The Meaning Of Fall in Bellingham

The Meaning Of Fall in Bellingham

How I've come to view my autumns.
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Autumn has all of a sudden sprung itself upon me, as it has done since 2011. Clambering up High Street was when I noticed leaves on the ground, and I thought to myself, "Huh, fall is finally here."

My summer consisted of many traveling adventures all over the United States, including Denver, Las Vegas, New York City, and Boston. By the time classes started, I felt refreshed, almost like I had an entire year's break. Nevertheless, I yearned for more freedom, not wanting my body and imagination to be boxed into a classroom. Many students can't wait for school to begin again after they become bored of summer, but going into my fifth year at Western, my enthusiasm for formal education had dwindled. Normally, I am indifferent to the seasons themselves, never preferring any one over the others. Because of now associating warm air and sunny skies with camping, going into different cities, making new friends, and, of course, romance, I have anxiously awaited the onset of autumn. Looking around at people's reactions to the new season, I believe this weather and the resulting lifestyle has value everyone can appreciate and learn from.

The anticipation for (or the jokes about) pumpkin spice lattes, beautiful foliage, and frolicking in the crunchy fallen leaves have been observations I have personally noticed that in the people around me. I hold none of these affinities. I believe beauty can be appreciated during all seasons, even in different terrains, including the oft-ridiculed Eastern Washington. I guess when people imagine autumn, they think of the glowing orange, yellow, and red trees that glisten on the sides of the roads. I see those, but I also notice brown, soggy leaves that saturate the streets and sidewalks. If it weren't for the chillier weather, I could almost pretend autumn isn't happening, because clean-up crews work hard to rake up or blow away any foliage that reaches the ground. Sometimes I'm grateful, because I have a legitimate fear of slipping on some moist leaves or pine straw, but it makes me wonder: Do people see just what they want to see?

An acquaintance of mine was flattening and drying out particular segments of plants she had come across, meaning to press them in a notebook to save them for future appreciation. These pieces were quite stunning. I speculated on why this was a hobby I never took up. There were many different valid reasons that crossed my mind, but one particularly stood out to me -- I never cared to look for this beauty.

During the summer of 2012, I dated someone I met during a political club meeting. While it was a nice experience, he and I ended up parting ways on less-than-friendly terms. For a couple of summers thereafter, my time spent with him would randomly come to the top of my head during those oddly warm Bellingham nights. I had to learn to ignore those feelings of loneliness and unknowingly replaced them with new, happier memories. The cold nights that overwhelm the city after summer have haunted me as well but in a different way. During the fall and winter from Oct. of 2014 to Jan. of 2015, I went out with someone I had met at a party. Unlike the previous guy, he and I still get along, although he is now attending school out-of-state. After hitting up a bar or two, we would walk around downtown. Despite being sensitive to the cold, especially the wind, I somehow managed to keep up with him, as the cold didn't seem to bother him all too much. These are the kinds of memories I can look back on and enjoy. Shivering while downtown has become an oddly nostalgic experience, although I still try to go somewhere warm as quickly as I can.

Ultimately, you can choose what you associate the seasons with. Sad memories and current problems can permeate your thoughts, but looking for the wondrous will give you something to keep on going for. A windy day on campus will have me worrying about another bug being blown into my eye. It is only a temporary concern, and I choose to look forward to coming home to a roommate who I know I will have cherish-able moments with. Autumn, like all seasons, has its mixture of the good and the bad. While you may take notice of the bad aspects or realities, remember to take a moment to appreciate the sight of the red deciduous tree against the backdrop of the infamous evergreen trees of the Pacific Northwest.

Cover Image Credit: Katrina

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An Open Letter To Every Girl With A Big Heart, Except When It Comes To Herself

Because it's so much easier to love everyone around you before yourself.
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They say the key is that you have to "love yourself before you can love anyone else," or before "anyone can love you."

