11 Ways To Be A Better Library Patron

9. Do not use your phone while speaking to staff.

Library employees are people, too.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on July 17, 2017. 

I’ve worked at a library for the past four years, and every time I think I’ve seen it all, some library patron comes out of the blue and proves me wrong. Libraries and their employees should not be taken for granted. We are here to help you, not serve you. Here are the top 10 ways to be a better and more respectful library patron.

1. Have your library card or identification on you.

Let us know that you are actually the person you say you are. Also, have it ready so that we can get you in and out.

2. Don’t be that person that comes in five minutes before closing.

Come in tomorrow and we’ll help you with a nicer tone and we will have more time to dedicate to you.

3. Know what you’re looking for.

Have a title or author, please. The description of the book is not enough information for us to locate it.

4. If there’s a problem with your account, don’t talk down to us.

You are more likely to rattle the employee and their nerves instead of resolving anything. Also, be willing to compromise.

5. Know the library policies.

Know when we fine you, where you can eat, and what areas of the library are off limits. Stop acting shocked when you get fined for an item that was extremely late and or lost.

6. Don’t compare the library you’re at to any other library.

You are where you are. Not all libraries operate the same. Different places have different regulations and you have to follow those regulations, whether the other library has them or not.

7. Parents: Computers aren’t babysitters.

Neither are library staff. Watch your children or take them with you.

8. If your child is throwing a tantrum, leave the premises.

Attempting to calm them down is giving everyone a headache, including the other patrons. You can let your child “feel emotions” outside.

9. Do not use your phone while speaking to staff.

This is common decency.

10. Clean up after yourself.

The library is a privilege, not a right. Many libraries don’t allow eating in certain areas, but if you’re going to break the rules, at least clean up after yourself. We have a million other things to do at closing time when we don’t have to clean up your mess.

11. What happens at the library, stays at the library.

Any problems you have with the library, don’t bring them up outside of the library. Library staff who are off duty want nothing to do with you.

 

Body Positivity Is Great. Period

Here’s my response to “Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It’s Ignoring Health Concerns.”

If you are not a doctor, you don’t have the right to define someone’s health.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on July 10, 2017.

Body positivity is something that all people, regardless of size, shape, color or gender absolutely need to survive. Last week, an article was written in the UNC Greensboro community that criticized the body positive movement, saying that the idea is ineffective when it ‘ignores health concerns.’ The article goes on to ostracize body positivity, and although I think the author had good intentions here, they did not articulate themselves at all. Here’s my response to “Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It’s Ignoring Health Concerns.”

To begin, weight does not indicate health. Everyone carries their weight differently. Just because someone looks ‘obese’ or ‘overweight’ to you, doesn’t mean they actually are obese or overweight. The actual definition of ‘obese’ is “grossly fat or overweight,” but who decides if the person is grossly fat? All of the women in the photo below weigh the exact same weight, 154 lbs.

Second, if you are not a doctor, you do not have the right or the qualifications to define someone’s health. There are several health conditions that can cause an individual to gain weight, and often these medical conditions don’t take into consideration whether you balance your fruits and vegetables. Some of these conditions can result from thyroid issuesmental-illness-related problems, or simply side effects from hormones.

Just as many of these health conditions make it more difficult for people lose weight. This includes Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)insulin resistance, or even something as simple as depression.

Next, I’d like to articulate some things. In the article written last week, the author makes a few key points which I’d like to debunk. First, they mention that the body positive movement “promotes a sedentary lifestyle.”

This is so incorrect that I don’t even know where to begin. Not everyone who is body positive is ‘obese’, or ‘super-thin.’ (I use these terms in quotes because I find those terms to be subjective – the opinion often lies in the eye of the beholder). Those you consider to fall under those terms aren’t necessarily unhealthy.

Bigger people are not promoting anything, they’re simply existing. Also, no one has ever looked at an ‘obese’ person and thought, “I’m going to sit around all day so I can look like that.” Not sure where this claim comes from, but it honestly sounds made up.

Self-love does not equate to negativity toward exercise and dieting. Like I’ve mentioned before, not everyone who is body-positive is plus-size, and those that are don’t necessarily hate health or exercise. I think the author was considering a very small group of people when they wrote this article, and that’s simply disrespectful because they generalized a whole bunch of people.

