Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Isn’t it funny how one month can feel like years long, or how you can feel entirely comfortable in a new place one day, and completely out of place there the next? While it may sound like I’m describing an episode of the Twilight Zone, this is actually my life, from the viewpoint of having lived one month in college. In the past year, I have narrated the important lessons I have learned in my life through my “shades of gray”, and when I came to college, I wasn’t sure if there were any more shades for me to view. It was only after I had read articles, taken notes, walked to dining halls, made spontaneous ice cream runs, been caught in the rain, salsa danced, discussed, sneezed, and laughed within an inch of my life did I realize the many, many more shades of gray that existed in our world. This was the Varied Veritas (Latin for “truth” J) I came to terms with, and from it I learned some lessons that have given me reason to clean my everyday lenses for the first time in a while….


Sitting in my dorm room, exactly one month since I had moved in, I took out my journal and started writing about the amazing dinner I had just shared with my roommates. Wow, I can’t believe the time we had, I’d thought. Great food, great company, and a special guest: my Varied Veritas. I thought about how my VV had made an impression on me that particular night, how I was taught that being sure is not always necessary, and that one defines success in one’s own terms.

Curious to see where else my VV had made an appearance in the past month, I flipped through my journal to earlier entries to see what I’d written.

When I first got here my VV held my hand during the difficult time in which I learned that I can’t fix every wrong I see; my VV also helped me realize it’s okay for me to make mistakes in this “perfect” atmosphere. A couple of weeks into it, whirlwind classes and amazing professors made me truly listen to my VV’s words of being appreciative of all I had. On September 11, my VV solemnly stood alongside me as I reflected on my identity and showed me that what my “role” in the world isn’t as important as how I choose to fill it. My VV showed me the many things that must come from within, “authenticity” being one of them.

And my VV never failed to remind me that no matter what I end up doing with my life, it is always good to have some important tools in my pocket and youthful idealism in my heart. I now see that I will never get too old to let go of believing that things have the potential to be so much more than I could ever know.

As far as all this “knowing” business goes, my VV told me it is okay not to know, not to have a clue about what I should be doing or where I should be going. And if it seems like everyone else knows, and I don’t, then I should revel in my unknowing-ness and in the amazing journey on which it will lead me throughout my life.

Although I do know one thing: I wasn’t brought this far to be left on my own. I’m being guided by my VV to more learning experiences and more blessed encounters. I am a little lost, but it is by being lost that I am humbled to turn to my VV to find the missing pieces from my map and get to wherever I should be.

I looked up from what I had read and realized that I can never say I fully learned all I could from my VV. As I turned on my laptop and felt the old, familiar feeling of getting ready to write about the new shade of gray I had seen, I truly “knew” that I still had a long way to go.

Lesson Learned: You always learn. Always. Just be open to life’s lessons, and you’ll see things that can only add to who you are. The lessons are right in front of you; all you have to do is clean the dirt from your lenses and see the many shades of gray J.

“Learning isn’t a means to an end; it is an end in itself.” ~ Robert Heinlein

Monday, July 18, 2011


The quintessential nerd that I am, I haven’t been able to stop my desire to learn this summer (despite my best efforts to forget Calculus J). I’ve been indulging my habit by reading some books about influential people. Upon my educational escapades, I’ve come to appreciate the actions of two extremely famous people in American History, an unlikely duo working toward the empowerment of oppressed African-Americans: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. I’ve come to learn about each one’s philosophies, background histories, and experiences. Although in some ways these men were like fire and ice, one trait they shared was their courage, their resolve to go against the grain and make a difference in the lives of others. As a novice to this whole “changing the world” business, I had believed this courage can only come to seasoned, well-known advocates for change. I very well could have stayed in my bubble of anti-bravery were it not for the efforts of my Gutsy Guru, who taught me that the courage to present one’s own ideas may bring enlightenment to all those around him/her.


You can do this, I thought to myself. Don’t psyche yourself out, you know what’s behind that door. Just face it and take care of it. YOU CAN DO THIS!

