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How I Started Appreciating the Beauty of Life

Life is full of so many beautiful moments—laughing with your friends as tears run down your face, singing at the top of your lungs on late night drives, dancing until your feet hurt. We are led to believe that life should be mundane as we simply overcome one challenge after another, yet there are beautiful moments with amazing people waiting to happen if you search for them. These moments creep up on us unexpectedly and transform an ordinary night out into one that is unforgettable. Each of these memorable experiences sparks my curiosity for what adventures await me as I’ve realized that the possibilities are truly endless. The funny thing is, most of us don’t recognize the value of those moments, or the way certain people changed our lives, until they’ve slipped away.  

As certain experiences occurred for the first time —ones that would later join my list of favorite memories— I could often sense in that moment that I didn’t want the blissful feeling to end. I was conflicted by my current state of happiness and simultaneous anxiety about whether I would ever relive a moment as good as that one. The rare occasion arises where these memories return for a second time, but often I’m still left wishing I could experience the same excitement and wonder for the first time again. 

I recall the Fourth of July, 2021. My family and I decided to stay in town that weekend, and I was invited to a Fourth of July party at a friend’s house. Honestly I couldn’t remember the last time I went to one. I was one of the last people to arrive due to a wardrobe mishap (it’s actually very hard to find pieces of clothing that abide by the red, white, and blue color scheme!), so the crowd of people felt like a blur as I searched for my friends. As the night began, we all began lighting up sparklers while simultaneously trying to avoid lighting our hair on fire. I posed for endless Polaroids, disposables, one-second-a-day clips and other methods of capturing summer memories. I caught up with people I hadn’t seen in months and made new friends as well. In the midst of the loud music and sparkling fireworks, I looked around and wished the moment wouldn’t have to end. It was one of those nights that went on for hours, and I was genuinely happy. Maybe it’s because of the people I met that night or the happy memories I made with my friends, but part of me feels like it was fate that I was in town that weekend. 

I used to want to relive these types of moments over and over again, until I realized some memories are meant to stay in the past, frozen in time through photographs and videos. This forces us to appreciate what we have and live in the present because there’s no guarantee that we relive the same moments with the same people again. Life changes as we graduate college, move to new cities and start other chapters of our story, and that may mean having to experience beautiful moments a little differently. 

Another thing we can’t guarantee is our friendships. Some friendships transform our lives and make us wonder how we ever lived without that certain person. In my experience, those friendships almost always happened with the last person I expected; while I’m not sure why our paths crossed initially, I am glad they did. With each unexpected friendship that significantly impacts my life, my anticipation increases about the other amazing people I have yet to meet. It’s natural to wonder if this feeling can be recreated, and sometimes it can, while other times it can’t. Regardless, friendships like this don’t come around often, and that’s what makes the connection so meaningful and worth cherishing.  

While we don’t know who will come and go from our lives, it’s important to acknowledge that relationships don’t have to last forever for them to have meant something to you. As someone who believes that people enter our lives for a reason, I find it reassuring to know that I can still value the memories I’ve had with someone even if they are not a constant presence in my life anymore. Their presence contributed to my identity and made my life better, and that is more than enough. 

Friendships and memories have a lot in common: they bring meaning to your life, may impact you more than expected and are not always in your control. With graduation approaching just shy of two months, I’m left feeling nostalgic for my time at Saint Louis University (SLU). I realize that I’ll be in a sea of new faces next year, and I can’t help but miss seeing the faces of people I had been eager to get away from at one point. It hadn’t hit me until recently that the faces that fill my everyday life will not be around daily anymore, and it makes me regret taking their presence for granted. My anxiety grows as I accept that I won’t be attending the same school as my childhood friends for the first time since middle and high school. Part of me wishes I could freeze this point in time and have another year of memories at SLU, but it’s time to move forward. The late-night food runs and spontaneous adventures may have to look a little different as we embark on different paths next year, but I’m hopeful that those future memories will be beautiful in their own way. 

FRIENDS lover (the TV show and the social thing), US history fanatic, world traveler, and can typically be found eating spinach artichoke dip and tacos when not drowning in pre-med studies