5 things learned from watching “This is Us” (no spoilers)

looking like mom
Dec 2018

I first started watching This is Us while I was in Boston Spring 2017. The show actually started September 2016 but I am always fashionably late to watching shows which allows me to watch the show at my own pace. I am actually not all caught up with the current season so please don’t ruin it for me. To say the least, “This is Us” is a tear jerker and “aww-inducing” kind of show filled with family tragedies and milestones. It is very real and the cinematography of life in the 70s, 80s, and the current day is very spot on. The show centers around a family of 5 known as the Pearson’s, which consists of 2 boys, a girl, and a set of heterosexual parents. Sounds pretty normal except that one of the boys is adopted and black in race while the rest of the family is white. Furthermore, their father dies when the kids are teenagers which sets the course of the rest of their lives. Based on the fact that they all idolize their father, he plays a great role in the lives despite his death. Therefore, the show is filled with drama and heart-wrenching moments of seeing how their story unfolds with different coping mechanisms and challenges. But despite all this drama, there is a lot to learn from the “This is Us” story.

  1. Family should always come first. Treat your siblings well. Treat your parents even better because, at the end of the day, they are the people who will come running to help you in moments of trouble. I can honestly say that my brothers are in my top 3 of best friends in this world because they know me very well. We have a lot of inside jokes and lots of memories together since we’re all so close in age. I jokingly said to my little brother this week that we have to buy houses right next to each other for those moments when we have some “tea to spill.” I’ll also probably need him to set up my TV in the house lol.
  2. Everyone deals with loss differently so don’t judge people for how slowly they recover or if they never recover because both are very likely to happen. Some people find comfort in substances of abuse, others in food, and others in finding something they can control. This is why I think therapy is so important when facing a tragedy in your life. Talking to a therapist can really help you face your emotions instead of drowning them.
  3. Adoption can be a very beautiful thing especially if the child becomes part of a new family shortly after being born. Ever since I was a teenager, I have been interested in adopting children one day especially children from disenfranchised parts of Africa. I still haven’t decided if I want to open an orphanage or just adopt a few children but I do think the former option might be more impactful.
  4. When we have a dream career and something happens to make that dream pretty much impossible, pick up the pieces and try something different. I really honestly believe that we all have so many different potentials for our life. For example, I am currently in the medical field which I am very passionate about but I am also passionate about fashion, politics, and business. So like that good old saying, never put all your eggs in one basket.
  5. The person you marry has a very monumental impact on your life, always handle that decision with great care. Yes, we all have feelings of passion towards certain people but you should also think about how that person handles challenges. Because life will definitely throw challenges at you. This has been evident throughout the test of time.

Thank you for reading. What are you watching right now and what have you learned from it? Hopefully not to kill thousands of people in efforts of gaining power for your family like Game of Thrones. 🙂 ❤

5 Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

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December 2018

The larger a family grows, the more gifts there are to buy. I think I’ve bought at least 10 gifts for my niece this year. When I travel, I have to buy her something because that’s what you do for babies. I also try to buy ” I saw this and thought of you” gifts for my family every once in a while. For example, this Friday I went to TJ Maxx to buy a gift for my new nephew and saw a yoga mat that reminded me of my mom. So what did I do? I bought two yoga mats, one for me and one for my mom so that we can do yoga at home together.  I’ve not always been so thoughtful in buying gifts so here is a list of things that are wonderful gift ideas to help in this giving season.

