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Another Reason To Not Take Life For Granted

*Trigger Warning* Boulder, Colorado Shooting

After watching the news around midnight, I couldn’t help but tear up and feel for those who had received devastating news on March 22, 2021. The mass shooting that unexpectedly took place, resulted in the loss of 10 innocent lives, one being the first police officer to arrive at the scene. I particularly wanted to touch base with one of the witnesses, Ryan Borowski who was at the scene at the time of the incident. While watching him share his experience on air with CNN, I couldn’t express how much of a trooper he is for being openly vulnerable given what he had undergone. He first shared how lucky he was to have made it out of the scene and how sad and heartbroken he was because of the lives that were lost. While airing, he was still processing what had transpired. Ryan’s trip for ice cream at the store turned out to be a deadly and unforeseen tragic event. He mentioned how the store employees had no idea what was going on, so those who were running for their lives, including Ryan, had to quickly inform the employees in a timely manner in order to find the quickest exit. I also wanted to extend my appreciation towards the CNN reporter because he asked Ryan if there was anything that he remembered or thought he neglected to say between the time on air and prior because after settling down, things start to come back. This is so true, so I’m really grateful that he gave Ryan the opportunity to shed some light. Ryan stated, “Every single person has the responsibility to deal with their own mental state; and there needs to be encouragement for people to meditate, self-reflect, to do what it takes to deal with their human problems in whatever human way they can because if they don’t, it just ends up in some terrible act of violence.”

I’m really appreciative of Ryan’s efforts in sharing his experience because you could see how terrified he still was when sharing on Live television. He’s a brave witness and I applaud him for speaking up because sometimes many fail or don’t have the ability to speak up, out of brokenness, fear, or risk of becoming the next target or victim. I also wanted to credit him for speaking about self-defense because that’s something many of us are lacking and it’s something we all need to learn at some point. He also openly and honestly touched base on getting help after this incident, he admitted he’s been ghosting his therapist lately, but contacted her as soon as he got home after the incident. His suggestion for others was, “To see another end, to have hope that things will change, and for the individual to work on themself so that they can see another day without self-destruction.” The powerfulness and the transparency that he shared on air was just absolutely remarkable given what he went through. He set a perfect example that we don’t always have to have everything together. Sometimes we may want to disconnect from the world, and other days we may need community and ourselves. Ryan really just shed light on the whole idea that we must be checking-in with ourselves and our mentality before it gets to a certain breaking point. Although there are so many negatives that will be remembered from this tragedy, he extended hope and suggested how people can move forward from this.

I want to echo Ryan’s statement about us having the responsibility to deal with our mental states and the need to work on ourselves to see another day without self-destruction. I say this because it’s not just the pandemic and quarantine that has led us to many unhealthy patterns, but also how much emotions we’ve suppressed that have led to suffering as a result of internal and external factors. It’s important that we check-in with ourselves, acknowledge how we feel, and find help early, not just when we’ve hit crisis mode. We must have a plan when dealing with our mental states whether it be through professional help, building community, or joining support groups. I get it, we’re all adults, our parents and society tell us that we should know what to do as adults, but honestly at some point we all break and may need to be taken care of. I feel relieved to know that Ryan isn’t suppressing any feelings and that it’s okay to distance ourselves at some point until we feel better because our social battery does eventually run out.

I know I have a lot of inner-work to do and choose to follow this lifetime pursuit of growth. I know myself enough to know that if I’m not doing well in all dimensions of well-being, then I can’t show up for anyone else because I’m at my lowest. It’s super important that we learn to protect our peace and ourselves. Just like Ryan mentioned, learning how to deal with our human problems in a human manner can put a stop to causing further harm to ourselves and others. As more details on the suspect’s past emerge, I think we have some self-reflecting to do. If we’ve ever hurt someone emotionally, it’s time to apologize. If you don’t have the ability to apologize because you may have lost contact, write the apology down and keep it or pray about it. We also should be looking at ourselves from another person's point of view. We should be asking ourselves, “Would I be friends with myself? What qualities or values do I add to others? Am I there for others or am I living selfishly for myself?” Many of us have done things that we’re not proud of, so I think the best thing that we can all get out of this pandemic, is self-reflection. It’s important to see how much we’ve grown from our past selves to our current selves and how we can improve our characters. I am so grateful that Ryan vulnerably shed light on his emotions, experience, mental health, therapy, hope, inner-work, and responsibilities. It’s important to catch ourselves before we fall.

As the saying goes, “Life isn’t just about darkness or light, rather it’s about finding light in the darkness.” This devastating news has left me with dark emotions, but also with two lights: self-reflection and prayer. Whenever something is out of my control, prayer is my first resort. I firmly believe that prayer works, and by doing so we can uplift one another. One thing that I can control is my character and who I want to be. After prayer, I do some self-reflection because I have every reason to be grateful to God. In times of uncertainty, it’s vital for me to give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings my family and I have received. Ever since the pandemic came to be, I’ve been practicing gratitude so much more. I hope everyone can begin taking part in this practice too. My gratitude list reads:

I am grateful for:

  • The Holy Spirit
  • The education that I am currently receiving at school
  • Homework (to some extent)
  • My sociology of disasters and crisis class
  • The internet, which has helped me keep up with the news and schoolwork
  • My entire family
  • Another day
  • A home
  • Every single resource that I have
  • My peers/every single person in my life
  • Having the opportunity to pray to God
  • Self-reflection
  • My struggles
  • My overall health (including bad eyesight, a weak immune system, skin conditions, etc.)
  • Opportunities
  • Building new relationships with others
  • Clean water
  • Staying at home
  • Protection, safety, and strength
  • My calling/purpose
  • Those who pray for me
  • Those who remember me
  • Making it this far in life
  • Those who I have yet to meet
  • Believing in myself
  • Mental health resources
  • My family going to a destination and coming back home every day
  • Sleep
  • Those who listen to me and accept me for who I am completely
  • Others will to be openly vulnerable
  • Being able to share my work with others

I will continue adding onto this list as days go by of course. For anyone reading, I know these have been difficult times, but please don’t forget to count your blessings. Build an attitude of gratitude. Sometimes we tend to ask for more, when what we actually need is right in front of us. Whatever you choose to do today, make sure to keep your loved ones close (family, peers, plants, pets, etc), remind people why they matter, extend grace, give to multiply other’s blessings, and show up for yourself. I said it in my very first piece: self-reflection is one of the greatest gifts in life, make sure that you’re doing the internal work. I know life can get overwhelming, but take each day one step at a time. Be appreciative of how fortunate you are because everyday there is at least one thing to be grateful for. We need more expressions of gratitude whether it’s written, said out loud, or to each other. As a reminder, you don’t have to be an essential worker to have your life put at risk, so please be cautious in whichever roles you may hold. Wherever life plants you all, be blessed.

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Rowan '22

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