Grateful. Always.

The fateful end of August has finally arrived, and with it, a brand new school year is in full swing. For myself and many others, that also means it’s time to leave home and head back to college. The transition from Connecticut to Vermont is never flawless, but as I begin my Sophomore year, I’m grateful for all the friends that have made it far easier than the uneasiness that accompanied being a first year student. Not that my freshman year of school wasn’t amazing (by the end of it I didn’t want to leave), but it’s initial introduction was by far one of the most anxiety inducing experiences of my life thus far. However, it was also the time in my life when I experienced the most personal growth as well (the two usually seem to go hand in hand), and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Obviously everyone wants to have the best school year possible, both academically and socially. But when the stress of balancing work and socialization begins, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and throw in the towel.  Of course there are tons of little changes I could make that would help me on the road to self improvement (staying off my phone, managing my time, drinking more water), but when it comes down to the big stuff, there are two goals that I truly believe have the power to change how we see our lives: positivity & gratefulness. It sounds like big picture stuff, the kind of stuff that sounds nice in theory, but c’mon right? You want to see real, concrete changes. I can honestly say that, although I certainly fail to practice these mindsets as often as I should, being mindful of the way I perceive my life has dramatically improved how I feel. Your thoughts will really, truly make you or break you.

It’s common to sometimes believe that the way we think is who we are, when really it’s something that’s preventing us from becoming the best versions of ourselves. If, for example, you’ve simply had a bad day, sometimes your brain will try to tell you that it a much deeper issue. You may start to think that nothing is going right, that every day is bad, and it’s probably all your fault. Now, of course, that’s far from the truth. Being able to remove yourself from those thoughts, see them for what they are, and correct them is a valuable skill to have. Once you do that, it’s far easier to see that the little hardships of a bad day don’t all accumulate into a bad life.

It’s certainly difficult to be grateful all of the time, because life will almost always be throwing you some curveballs, and sometimes it just feels like too much to handle. That’s when I feel like I fall victim to a “why me?” mentality. There is a fine line between being kind to yourself, and drowning in self pity. The first one is encouraged, the second will only hold you back indefinitely. I find that, as campy as it seems, replacing thoughts of “I have to do this” with “I get to do this” is exceedingly helpful in looking at things in a different light. Yes, I have to do a lot of work that I’d rather not be doing, but I also have the immense privilege of getting an education. I get to wake up every day and go learn and be with my friends while living in a beautiful, beautiful place. When it comes down to that, can it really get any better?

Ellen Arvidson

Originally from Connecticut, Ellen is currently a freshman English major at Saint Michael's College in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to Project Wednesday, she writes for her school's HerCampus chapter and help in editing our literary magazine, The Onion River Review. When Ellen is not writing, she loves running, hiking, skiing, and anything to do with her dog and/or Broadway musicals.

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