Embrace You

Autumn is here! From colorful leaves, to bonfires, to pumpkin patches and corn mazes, how could you not fall in love with fall? It’s a beautiful season that marks the beginning of many celebrations until late December, including an unofficial but enthusiastic celebration of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Even though it has been around for years, I had never tried one. I don’t usually like pumpkin flavor and I cannot drink coffee without feeling sick for the rest of the day. For the longest time, I had been wanting to know what the hype around this popular drink was. Would it live up to that hype? I recently tried a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. The worker who took my order at Starbucks was kind enough to make me one without coffee. Despite the fact that I’ll never get the full Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino experience, due to the fact that I can’t have coffee, I at least got a taste of what most Americans really enjoy.

However, I’ve noticed that as pumpkin spice becomes more popular (there are cheerios and other cereals, oatmeal, and even more products), it has become more controversial. Every time I hear the drink mentioned, or even the flavor, it is usually tied to a stereotype, namely the adjective “basic.” Some people that I know won’t try pumpkin spice because they’re “not that basic”, others drink it because that’s what people do around this time of the year. I’ve come to wonder how many people order the drink because they actually like it and how many people won’t order it out of fear of being labeled. Pumpkin spice is not the only trend that people will shy away from or embrace because others are into whatever the latest cool thing is. I have seen it with coffee in general, different fashions, different hobbies, and more.

Why can’t we just be ourselves? Why do we have to try so hard to be different from others for the sake of being different or avoiding a label (which makes you like many others who try to be different)? Why do we try so hard to fit in? I say, if you like Pumpkin Spice Lattes, then order one! If you don’t, then don’t, but don’t give people a hard time that do. If you are into mainstream music, great! If you are into a genre no one has ever heard of, that’s also great! Don’t force yourself to be into something you don’t like just because other people are into it or you want to be viewed as different.

Embrace you!

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The Silver Lining in Missing Others

When I was in Maine just the other week, I really wanted to try a certain warm beverage. It sounded intriguing, the café sounded like my idea of the perfect afternoon hangout, and I would be able to relax for the first time in a few days. Literally every obstacle got in my way, preventing me from trying this drink, from people to weather. When I finally forced this dream to become a reality, I ended up disliking the drink and didn’t get to sit down for ten minutes before being called by my family to meet them somewhere else. Have you ever set out to accomplish your dream, but when you finally attained it, it wasn’t all you thought it would be, even if it was something as small as trying a hot beverage?

For the longest time, I wanted to leave the state of Pennsylvania to live elsewhere, especially a warmer area. This year, I am finally getting to live out my dream of living somewhere warmer for an extended period of time and the best part is, I don’t know anyone there! I have always loved meeting new people and connecting with them on a deeper level, which is my primary reason for studying languages. I was just as excited as the first time I moved away for college, and when I was getting ready to study abroad, but I was also just as sad to leave the ones I love behind.

Homesickness is completely natural to experience, especially when you have great memories tied to the place you are leaving. However, it was not my home I was missing, but rather the people and memories that went along with it. No matter how many times I’ve had to leave the area I grew up in for an extended period of time, I never fully got over missing the special people in my life.

The first couple of weeks are always the hardest. You have a lot of free time to yourself to think, since you don’t have the responsibilities of schoolwork to keep you distracted. You may be in the process of meeting new people, but things don’t tend to get easier until you have some established friendships. During this time, I thought a lot about everyone I had left behind. I am only going to be away for a year, and that year will fly by. I don’t want to spend it thinking of how much I miss everybody all the time. That’s when it hit me:

The reason why I’m feeling this way is because I have such special people in my life. If I didn’t have wonderful people surrounding me, I would not be experiencing such homesickness for them.

Finding a silver lining requires a change of thought. It’s all a matter of being grateful that you are so blessed to have these people in your life. Yes, missing others is totally okay and completely normal, but realize the ‘why‘ behind your feelings. You will be brought to a whole new level of comfort that will help you ease the pain of missing others.

Thank you to all the amazing people in my life that may be reading this! You have definitely left an impact.

Why So Controversial?

When I was a kid, I loved spending time with my friends. I would beg to go to their house, spend the day, and later I would end the day asking my parents to let me stay for a couple more hours. If I couldn’t see them in person, we would talk on the phone for hours. Sometimes, we would talk until every phone in the house was dead, and we had no other option except to hang up.

As we grew older, we got busy and we developed into the people we are today. I have lost contact with many of my friends, but I have also been fortunate enough to be able to stay in contact with some of my closest ones since childhood. I have also met new people along the way that became good pals of mine. However, as much as I love all of my friends, I find that I’ve become more introverted. Despite enjoying their company, I could no longer spend so much time hanging out with others. After a few hours, I was finding myself tired and needing to relax.

Things have changed since childhood. We went from talking about TV shows and crushes to talking about politics and the latest scandal on the news. To be honest, I am not into talking about controversial topics. When I hang out with a friend, especially one that I have not seen in a year, I prefer to catch up or reminisce. Unfortunately, controversial topics tend to creep into our conversation.

Talking about politics is important. We can’t just ignore them altogether, but there is a time and a place for that discussion. Sometimes we need to leave our opinions at the door for the sake of friendship, if two people can’t have a mature discussion. We live in a world where people unfriend each other on social media, even after years of friendship, just because someone does not agree with their views. Anymore, I go on Facebook and see people trying to change each other, as opposed to pictures of their pet or their food (which I would rather see). I have even had this experience when visiting friends. If I haven’t seen you in over a year, the first thing I want to hear about is you. I care about you and your life. I want to know how your family is doing, if you have picked up any new hobbies, and what you have been learning. I don’t want to know what you think of Donald Trump’s latest tweet, not right now.

What happened to just hanging out and enjoying the company of another person? Why don’t we just sit, put our phones down, and talk?

