with a grain of rye
Never in my life did I think I would be in the situation I am now. Having dreams crushed, reshaped, and life's unknowns shake up my world, I have realized that I am on the path to true self-discovery. Who am I without the clubs, jobs, ad extracurriculars? What does it mean to be me? As these questions are running through my head, mixed emotions also circulate--self-doubt, anxiety, fear--who am I? After realizing not one group or activity define me as a person, not my friends or others define me as a person, but I define me as a person. I have the say in how my life will be, on how my life is, and on who I am in it. With the new self revelations of independence and freedom, of which I am not ashamed of the person I was before who was trying to fit into the society identity of those around her, I am stronger for learning these lessons the hard way, and for strengthening my character, so I can be a stronger and more genuine version of myself.
It is a miracle and a tragedy that life moves so quickly that I seem to effortlessly forget my age. Realizing I am now 20 years old, not a high school senior or college freshman, I begin to feel the overwhelming joys and triumphs, obstacles and struggles, one faces when they enter their journey of adulthood and independence. Waiting tables to pay for bar covers, groceries, gas and insurance; 5 am work outs to make me a leader and proud American in the military; College classes that not only academically challenged me, but brought out my true strengths under pressure; Sorority events and having a "little" that made me get more involved; All of these new challenges and opportunities have impacted me in ways that are truly phenomenal as a person and have helped prepare me for future experiences. While there have been many positives this semester, my friends and I have faced many setbacks this year as well, especially when one of our good friends from Alabama died in an accidental suicidal shooting 3 weeks ago. We have all been challenged to overcome and thrive despite our loss and sadness, as we have realized we only have one life to live and we need to live ours in a way that brings not only honor to those that have gone before us, but live in a way that brings honor and love to those around us. My friend group at Alabama has only grown and expanded as I have centered myself around people who are genuine and accepting, and love me for who I am. I have never felt such peace with myself than this past year in my social connections as I have truly met some of the realest and truest gems of this earth and have had the opportunity to call them a friend, even best friends. I have been blessed to have the opportunity of having these people in my life, from going to Imagine Music Festival to us all going to Odesza, to Alabama game days, to the amazing birthday celebration they threw for me, to our Christmas goodbye, I have been so lucky and honored to be a friend to these individuals. While my friend circle became closer, so did my military connections. My mentor in the program has not only challenged me to be a better cadet, but also to become a better leader and to learn to love myself. Stressing confidence, she opened my eyes to my underlying potential no one has seen or tried to pull out in me, not even myself. She has molded me into a better person and has helped me set goals I know I will achieve and those I am going to keep persistently trying to achieve. While I found out I have had a fractured elbow for 8 months, unbeknownst to me, I have faced many obstacles and struggles within the military that I never thought would come about, yet they will all be fixed shortly or have been already. While I am balancing what seems to be 5 different lives, this semester brought clarity to my eyes by merging many of my activities and hobbies into one, making myself a better and more well-rounded individual. Still searching for myself and my true purpose, this semester has brought me so much closer to my truest version of myself, as I have not only loved and lost, I have also sacrificed and received. Looking back on the semester as a whole, it becomes evidently clear that it can be described in one word--Love. Love is about sacrifice, despite the joys and success, one cannot give love without giving of themselves, as it is a selfless act. Self-sacrifice is a key part of being a true lover and friend, a daughter and sister, a mentee and cadet, and a student and server. Spreading love this semester has been my main goal as I have vowed to live a positive and encouraging life, not only to my friends and family, but also to strangers and individuals who have truly hurt me in the past. As this semester marks the true beginning into my adulthood journey, one without the comforts of home or financial security of my parents, I eagerly look upon next semester, awaiting the joys and triumphs, obstacles and struggles, still yet to come as a sophomore at the University of Alabama. In hopes to continue my self-exploration to find my true calling and purpose in this life, I have shared my experience to encourage anyone reading this to find their purpose as well. Peace be with you all, as I genuinely hope everyone is able to reflect on their own joys and struggles from this past semester to further better themselves to become the best version of themselves. -Gabe
You know they are coming
You try to
Yet, here they are
You caught them
I do not know if it's my eyes wondering for something more or my heart.
Have you ever wondered why we are here, what the human purpose is, or what constitutes what is good and what is evil? I believe these universal and controversial questions, based on how we answer them, are the core fundamentals to uncovering the truest version of ourselves and our true moral character. Recently, I attended the Imagine Music and Arts Festival in Atlanta, GA to break away from personal struggles and emotions I was dealing with back in Tuscaloosa. This spontaneous trip opened my eyes to the positive energy I needed in my life, of which these moral fundamentals began circulating through my inner thoughts, helping me discover my own moral character.
My goal for the trip was to find clarity through the music to heal my soul from the negativity and the rejection I faced with regard to relationships, classes, work, and other campus organizations. Upon arriving, my mood was immediately elevated and I felt more in tune with myself and my emotions than ever before. Being a big fashion, trend-setter/follower, I sported the festival girl look, which featured the basic black fishnets, comet one piece with a black long sleeve mesh covering, and the Gucci fanny pack (of which I got in Rome for festivals). I felt liberated wearing this outfit, as I was expressing my own interests and being true to myself in what I was wearing, as no one cared or was judging anyone for anything that was going. The environment and atmosphere of Imagine is one I cannot fully express in words, but it was as if I was in a Holy Garden or a mystical paradise, as the lights, dancers, effects, and design of the entertainment space radiated such positive vibes. With such positive vibes, however, one must acknowledge the absence of the negativity.