As I approached my bedroom door from the hallway, fiddling with my Malcolm X sunglasses, I tried to give myself this battle-worthy pep-talk to confront what I already knew was inside. I opened the door slowly, and saw….

STUFF. Stuff and stuff and more stuff, strewn on my bed, my desk, my floor, my walls! I had to recoil at the sight of the colossal mess in my bedroom. It looks like my closet threw up everything inside it! I thought. Rolling up my sleeves and sticking my sunglasses in my hair, I said to myself, “It’s gotta be conquered at some point, might as well take it down today!”

While putting clothes back into my ostensibly nauseous closet, I heard my cell-phone ringing. Of course, it took me a little while to excavate my phone from the layers of junk under which it was hidden, but luckily I answered it right before it went to voicemail. “Hello?” I answered.

“Hi, there!” an upbeat voice responded. “How are you, Abi?”

My Gutsy Guru! I thought. It’s been ages since I’ve heard this voice! “Hey, GG, I’m doing great! How about you?”

GG responded, “I’m pretty good, thanks! I called you because I was hoping you could give me some tips on a presentation I have to prepare for one of my classes.”

As long as you don’t mind that I’m battling the Closet Creature from Beyond, I’ll be happy to help, I thought. “I would love to help! I’m going to put you on speaker while I clean up around my room, okay?”

“Sounds good!” my GG said. With that, my GG began to give me the background info on this presentation. It was supposed to highlight a few inspiring people in history. When I had heard my GG’s suggestions of these figures, I was a bit surprised. Wow, these definitely are not the most popular or predictable figures to highlight. My surprise must have translated through the phone, because after finishing a thought, my GG said, “I know my plans are unconventional, but that is the effect I am looking for. I really want to get my classmates to open up to different ideas. I feel like a totally new viewpoint will make a bigger impact on how they see things versus the same old thing they see all the time.”

I replied, “I understand what you are trying to do. But aren’t you afraid of how they will respond? How their opinion of you may change, or how they may regard your examples?”

My GG confidently said, “Abi, I want my presentation to make an impact. If shaking up their world allows me to plant a seed and help change their lives, then I want nothing more than to scare them into a new perspective!” My GG and I couldn’t help but start laughing after that exclamation.

“Well, then,” I said, “I’m not sure if I can add anything to your plans, GG, but I’ll give my opinion for what it’s worth.” I gave my GG a couple of tips (which my GG really did not need because the plan was so great), and we hung up soon after.

The grammatical tips I gave my GG are totally insignificant compared to the gift my GG gave to me. During our short conversation, my GG had shown me the true nature of courage. My GG set aside what was accepted for what my GG believed was right, and was willing to sacrifice his/her standing in others’ opinions to expose his/her peers to new perspectives. This courage emboldened me to face the challenges both in my closet and in my life, and as a result, neither is too tough to handle any longer J

Lesson Learned: Bravery and Bravado are more different than three letters would lead someone to believe. Putting on a show of courage to make oneself seem more powerful or successful than someone else actually indicates how cowardly someone is to show his/her true colors. Sincere courage comes from one’s resolve to fight for one’s beliefs, especially in the face of opposition. By accepting the personal consequences of an action that will improve the lives of others, one demonstrates an essential trait that all courageous people, from the momentous match of Malcolm and Martin to my GG, value deeply.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
Nelson Mandela

From caring comes courage.
Lao Tzu

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Being a vegetarian, I have become pretty familiar with my fruits and veggies, and two fruits that have enriched not only my diet but also my perspective on life are the banana and the kumquat. The super sweet banana has a beautiful yellow and utterly bruise-free peel when it is ready to be eaten. However, a browned peel will reveal the mushy, bruised flesh of the fruit for all to see. Now, the kumquat is unlike the banana in several ways; not only does it have a significantly cooler name, but it is also eaten with its rind. The first taste is surprising because its sweet rind doesn’t hint at the unexpectedly sour flesh of the fruit beneath it. Aside from making me sound like a fruit expert, my knowledge about these two fruits has made me realize that for most of my life I have been a banana, showing the world my feelings and sharing with it my burdens and worries. However, after spending some time with my Put-Together Pal, I realized that portraying the kumquat’s sweet cover even when one is dealing with misfortune within demonstrates a composure which the whole produce aisle seeks to emulate J.