Create moments where you will think of childhood, and you will want to sit and talk for hours and hours.

The Secret to Happiness

Our bodies are intriguing. They are so complex that even the world’s smartest minds haven’t figured out all the intricacies that lie inside. Many people put an emphasis on parts that are being researched, such as the brain or the heart. Others will pay special attention to areas on our bodies that society deems important. What about parts like the nose? For some, it is their defining trait and we are quick to notice. However, I am willing to bet that most don’t pay attention to their own nose, unless they are in front of a mirror. Most of the time, we don’t even realize what is in front of us until we smell something bad or really good. A good possibility for why we don’t notice our nose is because our brain tends to edit it out. We don’t see it.

Happiness is like a nose. It is there all along, but our brain edits it out. We are quick to see the negative and overwhelming circumstances in life. Look in front of you. Start with the small things that make you happy, whether it is the beauty of wild flowers, or a puppy enjoying a walk. Try doing an activity that you enjoyed as a child! Reflect on what happened after a long day: Did someone treat you with kindness today? Did you do something to bring joy to someone else?

There are some phrases my dad used to say when I was a kid that I will never forget, such as the “put it back” jingle he would sing when I wanted to buy a toy that I was not going to go home with that day. One of his favorite phrases to use on my sister and I frequently was: “Pay attention.” Even as I type this, I can hear him say those two words in the specific tone he used. We need to slow down and pay attention to the countless blessings that surround us in this busy world, because happiness isn’t very far away at all.

The Danger of “Good Enough”

The language-learning community likes to talk about the downfalls of being a perfectionist. When learning a language, making mistakes is inevitable, whether you like it or not. Learners can choose to learn from those mistakes, and sometimes even get a good laugh from them, or they can shy away from meeting new people and never reach their goal of becoming conversational in the language that they are learning because they are afraid of making mistakes when speaking or writing in that language.

The same goes for life. We aim for perfection and are constantly looking to better ourselves through inspirational talks on YouTube, self-help books, and reassuring blog posts. We know that we are not perfect, and we never will be perfect; at least not in this life.

Some people have accepted that fact, which is okay. If we strive for perfection then we will fail.  However, we should not settle for who we are right now. There is always something about us that we can be working on, while striving to be the best version of ourselves. The moment we settle and say that we are “good enough”, we make the conscious decision to stop growing. It is important to see the need for constant growth in our lives, because if we aren’t growing, then we are dying.

What kind of person were you in high school? How did you treat others? Would you want to go back to being that person? Look at your life in the past year. Would you want to be the same person you were even a year ago, making the same mistakes?

No matter how great you may think you are, or how much improvement you feel like you have been making, you still have a long way to go, and so do I. Look at it as motivation to continue on the path that you started, or even change your direction completely. Either way, don’t strive for “perfect” and never settle for “good enough.” Aim for “even better than yesterday.”

The Best Four Years

Yesterday, my sister graduated from high school. It was an exciting and special moment to share with her, and also a little bit nostalgic. Pretty soon she’ll be off to college and be making more memories that will last a lifetime.

Some people say that college is the best four years of your life, and to an extent, they were right. They were the best four years of my life… so far. However, I don’t want my best four years to be so early on in my life that everything goes downhill after that. I hope that I have even better moments as life goes on and that I could have even more “best years of my life.”

Where does that mentality about college come from anyway? Why do people speak of the “glory days” when referring to the past? Shouldn’t we be striving to make every day a little bit better than the last, rather than glorifying something we will never again experience?

As she moves onto college, learns more about herself, and works to become the best person she can be, I hope that she’ll enjoy every moment. I hope that she can look back at her four years of school and say that they were good, maybe even the best for the moment, but that she’ll see the bright future ahead of her and go forth with a positive outlook on it.

As for me, I am still a little bit sad that four years of school went by so quickly, but I am thankful for all that I experienced and for the people in my life that I met because of going to college where I did. I may never see some of them again, but I will forever cherish those memories and continue to live life making new ones.

Live Without Regrets

My dad has used the line: Live your life in such a way that you will have no regrets at the end. The reason he says that is because at the age of 10, he lost his father to a sudden heart attack, at age 11 he lost his home and every earthly possession to a major flood, and at the age of 12 his favorite baseball player was killed in a tragic airplane accident. He learned early on that things don’t last and that you never know what tomorrow will bring. He said that if you want to do something, do it; if you want to say something, say it. You don’t want to get to the end of your life and say, “I wish I would have…” or “I wish I wouldn’t have…”

I just finished my senior year of college. With that comes a flood of questions, but there is one that I have been dwelling on, even before I graduated: How do you feel? 

Just like any other life-changing situation I’ve gone through, I felt and am feeling a lot of things. However, not one of them is regret. I made sure to make the most of my time at Gettysburg during my four years there. I did almost everything and visited every restaurant that I wanted to, leaving me satisfied. Most of all, I made memories that I will never forget.

This past school year, my introverted side took over more than ever and I know that part of that was due to reverse culture shock. During the two semesters, I constantly battled with wanting to have alone time because of being drained from work, but also wanting to make sure that I was spending time with those who were special to me before potentially never seeing any of them again.

Despite having the mentality of wanting to spend time with others, there were times where saying “no” was necessary for the sake of being able to rest. There were also times where I needed to put my work aside for an hour, after working on it for many hours, to spend time with my friends. In the end, I wasn’t left wishing that I had spent more time with people. Life is all about balance and balance prevents regret.

So how do I feel after all is said and done? I am still swimming in a sea of feelings, but making the most of my time at school has helped me feel ready to move on overall. No matter what stage of life you are in, if you just finished high school, just finished college, or if you are finishing a completely different chapter of life, make the most of it because you never know what will come next.

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