A Semester in Review

It’s finally the end of the semester and I’m sitting in bed just reviewing everything that happened. Wow I did a lot. There were lots of ups and downs, but I learned an incredible amount. Not just through my classes either. I learned about my limits, time organization, relationships and friendships, spirituality, the importance of family, and the importance of the friends that are like family. This semester was the most stressful time I have experienced thus far in my life. However, in the hardest and most stressful times you learn a lot. I’ve been trying to balance 17 credits, work, being hall council president, trying to find an internship, and maintaining relationships…and it didn’t work out so well. I took on more than I could chew and I broke. No one really knows that though. Except the people who read this blog I guess. The quote of the semester: “Fake it till you make it”. I guess I faked it pretty darn well. Everyone thinks I’m doing incredibly well and the amount of comments that have been along the lines of “Shu, you’re going to rule the world one day” is large. There’s a pressure to excel and live up to this image that people have of me. It’s really hard. I know I don’t have to live for anyone but myself and I really should do whatever makes me happy. However, my goals fall directly in line with everyone’s expectations…maybe not to the level of achievement they conjure up in their minds. Very similar though. So that’s something I can’t escape from. It’s an inevitable pressure that I have to deal with. Maybe its a good pressure, and I just don’t realize its benefits yet.

In terms of relationships, I’ve made and lost some really good ones. However, the social life overall was pretty nonexistent. I’ve made really good friends within my chemical engineering department and research lab. Outside of that, I didn’t really try to maintain other friendships. Keeping up with everyone was just too exhausting and it felt fake whenever I tried. So eventually I just gave up. It’s fine though. Better to have quality friends than half-assed relationships. Through stress and difficult times, you come to realize who you trust. You just find yourself naturally opening up to certain people because they feel like a safe haven where everything will be okay. To make friends like that is rare, and I’m so glad I have those kind of people in my life. I trust them with my life. That’s a very comforting feeling to have.

Family. They’re absolutely the best people on the planet. No matter how much they annoy me or frustrate me, they’re always there to comfort me in the end. Mothers especially. I had a major breakdown today and talking to my mom instantly made everything feel better. Mothers know best. It’s true. Coming back home after the worst three weeks of my life was the best feeling ever. That may sound dramatic, but I can actually say that these three weeks in December have just been one blow after another. Crushing really. For me, there’s nothing more important than family. Nothing. Coming home today just solidifies that even more. I can joke, laugh, cry, tell them everything, and there’s no judgement whatsoever. Its the best.

When my family isn’t there, I find myself reaching out to those really good friends. However sometimes I just don’t want to talk to anyone. That’s where spirituality comes in. I believe there’s some sort of higher power. It may or may not be a God or deity. But there’s something out there. In my really really really stressed times, I find myself “talking to the air” as I like to call it. I feel like there has been a weight lifted off my chest whenever I reach out. I don’t know why and I can’t explain it because I don’t understand, but it happens and it helps. So I’m trying to figure out what I actually believe, why I believe it, how it works. It’ll be a long journey, but hopefully there’ll be some understanding at the end.

Overall, it was a good semester. I had amazing experiences in Baltimore at the SWE conference, ran a half marathon, read some great books, got an internship at ExxonMobil, made some solid friendships (and got rid of negative ones), had a great time with hall council, and learned a ton about everything. I tested my limits, and now I know what I can and cannot handle. So that’s good to know for the rest of my life. I have no regrets about anything because I’ve learned from it all. It wasn’t particularly a good feeling to be feeling constantly battered down, but I survived and I can say I’m proud of that accomplishment. I just realized that I haven’t had a break from the academic life in 1.5 years. I need one. Now. SO I’M GOING TO SINGAPORE! WOOOO! Now that’s something I’m super super excited about. I get to see my extended family (great people) and the beach and the ocean. Everything I love in one place. Paradise! I have a positive outlook for next semester. I’m cutting down my load a lot and I’ll be ready to work hard again after this vacation. Christmas and Singapore. It’s going to be a great time!