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Anna Schultz / Her Campus

Unbreakable Joy: How I grew love for running, the Eucharist, and my frequently embarrassing moments – PART 1

I turned twenty right at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, my family and I went out to a restaurant for my birthday about four days before you couldn’t eat in a restaurant anymore. While we were sitting at the table, my dad got a little sentimental. He’s been all nostalgic ever since someone at work told him he was looking pretty gray (my mom and I tell him we don’t notice it). However, my dad said something that made me shake right in my little white boots: “You are six years younger than I was when I met mom.” Once my dad said those words, it hit me that I had crossed into some pretty significant territory of my life. During this decade, I will graduate from college. I will live on my own at some point, even though my mom says that I am never leaving her. I will earn my master’s degree. Part of my paycheck will no longer go to OBRA for part-timers, but rather the Middlesex County retirement program for my pension. This will be the last decade that my body will look like this. I will be able to legally consume a claw. I could potentially be a wife. There is even a slight chance that I could be a mom. Although, I’m really hoping to slide that into the next decade for the sake of my last ten years of this body.

Thinking about how much my life is going to change over the next ten years scared me a little. It made me realize that I have some pretty big tasks coming up on my “life syllabus,” so to speak. Thinking about my twenties made me realize that THIS is the time to continue growing, to continue being better.

I chose to call this little adventure, “Unbreakable Joy.” Since I am an English major, I kind of have a knack for words and their meanings. The word “unbreakable” as you would probably guess, means “not able to be easily broken.” After this past year, I’ve learned that I am strong and can do difficult things, so that word had to be in there. The word “joy” technically means “great pleasure and happiness,” so I decided that should be in there too. If we do a little definition addition here, this name means that my happiness is not easily broken.

By taking on this “project,” I wanted to see if I could become even happier and just overall better. I thought of ten things that I wanted to do, and I went ahead and did them – and this is what happened:

1. Try more “health” foods

My great-grandmother Mrs. Amelia Olsen was a pioneer of her times. She made her own yogurt. She ate dandelion greens. Basically, she knew the nutritional value of every food, which could very well be why she lived ninety-seven years on this planet. I have to say that I’ve always had this fascination with vitamins, which was definitely influenced by her. Well, I decided to start trying some trendy “health” foods. First, to play it safe, I decided to try a new flavor of kombucha. I already knew that I liked kombucha, so if I tried a new flavor, I probably wouldn’t be scared off. I picked up the kevita watermelon rose flavor, and it was absolutely poisonous. It was a great reminder that I should wear my glasses more often because it was merely an error on my behalf. I thought it said rosѐ, not rose. There is a big difference there, amigos. Since it was in fact, rose, it tasted as if it were the soap from my grandmother’s rose-themed bathroom. It was foul.

Next, I decided to try matcha. This was also foul. I am not a big tea drinker. I prefer a cup of joe, but I decided I would try it since all the trendy TikTok VSCO girls were practically pressuring me to do it. After drinking it, I was reading some Amazon reviews, and I learned that there is a chance of matcha containing traces of lead. So basically, while I was trying to boost my lifespan, I killed it. Goodnight world.

During this pandemic, I have been very into Pinterest. I became highly interested in all of the different purposes for kale. Kale is used in a lot of Portuguese cooking, so I felt I knew what I was getting into here. Those kale salads on Pinterest are absolute fire. Not to sound like a traitor, but I actually prefer kale to romaine lettuce now. The bunnies in my backyard really liked it when I left the kale stalks outside for a snack for them too.

2. Grow in self-love

Not wearing makeup for months taught me a lot. My skin can look quite nice without it. I didn’t do teeth whitening or tanning either as a Corona hermit. I figured it wasn’t worth putting my Cali White kit or my tanning foam into the budget since the only people who were going to see me were the people trampling me in Market Basket to get to the paper products first. It turns out that I still can be hot stuff without all of my ~glamour~.