  1. Pajamas. Socks are probably the go-to for most people but just as a person can not have enough socks, a person can never have enough pajamas. Personally, I think pajamas are also a bit more thoughtful than socks.  I just bought myself a summer pajama set because I will be in a warm country for vacation soon. I also bought myself a red with green lines as a holiday set for the winter and because it reminded me of these flannel pajamas I wore when I was a kid in my first year living in the U.S. Enough about me but the lesson here is that if your gift can evoke nostalgia then you are on the right track.
  2.  Wallet. Both women and men need a change up in their “coin purse” every now and then. I know I could definitely use a new wallet * wink* wink* and would love not to spend my own money buying something to put my money in. And most of us ladies, love matching our bag with our wallet so it wouldn’t hurt to have one in every color.
  3. Framed photos or art. If you don’t have a lot of money available for gift giving, photos or art are very low-cost options. Obviously, you want to pick either a photo of the person or a photo of you with the person.  If you’re going to make some art for the person, think of what would go well with their house or persona.
  4. Sports or hobby-related gifts. Almost everyone has a hobby or sport they like to play. Hobbies as I alluded to in my previous post, can be sometimes expensive. Therefore, any money spent on supporting a person’s hobby is usually well appreciated. If they are into sports, sports clothing can be a good idea. If they are into a hobby like art, for example, buying tools such as paint brushes would also be very useful.
  5. A gift card, only if it is specifically for something that they like. Please don’t buy a VISA gift card with money on it cause that is not as thoughtful as buying one for a specific thing. One year, I remember buying my best friend a gift card to a restaurant that she frequented very often and she told me that she got quite a number of meals out of it. I have also gotten gift cards towards massages for some of my family before and they have been appreciated. Some people think getting gift cards for people is being lazy but it can be one of the most useful gifts in my opinion. The key is to get one for something that person really really likes.

I hope these suggestions help you in your gift hunting this season. But please don’t forget that the reason for the season is love, not gifts 🙂 ❤

5 things that I am grateful for

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November 2018
  1. My family. I love being back at home and enjoying the company of my family, including the new additions such as my niece. I’ve been home for everyone’s birthday this year and it feels good to not have missed a beat like before when I was in school in Boston.
  2. My friends. This year I have met a number of new people that have been so generous with their love and time. I do not take it for granted as it restores my faith in humanity. Also, I am always grateful for old friendships that have continued despite the test of time.
  3. My hobbies. I heard someone at work say “we work so we can afford our hobbies.” I have to agree this is true for me because some of my hobbies are actually quite expensive such as tennis, kickboxing, and eating delicious food. However, I will say there are certain hobbies that can be as cheap as buying a pencil such as writing and drawing which I also do enjoy.
  4. My work. Without my job, it would be hard for me to afford the material things that I need/want. The key word is material because money can’t buy peace, love, or happiness. I am also grateful that I find my job fulfilling by helping to save lives. I have also been volunteering my time to high schools and a tutoring program so I am happy that my work schedule allows for that.
  5. My blog. I love that I have created this outlet for my creativity and that it has received so much support from all of you who frequent this space. I am grateful to have such an opportunity and do intend on sharing my creativity even more.

Thank you all for reading. Please feel free to share your gratitude list. 🙂  ❤

How comparison is and is not the thief of joy

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hollywood walk of fame, Sept 2018

         I know this is a complicated title but I think it is going to make a lot of sense in the end. So I recently watched a sermon by Steven Furtick who is the lead pastor at Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. In his sermon, he talks about confidence and how we must lose confidence in the flesh (ourselves and other humans) by gaining confidence in the Lord. He also addresses how our comparison to others can be a bad thing while comparing ourselves to Jesus/God can be a good thing. Why? Because God/Jesus isn’t using mad filters and great photography angles while wearing Gucci sandals to post on Instagram. God/Jesus is perfect and therefore, does not have to fake it till he/she makes it. God/Jesus does not even have a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Therefore, when we look up to God/Jesus we are pursuing an authentic purpose where comparing ourselves to other flawed beings is pointless.

            This sermon really touched base for me because I have been/still is that person that is faking it till they are making it and setting unnecessary pressures on myself because I have confidence in my flesh. Really I should be reminding myself of the grace that God has given us to make mistakes and not be perfect like him/her. So recognizing that you are just human is really important especially when your role models are humans. I came to realize at the end of my college years (my last graduation was last year by the way so I still remember them pretty well) that all the people I looked up to were inherently flawed. There were professors that I looked up to due to their work ethic but their love life was in shambles. There were career mentors that I looked up to who valued work more than mental/emotional health. All this kind of crushed me at first because I had to re-evaluate what I was chasing but eventually it led me to have peace and faith in something greater than myself.