Summer, summer, summertime! Will Smith’s famous song and countless others had been streaming through my head since my amazing summer had begun. I was spending every day with friends and family, sleeping in, and enjoying myself. On this particular day, a group of friends and I were on the drive home from a great day together.

Rocking my opaque white sunglasses in the backseat, I surveyed the beaming faces of my friends around me. We had been blasting the radio, eating, and laughing our heads off the entire trip. This is what it’s all for, I thought. The hours of studying, the chores, the responsibilities…..all of that makes these moments that much sweeter.

There was no way we were going to stop smiling. All of us were so happy to be done with school and to be spending time with one another. All of us had grins plastered on our faces, but no one’s was bigger than that of my Put-Together Pal. My PTP was smiling enough for our entire car! The jokes, silly faces, and crazy laughter that came from my PTP were enough to keep the entire car cracking up for the whole trip home.

While we were catching our breath after laughing at a joke, one of my friends said, “Okay, everyone say some of the most memorable times from school!”

We all reminisced about some of the craziest teachers, most fun assemblies, and best days we had had while in school. Wow, I guess we have actually had some amazing times together, I thought as we turned to my PTP to hear another memorable event. At first, my PTP couldn’t come up with an event that one of us had not already mentioned, but after a while, my PTP found a memory.

“Well, it’s not really a positive memory, but it has been with me all year long, so I guess it counts. You guys may not have known that I have a health problem I have been contending with for a while, and it’s been pretty rough to deal with this year,” my PTP said, smile fading. “It has definitely been a challenge for me, and if it worsens I hope I can deal with it in my future.”

The atmosphere in our car had changed after we heard this memory. The gummy worms weren’t being inhaled at lightning-fast speed, the music that had been blasting from the stereo was reduced to a dull roar, and all of us were a bit quieter. Despite the aura shift, my PTP aimed a small grin at all of us in the car. “Come on, guys, it’s okay! Here, let’s change the subject.”

My PTP then started talking about funny stories with friends and family members, and within the minute had us all laughing once again. Our car ride home continued to be the crazy party it had started out to be. And yet, while my PTP was amusing all of us, I couldn’t help but think, Wow, this is the kid that is contending with a serious issue? This happy goofball? I was so amazed to see the composure my PTP had in the face of misfortune.

That willingness to portray a positive face to the world even if that positivity may not be what is behind the scenes demonstrated a true strength and selflessness to me. When the rest of the car had begun to feel unhappy for our friend’s misfortune, my PTP immediately sought to bring us the joy we had felt before. My PTP tried to match the bright summer sun with his/her own shining light, and in doing so, had allowed our light to shine through as well.

Lesson Learned: Composure is a wonderful dish that we all need to eat. Mix grace, strength, and selflessness, bake for a couple of years, and sprinkle a great sense of humor on the top before serving to the world J. Of course, sharing one’s issues with friends and family is necessary, especially when the issues are serious. But when someone has the composure to deal with these issues without casting the burdens of worry or discomfort upon others, s/he is accessing an inner strength that will improve his/her life and the lives of others. Harness your inner kumquat, and find the strength to put the sweetest face to the world, even in the sourest of times. J

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper” Aristotle

Sunday, May 22, 2011


How do you believe in something you can’t see? Is it like a ghost, a shadowy doubt that scares you into believing in it, or like true love, which promises total happiness? I ask all these super deep questions because I’m trying to find the answer to the most important question of all: Do Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny really exist? I mean, how can childhood be fulfilled without visits from these fabled figures? My question shows my struggle with the idea of believing in something that I can never prove is real. I had always been skeptical of this risky idea of faith, until I spoke with a Believer (Not Always a Seer) that taught me that having faith in the uncertain is well worth the risk.


What the WHAT?????? I thought to myself while playing with a pair of my blue sunglasses at home. I have to decide where I am going to LIVE for the next four years within the next two weeks???