In a fast-paced society filled with immediate access to technology, it is hard to find yourself isolated from the media and outer influences, which usually bring negativity in the form of stress or social pressure. This spontaneous road trip to ATL opened my eyes, my heart, and my soul to my inner voice and conscience, allowing me to further find myself and my own beliefs on the nature of good and evil.
While the line between what is good and what is evil is extremely fuzzy with new laws, insight, experiences, and testimonies being voiced in our modern society, one thing remains certain: We have the opportunity to feel the good and choose it. Positive vibes radiate and attract positivity, they even uplift those people in a time of need to inspire them to share the light and radiate it. After the festival, I decided to re-dedicate my life to be a vessel of positivity, illustrating the good in the world. With such a personal reflection, I challenge anyone reading this to also take my stance on this subject and vow to radiate positive energy and uplift the world instead of having the world weigh you down.
my walls being torn down.
shut out once again.
your eyes were cold.
yet i felt warm with you.
i gave my time to you.
needing the high once again.
-the unspoken thoughts of a college student
Entering slowly, He came like a thief in the night
Sharing His thoughts and feelings, Childhood memories
Creating a story She could only wished to have been apart of
Building Himself up, Tearing Her guard down
Embracing Her body, but never Her soul
Loving the high, but never the girl
Ruining Her innocence
And breaking Her trust
The cycle repeats
Holding hands with Yet another
Sharing a kiss with a few
Breaking Their hearts, His insecurities
He calls Them crazy
They call him drunk late at night
When will She know She is worth more
When will She love Herself the way She wants Him too
Since arriving home from college, I have embarked on a financial journey, working two jobs to prepare for the new college semester and my future travel plans abroad. Working from 7 am to 4pm as a nanny has brought many joys and childhood memories back into my life, helping me realize how far I have come, and who I need to be thankful for. For example, I have a newfound respect and admiration for my parents, as growing up many children overlook the tiny sacrifices and acts of kindness they do for you everyday. From doing a basket of laundry for me, to randomly filling my car up with gas, to sacrificing their own plans so that I can pursue my own, my parents (& most parents) do acts of kindness everyday for their children and families without ever receiving a thank you, praise or recognition. The amount of patience one must have with young children is also unmeasurable, and I have realized the true sainthood of my own parents through watching children this summer. My other job is the night shift at a local grocery, which has not only opened my eyes to new people and life circumstances that make me appreciate the life I live now, but they also offer a new perspective on how to engage with the world around me and my perception. While I thought I would dread coming home from the summer because I have truly found my new home away at college, I have actually cherished my time here with my family and will miss them more than I thought I would. Before my eyes, my sisters and family are growing up and it is the hardest thing to know I cannot be there for every special life moment or event since I am hours away. Knowing I leave for Italy in 9 days (July), and then return in August (only to have 3 days before I go back to school), I am spending as much time as possible with my family since I know the next time I come back will only be for a short while. Overall, I have enjoyed seeing old friends from high school, family members, and neighbors, along with re-visiting all my favorite spots in Memphis, as this place will always be dear to my heart because the people I surround myself here are the most genuine and loving people I have ever met. Wish me luck in Italy, and do not forget where you come from or what makes you who you are because at the end of the day those are the things that matter most, Ciao!
There is a joy and a sense of accomplishment, a sense of tiredness and exhaustion, a sense of pride that One can only feel when they learn the value of hard work. Therefore, only the truest humbleness and realization of reality comes to One who submerges herself in such a reality--a reality of the workforce, human relations, and an understanding of the fundamental value of money and effort. No one can show her these things, no one can feel them for her. She must feel them for herself. She must go and experience the reality of the world.
A journey is something I never want to stop taking, for life itself is a continuous journey. A journey can be an educational pursuit, a romance, a long-desired trip, a newfound spiritual purpose, accomplishing an emotional or physical barrier, or just becoming a better you. No matter what journey you take, each one prepares you for the next phase in your life. Phases—there are numerous phases, stages, or cycles in one’s life—are implemented through a change one encounters. After this past year on my journey post-high school, I have entered the phase of my college years. While I am learning new material, living on my own, providing for myself, and becoming an adult, it is important to recognize the huge milestone this year has been as I have transitioned into a new phase, a new year, and a new me. With this new beginning in college, while also learning the military culture for the first time, I have grown up in many ways maturely, but I have also learned what is expected of me and how to become the truest version of myself. With more self-discipline, more responsibilities, and more finances, I have learned to balance my education, my work, and my own personal life, along with learning when to say “no” and focus on my own well-being. This past year in college has been an amazing journey, to say the least, as I have developed some of the best friendships of my life. My roommates were challenging at times, but ultimately my new family away from home, and I could not have asked for a better experience. They not only opened my eyes to the new fashion trends, habits, and ways of life from the different north-eastern states, but they have also taught me how to be real to others and to myself. Little did I know I would end up meeting my best friend, of whom I went to Cancun, Mexico with, who has encouraged me to strive for the best and never settle for less than what I deserve, whether it be with boys, grades, or with life experiences. She has truly inspired me, which is one of the reasons I will be studying abroad in Italy in the following months. I truly believe everyone’s life is in a constant journey, as mine has unfolded in ways I never dreamed possible. While this is a personal reflection of my past year and journey in college, I believe other college-aged students and/or young adults would be able to relate as everyone encountering life post-high school for the first time has embarked on a life changing journey, one of stories, memories, and amazing experiences.