            I initially discovered pastor Steven Furtick when I was going through that tough re-evaluation time where I had a lot of anxiety about the future. Despite being very hip and wearing Yeezy’s to church which some of the older generations would frown upon, Furtick has really great messages and I find him pretty funny which is a great quality for a pastor to have. I think if I lived in Charlotte, I would go to church every Sunday but since he is not, I watch him on YouTube. For those curious about him, I will link this particular sermon below. I hope you may find peace and meaning in your life. That to me is Nirvana (enlightenment) but that is a story for another time.

 

5 things I learned from the Marshall movie

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The Marshall movie was released last year starring Chadwick Boseman (the Black Panther himself) as probably the most famous black lawyer, Thurgood Marshall. Thurgood Marshall won several landmark cases during the civil rights era such as Brown vs Board of Education which lead to the end of segregated schools. The movie however focuses on one specific case where a black man is accused of raping his white female employer. I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone but let’s just say Marshall is the lawyer you would want if you were accused of something you didn’t do. The only sad part about the movie is that for a $12 million budget, the movie only made $10 million at the box office which is not a reflection of how good the movie is. So go out there and watch this movie because I definitely learned a lot from it.

  1. Haters gonna hate. We all know this modern proverb but imagine if you’re in the 1940s where segregation is the law. Would you let the stereotypes that white people had about your race let you think less of yourself? Your answer then should have been No and your answer today should still be No because there are still people who have segregation mentality.
  2. Always have the mentality of a winner no matter the odds against you. If Marshall could win court cases in the segregation era, you can win at whatever you put your mind to in this era. In the movie, there were so many factors that were against Marshall and his partner but they never took the easy way out. They faced threats for being involved in the case and still went to work like everything was okay. They did their best and that is what life is about. So go out there and do your best.
  3. Sacrifice is inevitable. Due to Marshall’s career that took him all over the country, he did not get to spend a lot of time with his family. This was clearly difficult for him but he knew that helping attain civil rights and helping the innocent from erroneous prosecution was bigger than him. He was purpose driven and eventually, he became a Supreme Court Justice. In essence, he is his “ancestors’ wildest dream.”
  4. Keep a good circle of peers around you. Marshall was friends with Langston Hughes and other black artists at the time. His peers kept him grounded and reminded him of his purpose which is really important especially when times get hard.
  5. Have strong morals and values that you hold yourself accountable to. Marshall once said that “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up” meaning that the law is not always ethical. In your career, there are policies that might not actually be helpful to people and sometimes doing the “right thing” is better than doing things in the supposed “right way.”

May we continue to honor those who have paved the road before us. And may we all continue to be our “ancestors’ wildest dreams.” Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

5 things I learned from Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

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I want to start by saying that every autobiography of a successful person always emphasizes the value of hard work. I think it is somewhat implied in this summary especially in my first thing that I learned from Shonda Rhimes book, Year of Yes. So let’s dive right in.

  1. Check yourself. Recognize what is holding you back in life. Are you comfortable in your unhealthy lifestyle where you put work first and yourself last? Do you not spend enough time with your family? Are you in unhealthy relationships just because you are afraid of being alone? Shonda shares that she was pretty antisocial and was more comfortable working with her imaginary characters, with her favorite being Cristina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy. It wasn’t until her older sister told her that she is afraid to say yes to things that she decided to dedicate a whole year to saying Yes. Throughout that year, she grew as a mother, friend, work mate, and most importantly as an individual.
  2. Learn how to say NO. Essentially, say Yes to saying No. Before her Year of Yes, Shonda admits to finding it difficult to saying no to people. When people realize you don’t know how to say no, they start to take advantage of you. For example, think about the person that takes on extra work because everybody knows that he/she won’t say no. Don’t be that person. Learn how to set boundaries or you will find yourself drowning and the person responsible for the drowning will be you. I’ll end this with one of my favorite quotes: Don’t set yourself on fire trying to keep others warm- Penny Reid.
  3. Know yourself and never compromise who you are for anyone. I do not want to ruin the book for anyone but I think it is common language that Shonda has not birthed any children. However, she does have 3 children. Like Oprah, she doesn’t really believe in marriage. Despite societal norms, she has come to accept that she doesn’t need a man in the picture to have kids or even to raise them. I am personally very option to adoption of children so I was glad to read about a woman who shares similar unconventional values.
  4. Know what love means to you, including self-love. Yes, we should all love our bodies but what if we are in an unhealthy state? Should we not love our bodies enough to treat them as much care as we can. Shouldn’t we understand our unhealthy coping habits like eating lots of ice cream or drinking excessively, etc. Yes, I think a little bit of tough love can be self-love (like saying no to that extra piece of cake when our bodies are screaming yes). If somebody didn’t treat you right, you are quick to think they probably don’t love you. So when we are quick to trash our body, then we should recognize that we are not practicing self-love.
  5. Find your gladiators and love the hell out of them. Your gladiators are the people that fight for you, root for you, and also put you in check when needed. They want nothing but the best for you. They do not limit you to who you are now. They see the best possible version of yourself and push you to strive for that. They know your weaknesses and strengths yet they want you to face your fears. And if you are their gladiator, then you do the same. Be their Olivia Pope, without the being mistress to the president part.

