the illusion pressed onto so many of us. Social Media, more importantly, FOMO, has taught us that in order to truly be alive we need to make sure we travel far and wide, eat gourmet and unique food, and essentially, immerse ourselves in something phenomenal. However, regardless of what you do- don't do it without an audience and the value of your experience will only be justified by the number of likes you accrue on your #bestvacation ever because you #lovenature. With your back to the camera and wispy hair flowing in the beach air, you hit all of your angles, how else will you prove that you're alive to Instagram?

I fell for this too. I spent so much of my life constantly trying to get to the next phase life had to offer. High school was fun, but I was counting the days until graduation. Growing up in a small hometown wasn't awful, but I had sticky note calendars until my next vacation. And day in and day out, events would happen all around me that were just too "normal." I wasn't alive, but I was living.

Setting your soul on fire and truly living is so much more difficult than you could ever expect, but not because you have to drain savings and take along a buddy to snap all the perfect moments.

Choosing to be alive is realizing how important it is to be in this moment or phase in life and accepting it for all its worth. Instead of racing to the finish line or trying to sprint into your next season of assumed happiness, take time to notice all the beautiful and small things that make this moment so important. There is so much life to be found in simple moments.

Semesters are ending, we are all racing to summer. Perhaps in the process, take note of the routine cafeteria worker that constantly smiles at you and says hello. Or perhaps, giggle at the fact that in just a few short weeks that bus driver you see every single morning won't be apart of your morning routine.

The farther I get from what used to be my normal, the more I miss that season of life. I haven't lived in my hometown since I was eighteen, but I miss the simplicity that came with my drives to high school listening to Kanye West and the coziness of a small town opening its doors to start a new day. I never stopped to be alive in those moments, I was just simply living.

Wherever your next phase of life might be, it will always be there. You will always have something else coming. However, once this moment is gone. It's truly gone. Don't waste beautiful views trying to capture just the right picture for Instagram, take in the moment.

Living and experiencing life can be as simple as trusting that you're exactly where you need to be in life. Cherish each moment as you're in it. The next moment is coming whether you're ready or not.

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