make yourself happy

So I finished my first year of college and it was a really fun year. I met some of my best friends and had some of my most memorable experiences.

It was also a tough year. I did a lot of growing up this year.

~ One of my parents’ more embarrassing stories to tell about me is a story from when I was about four years old. While the details are fuzzy, the story goes something like this: I had misbehaved somehow and was being sent to my room. I made it about halfway up the stairs before turning around, stomping back downstairs and yelling at my dad “Fine! I will go upstairs! But while I’m up there you and mommy better figure out some way to make me happy!” and then stomping away.

While now that demand seems ridiculous, I would embarrassingly admit that to some extent that sentiment may have stayed with me until fairly recently. And I would venture to guess that I’m not alone in that.

I spent a large part of my life expecting opportunities or exciting experiences to fall into my lap. While I knew the value of hard work and its role in accomplishment, I naively confused hard work with doing what was expected of me. I went to school, I got good grades, I participated in sports, I spent time with my family and friends. The rest: happiness, success, and opportunities, would follow suit I thought. On some level I guess I was expecting to be rewarded and in doing so, put the fate of my dreams and ambitions in the hands of someone else.

But what I learned this past year is that life is what you make it. Not what other people make it for you.

Stepping out of Tenafly and onto Colgate’s campus I saw my high school peers grow and change on their campuses. And I saw people initiate change on mine. And while everyone was seizing different opportunities they all had one thing in common: the belief that the pursuit of their dreams was their own responsibility.

With going to college comes a sense of freedom. You can do whatever you want. Which is both liberating and frightening. What I did with my days was entirely up to me. And I could spend that snuggled beneath my comforter. Or I could spend that investing my time into clubs, organizations, and people who would push me to grow. The choice was mine. No one else was going to make me happy. That was in my hands.

And maybe it took me way too long to come to this realization but somehow I got here. It is no one else’s job to make me happy. Someone else isn’t going to chase my dreams for me. That’s my journey.




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