What a time to be alive. That phrase itself bears new meaning for me at this time. Even on my most creative days, I would not have been able to imagine how my sophomore year of college would play out. Just now, as I am writing this, it fully occurred to me that I completed another year of undergrad. However, looking back, I would say that it was incredibly formative for me.
Before I began writing this post, I went back to look at my photos from the last school year....and wow. I truly took for granted all that happened this school year. Yet, without further ado, here are three takeaways that I learned from this *unexpected* school year, and I hope that you may learn from them too.
#1: My meaning of self-care
Here the operative word is "my". The summer before my second year at UChicago, I had a health scare that put a lot of things into perspective for me. My summer in Iowa had so many ups (which I plan to write more about in the future) but it also had a few crucial downs.
My negative treatment of myself he be of me. I entered into a depressive episode where I was rude to my friends, rude to myself, and damaging to my body. One day, because of some poor decisions to overwork and be unnecessarily frugal, I fainted and ended up in the hospital due to hypoglycemia.
The incident was very scary for me and my parents, and afterward, I was left feeling drained and with a *thick* medical bill. I look to that situation as what motivated me to truly change my health habits, and I was very excited to implement them when I started school again.
Every time I put my physical and mental health first I am at my best. Yet, the challenge for me is keeping up a healthy routine. With the bit of money I had left, I decided to pay for a few sessions with a personal trainer, I began exercising consistently, and I was very sure to be mindful of what I was eating. The noticeable shift, however, was that I was no longer doing it with the motivation to lose weight, or change my sense of self, but to discover what health means for me, and how I can reasonably maintain a healthy lifestyle.
I don't think it was a conincidence that at the beginning of the Autumn quarter I felt my best. Initially, when I first moved back to campus, I didn't like who I saw in the mirror. Not in terms of physical appearance, but in how I was leading my life and the inner thoughts that were dictating my actions. Yet, over time, when I began to prioritize my health I actually felt myself feeling happier, more confident, and more secure. However, I would be lying if I made it seem like I don't struggle with maintaining this standard. But looking back I have truly come a long way.
This topic specifically is very important to me, so look out for more on my self care journey in the future.
#2: Discovering my unapologetic passions
This school year, my world changed academically. I started my Law, Letters, and Society major, and also took my first Gender and Sexuality classes. I joined the board of the Black Professional Society, and I met so many amazing, inspiring people - specifically women - like Nikki Giovanni, Valerie Jarrett, Elizabeth Warren, and so many more.
I kicked off my academic year taking Legal Reasoning and Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations (Gen Civ). Don't get me wrong, these classes weren't easy (especially Legal Reasoning). But, I truly loved every minute of it. For me, Legal Reasoning, solidified my dream of going to law school. I actually found it fun to read the different case briefs every week and analyze opinions. It challenged me and interested me in a way that I hope stays consistent for the rest of my life. Then on top of that, I took Gen Civ, that completely changed my world view.
It's been a struggle for me to write about my experience in those classes in a concise way, which tells me that I need to write about it in another post in the future!
On the flip side, not only did I learn what I loved in academia, I also discovered what I didn't like; which, was an equally important lesson. My takeaways from that are simple:
Don't take classes just because they may sound impression to other people
Be conscious of the types of discussions you want to have in an academic setting
Comparing yourself to other students can hinder your individual learning
Make time for office hours! Like seriously, go to office hours, in fact, just go just because you can...did you get that...office hours.
I realized that I have so much more to talk about in this section, so look out for more writing in the "Lifestyle" section of the blog. Yet, as I sneak peak I will give you a list of all my favorite classes from this school year:
Narrating Social Change (Human Rights)
Legal Reasoning (Law, Letters, and Society)
Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations 1 & 2 (Gender and Sexuality Studies)
Guilt and Forgiveness (Religious Studies)
Economics for Everyone: Micro (Economics)
Principles of Macroeconomics (Economics)
#3: You can do it!
I doubted myself so many times this school year. I doubted my intelligence, doubted my worth, doubted my ability to become successful. However, as I am scrolling through my pictures, and reminiscing on the memories, all of the doubt and negativity were so incredibly meaningless. Being on quarantine really helped me realize this. I am currently at a place where I am truly excited for where my life is going to go - even amid global chaos and uncertainty.
So my biggest takeaway is that I did it! I really completed my second year of college, and I defintely grew as a person. I can feel it. I can hear it in the way I talk and in the way I think about the world. Although I didn't do it alone, I learned to much in this last academic year. I look forward to the next one, however that will look like.
One thing that I learned this year was what it feels to love what I am doing. I look I can pinpoint periods this year in which I truly felt that I was at my best. As the perfectionist that I am, this statement alone cannot be overlooked. I am been able to have a taste of what it means to feel good about myself, what it means to be intellectually stimulated, and also the consequences of not maintaining thoses feelings. In many ways, this year has given me a clear glimpse of what I want to achieve in life...and better yet, it has given me the confidence to know that I can achieve this feeling for myself. I am so grateful for every experience I was able to have.
Thank you everyone for following me on my journey.