While looking ahead to the coming semester, I’ve done so with an air of hesitance. Holding my breath, I get lost thinking about the weight of “what if’s?” constantly looping in my head. With the onset of a looming change called spring semester, I am grappling with another looming fear — that I won’t be ready for it.

I can so clearly see my life crumble in an instant, ruining the final days of break with worry and fear. I can see my mid-semester messy room. An empty bank account from eating out too much, failing to focus on what I eat. I can see myself skipping classes and falling behind, feeling guilty for any night out.

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Before the semester even begins, I am preparing for the guilt of hangovers, inevitable stress pimples, and the deep sadness that comes with a lonely room late at night.

I’m scared that I have too much on my plate. That I will make too many mistakes and hurt the people I love. I’m afraid that I won’t be happy this semester, afraid that I’ll regress as a person.

It’s incredible how much time I’ve spent thinking about these very unhappy outcomes — visualizing all of the potential doom, and neglecting to consider that I may actually be okay.

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The truth is, I have no idea how I’m going to struggle this semester. I don’t have control of what happens in my life. This lack of control often leaves me spinning, but with a different perspective, I believe it can be freeing.

A Meaningful Monday: Finding words to live byI can’t focus. I am sitting in Union South, observing the hunched backs and working minds of my fellow students, Read…

I have become an expert at playing out terrible life scenarios in my head. While I know that’s a troubling way to think, it still requires the same visualization skills needed to conjure up the best and most hopeful parts of my future as well, inspiring a choice within me.

One of the mantras I used often while leading backpack trips in the mountains of Montana this summer was “faith, not fear.” 

To me and the groups of kids I struggled to lead through the wilderness, “faith, not fear” spoke to that inner choice — a distinct change of thoughts from a life that is full of fear, to one that believes in the power of faith. Rather than visualizing our lives in great and fearful chaos, we can choose to visualize from the perspective of faith, trusting that we, however, doomed or scared we may seem, will be okay.

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This act, of choosing to believe in yourself and the choices you’ll make, is a simple change of perspective, but one that allows for the kind of humanity I want to be a part of.

I often struggle to take my own advice, forgetting that faith is inevitably intertwined with my humanity. We will seldom have perfection in life, but with faith comes forgiveness.  

How is it that, as a species, many of us strive towards the goal of perfection, when we know mistakes are utterly inevitable? And why, then, do we feel so terrible when we mess up, do wrong, or get a little lost? I find it hard to believe there has ever been a human who lived a perfect life, one of happiness and contentment the whole way through. I want to learn how to forgive my mistakes, and how to apologize when I know I’ve hurt others so they can forgive me too.

A Meaningful Monday: Don’t forget to breatheSometimes I forget to breathe. I’ll be hurrying out the door toaster waffles in hand or washing my face before Read…

I know I am going to mess up this semester. Heck, I have an “oh shit” category in my budget for when I do. Each of us will be led astray or feel at a loss sometime in these next few months, regardless of what we are experiencing now.

Yet, even if everything in my life goes terribly wrong, I’d rather know that I love myself and am trying my best, as opposed to feeling like I’ve disappointed some part of me I don’t totally understand. I would prefer to look at my future with optimism and drive, knowing that as a work in progress, I will always be worth the progress.

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I guess what I’m getting at is that this next semester, no matter where you find yourself in life, I hope you choose faith. I hope you will think to yourself with compassionate words, and work to accept the parts of you that feel wrong and broken.

My wish is that as we all move through the world, we can start each day being kind to ourselves, knowing that whatever we have to face, we are not alone. I want to live in a world where people believe in themselves. Maybe that self-belief and inner reliance don’t come from faith for you in the traditional sense of spirituality, but that’s okay.

Regardless of who you are or what you believe, you are human. So put your faith in that. Let’s live in a world where people believe in their own power and worth, because faith in humanity starts with the faith we each put into ourselves.

Choosing between faith or fear will be a choice we are always working to make, but thankfully it’s also a decision that’s steadily within our control.