As my second year of university draws to an end it’s hard not to 1. Ask myself how time has flown quite this fast and 2. Enter a retrospective state of mind. In doing so I begin to think of some of the hardships the past academic year has burdened me with. In the true nature of student life there has been several. Some of which I’ve overcome quickly without much difficulty and others that remain. Dealing with emotions has been one of the hardest things this year. First year I was focused more so on having fled the nest and the emotions associated with that. This year my emotions were associated with a desire to feel asserted in my craft and a deep sense of fear when I felt that this wasn’t happening (funny thing is, it was happening, but these things take time and are not always apparent in ways easily recognisable by a person like myself.)
Early on in this year I realised that it was important for me to deal with any negative emotions to avoid them interfering with my progress in other areas. ‘Dealing with’ doesn’t always mean abolishing, more so having an awareness. This is crucial as a bad mood can easily go from just that, to a bad day, to something much darker if not nipped in the bud. To overcome this obstacle I drew closer to my faith. I feel like often in times of hardship that's what we as humans tend to do. Only when were facing a rain storm do we recall that it may have been a smart idea to travel with our rain mac.
In this time christianity manifested itself in my life mostly in the form of gospel music. One song in particular which has become a favourite is Kirk Franklin, ‘Smile’. He says "I want you to have joy cause' can't nobody take that away from you". As well as this just being incredibly true, these lyrics were like a verbal hug. Those words were exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. Gospel music has a way of doing that, really reaching you on a deeper level.
Negative emotions have this wicked way of creeping back into our lives when we feel we were rid of them once and for all. It’s at this time you have to flip the script. Instead of focusing on the sadness you currently feel, you have to encourage yourself to focus on the happiness you have experienced so many times prior to this occasion. Over the course of the year I held many conversations with friends focused on how the greatest of humans out there have faced some sort of trauma which later led them into success. Forcing them to ignore everything around them and strive for what it is that they really desire from this world. Focusing on happiness became my coping mechanism for all the crazy things life was presenting me with.
Happiness. This idea seems to have surrounded me ever since I pressed play on that Kirk Franklin track I mentioned earlier. As soon as I began to understand that happiness is merely an emotion. and emotions are supposed to remain only for a time things began to change for me. Think about it, have you ever been so angry and then by the end of that hour your mood has switched? Well… although it's a far more positive feeling happiness is still just an emotion and therefore will at some point go. This is where Kirk and his desire for us to have joy comes in. Joy much differently to happiness is a state. Joy is something that you choose. You wake up in the morning and see the rain but that inner joy fuels you to get on with your day and be grateful for the little or lot that you do have. Joy to me is something that after a while becomes part of your mentality. Joy too is infectious. I honestly believe having joy is one of the many ways to achieve that "happiness" that so many of us are seeking. It's important too because once we have that joy it acts as an armour against everything else this life has to offer.
So in short, choosing my state of mind (this being joy) is really how I’ve gained control over my emotions and therefore my life as a second year student. I urge you to choose joy today!