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Finding Joy In The Journey

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal State Chico chapter.

Aristotle said that “A whole [story] is what has a beginning and middle and end.” That’s right, someone had to pronounce the most basic structure of what a story is. You might have read the title of this article and now you’re wondering why you’re reading about Aristotle. It’s because I hope that you’ll be able to consider yourself a story. That you will be able to see that because you’re here, you had a beginning, and because you are human you will have an end, and because of both of those things you’re in the middle right now. The middle of life holds all of the goods, all of the joy, and delicately balances it amongst all of the pain and challenges. This place that you find yourself in has no destination or arrival, you’re simply in the middle of a story. My hope is that reading this article will help you do three things, claim this story as your own, decide what you want it to look like, and then find joy in it even when it doesn’t go as planned! 

Claiming the journey:

My second year of college was the most difficult year of my life, but it was also the year that I decided that my life was mine to live and that I wasn’t going to let anyone take that from me. In all honesty, there are huge chunks of that year that are missing from my memory because I was experiencing quite a bit of brain fog due to the strenuous and dangerous situation that I was in. However, most of the moments that I do remember are the ones that I was standing up for myself, doing difficult work to heal from the things I had been through, and the times I was with people I love. I knew that in order to get to the place of living in joy, I was going to have to really confront the things that were standing in the way! I knew I was going to have to surround myself with people who filled me up and supported me! When you decide to claim the journey, it might be messy because there are likely things there that shouldn’t be or things that need to change in order for you to get back into the driver’s seat, but trust me, it’s so worth it. There has to be a moment of recognition that you are not currently where you want to be, but also an acknowledgement that you can get there. I spent my entire second year of college having to constantly remind myself that all of it was going to be worth it, and I had to get help. My friends, my roommates, my family, and even some of my professors constantly reminded me and pushed me to grab ahold of the reigns of my life and I will never be able to thank them enough. I tell you this because if you feel stuck, I want you to know there is joy on the other side, but the only way out is through. 

Deciding what the journey looks like:

My third year of college was a sweet year. When I look back on it, it was entirely full of friendship, laughter, and so much learning. I decided that year that I wanted my journey to be one that left an impact on others. I leaned into getting to know myself more and I worked on building my relationships. I got to travel a lot and I took a bunch of risks. I literally decided that I was going to start living the life that I was wanting so badly because I realized that I wasn’t ever going to arrive at the perfect circumstances. There will always be something in the way or something that you have to do, so don’t keep waiting when you are in the middle of the greatest and only journey that you get! Of course, it won’t always be perfect. There are things that don’t work out, you will get off track, and you will still experience difficulties, but the difference is when you know you have taken charge and what you want your journey to look like, it’s so much easier to return to the course! A few things that help me in this area are making vision boards, writing down three things you are grateful for everyday, and developing a morning routine that is restorative to you in some way. These things help to keep me grounded in what I know I want and need from each day! 

Finding the joy: 

My fourth year of college has been one where I have really come to understand joy. I want to be really clear that happiness and joy are two entirely different things. Happiness is an emotion that comes and goes with your current situation. Joy is sustainable and unwavering. Joy is the thing that got me through my second year of college and the thing that is going to carry me across the stage as I graduate in just a few short days. When you know that you are living this life for a reason and that you are in the middle of your story, I hope for you that you feel a little spark light in your chest and know that that is joy! It is the thing that reminds you that even on your worst day, your lungs still filled with air and the sun still rose. I know that it might sound cheesy to some people, but it’s the truth. People often mistake me for just being really positive or having a sunny disposition but the truth is that I have just chosen joy. I have decided that I have walked through and out of too many things to just decide to live passively. My sunny disposition is a deep kind of joy that exists even when I’m not happy with my current circumstances. The way to unlock this kind of joy is to trust and live knowing that you’re in the middle of such a good story. No good story glides along with no struggle, with no challenge, so why would yours? When I find myself in a place of pain, I lean in and feel it deeply, the same way I do when I’m in a place of peace or happiness. From there the joy just grows and I know it can for you too! 

I’m enthralled with this journey that is my life. Looking back on my time in college, I know it has been just one chapter of the middle of my story! Everything that has happened has shaped who I have become and who I’m still becoming. Whether you’re starting college, in the middle of it, or in an entirely different place in life, it’s my honor to challenge you to claim your journey, decide what you want it to look like, and find the joy because this is your story! 

Haylee Sust

Cal State Chico '24

Haylee is a fourth year English Education Major at Chico State. In her time at Chico State she has found a passion for student success and is hoping to run a life coaching business for High School and College Students someday. She works hard to pursue her passions while cultivating healthy routines and habits! In her free time Haylee is often at the gym. She has been training seriously for about 3 years, but fitness has always been a priority for her. She believes in the power of showing up for yourself everyday, and hopes someday to be able to write a book and do public speaking to share her journey in this area. Haylee believes that her mission on this earth is to connect with people! She is outgoing and enjoys hearing other peoples stories. Her family and friends are the light of her life, and she hopes to continue traveling and making memories with the people who are closest to her. As she begins turning the page to the next chapter of her life, she hopes to continue writing and challenging herself. She hopes that by writing for Her Campus, she can continue to grow as a writer, and have the opportunity to bring people together!