“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
It’s already week 5. I am halfway through my last term… Hard to believe. And what an amazing 5 weeks it has been. College retirement is great. I’m still just as busy as ever but I’m finally doing what I enjoy. It took 5 years but here I am. The little differences have added up. Every small moment aimed towards a bigger goal. The question I’ve had to ask myself a lot lately, is, “Why”? I’m someone who should’ve never succeeded and as I would’ve put it as a Freshman, I was “Cursed”. How can one man change so much in 5 years? The person people used to roll their eyes at whenever he opened his mouth is no more. Now I talk and people listen.
A question I’ve been struggling with as of late is “Nature vs. Nurture”. As much as I’ve tried to create my own identity and blaze my own trail, I have to wonder how much control I truly have. You cannot escape your past, no matter how hard you try. It will follow you. Yet you can rewrite your story. If you ask anyone about who I am, they’ll paint a fairy tale. Great childhood, great parents, and always ambitious. This may be true. Yet this is not what I’ve told people. I simply give people a framework, an outline. In a sense, I manipulate others perception of who I am. We all do this. Every post on Facebook is not of you crying but rather you with friends, having fun. Yet this is not reality, people know this. And we still feel inadequate as we compare ourselves to others. Everyone struggles.
Today I walked through the plaza on my way to class and in the grass there were over a thousand backpacks. Each represented a student who committed suicide each year. Reality is not pretty. I may act as a comforting voice; I only hope some will listen. It has always been my goal to treat everyone with respect. All too often I see people judge and make fun of those who need love the most. Even the best of us can be cruel.
A Term of Perspective
Last week I went and listened to a Holocaust survivor speak. As a child I loved watching the history channel back when it was history and not “history in the making”. Back then the Holocaust was a concept, something that we read about in history class. And this fall I was in Germany. Even then, I avoided the concentration camps. I chose to visit the memorials… Reality is not pretty. To actually hear a survivor was a sobering experience… I can’t begin to imagine the horror she went through and the tragedy she faced. She told her story with such grace. She didn’t have an answer for how she survived but at the end she made a point to say that she lived a happy life. She said the past was in the past and that it was best not to dwell. The human spirit is strong and those who choose love over hate give hope for a better tomorrow.
And I finished my week with a comedy show… To say I had an interesting week is an understatement. I couldn’t stop laughing at the show. The event was hosted by the Iranian student association and the comedian was Iranian-American. I don’t think I’ve ever heard more airport jokes in my entire life. And then the show became political… And you know what? It was great! It turns out Donald Trump is comedic gold, who knew? The big theme was diversity as the world tries to divide itself. Hate is a choice. People choose to hate one another, to label. I say it is easier to love. Reality is not pretty. If the world beats you down, remember to laugh and smile.
Speaking of Diversity, I went to a college of science event titled “Diversity in Science”. All too often I have found people choose ignorance to validate their own reality. As a businessman, why would I ever go listen to a scientist? It’s all about perspective. If I had a penny for every time my roommate said a business major joke, I might almost be able to pay off my student loans (probably not). Instead of collaboration, we divide. Even within our own colleges. Finance, BIS, you name it. They’re different, we deserve more, etc. If we want the world to change, we have to be that change. Seek first to understand, then be understood.
The week prior? I met the attorney General of Oregon and listened to College Republicans and Democrats debate. Especially now, especially in the US, we can’t talk politics but need to! But people won’t listen! So to go to a setting where, while I didn’t agree with the other side on all points, I could at least hear what they had to say… It was fantastic!
So last week I talked about love. It was a fun topic and something I don’t talk about often. I talked a lot about being observant and most important, loving yourself. What I neglected to mention was loving others. Love is a prize…
I used to hate myself. Every day I would look in the mirror and berate myself. And then one day I realized that I couldn’t keep living this way. So I tried smiling. And then saying something positive. And now… I can barely remember who I used to be. What I have is what I wrote in my journal. What was once reality is now but a distant memory. But most importantly, I found others to love me. I’ve met the most amazing people in college and I didn’t even realize it at the time! And I was lifted up. It’s OK to be vulnerable no matter how much you hurt. And as far as finding true love? I wouldn’t worry about it. Everyone is obsessed with “the one” yet there will be multiple one’s in your life. If you spend your life chasing, you’ll never catch. Enjoy the moment. Love is meant to be fun. It’s hard to control. If you want the secret to make it last, i’ll tell you. A proper relationship is when two independent individuals come together to become interdependent. Do not lose who you are in a relationship; rather build something new with whoever you choose to love. Move forward, learn from one another and make each-other stronger. Even if it feels like you’ll never find love, please do this; allow yourself to love.
As my time at college comes to a close, I have so many questions and so few answers. For how much I know, there’s always more to learn. Those who claim they know everything are fools. Everyone has a story and everyone should have the opportunity to dream big. Many live their lives in fear and instead of stepping forward, they step back. They push people away and they try to make it on their own. Don’t. If you have nobody, you will always have yourself. Life is a gift, so don’t waste it. And it is never, never, too late to change.
Thanks for reading! Come back next week as I talk about my secret spots on campus and “the man with the white hair”. Feel free to comment, reach out, and share!