As Albert Einstein put it, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” In a nut shell that describes my perspective on life. For those who have met me, I am 21 years old, determined and live for helping others. I enjoy being a resource in as many ways as possible because it not only brings joy to others, but brings joy into my life. However, the ironic thing is four years ago, I would not be so confident to say so. I am blessed to have come so far and end up where I am today.
When I left high school to attend Appalachian State University at 18 years old, I was determined to be independent, live life to the fullest, and change my life completely. I really did not know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I thought this finally was the opportunity to start on the path of where I wanted to be. What I did not realize was how dependent I still was on my parents and what it would actually take to achieve what I wanted.
Like every family, we had our agreements, disagreements, and misunderstandings. We had moved a lot when I was a child and in the end it gave me the great skill of adaptability. However, when you are 14 and just moved before your freshman year of high school, you do not have the same perspective. I was very upset that my family had moved me from Texas to North Carolina right before entering high school, where I would have no friends or know anyone. I had to learn to overcome my shyness and step out of my comfort zone if I was going to make new friends. This was when I started to learn to be a more social individual and developed my networking skills. Although my parents had their reasons and good intentions, I was determined to find a way back to my friends. I was angry and upset. I did not really care about school and activities because I thought I would not be there for long, but time flew faster than I realized. I learned to get over it and accept the life I was given. All I could do now was make the best of it, and that became my goal.
Here is my journey!
I fell in love with Appalachian for its wonderful qualities of “family.” I enjoyed small classes and in group discussions I was more of a listener than a talker. In any way I could, I helped others through service and leadership. I did focus on school, but whenever I wasn’t busy with that, I was doing something productive. I later took a position as a resident assistant. I loved this job. Who would not want to plan activities, socialize, and be the resource for other students? I was having so much fun with it, I lost sight of what I was at college for and needed to focus on where I was going and what was I going to do with whatever degree I was going to get. I was forgetting to take care of myself and needed to take care of myself before I could continue helping others.
While at college I fell in love with finance and insurance; however I was apprehensive about “sales.” I was given the opportunity to have an internship at one of the top insurance agencies as a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. I realized that not everyone was protecting themselves and planning for their future goals.
From this internship and what I was learning, I saw the opportunity to help others by becoming a teacher.
I just attended Northwestern Mutual’s annual meeting and fell in love with the field. The concepts that I have learned to apply to my work, also apply to my everyday life
I have learned that everything I do has a purpose. My job has a purpose of helping others realize they have a need to protect themselves from risks and that they have the potential to reach their goals. The purpose of me ending my work day at 5 pm is to go home to spend time with my significant other and family. The purpose of my education is to learn how to continuously learn and apply it to my life. Without purpose what is there?
Another thing I learned was that everyone has a choice. You can choose to be optimistic and focus on how you want to go through life. Do you want to constantly focus on what’s wrong? Nothing is perfect. There are two sides to everything. It’s up to the individual to choose how he/she wants to spend his/her time. I choose to not focus on what’s wrong in my life, but to act on the good and make it my goal to consistently improve. Life is only so long; why not make the best of what you have? There is always room for improvement.
I have learned to overcome my fear of calling people, speaking in front of crowds, and taking constructive criticism. Today, I do not see myself as the same person I was four years ago. I have no problem talking and listening in discussions. I am outgoing and have high expectations for myself. I am lucky to have grown with my family; they stuck with me patiently through all of my sidetracks and supported me through everything I did. I am a happier and stronger person because of the events I have lived through and the effort I have put into myself.
Now as I look back I see the turning point. I woke up and realized I was not taking care of myself. I was not happy. I was stressed because of school, and always worrying about what I had to do. I had gained some weight, wore sweat pants and a t-shirt every day, and did not work out on the regular basis. I let my busy life take over me. I now know that I need to focus on taking care of myself before I continue helping others.
That was what this summer was for. I had my internship, but also had the time to work out every day and eat healthier. This summer was to focus on me, take care of myself, and determine what I wanted to do. It luckily all fell into place. I have lost seven pounds so far, and I am happier. I feel like I have grown in the different aspects of my life and that has allowed me to also grow in my relationships. I now focus on the positive and come home happy with energy and excitement. For me, this is just the beginning of many transformations. There are other things I need to work on for myself, but this is a great start and I am excited about where I have been and where my life is headed.
— — —
Written by Sarah Smith