Thank you for reading. May you say yes to the things that scare you. May the year of yes transform into a lifestyle as it did for Shonda Rhimes, the queen of Thursday night television with Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal under her belt. 🙂 ❤

5 tips on how to survive most work environments

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Post-work photo, July 2018

As you can see in the picture my work uniform is all black. Each department in a hospital usually has its own color for scrubs, like the OR/surgical area is usually green while nurses wear blue. In some hospitals, pharmacists wear blue too but I ended up in a hospital where the pharmacy department wears black. As a black wardrobe enthusiast, I was still a little disappointed because my favorite color is blue. However, I have come to love it as the attire reminds me of what a ninja would wear. So here I am, a pharmacist by day and a ninja by night haha.

  1. Have little to zero expectations. The number one killer of happiness is having a set mind on how you want something to be. Usually, this something is beyond your control. As you may have already found out by now or will eventually figure out, you cannot control your work environment unless you are a big shot like Oprah who owns a lot of resources in her line of work. But big shots aren’t born overnight so even Oprah had to deal with work environments that she did not control when starting her career. So have very little expectations about your job especially the personalities of the people you’ll work with. Which brings me to my next point: co-workers.
  2. Learn to deal with many different personalities. Some people may not be as mature as you and trust me, most of your co-workers won’t think the way you do. Some may not be able to understand your differences but hey they did not bring you into this word, so you shouldn’t expect them to even like you. Remember you were hired because you have the qualities and skills needed for the job so that’s what you should focus on that. Work isn’t meant to be the place where you make friends with people (that’s a bonus if it happens). You were hired to provide a service and that’s what you should focus on.
  3. When you walk in the door of your job, leave your home life there. Similarly, when you walk out the door of your job, leave your work there. If you work from home, have an at home office where you only focus on that space so you don’t overwhelm your home with work. Of course, sometimes you’re going to remember something you should have done at work and might have to follow up on that. But if you’re thinking about small things like something insensitive that a customer or employee might have done, then you’re letting someone live in your head rent free. If that happens, find someone to talk it out with, like a family or friend, then let that situation go.
  4. Exert yourself but try to develop some work-life balance as well. I play tennis at least twice a week and I am doing Pilates once a week now. I also get a monthly massage. I also read pretty frequently and don’t forget about this blog writing. All in all, I would say that I am taking pretty good care of myself. However, there is always room for improvement: I have slacked off on making art and playing guitar. I did play my guitar at a couple times last week so I am working on that. What are you doing to work on you as an individual?
  5. Be easy on yourself. No one becomes successful in their job overnight. We all start as amateurs at everything we do. Remember that one time you had to be potty trained. Imagine someone having to teach you how and where to take care of your excrements. Well, you don’t have to imagine it because it happened but you just don’t remember it. So now imagine someone training you how to be an accountant or a doctor or even an artist. It’s going to take time before you are the next Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama, Oprah, you name it. Always practice patience especially with yourself because most of us tend to be harder on ourselves.