The author of the article also posed this question to their audience, “Where is the line between body confidence and obesity?” Why does there have to be a line between the two? Couldn’t the line connect both together? Since ‘obese’ is a subjective term, I’ll begin using the word ‘overweight,’ or the phrase ‘seemingly overweight’ from now on.

Can seemingly overweight people not have body confidence? Why should self-love correlate with health at all? The two are very separate things and do not depend on one another. They can reflect one another if the individual feels that way, but they do not require one another to exist. And again, you may be severely incorrect in assuming someone is unhealthy based on the way they look to you.

What you consider ‘health,’ and what someone else considers ‘health’ is always going to be different. When people throw up the middle finger on Instagram in regards to body-shaming, they are looking to shame those similar to the author of this article. That middle finger is to shame those who think they’re helping thinner people or bigger people by offering unsolicited and unqualified medical advice concerning that individual’s health.

To be fair, it’s never been about health. The author was correct when they mentioned the correlation between body image and society. Often people decide what is ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ based on what they see both in the media and in society. The truth is: society will never be pleased with how you look. Clothing companies will never truly accommodate for plus size people, and if people truly cared about our health, they’d advocate for an increase in plus-size active wear, or even for the decrease of fat-shaming so that plus-size people no longer have to hide.

For some reason, people think that fat-shaming bigger people will encourage them to lose weight. It’s the same with skinny-shaming, really. Here’s some tea: it may encourage weight-loss, but what about when that weight-loss isn’t healthy? What about when that weight-loss spirals into an eating disorder? Is that the individual’s fault too?

Society and the media will never take responsibility for its faults. At the end of the day, what matters is how you feel about yourself and your body. Self-love does not and will never correlate with the amount of love you have to give, or the amount of love others have to give to you. Unconditional love for yourself will come from you loving yourself unconditionally, no matter what state you’re in. You are lovable and acceptable the way you are, no matter how you are.

And no, we’re not sending a radical message to anyone. Let’s not pretend body-shaming is an issue that pertains only to women. We are sending a message to women, men, young boys and girls that there is a need to love yourself, rather than the need to be thinner or bigger. You just have to learn to love yourself.

Like I said, I think this author had their heart in the right place, but the execution of opinion was not the best in my opinion.

“Let’s leave it to the doctors and medical professionals to criticize.” Yeah, why don’t we?

No, I Won’t Reach Out To You When I Am Having A Breakdown

When I am having a major depressive episode, anxious meltdown, or drowning in my mental illness, don’t expect me to come to you.

It’s just not something I’m comfortable with.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on June 27, 2017.

When I am having a major depressive episode, anxious meltdown, or drowning in my mental illness, don’t expect me to come to you. When I have a breakdown, I feel as if the entire world is resting on my shoulders, but my shoulders are weak and could give out any minute. I feel as if I am paralyzed; I cannot stand up. I cannot stop crying. I am frozen. I won’t ever reach out to you when I’m feeling like this. It’s not personal. it’s not a cry for help. I just can’t function like that. Let me help you understand.

It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been friends. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve come to me with your problems. It definitely doesn’t matter if we’re in the same proximity. When I am breaking down, I will not reach out to you for help because I don’t think I need help. My first instinct is to doubt myself – I automatically think that my trigger was self-inflicted, or I was being too sensitive. My second instinct is to hide my feelings. I shouldn’t bother anyone else with my problems. People have problems of their own, and I’m freaking out over nothing. My third instinct is to push it down, far away and act like it never happened. I should be stronger than this.

When I don’t come to you, don’t take it as an insult. Don’t think that I’m avoiding you, or that I’ve been speaking to someone else over you. Don’t be upset with me because I wasn’t able to express myself. I’ve never been very good at expressing my feelings. It’s hard to explain why I was fine a second ago, and now I can’t stop shaking. It’s even more difficult to let myself be so vulnerable. When my mental illness strikes, I’m as raw as it can be. There are no shields, gates or guards up; I am completely naked and surrounded by darkness. It’s terrifying.

I’ve tried coping mechanisms, but personally, I’ve found that riding it out is the best way for me to handle a breakdown. When I open up to others while breaking down, I feel it is often harder to calm down because I feel like I have to prove or explain myself. I don’t always know the reasons for why I become upset. I rarely have the answers.