In my anxiety I accidentally tossed my blue Fake Bans across the room. As I got up to go get them, the piles of info I had from the colleges I had been accepted to spilled off my lap and spread out all over the floor. Yep, this is pretty much what my brain looks like right now, I thought, a chaotic mess of information.

It was the middle of April during my senior year, and decision time was getting dangerously close. Where would I go to school for the next four years? Where would I have midnight runs to pig out on frozen yogurt?!?!?! These where the important questions I had to ask myself during the entire month of April, and even with all the research and people I had talked to, I didn’t have a clue of where I wanted to go. I had planned to check out a few schools before the end of the month, but with my mind in a state of pandemonium, I was not sure I would survive the trip.

How on earth can I choose? I thought as I walked over the papers to get my sunglasses, hearing the subtle *crunch* of those immaculately written letters under my feet. And when I do choose, how will I know I have made the right decision?

A prisoner to my mental turmoil, I began to sift through the pile of papers when suddenly my phone rang. Maybe it’s my peace of mind calling to tell me that it is never coming back, I sullenly thought as I answered the phone. “Hello?”

“Hey, Abi!” my Believer (Not Always a Seer) said. My B(NAS) was always so positive and upbeat that even the mind-scrambled version of myself couldn’t help but smile when I realized who it was.

“Hey, there!” I responded. “How have you been doing?”

“I’ve been very well, thank you. And how about you?” my B(NAS) said. “I wanted to call because I heard you are a bit worried about your college decision.”

A bit worried is a bit of an understatement, I thought. “Yeah, it’s a really big decision in my life, and I just can’t be sure that I will make the right one.”

My B(NAS) laughed and said, “Don’t worry, Abi. You have to believe that wherever you end up will allow you to be successful and enjoy yourself. Have faith that everything will be all right, my dear.”

Faith? I thought incredulously. But I can’t read online about faith’s impact on a college experience or graduation rates. No student can tell me what grade you’ll get in a class if you have faith.

“Oh, B(NAS), I don’t know if I can do that,” I said. This decision just seems too big for me not to be absolutely sure about it.” Talking about my decision was making me anxious, so I said, “Why don’t you tell me about what has been new with you lately?”

My B(NAS) responded, “Things have been a little uncertain about me being able to move to a new home later on this year, but I have faith that everything is going to work out.”

Oh, poor B(NAS), I thought. For a few years my B(NAS) had been trying to move to a new home to be closer to family, but for one reason or another, the plans had just not been working out. I couldn’t help but ask, “When do you think you’ll be able to move in?”

After a pause, my B(NAS) said, “Honestly I couldn’t say. I’ve had to deal with a lot of changes in my life so I would be able to make this a reality, so I have to trust that I will be able to move when the time is right.”

We hung up soon afterward but instead of poring over letters I thought about what my B(NAS) said. Have to trust when the timing is right? I thought. Your whole life is being affected by this decision that you are basing on your belief that it will turn out okay. Yet instead of being scared, you are peaceful and happy. Hmm, maybe there is something to this faith thing after all.

I did eventually make the decision, and am pretty happy with where I’ve chosen. I may not be 100% sure that everything is going to turn out perfectly for me; I just believe that my choice will take me to a future where I’ll find success and happiness.

Lesson Learned: Having faith can truly empower you. Of course, facts and figures are our friends and oftentimes make us certain of what we know. But in every situation, big or small, faith allows us to enter new experiences with a confidence that we cannot create on our own. Use faith to bring hope to situations that seem hopeless, and maybe one day the Easter Bunny and his imaginary crew won’t seem as imaginary to you J.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I’m not too fond of reptiles, but one that I have always liked is the chameleon. Despite its buggy eyes and scaly skin, the chameleon stands out to me because it possesses the ability to blend in with its surroundings. When threatened or put through a stressful ordeal, the chameleon can change its skin pattern to match that of its environment. As often as I may have tried, I always found it difficult to change my colors like the chameleon when exposed to unfamiliar situations. Thankfully, a Malleable Mentor of mine helped me realize that whether we like it or not, changing to fit our circumstances is something all us baby chameleons need to learn.


