la vida

lessons from the last five months

  1. Terror is a universal feeling. Just today at lunch I was talking with one of my good friends I met a few months ago, and he said that he was warned to watch out for ISIS while he lives in DC over the next two years. I laughed and said that no matter where he was, ISIS would still play a role in his life. From San Bernardino to Paris to Mali, the word ISIS is spoken with an eerie, hesitant undertone as if saying they exist makes the threat more real. One day I sat in class and listened as a boy presented about terrorism in Southeast Asia, and my heart sunk as he told the story of a terrorist attack in Malaysia; it hit too close to home for me. And living in America certainly doesn’t give you a monopoly on feeling safe or on being afraid. Two hours after that terrorism presentation, my sister sat in a potentially disastrous lockdown at her high school. Things ended okay for my family, and that night we sat together half-heartedly laughing about the whole situation and admitting that we were all scared for a moment or two. Everyone is terrified of something, and fear seems to be an inherent characteristic of human beings. But if terror and fear are something we are born with, there must be a reason for it, and I’m still working on figuring out why it’s necessary.
  2. God is in the details. The most miraculous things that happened to me since July 15th were seemingly small things. I remember sitting on my dorm’s ugly, carpeted floor one night, feeling stressed out of my mind as I stared at the pile of homework and essays I needed to do before the next morning, when all of the sudden someone knocked on my door—a very rare occurrence. My roommate opened the door, and the girl at the door held out a brown envelope for me, an envelope with Malaysian postage. I cried as I read the enclosed letter from my very best friend, telling me that he loved me and that he missed me. I cried even more when I realized how many little things led up to that exact moment. My Brandon had to send the letter precisely when he did. Mail delivery from Malaysia had to take an awfully long time. And someone had to think that the number 5 looked like a 2, so that my neighbor would receive the letter and give it to me right when I needed it. Miracles are real, and we can see them if we look for them.
  3. Just because something is right, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Learning this lesson took time and a lot of tears. Success and happiness require work. Doing what you need to often leads you through the twisty turns of unexpected trials. Life often feels like a big, long, yellow swirly slide on the playground; we’re forced through this supposedly enjoyable ride that half the time makes us feel claustrophobic and confused. I have to remind myself that I chose to shoot myself through this tunnel. And so here I am, just trying to laugh as my hair becomes all static-y and sticks to the ceiling. I’m making the right choices, and I’m learning to do hard things, and it’s all okay.
  4. You don’t need to be happy all the time. I’ve fallen in love with being content; not necessarily overjoyed, but able to smile and breathe in and out. There have been more than a few moments of sadness over the past five months, but that’s okay; there have been countless incidents full of youthful, overwhelming, sunshine-like hope. The times I’ve been forced to my knees allowed me to not just feel but see the love of God all around me. Hope and love have been the revelatory lights that allow me to be content with my daily battles and sorrows.
  5. And lastly, love is worth it. It’s worth waiting for and holding on to. And I’m not just talking about romantic love. I’m talking about the love of writing and the love of looking at pictures of puppies on Twitter. The love of chocolate, oversized hoodies, gel pens, certain genres of music, the color pink, and long showers are also valid kinds of love. Find what you love and pursue it. Indulge in what you love. Appreciate every second you get to spend with those you love (because being without them is hard). Love is a treasure, and it is meant to be shared.

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