My Golden Rule: Find What Makes You Happy And Do It!

Alyssa Chierchia, Staff Writer

The last two years have truly “rained on my parade,” and I mean this quite literally. My high school graduation was an outdoor socially distanced event featuring about half of my fellow senior class of 2020. In the middle of the ceremony, it began to pour. I don’t have one substantial photo of the day, and I’m pretty sure I never even threw my cap up in the air as I was too busy running away to stay dry, never to step foot there again.
Between my senior activities being cut short and college having to go virtual, my passionate growth for piano being axed with canceled lessons, developing non-COVID related health problems, and my mental health being put to the test, I’d say my last years of teendom were not as dreamy as I once believed they would be.
But the more important and serious aspect of these past two years, more than just my own semi-trivial problems, was the fact that people were becoming extremely ill, losing their jobs, loved ones, and even their own lives, among many other injustices. It was hard to stomach, and I don’t know if any of us will ever truly process everything that’s happened.
I’ve never been as much of an introspective person as I am right now. And within recent months, I’ve tried my hardest to appreciate these little things that we are lucky to have, the things that make us happy, and how we’ve bonded together during these changes to find just a bit of light.
We are still very much in a pandemic, but with continued carefulness, I have been fortunate to be able to start to make our way out into the “real world” again, as many people have. And it’s these little things, so mundane in nature, that I have such newfound appreciation for.
I’ve been taking in-person classes for the first time just this semester on Brookdale’s campus. After being on Zoom for the majority of my time here, being back in a physical classroom was nostalgic. And having my back slightly cramp from hunching in my seat was a feeling I didn’t know I would miss this much!
Although I’ve had great experiences on Zoom and have bonded with many professors, being in-person for even just one day a week has felt so refreshing. Every week I go and wait before class, look at the pretty concept posters that fashion students have created, and take in my surroundings.
And for the first time in two years, I visited a spot that was always a place of comfort for me: the movie theater. I saw “Spider-Man: No Way Home” about three months late with barely anyone in the theater and knowing practically the whole plot due to spoilers. Still, I’d consider it an emotional experience.
I also hung out with a friend who had come home from college on spring break. It was as casual as hangouts could get: We drove around in her car, ordered diner food and ate it on a bench at a park, and went to go see “The Batman.” But it was still so powerful despite it being rather “normal.” The weather was perfect as we ate with just the right amount of breeze. It was sunny, it felt alive, and I like to believe it’s a symbol of what’s to come.
Just a few days ago, I went to a record store, walked around a city-like campus with new friends, and tried a very delicious peanut butter cookie. It was one of the best days of my year so far.
I’m doing something for myself and am going places that aren’t doctors’ offices, somewhere where I often feel defeated. Maybe it’s this new shift that will lead me to a fresh start. My time at Brookdale will end this semester, where I will move on to Rutgers University, but I will cherish these little moments of greatness that I’ve had here throughout some tough times.
I turn 20 on April 20. Turning the same age as your numeric birth date is often considered one’s “golden birthday.” I am currently leaving the romanticized teen years, which is a difficult process and definitely existential crisis inducing. Fearing this judgment for becoming too old, not “living” according to standards, that time will run out, and I’ll miss everything. Considering the past two years, it made me nervous about my future.
And that’s something that won’t go away automatically, but that I’m constantly working on.
All I know is that whatever brings you an ounce of happiness, something that can make your day better, go for it! No matter your age, no matter what people will say. Those little things are what I’ll coin the “golden rule”- trying to do and find what makes you happy, even when all else seems bleak.
We shouldn’t let any strange stigmas stop us from enjoying “our golden rule.” When I went to see “Spiderman,” it was my first time ever going to a movie theater alone, which some people might view as “weird.” But throughout the movie, I held my physical ticket in my hand, a reminder that something so little was giving me this tangible happiness because of what it represented.
In hindsight, I feel as if one day I will run out of time to stop caring about what other people think. By those means, well, I do hope time will move at its quickest.
I encourage everyone to appreciate these little things, whether it is just a trip to the grocery store or to buy school textbooks. Go to the movies alone, appreciate the casual hangouts with friends, observe everything around you, and you might find something golden.