Are you serious??? I thought. This really isn’t happening, is it?

Dismally looking down at my class list for my senior year, I couldn’t deny that I was being faced with an unpleasant change. My original plan of taking an elective and the math class I wanted was not working out. Because of scheduling conflicts, I had to choose between a total change in all the classes I had planned to take and taking a math class two levels ahead of where I was. So much for the line-up of my dreams, I thought. What am I going to do now?

Leaving school that day, just a couple of weeks before the end of my junior year, I couldn’t help but feel the summer gods had gypped me of a real welcome to Relaxation 101. Instead of figuring out which days to go to the beach or hang out with friends, I’m going to be thinking about school, school, and MORE school! I thought. Oh deities of beach balls and sunscreen, haven’t I paid you enough tribute this school year?

All that evening I fretted about what I was going to decide. I called my friends, talked to my parents, and looked to every source of inspiration I could find for guidance. Having left no rock unturned, I finally made the decision to take the advanced math course. This is not my ideal choice, but I figure at this point in my high school experience, it’s just what I’ve got to do, I thought. Now, maybe if I think this thought every minute for the next three months, I’ll feel better about my decision by next fall.

As much as I tried to ignore it, I felt uneasiness about my decision in the following days. One day, during lunch, I was so absorbed in my thoughts about my schedule, my decision, my inability to change my scales to blend in….

WHACK! Being the graceful young lady that I am, I oh-so-elegantly crashed into my MM while walking down a hallway. My tortoiseshell sunglasses toppled off my face on the ground, and I thought, at this rate, I won’t need to worry about next year, because I may not survive the rest of this one!

“I am so sorry, MM, are you okay?” I asked my friend.

“Geez, Abi, what have I ever done for you to knock me over?” my MM replied with a grin. “I’m only joking with you, I’m okay. But how are you? You look like you’ve got a lot on your mind.”

“Well, I do!” I told my MM. “You know the whole scheduling conflicts have really messed with what I had planned to do for next year. Now I’m signed up for a math class I’m not sure I can handle, and I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing or not.”

“Well, I haven’t had to deal with scheduling conflicts, but I think I know about dealing with changes that you don’t really expect or want,” my MM said. We started talking about the different changes my MM had encountered so far, like changes in my MM’s friend groups and the plans my MM had made for the future.

“Of everything I’ve learned from my experience, the most important thing is to know how to adapt to change. Sometimes things happen that we may not like, but we’ve just got to adjust,” my MM told me.

We’ve just got to adjust, I thought. If that’s the case, I better teach my inner chameleon how to change her scales J. “As much as I may not like it, I know you are right. With time, I’ll get used to my choice and move on. Thanks for the advice,” I told my MM that sunny day during the last week of my junior year.

Nearly nine months later, I understand the value of this lesson even more. My math class, although daunting at times, has been manageable for me, and my senior year has been more amazing than I could have ever imagined. With my MM’s lesson under my belt, I have practiced changing my colors to fit my circumstances, not only in making decisions about colleges and scholarships, but also in deciding how I want to live my life. Now, it has become easier for me to wear the once color that fits in all situations: happiness. J

Lesson Learned: When we encounter change in our life, we must learn to deal with it. Whether it is positive or negative, change is something we cannot avoid; our best bet to find happiness is adjusting to our surroundings and making the best of our situations. When at all possible, try to make your surroundings as comfortable for you as you can, but for those cases in which there isn’t too much you can do, pull a chameleon and blend in, my dears J.

Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react.- John Maxwell

The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn.- Author Unknown

Monday, February 7, 2011


For those of us who’ve taken American History, the term “rugged individualism” is all too familiar. We’ve been taught that the crux of American success has been Americans’ ability to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Personally, the term rugged individualism makes me think of our Founding Fathers wearing lumberjack garb while building the White House by hand (despite all the historical inaccuracies J). As odd as the image may be, it represents a part of individualism I believe is really important, which is working hard to achieve one’s personal goals. The other part is being able not only to accept but also to embrace the face that we are all different from one another. In my search to a “true individual” whom I can emulate, I encountered a Grown-On-Their-Own, or GOTO, friend of mine who showed me that proudly being yourself brings about a special happiness that is uniquely yours.


