The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The most unexpected blessing


Finding happiness in surprising ways

I never expected to find community here. In fact, I transferred to St. Joe’s two years ago with a simple mindset: “just go through the motions and graduate.” I needed a degree, and this school seemed as good as any to get it.

My mindset was brought on by a long funk which had led me to doubt my worth, my abilities and my future.

I felt like I’d been sleepwalking through my life, never pursuing anything meaningful to me, because I thought I wouldn’t ever be able to keep it. Happiness, when it came, felt fleeting and superficial.

I later realized what had really been eluding me was joy: pure and uncomplicated, sudden in its arrival, but carrying a promise of sustainment.

I needed a drastic change to show me that true joy was possible. And in the end, that’s what St. Joe’s did for me.

During my first semester here, I mostly kept my head down and focused on my classes. I quickly found my academic niche in communication studies. Classes in law and digital media helped me realize that I am fascinated by processes: why they were installed in the first place, how they work and most of all, how to improve them.

Becoming a full-time student again gave me purpose. It left me with the confidence that, just maybe, I could do something meaningful with my life.

I joined The Hawk as a Copy Editor during the second semester of my junior year. Short on credits, I enrolled in an intersession class called Fact-checking and Fake News, taught by Jenny Spinner, Ph.D., and I loved it. When she approached me about copy editing for The Hawk, I wasn’t sure if I was ready. But I also felt like I would be missing out if I said no.

More than a year later, I can’t imagine my time at St. Joe’s without the people I’ve met through The Hawk and the renewed confidence in myself as a writer that the newspaper has given me.

While I really believe that working on The Hawk has taught me more about writing than any class I’ve ever taken, one of my greatest regrets leaving here is that I didn’t put in more effort academically.

There were stretches of time when I struggled with my mental health or became bogged down in part-time jobs and lost motivation for school. There were many skipped classes, some late assignments and a lot of wrangling with myself to put in the work now and ask questions later.

But I did it—I’m still here. I’m graduating in spite of myself, and no amount of wallowing in regret will give me a do-over. Grad school—that looming, pie-in-the-sky ambition that I once thought was as unattainable for me as an Olympic figure skating career—will have to mark a change for myself as a student.

(I have no immediate grad school plans. There are some things I want to see first.)

I’ll be honest—there are still days when I get home, throw my bag on the couch and feel exhausted and terrified by the enormity of “what comes next.”

But that’s when I go knock on my roommate’s door and ask if he wants to bake cookies and watch a show in the living room. Beyond my education, I’m most grateful to this place for bringing me to people who understand what I’m going through and who know me well enough to help me through it.

I haven’t loved every single day (or even most days) as a student here. But overall, my time at St. Joe’s has affirmed for me that I can have a meaningful life and sustain it.

“Going through the motions” was never an option here, because each day was different and usually threw me some sort of curveball.

Whether it was spending entire days sequestered in the library cramming for finals or scheduling a phone interview across an 11-hour time difference, I ended up being propelled by life’s day-to-day haphazardness. It was enough to motivate me at that time, but I knew I was missing something.

True joy finally snuck up on me one day last summer. It was a culmination of everything I had steadily been building for myself, all the plans I had been making. The day it all hit me was one of those rare perfect days, with no hiccups from start to finish. It began with a trip to the beach with one of the people I love most in the world. There was hardly any traffic on our way there—unheard of for Los Angeles.

One of my bucket list items for that summer had been to swim in the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific is cold­—frigid, even, for most of the year. But on that day, it was absolutely balmy, like a warm bath. My hands were pruney by the time we finally returned to the shore, something that hadn’t happened since I was a little kid. As we drove back with the windows down, I felt renewed in a way I hadn’t in years.

We arrived downtown with enough time to spare before our dinner plans and decided to stop by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In an exhibit about the history of film, I found a quote inscribed on a panel that instantly stood out to me:

“Depth? We don’t need depth. I have been supplying my own third dimension all my life. What we need is to open up, open up wide.”

I like to think I’ll spend the rest of my life opening up: speaking louder, doing more, exploring every corner of this world I can touch. I can’t wait to see what that looks like.

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