Thank You to Pets

The Thank You Our Pets Deserve

"Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened." -Anatole France

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The greatest gift a parent can give their child besides unconditional love and support is a pet. A furry, four-legged, small, big, slithering, or slimy companion can change someone's life forever. Growing up with pets has absolutely played a role in shaping who I am today. My two cats served as my best friends, trustworthy confidant's, and comforting presences while growing up. Even though I have a sister that is all those things as well, the bond between a child and their pet is inexplainable and irreplaceable.

While we may be blessed to have multiple pets throughout our lives, we comprise the entirety of our pet's life. To them, we are their whole world and all that they know. It is our job to fill their life with nothing but love and happiness so they have only good experiences that turn into memories when they are no longer with us.

Pets truly deserve recognition for their ability to bring us so much joy, love, and pure happiness. They brighten up any gloomy day and can turn your mood around completely. A child benefits from pets in so many ways as the years from being a toddler to child to teenager can bring up obstacles and challenges. Sometimes it's better to have an outlet to confide in without worrying about unwanted opinions or judgement, and that is where a pet makes all the difference. A struggling child always has a friend in their pet which can help them endure difficulties that are a part of growing up in a constantly changing society.

I am forever grateful to my parents for bringing my cats into my life early on, so I had two loyal and loving companions while growing up. Although they are both recently gone, I feel blessed to have had two pets throughout my early life, and I truly understand the deeply rooted effect it played on my life. Our family is not whole without them, but they will always be with us and live on in our hearts through the amazing memories we shared together.

I know that I want my future children to grow up with the privilege of having a pet, reaping all the benefits that I was fortunate enough to gain while learning valuable life lessons. So, thank you to all the pets out there who made innumerable lives better and happier with their mere presence. You're appreciated and loved forever and ever.

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Please Spare Me From The Three Months Of Summer Break When People Revert Back To High Schoolers

They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

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I know a surprising amount of people who actually couldn't wait to go home for the summer. They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

Me? Not so much. I don't mean to sound bitter. It's probably really comforting to return to a town where everyone knows your name, where your younger friends want you around to do their prom makeup, and where you can walk through Target without hiding in the deodorant aisle. But because I did this really annoying thing where my personality didn't really develop and my social anxiety didn't really loosen its grip on me until college, I have a very limited number of people to return to.

If you asked someone from my high school about Julia Bond, they would probably describe her as shy, studious, and uptight. I distinctly remember being afraid of people who JUULed (did you get high from it? was it illegal? could I secondhand smoke it and get lung cancer?) and crying over Algebra 1 in study hall (because nothing says fun and friendly like mascara steaks and furious scribbling in the back corner while everyone else throws paper airplanes and plays PubG Mobile).

I like to tell my college friends that if I met High School Julia, I would beat her up. I would like to think I could, even though I go to the gym now a third of the time I did then. It's not that it was High School Julia's fault that she closed herself off to everyone. She had a crippling fear of getting a B and an even worse fear of other people. But because she was so introverted and scared, College Julia has nothing to do but re-watch "The Office" for the 23rd time when she comes back.

Part of me is jealous of the people who came into their own before college. I see pictures of the same big friend groups I envied from a distance in high school, all their smiling faces at each other's college football games and pool parties and beach trips, and it makes me sad that I missed out on so many friendships because I was too scared to put myself out there. That part of me really, really wishes I had done things differently.

But a bigger, more confident part of me is really glad I had that experience. Foremost, everything I've gone through has shaped me. I mean, I hid in the freaking bathroom during lunch for the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school. I never got up to sharpen my pencil because I was scared people would talk about me. I couldn't even eat in front of people because I was so overwhelmingly self-conscious. I remember getting so sick at cross country practice because I ran four or five miles on an empty stomach.

Now, I look back and cringe at the ridiculousness because I've grown so much since then. Sure, I still have my quirks and I'm sure a year from now I'll write an article about what a weirdo Freshman Julia was. But I can tell who had the same experience as me. I can tell who was lonely in high school because they talk to the kids on my floor that study by themselves. I can tell who was afraid of speaking up because they listen so well. I can tell who was without a friend group because they stand by me when others don't. I can tell who hated high school, because it's obvious that they've never been as happy as they are now.

My dislike for high school, while inconvenient for this summer, might be one of the best things to happen to me. I learned how to overcome my fears, how to be independent, and how to make myself happy. I never belonged in high school, and that's why I will never take for granted where I belong here at Rutgers.

So maybe I don't have any prom pictures with a bunch of colorful dresses in a row, and maybe I didn't go to as many football games as I should have. Maybe I would've liked pep rallies, and maybe I missed out on senior week at the beach. But if I had experienced high school differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't pinch myself daily because I still can't believe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I wouldn't smile so hard every time I come back from class and hear my floormates calling me from the lounge.

I wouldn't well up when my roommate leaves Famous Amos cookies on my desk before a midterm, or know how to help the girl having a panic attack next to me before a final, or hear my mom tell my dad she's never seen me this happy before.

If I had loved high school, I wouldn't realize how amazing I have it in college. So amazing, in fact, that I never want to go home.

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What They Don't Tell You About College

No pamphlet, website, or tour can even come close...

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College is a crazy adventure full of ups and downs, the highest highs and the lowest lows, the unexpected, and the even more unexpected. No one can put this into words but I'm here to try...

1. It flies

Like at the speed of light. I still feel as if I started college this Fall and am just wrapping up my Freshman year. However, looking back that feels like a lifetime ago. The years of college don't follow the laws of natural time, I'm convinced.

2. It's the best and worst thing that will happen to you

At first, it's the worst. A new place with no friends, more schoolwork, sometimes an unknown future, and lost soul. Then, it quickly becomes the best. New friends, schoolwork pertains to your major, classes are interesting, social events are happening all the time, newfound independence, and a feeling of both accomplishment and importance as an individual.

3. You will change

In more ways than one. This can be mentally, physically, emotionally, developmentally, personality-wise, academic, and many others. No one person stays the same throughout college, it's just impossible. But the changes will turn out to be for the best and allow you to learn things about yourself that you never knew existed.

4. You will grow

As an individual. You will find your place, purpose, destiny, however you want to describe it. But you'll find it. Although I didn't notice while it was happening, looking back at my freshman year self I see how much I've grown and matured.

5. It's not too late to find your best friends 

Even though you think you have your best friends from growing up, you will make unbreakable bonds with your college friends. There's something about living together and spending every waking moment, the good and the bad, together that makes college friends very special.

6. School is important, but it's not everything

Yes, grades are important and studying is essential in doing well in college. However, from a senior's perspective applying to jobs, one bad test grade doesn't define you as a student. The memories you make in college are once in a lifetime and missing out on them for one night of studying just isn't worth it. Enjoy your time in college. Work hard, but realize that a 100 and a 97 are the same letter grade. and one poor grade won't ruin your career.

7. College IS for everyone

It's what you make of it. How you carve your own path and make it your own. You have total control of making these four years the best for you personally, and I promise it's worth it.

As graduation comes closer and closer, I am reflecting on the last four years and what I learned that came unexpectedly. Some things happened suddenly and some over time, but nonetheless it took four years time to connect the dots.

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