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What It Means to be Human (11/27/05; revised 12/6/05)

Over Thanksgiving break, I found myself depressed. About school, mostly—how much I hated Organic Chem, how it kept me from enjoying my life more fully. Instead of hanging out with friends, I was at home obsessing over NMR spectroscopy and trying to ingrain in my head the reactions of carbonyl compounds. It’s hard, and it wears you down.

I broke into tears at my family Thanksgiving dinner. My aunt gave me very good words of wisdom, things which I already consciously knew, but somehow let their meaning slip away from me for a time. She told me that we each make our own reality, and the reason why I was upset was because I was focusing on my schoolwork and stress and all those negative feelings, when I shouldn’t be. Rather, I needed to look at the whole picture. In the grand scheme of things, this one test, this one paper, meant NOTHING. There are so many bigger things out there that I should worry about. And I should focus on my blessings, and all the people who love me.

I know this. But it’s hard to keep oneself balanced. I put my heart into everything I do. I become completely absorbed and see nothing else, no end, until my goal is reached.

So, I have struggled. This is possibly the toughest semester of my undergrad career—and there’s a lot to be said for not being completely overwhelmed thus far.

My fiancé gave me the same advice that my aunt did. He also told me that at some point, everyone feels the way I did/

At which point, I realized, that this is what it means to be human.

We cannot achieve perfection; we are always struggling against ourselves to reach our goals, our highest ideal self. But to counteract these forces, we need to rely on others from time to time to pick us up when we need it.

A hard lesson to swallow for some; it is for me, even now. But I am getting better. And relying on others for strength when necessary is not a sign of weakness. Such interactions make us stronger. I was vulnerable at Thanksgiving, and my family was there for me. They all lent their support and prayers; I felt it. It is wonderful to be loved so much.

I don’t even need to tell you, then, how I feel now. There is hope, and the semester end draws near. I am happy, I am loved, and I am blessed. If this is what it means to be human, then I will take it with open arms.


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