A few weeks ago I found myself sitting in the emergency room at 3am and hearing that I was diagnosed with a concussion. I was to be put on severe “physical and cognitive rest” for the next few weeks- which just so happened to be my last few weeks as a student at the greatest university in the world, UC Berkeley.
Not only did this mean that I wouldn’t be able to attend a variety of senior week activities, or take advantage of the academic wonders of my incredibly university, or restrained from taking BART into San Francisco, or that I would be restricted from talking, laughing and spending time with my friends whom would be moving literally all over the world after graduation…. but I forced to sit alone in my room while everyone else got to have these experiences.
I was mad. I was in pain. And more than anything, I felt cheated. I didn’t get these last couple weeks to create some extra memories or check everything off my bucketlist. Instead, I laid in my bed twenty hours a day for a week in cool, dark, bedroom trying to stare at the wall like a potato. I limited myself to two hours of “stimulation” a day including eating meals, going on electronics, or calling my parents to let them know I was doing basically okay.
But, hang in there, readers! I promise this story gets much more uplifting!
As I sat in my bed in anger, I realized that maybe this happened for a reason and that maybe I could learn something from everything. Maybe I was supposed to get a concussion at this point in my life and maybe I was supposed to put life on pause and learn a little bit about my self in this crazy journey. So what did I take away?
First of all, it’s all about the journey and not the destination. If you have four beautiful years of college ahead of you, take advantage of every single moment. Don’t tell yourself that you’ll do something later, because you never know what your future will bring. I learned a lot about making every moment count while I was abroad, but once I was back in Berkeley, I fell into the same routine; it wasn’t until my last semester in college that I began to cram everything on my bucketlist into a few short months. And as the days past, I kept thinking of all the things I could have done if I wasn’t concussed. I was so focused on these last couple experiences, that I lacked recognition of the journey that led me to where I was no. Which leads me to…
Perspective. A couple of days in, I realized that I shouldn’t let this one small event define my college career. I travelled so many places, was involved in so many activities and already had incredible memories with my best friends that I will always cherish. In reality, I was only missing a couple events in the hundreds and thousands of memories.
And the events that I really wanted to go to? I slept more, bought some earplugs and sunglasses and went to them anyways. I made it work, I chose the activities that were most important to me and treasured them all the more. Which leads me to the lesson that it’s all about quality over quantity. If you check everything off your bucketlist in your lifetime, you’re either not dreaming big enough or didn’t stop to enjoy the events as they were happening. So just accept that you’re human and live in the moment with the events that you have the blessed opportunity to experience.
Fourth, it’s actually nice to take some time away from social media. To be honest, I actually didn’t have too much FOMO or Fear of Missing Out, because I couldn’t check Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook to see the events that I was missing out on. By the third day I realized I wasn’t really missing out on much and didn’t crave the interaction anymore.
And lastly, it’s totally okay to ask for help- especially when it deals with your health. I’m incredibly independent and always under the impression that I am a superhuman. But when my head feels like it’s going to explode after working on a computer for an hour, I learned that my health had to come first and I had to suck up my pride and ask for extensions on everything– my classes, my research deadlines, my thesis, my wind ensemble music testing. And thank goodness I did.
Overall, I learned that sometimes life forces you to slow down and that’s okay. Everyone will get hurt at some point. Everyone will miss out on something. Everyone will be okay in the end.
So, now that I have begun venturing out into the world and doing a few last things on my bucketlist, I’m enjoying them from a different perspective. I was lucky that my concussion was minor and that I haven’t suffered from any lasting complications (that we know of, at least) that would prohibit me from traveling, dancing on the weekends with friends, or going on hikes through the Bay Area.
Every day I wake up thankful that I have retained my memory, that my headaches are getting less severe, that my physical and cognitive functions are relatively the same, and that I’ve been able to finish my thesis and will be graduating on time.
Life is weird, unexpected, and sometimes just mean. But if you have faith, think optimistically, and take each day a step at a time, I promise it all gets better. ❤