All These Wonders

I am almost done reading a book called The Moth Presents: All These Wonders. It was given to me this summer by my supervisor at my internship, which meant so much to me because it felt so personal and meaningful. Inside the front cover, she had left me a note, with the ultimate message being to find the power in the uncertainty. As someone who has a later job application process than most and who still doesn’t know what I will be doing with my life after graduation, I am reassured every time I read this message. It reminds me to make the most of every moment and to embrace life’s uncertainties rather than fear them.

But let’s get back to the book. I highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves with little free time to read during college but still misses the nostalgic and comforting feeling of turning physical pages and letting your mind paint a picture of different worlds. All These Wonders is an anthology book comprised of various short stories, which are real and true and told from the authentic point of view of those who lived through them. The Moth is a non-profit group based in New York City that was founded with the purpose of bringing interesting people to tell their stories in front of audiences of eager listeners. This book is the transcribed version of these stories, each told at a different Moth event with a different theme. I have yet to look up videos of these talks online and I wonder if hearing them would give me a very different experience than reading them, but I do like the fact that I can hang onto every detail with the written word.

These stories present such a wide variety of experiences, and while reading them I have experienced an incredibly wide range of emotions: heartbreak, hilarity, fear, discomfort, joy, and more. It’s almost jarring to flip the page to the next story, because I could be reading about a dorky prom experience and then immediately be presented with the life story of a child soldier who moved to America. It keeps me alert and interested, though, and I am humbled time and time again after reading. This book has made me think so many times about how lucky I am.

There are stories from David Bowie’s hairdresser, from an individual who narrowly escaped death at a concentration camp, from a mother helping her transgender daughter transition, and so many more. It’s rare for me to be as riveted by a book as I am with this one, and though I have been reading it over a period of months, it’s only a matter of seconds that I am sucked in after opening the book once more.

I highly recommend All These Wonders to anyone looking for a variety of fresh perspectives. I promise you will not regret it!

Just One Year Ago

I have to admit, I really enjoy Snapchat’s feature that allows you to see “memories” from a specific day in years past. Each morning I am able to see photos and videos from a year, two years, or three years before, and often times it brings me right back to that moment and has me in shock because it doesn’t feel like that long at all has passed since then. Now that we are in the spring semester, I’ve been seeing a lot of memories from my time in Los Angeles last spring semester, and I’ve really been reflecting on the notion that so much can change in just one year.

Just one year ago, I had recently begun my west coast adventure, and I was so excited but so lost at the same time. Of course, my social media only reflected the best of times, and my texts and phone calls to my friends at home were full of optimism and ambition rather than the difficulties of being transplanted to an environment that was entirely unfamiliar to me. On my first day of work at my internship, I remember posting a bunch of photos showing how cool my office looked, but I also remember coming home and crying to my mom on the phone because of how far away I felt and how overwhelming everything was just on day one.

There were plenty of hard times but there were plenty of good times, and I’m thankful that these “one year ago” memories are only the times full of fun that I wanted to remember. It makes me realize so much how true the sentiment is that when you look back at something, it’s so much easier to remember the good things than the bad things. Think of it like a break-up: when someone ends a relationship with you, you often find yourself upset and pining over the things that you miss, rather than focusing on the things that were wrong. Knowing that this is what I am doing whenever I look at pictures from Los Angeles, I try to tell myself that – even whenever I say I would love to be back in the warm weather – I already had that incredible experience, and right now, I am where I am supposed to be.

After I came back from Los Angeles, I spent my summer in New York, went on vacations with my family, had a semester back in State College, experienced a relaxing winter break, and now I’m back for my final semester here. Just one year ago I had no idea of the changes and growth that I would go through to get me to the point that I am right now. I had no idea which friendships would form and which would decay. I didn’t know what my final year would bring at Penn State, and in many ways, I still don’t know what’s to come. All I can be certain of is the fact that in one year, I will look back at this blog post with a year full of new experiences that will change me and mold me and make me the person that I am constantly on my way to becoming.