What I’ve Learned This Semester

As this semester draws to a close, I would like to reflect on what I’ve learned about myself and how I live my life. At the end of every season of The Bachelor, there is a "Tell All" episode, so here is mine. The first half of this semester definitely challenged me, but I feel that I've grown quite a lot over the second half of this semester. I've learned so much about myself just over the last month. Gosh, this must be what an accelerated life program feels like…

Now, onto the lessons:

No one else is expecting you to be perfect, so stop expecting yourself to be.

This one is truly befumbling when you ponder it long enough. No one thinks that you are going to do everything right all the time. I used to be so nervous about messing up in front of people that I would prepare my life to the extreme. It was exhausting, and I finally figured out that I can prepare something until I practically fall over, and there will still be mistakes. When I started to allow myself to make mistakes without beating myself up afterward, I was surprised to find that people found my mistakes – dare I say it – remotely charming.  Hannah Montana wrote a song about everyone making mistakes and working it. Honestly, if people judge you for making a mistake, then they are the worst, and you can tell them I said that.

Drink more water.

You know, it’s really funny that when I stop depriving my body of key nutrients, I feel so much better. I’m not a STEM major, but I think that’s science.

Sometimes people just aren’t going to do what you want them to do.

I’m a cantor in choir, which is basically just a fancy word for being the person who sings solo parts during mass and puts their hand up at the start of the refrain of songs in a way that vaguely resembles a waiter carrying a tray of food. One night I was told that when I put my hand up during a certain part of a song, everyone else would start singing. The time came, I put my hand up, and guess what? Five out of maybe thirty people sang. Talk about a blunder. I awkwardly attempted to keep the song going and almost dropped my booklet in the process. While it was highly uncomfortable, I realized that there are just going to be moments in life when we put our left hand up, and no one freaking sings, but at the end of the day, we live.

Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time.

Comparing yourself to others is a disease. I caught it for a little while, but I am glad to say the disease has left my mind. I have come to the conclusion that I can be beautiful right alongside another woman. Beauty is not this “either/or” game. I am the way I am for a reason. We are all sizzling in our own way.

Showing your feelings is normal and healthy.

I recently went to my final counseling session for the semester. Side note: I highly recommend counseling services here at Stonehill because it’s an excuse to spill tea for an hour and get an unbiased interpretation of your shenanigans. My counselor, Sarah, started reflecting on what I had worked on this semester, and something that I never expected to work on was sharing my feelings more openly with those around me. She looked at me and said: “Erin, you yelled at a guy who did you wrong for ten whole minutes over the phone.” I looked right back at her and said: “Yes, Sarah, I sure did, and he even wished me a Happy Thanksgiving a couple of days ago.” Now, isn’t that the American Dream?

It’s okay not to know.

There are certain parts of my life that I really have no idea what is coming next. I actually have no clue. Rather than cracking open my planner and my colored gel pens and trying to come up with a color-coded solution, I am learning just to let the unknown be. Whenever I make a plan, I think God laughs, so I’m just going to let Him take the wheel. I’m not the most skilled driver, anyways…

I have a really good life.

My mom always tells me to write out five things I’m grateful for every day. Coming out of a difficult little period of time in life has made me realize that even when things seem really bad, they are still good simply because I have a good life. I think that Lauren Alaina’s new song “Getting Good” says it best: “I’m thinking once I learn to soak up every moment, I’ll realize my life’s already good.”