I wish you love, light, and peace in your journey of achieving job satisfaction (most of all, peace). Thank you for reading 🙂 ❤

5 things I learned from reading Kevin Hart’s “I can’t make this up”

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August 2018, Fairhope

I would like to start by saying that if you have access to a good public library, then save your coins and your house from book clutter by borrowing books from the library. It supports your local community and maybe reduces your carbon footprint. Either way, reading is good for you because as we feed our bodies, we must also feed our minds. And if you ever want to really laugh, just read a book written by a comedian. I recently read Kevin Hart’s I can’t make this up which is a book with many little chapters and a lot of life lessons. Here are the top 5 lessons I learned from the book:

  1. If you’re going to hustle, hustle hard! A lot of people think that Kevin Hart is an overnight success but once you read the book you realize that his success climaxed after about 15 to 18 years of grinding. He toured a lot of small comedy clubs all over the US several times before being able to sell out basketball arenas.
  2. Life is an ebb and flow of ups and downs. Before becoming a household name, he had a few breaks such as being cast in movies like Soul Plane and Fool’s Gold which actually flopped at the box office. When Kevin Hart got cast in these movies he thought they were going to be his big breaks but for reasons beyond his control, it didn’t work out that way. However, he credits such experiences for humbling him and teaching him not to be overexcited about projects because you’re never know how they’re going to turn out.
  3. You can’t force a relationship to work. Kevin grew up with separated parents and he himself is now divorced from his first wife. His relationship with his wife had a lot of trust issues even in the dating face and for some reason they both thought marriage would make things better due to vows. However, they were both unhappy in the marriage and it took both of them a long time to realize that they would be happier apart from each either. The main thing Kevin worried about in divorcing his wife was whether it was the right move for his two kids. However, after a bit of separation, he realized that exposing his kids to a dysfunctional marriage would probably lead them to fall into the same cycle later.
  4. Stay positive and check yourself. We all have flaws and usually, they are our biggest obstacle to achieving success. If your work ethic isn’t there, then you’re not going to go far. If you have an addiction (which Kevin Hart admits to having alcohol binging and gambling problems), then you need to seek help. If you have bad spending habits, then you’ll never have a great net worth despite how much money you make. So analyze yourself and try to understand your flaws so you can eventually overcome them. Also, staying positive will give you a lot of peace.
  5. Teamwork makes the dream work. A lot of people (including myself before reading this book) don’t know that Kevin has a well-sized team that is mainly composed of his friends. One of his friends helps him write jokes, another helps with traveling logistics, another was opening his comedy shows for him, another was helping with organizing after parties for his shows, and then, of course, he had his comedy manager. Maybe, in the beginning, you can do it alone but as the African proverb states “if you want to go far, go together”.

I hope you pick up a book, whether today, tomorrow or later this month. Happy reading 🙂 ❤

5 reasons why travel is so important

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Mom and Dad, 1987

I would like to preface this post by saying that if it wasn’t for travel, I wouldn’t exist. My parents are both from different parts of Kenya and if my dad never traveled for a work assignment to my mom’s area, then my father would not be Mr. Wangondu. On this glorious fathers’ day, I am grateful that Mr. Wangondu is my dad as I call him and I thank him 100x for making that first move to travel to Ukambani and that second move of choosing my mom as his wife. So without further ado, this back story leads me to my first point.

  1. Travel can be important, not only in finding love but also in assessing it. My father and mother as pictured in the photo above took a trip to visit a long lost uncle during their first year of dating. As my dad tells the story of this treacherous trip of not knowing exactly where they were going, he makes sure to emphasize that the trip established that my mother was the woman for him. The way someone handles being in a different place and a long journey can tell you a lot about them. As such, it is important to take trips with your potential mates.
  2. It gives you a wider view of nature. The world is an oyster as they say and so you have to travel in order to see the full picture of this oyster. There are so many wonders of the world, some famous and others non-discovered. For example, visiting a world wonder like the Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa was such an exhilarating experience as it made me realize that mother nature has so many curves and crevices. Like really mother nature’s body is like woah when you really think about it (Cue Maya’s- my love is like wo).
  3. It allows you to experience the diversity and similarity of humanity. If you travel throughout the world, there will be of course so many new faces and things to see. Through this diversity of others, you will probably also notice what makes us similar. For example, I brought samosas to work the other day and one of my co-workers mentioned that it’s so interesting that all cultures have some sort of meat filled pastries (i.e. burritos, wontons, pizza bites, samosas, etc). I had never thought about that but I definitely have to agree as when I was in South Africa, I noticed that they also eat corn meal dishes like Sima in East Africa and like Grits in the U.S.A.
  4. It inspires you with new ideas. If you think about all the historical travel figures such as Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, and Mansa Musa, there was a trade of not just items but also of ideas between their countries and the lands they traveled to (not found since that would insinuate that they were lost). Similarly, when you travel you learn about different foods, fashions, and language while also sharing the same with the people who interact with you.
  5. This may vary but travel can also to lead to higher spirituality or appreciation of life. First of all, being able to travel is a physical and financial blessing as everyone is not able to do so. I am definitely a water sign because something about being closer to water really relaxes me. This might happen to everyone but I also sleep like a baby after spending the day swimming in the ocean. The best part of traveling is discovering what lights up your soul, for some it is nature while for others it may be tall buildings or even other humans. The only way to know is, yeah you guessed it, travel.

