If you're reading this, keep showing up for yourself and for others.
Notice the beautiful things in life. Make the effort to notice the sunlight shining through the window in the quiet mornings, the birds playing in the puddles after the heavy rain, and the way the sun makes its way across the sky followed by the shining moon. Pay attention to these beautiful things about life because these little things are what will get you through the hardest days.
I know it is hard. I have been there. I have felt lost too.
For the past year, I have struggled with my own physical and mental battle. I've spent nights crying in bed, leaving the library because I could not hold in my tears. I've spent days and nights questioning why I kept going and why I kept pretending like I was okay even though I really felt like I was drowning. Nevertheless, I went through my days smiling, singing, and focusing on every little beautiful thing about that day. Now, this was not always naturally where my mind would go. In fact, some days it was hard to force my mind to go there. But that was my only way to hold myself up. The only way to remind myself that there is good in your worst days and mostly, that your energy is contagious. So even if it wasn’t fully natural, it was my way of showing up for myself. But also, it was my way of showing up for others.
If you smile at strangers, chances are high that they will smile back. If you pause to admire the flowers, people walking by will acknowledge them too, even if it is for a split second. If you go out of your way to help someone, they will feel obligated to help someone too. These little things are contagious and if you pay attention to the effect they have on others, you can find a little sense of purpose when you feel hopeless and lost.
One of my favorite sayings goes something like this: "if you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. For a day, go fishing. For a year, inherit a fortune. But if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody." While it may sound cheesy, it is so true. There is scientific evidence that happiness can be found in helping others. It affects the part of your brain that makes you feel great, the part of the brain that can make you feel high on life.
So, if getting out of bed seems impossible, get up, take a warm shower, and show up for your people. Do it for others. Be there for them in their time of need, and along the way, you will find brighter days. You will find happiness for a lifetime.
However, I learned that you cannot just keep showing up for others without letting others show up for you too. You need to ask for help if you need it. You are not a burden, nor annoying for asking for other people's time. In fact, you are simply helping them find happiness by letting them help you. Let your people feel like they have a purpose. Let them feel valued and trusted. Let them show up for you so you can later show up for them.
So, if you're reading this, show up. Please keep showing up for your friends, family, strangers, and mostly, for yourself. I know it can be hard and feel almost impossible at times, but I promise, there is sunshine behind the rain.
One last thing. Please know that whoever you are or wherever you are, if you don’t know who else to turn to, I am here for you. Let me show up for you.
Dany C., University of Virginia ‘20