When I’m breaking down, don’t expect me to reach out to you. Don’t expect me to come to you when I’m letting my anxiety and depression get the best of me for an unexpected amount of time. Don’t ask me to talk to you while I’m crying, don’t ask me why I’m shaking, and don’t ask others what is ‘wrong’ with me.

I know that people aren’t so great at handling grief, depression, or mental illness in general. It can be hard to reach someone, especially when they have a mindset like mine. It can be even harder to know what to say and what not to say. A trigger could disguise itself as a compliment; you never know what weapons you’re expelling when you speak. It’s a difficult situation. I choose not to back others into the corner that is mental breakdowns because I don’t want anything to become worse. When I’m at my lowest and most vulnerable, I can’t chance anything going wrong. I don’t have it in me to handle mistakes when I’m down like that. When I’m down, I’m not feeling very strong at all.

What I will do is come to you after a breakdown. I’ll text you, call you, or return to our hang out after I’ve cried my eyes out and calmed myself down. I might tell you about it if I’m feeling a bit stronger, or I may wait until I’ve got my feet planted firmly. I’ll talk to you about why it happened, and maybe we can discuss ways to maybe soften the blow the next time.

I will reach out to you when I feel I am strong enough to. Please understand that you have done nothing wrong. I will reach for your hand when I feel safe inside myself enough to do so. Let me return to my strength before we can be strong together.

50 Thank-Yous For Mom On Her 50th Birthday

Whether she is taking care of my sibling and me, working hard to provide for our family, or making sure to help anyone and everyone we love, my mom is on top of her game 100% of the time.

You’ve always been there for me, and I am so grateful for that.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on July 4, 2017.

My mom is the greatest mom there has ever been, and no, I’m not biased. (Well, maybe a little). Whether she is taking care of my sibling and me, working hard to provide for our family, or making sure to help anyone and everyone we love, my mom is on top of her game 100% of the time. Even when she’s not on her game, my family makes up for it because we’re a team. Mom, you’ve done so much for me, and I cannot thank you enough. I’m going to try though. Happy birthday! Thank you for:

1. Believing in me.

Even when I feel that I’m at my worst, you’re always there to not only encourage me but help me to see me at my best.

2. Encouraging me to pursue my dreams.

3. Letting me vent to you.

Even if I feel as if I am a burden to everyone I know, I know I’ll never be a burden to you.

4. Taking me to concerts.

5. Allowing my friends to seek comfort at our house.

Our house has always been that house where our friends can come to escape. Thank you for creating such a friendly and thoughtful environment.

6. Comforting me when I’m down.

7. Helping me pay for college.

Seriously – I am so grateful that you and dad are helping me as much as you are.

8. Having movie marathons with me.

9. Taking care of me when I’m sick.

(Especially in the past few months – no idea what I would have done without you).

10. Teaching me right from wrong.

11. Listening to my music in the car even if you don’t like it.

12. Singing with me.

13. Instilling morals within me.

I am very happy to credit you with the fact that I know right from wrong.

14. Baking and cooking with me.

15. Dancing with me.

Whether it be at the dinner theater, concerts, parties or our living room – I am thankful for all the smooth moves you have taught me all these years.

16. Always looking out for my best interests.

17. Telling dad not to wake me up when I nap.

Seriously – this one is a godsend.

18. Teaching me how to be honest.

19. Listening to me talk about my day.

Especially my crazy work stories!

20. Holding my hand when I’m scared.

21. Warning me about shady friends.

Your mom always knows best when it comes to shady friends – my mom always has my back – it’s amazing.

22. Confiding in me.

23. Collecting seashells with me on the beach.

We always have the best time on the beach!

24. Skyping me at college

25. Letting me make my own decisions.

It’s important to me that you allow me to be independent without forcing me to announce my full independence. Like, I want to decide what to study in college but I also want to live in your house and have you drive me places.

26. Making me food.

27. Teaching me the importance of earning money.

I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without my sense of frugality and earning money. Thank you for this.

28. Calling me out when I’m wrong.

29. Treating me to a meal out.

I always ask if you want money or if you want me to tip and you always refuse me.

30. Calming me down when I’m panicking.

31. Understanding my mental illness.

Thank you for never asking me “why” I have anxiety or “how” I can fix it.

32. Sending me care packages at college.

33. Pushing me to work harder, but not over-pressuring me.

I appreciate the incentive to work in order to gain success. I also appreciate that if I fall short of my goal, I’m not punished, but encouraged to try again. (Yes that is us with Howard Jones!)

