College / Travel

Need a little perspective?

When I wake up each morning, after getting dressed and doing my hair, the first thing I do is check the latest news headlines. When I was younger, I never thought I would become one of those people who is a total news junkie and has to know what’s going on in the world at every single moment of every single day. It’s not like I thought those people were weird or anything, but what was going on in the rest of the world was not what I was concerned with at the time. It’s interesting to see how our views on what is important in life change as we get older.

At eight years old, I rushed through dinner, taking huge bites so I could finish faster and go outside to play with my friends until the streetlights came on (which meant I had to go inside, according to my mother). When I was 12 years old, the only thing that mattered to me was surviving 6th grade. I had just moved to a new neighborhood and didn’t know anyone. I’ve always had a hard time making friends and adjusting to changes, so this moving thing had me really depressed. My dad had to walk me to school almost every morning just to make sure I would actually go and stay there. I remember feeling like 6th grade would never end.

At 16, as any girl is, I was obsessed with boys. There were a couple significant ones in my life, whom I still keep in contact with today, and for my best friend and I, each day was a new opportunity to look our “hottest” and flirt with them. I had the time of my life that year.

Turning 18 wasn’t as much of a celebration as I grew up thinking it would be. My mom paid for my first tattoo, which was a special gift that I will remember until I die, but other than the actual day of my birthday, that year was very rocky. My parents divorced when I was 15, and by the time I was 18, my mom was already planning on marrying a guy that I did not get along with very well. On top of that, it was senior year and while graduation was the highlight of any senior’s life, it wasn’t for me. I was too stressed out about where I would be living three weeks after graduation because my mom would be moving up to Corvallis with her new fiance. I had also lost my best friend and my mentor (my mentor and I reconnected later, though), and as a result of things going downhill, I became depressed again and took my depression out on food.

Fast-forward three years and a couple of failed roommate experiences, and here I am. I have lost a ton of weight and I’m definitely in a better spot. That’s the thing about life – life can change with every breath we take. Just when we think things can’t get any worse or any better, they can and do.

But the thing is, what’s important to me now is nowhere near what was important to me three years ago, five years ago, or even ten years ago. I read the news headlines because I am genuinely and deeply interested in what the rest of our world is doing when I’m just sitting at my kitchen table highlighting important terms in my school textbook. Okay, so maybe that is important to me because my grade depends on my learning this material… but when I think about what is going on with everyone else, the things that I’ve been so concerned with are laughable and I feel completely ridiculous for stressing out about these insignificant, minute details.

For example, whenever I hear a friend complaining about their cell phone and how they broke it for the umpteenth time in a row, I think, Wow, at least you have a cell phone! Nothing, and I mean nothing, is really that important when there are people in, yes Africa, starving; when there is a mother who abandoned her baby on the side of the path because she knew it was dying and she couldn’t physically carry it anymore. Come on, people. Look around!

Photo courtesy of BBC News

I’m not saying everyone else in another country is a bad person for having different priorities, but have a little compassion and share a little wealth. It is times like these that remind us that we should be grateful for the bad things in our life because no matter how inconvenient or sucky they might be, we still don’t have to worry about starving to death or leaving our baby on the side of the road because we can’t feed it or carry it anymore.

We are so rich here in America, readers. Hell, anywhere but Somalia is rich if you really think about it. I hope I just gave you some perspective.

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