It was a beautiful day outside, and despite the scholarships, homework, and chores I knew I needed to do, I decided instead to call a friend and hang out.

The sunshine must be brightening my mood, I thought as I dialed the number of my GOTO pal. My mood got an additional boost after I had finalized lunch plans with my GOTO friend. Responsibilities will always be in my life, but days like these are hard to come by! I thought. And so, shining as vibrantly as a fluorescent light bulb, I grabbed my keys and raced off to lunch.


Settling into my booth at the restaurant, I smiled into the lens of my green/yellow/red sunglasses. I’m so glad I can just relax with a friend on a beautiful day like today, I thought. After my GOTO friend sat down, we started talking our future plans, our schools, and all the responsibilities we had set aside to have lunch that day.

“It is so unlike me to NOT do something I know I should be doing,” I said as we started eating. “Usually, I’m the odd one out in my group of friends, the one who pushes everyone to study and do their work.” Now, look at me, I thought, skipping out on doing homework to go to lunch. I’m such a rebel!

My GOTO pal understood exactly what feeling like the odd one out is like. “I’ve pretty much always been a little bit different from everyone I know, even when I was a little kid. When all the kids wanted to go play at the park, I always wanted to talk with the adults instead. It wasn’t that I didn’t like to have fun, it was just that when I was with older people I felt like there was more that I could talk about. Ever since then I knew I was going to live life a little differently than everyone else.”

Wow, I thought. If I knew I was going to be a loony homework fiend when I was a little kid, I’m not sure I would have come to those terms so peacefully. It’s really cool that my GOTO friend is so comfortable with feeling different from others. “Ok, so you seem okay with being the ‘unusual’ person in your group. But haven’t you ever felt like your differences make you stand out too much?”

My GOTO pal paused for a moment while chewing a bite of food. After swallowing, my GOTO pal said, “Sometimes I guess I feel like that. But Abi, I know who I am, and I don’t want to lose the odd qualities I have. I’m just going to strive to achieve my goals and hope for the best.”

There must have been some extra Confidence sprinkled on that chewy bite, I thought. Um, waiter, can I have some of that please? “You seem like you know exactly what you want to do,” I said. “Where do you get all your confidence?”

“Well, basically I have had to work my butt off for everything I’ve got,” my GOTO pal said. “Whether it was doing chores around the house or working part-time, I have always had to earn what I have. I figure, if I’ve worked hard up to this point and had enough to be happy, I should be able to achieve happiness in the future.”

Work hard, accept who you are, work hard, accept who you are…. This mantra repeated itself over and over in my mind as we finished our meal. Driving home from the restaurant, I realized I had been an eyewitness to a demonstration of true individualism. My GOTO pal not only celebrated the fact that differences in personality makes one unique but also realized that working hard for one’s own goals can bring about fulfilling success. Watch out, rugged individualism and your five-o-clock shadow, there’s a new, clean-shaven “UNIQUE” in town!

Lesson Learned: Celebrate those traits that make you unique and own up to the hard work you need to do to succeed in your personal goals. If you are the lone artist in your group of friends, then paint them the best picture you can! Only singer in your study group? Belt out the latest popular song in the middle of calculus homework like a professional! If you work hard to develop who you are, you can achieve an inner contentment that no one can take from you. (And if they try, clobber them with the hammer of rugged individualism J)

“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, January 24, 2011


Life offers us lots of opportunities to be selfless, don’t you think? All those tip jars at coffee shops that collect spare change to donate to animal shelters or children’s hospitals are just screaming at us to be as unselfish as possible. As much as I love cute puppies or needy children as the next person, sometimes I feel like these small acts of kindness only demonstrate a convenient opportunity to be selfless, something so routine that we might not recognize the beauty in what we’re doing altogether. For a very long time I was an everyday tipper in the tip jar of life until I interacted with a Caring Coin-dropper that taught me to take a step back and appreciate every penny I give.


