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September 24, 2015
At the end of each summer before coming back to Harvard, I always tell myself that this year is the year I am going to try to do more activities, join a club and branch out as best I can from my normal routine of practice, school work, and wishing Winthrop dining hall would actually be my dad's home cooking. I begin each year with this revived mindset, giving myself a mental pep talk about how even though watching Friends is a great (and hilarious) break, there are a ton of incredible other ways on Harvard's campus and in Boston to spend that extra hour of down time. From Fenway Park to Faneuil Hall to Winthrop's weekly Restorative Yoga, I knew that no matter what mood I was in there would be an activity that could seamlessly fill the free time I had between class, practice and my other commitments.
In the past two years I've been pretty successful for about the first week of school, having a ton of extra energy from the buzz of being on campus and the hours of extra sleep I built up during the last weeks of summer. However, this jolt of energy and commitment to my makeshift "New Year's" resolution has failed to last through the obstacle of actually beginning to do homework again. Despite a zero-for-two record, I still approached my junior year with the same resolution in mind, and like the saying goes, third time is the charm. It's now the fourth week of school and I'm still going strong.
A couple weeks ago I had a day off from soccer and was caught by surprise at the lack of work I had to do, so I went to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park with some friends. While baseball is definitely not my favorite sport to watch, the Green Monster and soft serve ice cream in a mini helmet always keep me coming back. Being an afternoon game the sun was absolutely brutal and I was sweating more than I probably would have if I had had practice, but being in Fenway and taking the—somewhat fragrant—T ride reminded me that Boston is an amazing city and I would be insane to choose AC and a nap over the life and history of my surroundings. Not many people can walk to where Paul Revere said "One, if by land and two, if by sea," and eat a mouthwatering cannoli from Mike's Pastries while doing it.
Last night, I continued my streak by attending a talk by the comedian Kevin Breel on mental health. Given how relevant mental health is on college campuses and how important the discussion about it has become, I flagged the email a couple days ago thinking I might want to go. As I was finishing dinner and thinking about how far the walk to Emerson would be (for reference it's probably only five minutes...therefore, not long at all), I reminded myself of my resolution and cleared my tray to walk over. I could not have been happier with my decision. Kevin Breel's talk about mental health was both inspiring and eye-opening, reminding me not only that mental health is a topic I am really interested in, but also that every time I don't really feel like attending a talk or going to a club meeting, I end up loving being there.
He was funny (predictably), genuine and honest, speaking about his struggle with depression during his teenage years and how since then he has dramatically changed his life with the help of those around him. He opened and closed with the same phrase, "own your story so your story doesn't own you," which really resonated with me. While its meaning was something drastically different to him than how I interpreted it in terms of myself last night, I still feel like it carried a lot of weight. This idea of branching out, trying new things and spending my time in different ways is like owning my own story. I could fall back into the schedule that I have had for the past two years, or I could change it up and actively make each day new and unique. While I can't realistically make every day full of surprises, I can certainly make thirty minutes of each day more exciting than I had originally expected, and my new plan for today is to read a chapter of Kevin Breel's book "Boy Meets Depression".