34. Continuing to teach me every single day.

35. Teaching me to believe in myself.

Without you and Dad working hard to reassure me that my best is what’s expected, I would have never had the gall to believe in my abilities.

36. Helping me with important paperwork.

37. Tucking me in at night.

There’s just something about being tucked in that makes the sleep 10 times better.

38. Knowing I’m not okay even when I say I am.

39. Waking me up for work.

Yes, I’m capable of setting an alarm, but there’s something about waking up to a soothing voice that makes everything ten times better.

40. Driving me places.

41. Massaging my shoulders when I’m tense.

You seriously have no idea how tense I can be.

42. Bringing me on bus trips.

43. Cleaning up after me even when you don’t have to.

You are always looking out for me and my cleanliness. Even when it’s not the most important to me, you’re always willing to help me tidy up.

44. Teaching me the importance of teamwork in a family.

45. Looking at the stars with me.

Some of my most blissful memories lie on the back patio with you looking up at the stars.

46. Helping me to treat my friends and family to gifts and meals.

47. Never giving up on me.

I will always do the same for you.

48. Helping me clean.

49. Being a mom to my friends, too.

I will be forever grateful for all that you do for me.

50. Being the best mom I could ever hope for.

18 Signs You’re A Strong, Independent Woman

Know yourself, know your worth.

“Here’s to strong women, may we KNOW them, may we BE them, may we RAISE them.” – Unknown

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on June 18, 2017.

Strong women are a gift to the universe. They help us live, learn, and grow. They shape who we are even if we don’t know them personally. Without them, we literally would not exist. Here’s to all the strong women out there – may we raise more girls to be brave, fearless, and proud like you.

1. You believe in yourself and others.

Though it may not always be inherently obvious, you know that you and your friends are capable of anything. You’re willing to encourage everyone and anyone who needs an extra push and when it comes to self-motivation, you’re willing to give it your best shot.

2. If the path is unclear, you’re willing to find another way.

Sometimes the rules aren’t clear, or they don’t make sense for everyone following them. You’re willing to think outside the box and find an alternative solution that will benefit everyone.

3. You’re more of a leader than a follower.

If you’re willing to find a way around the rules, you’re likely more of a leader than a follower. The world was built on strong, independent women, and we have no shame!

4. It’s more comfortable for you to do things your own way.

It’s not that you have a superiority complex or anything, but sometimes it’s more comforting to complete things the most efficient way possible (in your honest opinion).

5. You’re a role model to someone.

Even if it’s a neighbor, co-worker, a niece, or nephew, you matter to someone. Someone probably thinks you’re really cool even when you think you’re not looking so hot. Remember that you are always going to be #goals for someone.

6. You’re an emotional rock.

People come to you for help, whether it be emotional or physical. You offer a shoulder and stay strong for people who need you. It’s one of the traits that makes you so strong.

7. People rely on you.

Whether it be for money, work, friendship, or something else altogether; people rely on you. You’re dependable, and people know you won’t let them down. You’re an important person to know.

8. You’re passionate about whatever you do.

You put 100% dedication into everything you do, and people really value that. You know that the job isn’t done until you’ve seen it through to the end. You’re not afraid to do whatever you can to get to the finish line.

9. Honesty is something you value.

There is no strength in lying, in faking it, or in two-faced relationships. You know that honesty is important in every single endeavor. You set an honest precedent for everyone around you.

10. You ask for help when you need it.

Part of being strong is knowing how to ask for help. Being strong doesn’t mean carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders alone; it means knowing how to delegate and ask for help when you require it. A strong woman did not become strong without the help of other strong women.

11. You get shit done one way or another.

Even when you procrastinate something, you’re multitasking and getting work done. Even when you’re taking a break, you’re actively thinking about something else you have to work on. Finishing things isn’t a problem for you, no matter how much time you may need to finish them.

12. Even when you feel like you can’t pull yourself together, you do.

You know that tomorrow is a new day and everything will work itself out in the end. Even when it doesn’t work itself out, you figure something out and find a different way. You’re a perseverance expert when it comes to getting yourself together.

13. You test the limits.

Part of being a strong woman is breaking the bounds, changing the game, and making history. Whether it’s arguing for a pay raise, fight for equality, or something more personal, like escaping your comfort zone – there is no test to see how far you’ll go.