What a day! I thought as I walked into my house after school one day. It’s only Tuesday and I’ve got the exam of my lifetime tomorrow, two major projects due Thursday, and enough homework to last me into next year. As I collapsed on my bed, I marveled at how quickly an ordinary week at school could turn into a festival of insanity. I was a little grumpy after a pretty busy school day, but I knew all I needed was a snack and an episode of The Office and I would be good to go. All I need is a PB&J sandwich and a little and I’ll be fine.

Once my twenty minutes of heaven were over, I knew I had to buckle down and get to work. Unfortunately, my plans to finish all my work were drastically changed thanks to my math homework. When my teacher assigned ten problems, she forgot to mention that each problem was going to take an hour to do! I thought. Thankfully, a welcome text message interrupted my battle with my homework (one which, unfortunately, I was losing.) The message was from my CC, and it read, “Hey, what were the pages we needed to study tonight?”

Grateful for any distraction, I quickly replied with the information. “Do you want to Skype study for it later on?J” I asked. I really, really, REALLY need help studying for this exam and I know CC is pretty comfortable with that subject, I thought.

I was relieved after receiving a, “Yeah, sure!” text response. Comforted by the knowledge that my CC was going to help me later that evening, I armed myself with a sharpened pencil and resumed my battle with those unbeatable math formulas.


FINALLY DONE! I thought. Math, though a good fighter, ultimately lost to my iron will (and calculatorJ), and those projects never stood a chance! My triumphant attitude faded when I realized how much time I spent during my valiant battle. I comforted myself by thinking, well, at least I’ve still got my CC’s help for the test tomorrow!

I signed on my Skype account and waited for CC to sign on as well. As though perfectly timed, my CC called me just as I had gotten out my study materials.

“I’m so glad you offered to help me!” I told CC. “I know with your help I’ll be all set for tomorrow.”

My CC looked pretty exhausted, but smiled and said, “No problem. I’m glad I could help. By the way, I like your sunglasses.”

Sunglasses? Reaching up to my head, I realized my tortoiseshell sunglasses had been perched up there all day long. “Thanks!” I said. “Hopefully you can help me use them to discover the key to understanding everything that is going to be on the test tomorrow!”

Whether or not my sunglasses actually helped me, I’ll never know, but I was certainly glad I had my CC to explain to me all the concepts I didn’t know. My CC is a lifesaver! I thought.

In the middle of our study session, I realized CC was yawning up a storm. “Hey, why are you so tired?” I asked.

CC said, “I’m not tired, don’t worry about it. Let’s just keep going.”

“Okay then,” I responded, a little suspicious of CC’s comment. My yawn radar was up and ready to detect any more exhaustion.

Once CC fell asleep during one of my study questions, I knew it was definitely time for bed. Poor CC, I thought. “Hey, sleepyhead!” I said to CC. “I think you’ve done enough studying tonight. Clearly you need some sleep right now. I’m just sorry you didn’t have enough time to prepare for the exam tomorrow.”

My CC sleepily grinned at me and said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. I prepared for the exam a few hours ago. I just hope I was able to answer your questions. Anyway, I’ll see you tomorrow, Abi!”

After turning off my computer, I realized my CC chose to help me instead of doing something else (like, I don’t know, SLEEPING?). My CC knew how badly I needed some guidance and put my needs in front of his/her own. Although stuck with an hour more of my own studying after that conversation, I was happy to know that there was someone in the world who was willing to put some hard earned money, not just extra change from a morning coffee, into the tip jar of my success.

Lesson Learned: Selflessness is putting the needs of others above your own. While helping others in any way will always be appreciated, it means so much more to you and whoever you are helping if you make the choice to help others instead of doing so out of convenience. Take it from a convert from the coin-dropping style of community service, fishing a few more dollars out of your pocket to supplement the thirty five cents you got back in change will make some cute puppies or needy children very happyJ.

“A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.” Albert Einstein