Finding The Positives In Unexpected Negatives

There Is Good In The Bad, You Just Have To Look For It

Life is this crazy thing that doesn't always allow us to prepare for a disaster, but these unexpected hardships are actually sometimes something that can make us stronger if we really look deep enough into it.

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Taking a look back at the year, it is easy to tell that my sophomore year was a lot for me to handle. I've gone through really, really bad friendship issues, body image issues, family issues, anxiety issues and many other hardships throughout the year. At one point I really felt like my world was falling apart, and that feeling went all the way up until the very last week of the semester. It was a few days before finals and I decided to look back at everything and try to find the good within the bad things that had happened over the course of the semester. I felt like this was finally my opportunity to understand why these bad things had happened and what they meant for me in the future.

The first negative thing that had happened occurred with a friendship that I had. Most of my friends know the whole story and I'd like to protect some of the identity to the rest of the audience reading this, but I had two really good friends for a long time that carried over from high school to college and I gave my all into the friendship. My trust was violated with one of the friends as she became very concerned with herself and her benefit whether it hurt one of the other friends in the relationship or not. I am all for making sure that your well-being is intact as long as you do not blatantly put down others to get ahead or do things out of spite, which happened to be all the things she was participating in. I thought we were best friends, and then I found out all the negative things she was saying about me and spreading about me. The final straw was when I discovered she had navigated through my personal belongings and found my journal, deciding to take photographs on the entries and send them around to people from our hometown that she knew did not like me. I felt like I was being pulled out of a Disney Channel movie or something (i.e. Read It And Weep), except there was no good to come out of it. Or, so I thought. Looking back on the events, it sucked. I felt like my world was crashing down and that I was losing such a good friend and that all of my classes were going to be awkward (because we are the same major), but none of that was true. I was alright. Losing the friendship with her opened so many new doors to finding new friends, true friends, that support me no matter what I am doing. It strengthened my relationship with my roommate, who was the other friend in our little trio, allowing us to become closer than we already were. It opened opportunities to get closer with the friends I had at work, who are some of the best people I have ever met in my entire life.

Another thing I had mentioned that I struggled with this year was my body image. There had been comments made about my body, by the friend who I had mentioned previously, that brought me back to the way that I used to feel about myself. Younger me had extremely bad body image problems and absolutely no self-confidence at all. I kept finding myself thinking that I was not good enough and I did not like the way that looked. I started wearing bigger clothes to hide my body and I couldn't leave my room without having some sort of makeup on my face because the real me wasn't pretty enough. I think that this is something that I will always have to work through, but I am realizing that this understanding of the terror this has put on my life makes me realize that it is time to start loving myself again. This has helped me try my hardest to see how beautiful and important I am and I am going to keep that with me forever.

I went through a breakup this year. Breakups are the worst and they make you feel defeated and crushed. I had been talking to this guy for a long time, and we had officially started dating in January. So, we had only officially been together by the time that we broke up. He broke up with me because I was "emotionally unavailable" and I was not giving enough to the relationship. I think my biggest take away from this whole event was that I let my insecurities shut me down and that is no way to have a relationship. This has given me the opportunity to understand that I will benefit from working on my emotional availability when it comes to romantic relationships and even friendships. I always thought of myself as a very open person, but I realized that I was not being open about the things that really mattered. I will carry this life lesson and continue to work on being more open to the people who matter to me.

The last hardship I'd like to take a look at is going to be carrying on into the next year. I found out right before the end of the year that my best friend and roommate would be transferring and not coming back to Illinois State next year. I was crushed. I felt lost and confused and a whole bunch of other emotions that I couldn't express because I was in such a state of shock. I still am trying to find the good in the fact that my sense of home at school won't be there anymore but I tried to begin. It will push me outside of my comfort zone to find new friends. It will make me understand more responsibility because I will now be raising the dog alone. It will give me the experience of living with new people and having to understand their rules and hope they accommodate mine. I'll get to see my best friend be happier than she was at ISU. I'll get to see her succeed and develop this new, happy life for herself. I have to remember that I am not losing her, we are just a little further from each other than I would like, but it'll pay to remember that true friend are never apart, maybe in distance, but never in heart.

This year was a whirlwind. I went through a lot and some of those things are still affecting me currently, but I have to remember that there is good in the bad. I can learn from all of the negatives in my life because if I can overcome them, that just means that I am coming out stronger and more prepared for whatever comes next. Here is a happy goodbye to sophomore year. Junior year, watch out because I'm ready to tackle the world.

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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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