When I was little, my mother always said to me, “Boring people are bored.” Starting college, one of my fears, among many, was being bored. Not having a car and not being able to easily get off campus, I was worried I wasn’t going to have enough to do in the new community I was moving into.
This wouldn’t be my first move to an unknown place. I had moved a week after I graduated, and spent my summer in a new town where I knew no one my own age. I ended up working at a karate studio teaching martial arts to little kids. This was a fun experience, and amazing in its own way, but I spent most of my time missing my friends from California and the convenience of living in a city. Since there was so little to do in this new town, I slept through most of the days when I wasn’t working.
But as school kicked into gear, I began making connections, meeting people and joining different organizations. About three weeks in I had already committed to the novice rowing team, went to Mass four times a week, worked at The Beacon, was in a relationship, all while trying to stay on top of schoolwork. As well as having major health issues for two months.
So, why does this matter? The thing is, as I scheduled every second of my day, I was constantly overwhelmed but also constantly excited to try new things. People were confused as to how I was still functioning, and honestly so was I. Even though I was happy with many experiences, my anxiety and depression came to the forefront of my mind. I spent quite a bit of my time brooding while trying to get through the day.
While there was never a time when I wanted to give up, my deteriorating mental health made me think of a young man at my high school who died by suicide my freshman year. Before he died by suicide, he posted on his Twitter this quote, “A person cannot spread love without doing what makes them happy, and a person cannot be happy unless they spread love.”
This quote became my mantra, I would write hundreds of sticky notes with it, hoping that people would never have to feel so low — or if they did, I hoped something as small as a sticky note would help.
I was talking to a friend about the stress of upcoming finals week, and he told me a story about a Navy SEAL named David Goggins who won fifth place in a 135-mile ultramarathon. My friend told me about Goggins’ mindset, where Goggins said, “When you think you’re done, you’re only 40% of the way there.”
This idea blew my mind. I mean why do we get out of bed in the morning? How do we keep going when it’s two a.m. and we’ve been studying for eight hours straight? How do we stay positive?
I have struggled all year with these questions, with depression, and with the dwindling capacity to continue working hard. But one thing I love about my faith is that God answers questions at the time when you need it most. One Monday at Christie Hall Mass, the reading described perfectly how we can give from an empty tank, how there is always a purpose to do things, and to not give up when you think you’re done, because you still have 60% left.
In Luke 21: 3-4, there is this poor lady who gives money to the offering. Jesus sees this and says, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."
So, in all the craziness that is life, go and do everything you can. It doesn’t mean you’ll do it forever, but at least you can say you tried it, and in it, learned something along the way. Opportunities are like sticky notes, brightly colored, eye catching, and sometimes, they can change your life. Go rock that 60%!
Emmie Davis is a sophomore psychology and history major at the University of Portland. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.