For those who deal with mass amounts of anxiety, or have many insecurities, that can be an extremely hard task. It seems much easier to tell your friend who is doubting herself that she looks great in that top than to look in the mirror and feel the same about yourself. It is much easier to tell your significant other that everything is going to be OK than to believe it will be when something goes wrong in your life. It becomes easier to create excuses for the ones around you than for yourself, and this is because you have such a big heart. You want those that you love to be happy and worry-free, yet you spend nights thinking about everything you have on your plate, about what you did wrong that day, fearing if someone in your life is mad at you, believing that you will never be good enough yet convincing everyone else that they are.

You are the girl with the biggest heart, yet you can't love yourself the way you care for everyone else in your life. There are many reasons that you should love yourself, though, and that's something that everyone around you is willing to tell you.

You're thoughtful.

Before doing anything, you always consider how it is going to affect those around you. You don't want to do anything that could hurt someone, or something that could make someone mad at you. It does not take much to make you happy, just seeing others happy does the job, and it is that simple. Because of this, you remember the little things. Meaningful dates, small details, and asking someone how their day was is important to you, and it makes those around you feel important too. You simply just want the people that you care about to be happy, and that is an amazing trait.

You're appreciative.

You don't need a big, fancy, and expensive date night to make you happy. Whether it's a picnic on the beach or a night in watching a movie, you're happy to just be with the person that you love. You appreciate every "good morning" text, and it truly does mean something when someone asks how you are. You tend to appreciate the person that you're with more than the things that they provide and for that, your sincerity will never go unnoticed.

You have a lot of love in your heart.

Every "I love you" has meant something, just as you remember the smallest moments that have meant the most to you. You remember the look in your significant other's eyes when they told you that for the first time. You remember the smile on your best friend's face when you told them that everything was going to be OK and that you would always be there. You remember the swell of happiness your parents felt when you decided to surprise them with a trip home one day, and you thrive off of all of that love.

You don't give up on the people you love, even if they have given you a reason to.

It is a foreign idea to just drop someone from your life, even if they betrayed you. You try to look at their mistake from every stance, not wanting to provide an excuse for them, but to give them another chance. Not everyone deserves it, and that is something that you learn along the way, but you feel good in the sense that you gave them a chance even if no one else would.

It's OK to not love yourself all the time. It's normal, and natural to stand in the mirror and think about everything wrong. And it's OK to love other people, even when you can't feel the same about yourself. But your big heart is why you should love yourself. There are so many reasons that you are a beautiful person, and the people that you spend all your time caring about feel that you have so much more to offer the world, and yourself.

So, next time you think about what you don't like about yourself, remember what makes you special –– the size of your heart and all of the love in it, and then share that love with yourself.

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To The High School Senior Wishing She Could Fast-Forward To Graduation, Careful What You Wish For

Don't wish this time away.

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As the last stretch of my freshman year of college stands before me, I've been thinking a lot about where I was a year ago today. I've thought about how fast the time has gone, but also how much has happened in that year.

A year ago, I decided what college I was going to and was getting ready to graduate, and honestly counting down the days until graduation. Senior year was almost over, and I couldn't wait to walk across that stage, get my diploma, and FINALLY get to start my real life. However, now that it's a year later I honestly barely remember all those little moments and it feels like literally a world ago when I was in my high school and making my Senior Board full of pictures of my childhood. And part of me wishes that I hadn't wished all that time away.

So, to my high school seniors out there — I encourage you to cherish all the memories you are making. I encourage you to spend time with your parents and savor the meals you have with them and enjoy the conversations where your mom asks all the mom questions about your day, and your dad tells a story from his childhood that you've heard a million times before. I encourage you to appreciate the friends you have, and whether or not you plan to stay friends with them after graduation, be grateful for the time with them in this season and the role that they played in your life.

I ask you to look around your high school, stop and stare at the walls that you've probably been praying to get out of for a few months now and appreciate the memories and times you've had in those buildings. Whether or not high school was a great time for you or a bad time, it was a time of growth and the place where you matured and made mistakes and succeeded.

Seniors, enjoy these last few months because before you know it you'll blink and it will be a year later and you'll be miss those days that you complained about, those teachers you rolled your eyes at, and those friends that you shared that time with.

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