Student to Student: Digging Deep

Hello student leaders!

I hope you’re hanging in there whether you have been able to be back in your building learning with your friends, working virtually, or maybe a little bit of both. I know this year is nothing like we have ever seen before, and it can be hard not to think about how “this isn’t how it was supposed to be.” I am feeling all of that myself as I am a senior at Central Michigan University, and sometimes I catch myself in the mindset of “this is not how I wanted to spend my last year.” As true as that maybe sometimes, I think it is important we remember what is in our control and actively work to achieve joy and happiness with everything we do have around us. Lately I have been reflecting on the questions of “how can I cultivate more happiness and joy with where I am at right now?” and I think that has been a powerful shift in my perception. After watching the TEDTalk by Emily Esfahani I started to reflect on her four pillars of meaning, and how they showed up in my own personal life. Her four Pilars were: belonging, purpose, transcendence, and story-telling. 

In the first pillar of belonging she talks about how it is important we have people around us that give us a space to feel like we can be completely ourselves. I made a list of people that I feel that acceptance from and made an intentional effort to spend time with at least one of them each week. Her second pillar was purpose, and a specific quote that stuck out to me was that “purpose is less about what you get, than what you give.” I think it can seem intimidating sometimes to think about “what is my purpose?” but start by thinking of the places you pour your energy and talents into. How might those places/roles/organizations give you a sense of purpose? The third pillar is transcendence which is one I thought was super interesting to think about! She describes it as those moments where you lose track of time and space because you are so engulfed in a moment. For me, I find myself in moments like that when reading a good book, while in good conversation with friends, at a concert of an artist I love, and when traveling to somewhere I have never seen before. This week to fulfill this pillar of meaning I am taking a day road trip to see the leaves changing colors in Northern Michigan with a few friends! And finally, the last pillar is story-telling. The way we talk to ourselves about our circumstances matter, so the better we can reframe to our situation, whatever it may be, that we are dragging our feet in right now (for me- the image of “how it is supposed to be), the more meaning we can bring into our lives. 

I think we are all capable of building more meaningful, and joyful lives with intentional effort no matter the circumstance. I hope this week you take some time to step back and think about some of these pillars of meaning and how they show up in your personal life, and what steps you can make to achieving a higher level of meaning and happiness. 

You got this,

Kayla Kuczynski