14. You empower other women, instead of putting them down.

You know that no strong woman became strong on her own. You empower and encourage other women instead of tearing them down. You stand with your fellow #strongwomen, and push them toward greatness.

15. No one needs to tell you how to live your life.

You are strong and independent! You don’t need anyone giving you directions or orders. You know this and refuse to accept those who attempt to order you around.

16. Sometimes you put others before yourself, but you still take care of yourself properly.

Part of being a strong person is knowing that there are others you either have to or want to take care of. Despite this, you still know how to engage in self-care. Without it, you know you won’t be strong enough to care for the others.

17. Even when you don’t feel strong, you hang in there for the people who need you.

Even on your worst days, you keep going. You’re not only someone who refuses to throw in the towel until everyone is safe and okay, but you’re also someone who makes sure everyone is comfortable and content before truly reeling it in for the day.

18. You know you’re a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need anyone to tell her otherwise.

Sometimes it’s not always obvious, but you know damn well that no one can undermine you. You know when you’re right and you know when you’re wrong even if you’re reluctant to admit it sometimes. You know when people are underestimating and undervaluing you. Know yourself, know your worth.

13 Phrases You Need To Stop Saying To Your Sensitive Friends

If there’s one thing sensitive people are, it’s this: completely aware.

“Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story, instead of the actor in it.” – Ram Dass

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on June 12, 2017.

Here’s to all the sensitive people who are tired of being shut down for “caring too much.” I’ve been told pretty much my entire life that I’m too sensitive. Anytime I express any sort of discontent or anxiety toward a situation, my family, friends, and surrounding peers do not hesitate to judge the way I react. When someone in your life is acting what you believe to be “too sensitive,” offer them a hand or a shoulder instead of invalidating their feelings. Here are 13 things to stop telling the sensitive people in your life, and what you can do to help instead.

1. “You need to calm down.”

If we’re upset over something seems irrational to you, do not stoop to invalidating our reactions instead of offering comfort. Different experiences evoke different emotions. Simply offer us an ear or a hand, and most of all, be there for us.

2. “You’re freaking out over nothing.”

It’s not ‘nothing’ just because you aren’t ‘freaking out.’ Our emotions are strong and often take the wheel of our reactions. No matter how small the situation may turn out to be, it has obviously affected us and you shouldn’t judge us for caring so much.

3. “I’m just not going to tell you anything anymore because you’re way too emotional.”

You know what the worse thing you can do to an already emotional person? Make them more emotional by not only invalidating their feelings but also exhibiting regret for having to deal with their sensitivity. If you are thinking of cutting back on communication, perhaps consider the sensitive person’s triggers and work diligently to avoid them unless absolutely necessary.

4. “Stop being so dramatic.”

Often people who are sensitive or over-sensitive are not acting dramatic to inconvenience you; they are simply so in tune with their environment and surroundings that they are adversely affected. Sensory overload is a real thing and telling a sensitive person that they’re being ‘dramatic’ is rude. Try re-centering the person by speaking gently to them, or perhaps find a way to remove them from the stressful environment.

5. “Just stop.”

If sensitive people could control their feelings and reactions toward certain things, they likely would. Sometimes we know why we react the way we do and sometimes we don’t. Do not be insensitive.

6. “Why do you care so much?”

Often times, we don’t know why we “care” so much, and sometimes it’s not even that we “care” at all; we are just very connected to our surroundings. Anything could affect us negatively, causing an influx of emotions, that may or may not be warranted. Instead of questioning the person, be present and tangible for their sake.

7. “You worry too much.”

Sensitivity to our surroundings is often something we cannot help but express. Anxiety and nervousness are common side effects to sensitivity and those are traits that are uncontrollable as well. Instead of ostracizing sensitive people, attempt to ask us if you can help in any way. Offer a distraction if possible.

8. “You’re making everything way more difficult than it needs to be.”

Sensitive people have a difficult time processing and handling their thoughts, moods and emotions sometimes. We “make” things difficult because our sensitivity is inconvenient and difficult. Sensitive people can become overloaded with simple tasks because they get ahead of themselves and overthink. You can appeal to the feelings of the sensitive person by offering a solution or an alternative to our problems. Believe me, as much as you’re feeling inconvenienced, we’re definitely the ones being troubled.

9. “It sounds like you just want attention.”

