My second year of college has flown by and passed me! I cannot believe that I am half way through my college experience already, it truly amazes me how much has changed in just two years at UVA.
I have been working with UVA Student Council’s sustainability committee as a way to integrate my major (conservation biology- just declared!!) into my commitments outside of schoolwork. This committee is working on amazing things such as zero wasting all major events on grounds and incorporating composting practices into the daily lives of students as well as personal projects of each member. Mine has been to create a study abroad guide catered to students interested in environmental and biological sustainability. I love working with this committee and it has been one of the driving forces that pushed me to declare my particular major. I have also gotten involved with our new dining advisory board as a representative for all students but particularly my fellow vegans! I love getting to work with a group of people and staff that want to make healthy food options available to all students regardless of dietary restrictions that can limit them. Food is a passion of mine and it can make college, an already stressful place, extremely difficult when you have one more thing to pile onto your worries.
This past semester has had many ups and downs. I finally got to prioritize the classes that I wanted to take instead of classes that I had to take and the sheer amount of enjoyment that I have gotten out of this semester has astonished me. Learning about things that truly interest me make me more motivated and more focused on my goals. My entire daily routine has become more organized and stress free which has been a huge problem of mine in the past and I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. There was also a big issue that happened with a former roommate that I hadn’t even realized how much pain and difficulty it had been causing me until the problem was taken care of. I feel more free and able to fully express myself without this constant nagging feeling whenever they were around. It is amazing how much your life changes when you take out the toxic and negative people in your life. And I am sure this is the first of many lessons that I will learn in the future about who you let into your life.
Last fall I had a big issue with my social anxiety and I finally decided it was time to get help from a professional. For most of the semester I saw a therapist and we talked through situations that made me uncomfortable and how I would get through them in the future. It has changed my life. Social anxiety will always be something that I have to deal with EVERY DAY, but I now know ways to manage it so that I get the most out of life. And since taking care of that and reducing my stress I have put more effort into taking care of myself and being there for my friends. One of my close friends here has constantly come to me for advice or just a listening ear in her times of need and I am so beyond grateful that she counts on me for that. Not only does it give me gratitude but it makes me feel so good being able to take care of others. And I haven’t truly been able to do that until I took care of myself. I know how to prioritize what is important to me, spend time with friends who I dearly appreciate, and take care of myself in ways that mean the most.
I have learned so much about myself over this past year and I can honestly say I have never been more happy with where I am at. I love myself in ways that I never have before and I am finally not searching for constant companionship. I have surrounded myself with people that I care about and I realized that people will come and go and the best ones will stay with you, I’m not actively seeking people out looking for something that may not be there. Learning about my social anxiety has taught me a lot about how to talk to people, how to be happy with yourself even if you aren’t perfect, and how to work through the difficult times with good people by your side. My last remaining roommate from this past year who will stay with me when our new roommates come has been a constant shoulder to lean on and I appreciate her beyond belief. Even when she is dealing with her own struggles she is always there for me and that friendship was born in a dorm room hallway. I have learned that people just somehow seem to come into your life when you need them and that I shouldn’t focus on seeking these people out constantly, I am just letting life take its course. Letting go of the constant worries.
In terms of school work this semester has gone surprisingly well (maybe because I didn’t have to take organic chemistry???). Possibly because of the classes I decided to take that actually mean something to me, but also possibly because I have organized my life and taken care of the stress that previously blocked my ability to perform at my best. I finally feel like I’m in high school again at the top of my game. And yes, everyone who told me that college was harder work than high school was absolutely right. But it is more fulfilling and there are so many more opportunities.
I have decided to work my last summer at DCLS state public health lab in these coming months and while this was a difficult choice as the people there mean a lot to me, this is best for what comes in the future. Working there has been such a good experience and has taught me that while I don’t particularly like working in a lab testing for the flu and E. coli outbreaks (please don’t eat any romaine lettuce) it has shown me what a positive and inclusive work environment looks like for young women and that is something I will prioritize in my future occupations. Next summer I will hopefully be studying wildlife ecology at UVA’s Mountain Lake Biological Station as a part of my major. And if all goes to plan I will also be studying abroad in Belize in January studying the conservation of their ecosystems. I am so excited for the future and I am incredibly happy that my future involves saving this wonderful planet, there is always work to be done.
A friend of mine from high school just recently got accepted to UNC Chapel Hill and some of you know that was my first choice school and I have wanted to go there all my life. Her acceptance has made me reflect on my time here a lot and I have realized that life throws hard things at you (like not getting accepted to your dream school) for a reason. I was devastated when I got that rejection letter but getting my acceptance from UVA gave me newfound hope for my future. I have learned to love the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with going to school at UVA but I would not trade it for anything (okay maybe I would trade it for tickets to every UNC basketball game…). My experience here so far has been priceless and I have met so many wonderful people doing amazing things for this school and our community. This place is full of driven and caring individuals that have dreams of changing the world and I am so proud to be one of them.
Two years down and two more to go. I don’t know where my future here will take me but if it is anything like the past year than I am so incredibly excited for what is to come. Thanks for the memories UVA you have been so good to me, I cannot wait for my next two years!
P.S. I just want to give a big shout out to my amazing parents who for my mother has carved out time from working and getting the house ready to sell and for my father has endured two knee surgeries during this time and they have still listened to me ramble, laugh, or cry my eyes out just because I needed it. You are the best and I adore both of you. I will try to call you less often when its a crying kind of night but no guarantees.