I have also grown to love what my body looks like. When I was in high school, some snotty girl in my homeroom asked me what my dress size was. I told her my honest answer, which is that I am an 8. She responded by saying to me that she “didn’t realize that I was that large.” What a treat she was. I hate to admit it, but ever since then, I’ve always felt a little weird about that number.

One day I decided to go shopping for some new clothes. I was waiting in line for a fitting room, and I heard a woman ask the sales associate if she could try on a skirt in a size 8 instead. To my amazement, when this woman emerged from her fitting room, she was not a senior citizen. She was not a new mom pushing a stroller. She was in fact, a woman also in her 20’s. It turns out that other women in their 20’s also wear a size 8. When I walked out of that LOFT, I felt good knowing that I am normal.

If you are wondering what happened to that snotty girl from my homeroom, she and my cousin just so happen to go to the same college. Snot had the audacity to attend a social gathering hosted by my tough/slightly edgy cousin. When my cousin found out that Snot had been mean to me in high school, she cussed her out and immediately threw her out of her house. I’d say Snot and I are even now because my cousin can be scary.

3. Read my Bible

I have gotten into YouTube during this pandemic, particularly Milena Ciciotti and Celest Rayanne. They are both Christian, and they always talk about reading their bibles and how everyone best be reading theirs. Catholics are pretty famous for not reading the Bible, but I decided to crack open my Bible and get to work!

My dad knows more about the Bible than my mom and I combined. He was actually Mormon for a year of his life and that denomination is heavily focused on scripture. My grandmother converted to the Church of Latter-Day Saints when my dad was about 16 years old, so he was brought along for the ride. After a year, my dad decided that the Church really wasn’t for him, so he went back to the Catholic Church. However, my grandmother is still Mormon today. I will say that my dad gets all of the Bible questions correct on Jeopardy and he credits his year as a Mormon. 

Once I decided that I really wanted to get into this habit, it definitely took a little bit to actually feel like I was doing a good job of reading the Bible. Since I compulsively buy office supplies, especially pens, reading my Bible gave me a great excuse to buy more. Anyways, reading your Bible is kind of like annotating a text for school. You get to underline and highlight and write sweet little notes in the margins in fun colors. At first, I would only read about two paragraphs in one sitting. Then I worked myself up to reading a chapter a day. I found that reading my Bible every day made me a happier human being. It reminded me that God really does keep His promises. It also reminded me that I have a chance every day to grow closer to God and grow to become a holier person.

Some of my favorite books include Galatians, James, Ephesians, Philippians, Proverbs, and Luke, in case you want to dabble in this area. The truth will set you free, baby.

4. Clean like a minimalist.

I own many things. I also kind of have a sentimental attachment to many things. During the sweet little quarantine lockdown, I decided it was time to clean. Since there wasn’t much else to do, I actually ended up doing it. I hadn’t done a full detox of my room for a couple of years, so there were many things that needed to be donated or just thrown away. That “Love Pink” sweatshirt I bought in seventh grade in an attempt to be hot stuff…GONE. Duplicates of program books from the numerous theater shows that I was involved in during my high school years…GONE. Books that I’ve never read, never will read, and will never use in the classroom…GONE. The project took a solid three days, but three recycling bags, four clothing donation bags, two book donation boxes, and two trash bags later, my room was detoxed. Everyone on YouTube is all into “creating a minimalistic space.” I used to think it was a bunch of crap, but now I get it. Cleaning out your room is like the equivalent of drinking strong lemon water. It’s tough, it can take much longer than you thought, but you feel fresh afterwards.



Erin Sousa

Stonehill '22

Erin is a senior at Stonehill College and is from Chelmsford, Massachusetts, also known as "Chelmsvegas" to its residents. She is majoring in Secondary Education and English and hopes to become one of those hip and stylish high school English teachers with really cool glasses. Erin loves Maine beach days, country music, and anything to do with mermaids. She writes about her misadventures on Her Campus because she believes everyone is a little crazy, everyone's life is a little crazy, and we can find comfort in being reminded that we aren't alone.
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