First of all, wanting attention isn’t a negative thing — some people need more attention when they’re not getting enough, and we shouldn’t judge them for it. There is no need to feel ashamed for wanting more attention. Second, sensitive people often feel the emotions of others and depending on the strength of the empathy, they may need more attention. There’s nothing wrong with that.

10. “The world doesn’t revolve around you.”

Not saying that you should neglect your own feelings and issues to focus on the sensitive person’s — if you’re feeling neglected in a friendship, definitely address this. However, sensitive people often experience emotional overload often — and while they may know how to handle it — everyone needs a little help sometimes. Remember to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask them to do the same for you.

11. “You overthink everything. Just suck it up and deal with it.”

If only it were that easy. Any situation could impact a sensitive person, whether it’s an apparent trigger or not. Something that seems irrelevant to you could feel like a tsunami to a sensitive person. As always, be courteous and be cooperative. Try to understand what the other person is thinking. Don’t brush them off.

12. “It’s all in your head.”

Maybe it is, but just because you can’t see what we’re struggling with doesn’t mean I’m not struggling. Do not erase people’s feelings. When someone says they’re struggling or they’re hurt, you don’t get to speculate and say that they aren’t. Offer yourself as a positive and tangible being or remove yourself entirely. Sensitive people often have enough doors leading to easy negativity — they don’t need a bridge to close and personal darkness as well.

13 . “You’re way too sensitive.”

If there’s one thing sensitive people are, it’s this: completely aware. At first, learning you are sensitive can be a trying journey, but people know their sensitivity like the back of their hands. Sensitive people are and will always be more in touch with their personal and environmental emotions than any other type of person. We know we’re “overreacting” in your eyes. We know we’re “inconveniencing” you. We know we’re “being difficult.” Despite all of this, we can’t change who we are or how we feel. Sensitive people often carry the weight of the world on their shoulders or at least the weight of the emotions of the world; they don’t need negative friends on top of that weight.

Never Take A Single Day For Granted

Don’t ever take a day, a minute, a single breath for granted.

Life is precious.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on June 6, 2017. 

I am reminded every single day that life is a gift and we should never take advantage of our time here in this world. Despite the days when I feel alone, depressed or anxious beyond belief, I know that I am lucky to be here and privileged to have all the opportunities I do. I just turned 20 a month ago and I’ve been feeling incredibly reflective since. I’ve become increasingly aware that life is precious and none of us should waste a single moment.

In the past two months, I’ve seen many unfortunate things happen; both to myself and to others around me. After a traumatic visit to the ER and a terrible car crash that happened directly in front of my house, I’ve learned to count my blessings and be more present in my everyday life. Though thankfully, nothing tragic happened to me or my family, those two events, among many others, could have easily become headaches for myself and my family, headaches that would be financial burdens for months to come.

I’m not someone who believes in any certain god. I believe that there is a God, but I’m not sure who I believe they are lines up with any specific religion. I place my faith in the Universe and also in crystals. I believe in a sort of spiritual healing that isn’t quite as spiritual as institutional religion tends to be.

Regardless, I’m thankful for guardian angels, gods, the universe or whoever is constantly keeping an eye out for myself and my family. We thankfully escape and continue to escape the absolute worst scenario of every situation and circumstance we are involved in.

Life is absolutely and undoubtedly fragile. Any one of us could be here one day and gone the next; it is no secret that time is fleeting. Before a couple of months ago, it seemed kind of silly to be present in my own life.

I’ve always thought I was as present as I needed to be, you know? As a college student, it’s really easy to get caught up in the outlook of your future. You study for four years in high school to determine your post-high school future, and then if you choose, you study at least two more years in order to shape your future post-college. Being present seems like a nonsensical idea when you’re stuck in the crazy world of college curriculum and perhaps a few jobs, ones that help to ensure that you have a future in college.

I was so busy thinking about my future that I never took the time to care for myself in the present. My trip to the emergency room was likely a wakeup call and I am entirely too thankful for not only that but every other wake-up call coming my way. They’re essential when I’m attempting to focus on remaining grounded, in the present, in my life.

Our lives are fragile. Don’t ever take a day, a minute, a single breath for granted. Don’t take advantage of today and don’t take advantage of tomorrow. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from 20 years in this world, it’s that life is precious. Nothing is forever. Be thankful and blessed for every moment you have.