I wish you all the best in your current and future travels. As my brother likes to say, may the people say that you veni, vidi, vici (came, saw, and conquered- in a non Columbus type of way). 🙂 ❤

Graduation jitters: how to remain calm while graduating from college

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PharmD Graduation 2017

As a recent grad of pharmacy school (representing class of 2017), I can definitely sympathize with those who are graduating this season. My younger brother is actually the one who suggested I write on this topic as he is graduating in a few weeks. I instantly jumped on writing this post because I believe that it can help put things in perspective for upcoming graduates. I think the main issues that affect prospective graduates are the following: job search stress, independence stress, and anxiety of what they could have done differently in school. Therefore, I’ll break down this post in those three categories. Let’s begin.

 

Job Search Stress: I think this is one of the greatest stresses that one can experience at any point in their life but especially after graduating. Most of us are taught, if you have good grades you won’t have trouble finding a job. This is not completely true as connections end up being the greatest resource in finding a job. I personally didn’t apply for jobs until I was done with my pharmacy board exams because I didn’t want to be rushed to work while studying. Once I started applying 2 out of the job offers I got were due to having a connection who already worked for said company. I actually didn’t end up working for those two companies because I got a better offer but that’s a story for another time. The main takeaway point is that connections aren’t absolutely necessary but they do help. As such, try to network as much as you can during your final semester and even after you graduate (LinkedIn is a great place to start). The greatest advice is to keep calm and carry on. If you’re stressing, then you won’t be relaxed at your interviews which will lead to you not performing well. Take time to do things that make you happy so you’re not obsessing over finding a job. Eventually you will get one because the law of probability will be in your favor, the more you apply. If you need job interview tips, please refer to my previous post on this topic.

Independence stress: When we’re about to graduate, it is common to dream about making lots of money, having a fabulous apartment, car, clothes, etc. However, the reality is most of us don’t have enough money saved up or might not get a million-dollar salary to live that lifestyle. So it’s okay to stay in your lane until you can work yourself up to that lifestyle. It’s okay to move back in with your parents (not spending more time with family is something a lot of people regret). I currently live with my parents which I enjoy because I lived away from them for 6 years in pharmacy school. This also allows me to save money so that I’ll be more capable to live the lifestyle I want when I eventually move out. Before I got a job, I was depending on my parents for the most part and that is okay to do because starving yourself is not an option. I will say that I do have parents who are strict and would limit your independence significantly so I can totally understand not living with your parents as well. I am pretty fortunate that my parents aren’t the typical iron fist type of African parents.

Anxiety: I definitely had anxiety during my undergraduate graduation. First of all, I started picking apart every move that I made in college. I convinced myself that I didn’t do enough even though I was in a rigorous pharmacy program. I started signing up for almost every event during my last semester in efforts to make up for lost time. I ended up being very worn out because of that and was not in good health emotionally, mentally, and physically (my parents literally kept forcing to me eat when I came home that summer). The take away point is if you live in the past, you’ll become depressed. If you live in the future, you’ll become anxious. So the solution is to live in the present and do the best that you can for yourself now. Your dream life isn’t built in a day let alone in your 4 , 5, 6, or 8 years of college, be patient and build it slowly. And to be very philosophical, if you are always grateful for what you have in the moment then you’ll always be living your dream life.

Congrats class of 2018! May you prosper and take your life by its reins. 🙂 ❤

All the best!

Sincerely,

Mercy Rodah