As I stand over the kitchen counter of a house in Gentilly, France. I look over to see my children running around the dining room, my cousin chatting with my brothers about what the new year will bring them, and my parents reviewing the photos we took earlier that day. We all feel the energy build as we wait for the new year that is hours away. In this very moment I realize how incredibly grateful I am for the life I was given.
If you were to ask me 10 years ago, "What is the definition of happiness?" I would have responded by saying that this meant being the best, becoming a dentist, and making six figures. So I took action and started by putting my dreams into motion. This required a go-getter mentality in which I strived to be the best academically, socially, and physically. This mentality slowly evolved to encompass my everyday way of life. It led me to joining a fraternity, where I made appointments setting up events with the people ranging from the assistant Vice Provos to representatives of the Women's Haven Center. I volunteered for various organizations and events. I began doing research after classes. This work ethic also transferred to the gym where I would push myself to being the best I could. In essence I was slowly working at becoming the leader I am today but never stopping to recognize all that I have done.
During these formative years many life changing events occurred. I met my now fiancée, I had my first child, which meant a lot of firsts were happening. I met a growing network of friends that became my family. I got accepted into a great post baccalaureate program at the University of Missouri. This path ultimately led to being accepted into USC's Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry.
As the minutes grow closer to the new year, I stay standing watching my family. The nostalgia begins to grow stronger. I look back at how many moments of my son's life had passed, how many family and friends birthdays I missed. In this moment I realize that in my pursuit, I missed out on the everyday things I had. My go-getter mentality was essential to chasing my ambitions, but what I was setting myself up for was a life of constantly chasing things I don't have. Since my trip, I have redefined my terms to happiness. In short I learned that it is still important to chase the things you don't have, but to REALLY stop and appreciate the things you do have.