The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

DI Voices | Trusting in the passage of time and love

Riju Pathak

As a freshman in college, it is hard to believe that I could have anything to teach about life. But growing up carrying the weight of a heavy heart full of emotion and a mind that always needs a reason, I’ve dealt with a lot of pain. And through pain comes lessons on how to cope and heal.

I’ve dealt with depression, anxiety and ADHD for the majority of my teenage years. Because of this, I handle situations very differently from most people. But thankfully, I’ve grown to be able to make sense of my misery and turn it into something valuable. With this, I’ve come to trust in two extremely powerful forces: time and love.

Because one day in late March you’re looking out at Lake Michigan, questioning the contrasts between the beautiful world surrounding you and the agonizing pain resting in your chest. You live in such a magical world, yet your constant suffering prevents you from enjoying life at all. You desperately try to feel the warmth of the sun hug you but you remain shivering cold. It has been a long winter.

You attempt to focus on the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks but your thoughts grow louder and louder until you space out completely. You’re frozen; all that moves is the hot tears sliding down your face.

You begin to regret everything. You wonder where things went wrong. You call yourself stupid. You wonder why you aren’t good enough. You blame yourself. Your self-esteem is nonexistent at this point, as you deal with an ego so small and diminished that you’d do anything to feel happiness again.

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    Because you can’t hang out with your friends without crying. You can’t go to class, you can’t even make it out of bed. You sleep and sleep and sleep to avoid having a single thought form. But once you run out of sleeping pills, it’s suddenly 4 a.m. and the only thing you can think of is when things were good. Your memory is fading though. It was so long ago.

    “I just want the old Jasmine back,” your mom tells you.

    You’re lying in her arms as she desperately attempts to save you. Even if it means just rubbing your head. She knows she’s losing her daughter. She reminds you that everything feels bigger than it really is. She urges you to hold on because better things are coming. But all you can think about is how you wish you were dead. 

    But then, suddenly, it’s years later. And as you look back at the past once again, you’re relieved that you gave life a chance. You’re relieved that you listened to your mother.

    One day in the middle of fall, you’ll finally feel the sun. You’ll sit and stare out the window, inching your chair further to the left as the sun moves so you can move with it. The brown and red leaves will fall off the tree. You’ll cry. But you’ll cry because, for the first time, you’ll notice how much things have changed.

    As I write this, I notice how long ago the past feels. And I’m grateful that I’m able to look back and be so distant from the sadness I once felt. No matter what, that moment or feeling will pass. You need to trust in time and the fact that you will be looking back. You’ll be thankful that eventually, you made it to where you are. And you did so without even realizing it.

    Good things come and go, but they come.

    And what will come to you is worth waiting for. It will come to you in the form of a baby’s laugh, through the sound of laughter coming from the person you plan to marry or through the heartbeat inside someone’s chest you’ll feel during an embrace. What will come to you is love in a number of ways.

    Today, in this moment, love surrounds me from every angle. To love and to be loved is to feel the sun from both sides. I was once so deprived of love and now it reveals itself constantly. But that’s only because I trusted that it would come in due time. I trusted that my heartache would pass. And it did.

    I believe love is the only thing that really matters at all and everything else is just a distraction or a farce. Everything in the entire universe is about love and when it isn’t about love, it’s about the absence of love.

    No matter what happens to me, I still remain sensitive and full of love. No one could ever take my softness away from me. There is no bottom line or catch; I care with no strings attached for the simple fact that I’m human and allow myself to be. 

    There’s so much pain and hatred in the world that love seems far-fetched. The risk that comes with being vulnerable is plenty. But have you ever seen a child wait for their friend while they tie their shoelaces? Have you ever shared a meal with a friend? Have you ever seen someone grieve? Love is everywhere, you just have to look.

    Love is ultimately what keeps this world on its axis. Keep resisting the pressure to toughen up and numb yourself to feeling. You were put on this earth to be tender and loving during times when you are expected to be cruel and calloused. Soft hearts make the universe worth living in.

    But most importantly, I hope you fall in love with yourself. You deserve to be happy with the person you are spending your entire life with. The love grows from within. If you spend your time chasing butterflies, they’ll just fly away. But if you build a beautiful garden, they’ll come flying in. And even if they don’t, at least you have a beautiful garden.

    Give life a chance. You are going to live a fruitful and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet. And one day, you will die and none of it will matter. The fighting. The deprivation. The loss. The war. You will die and all we’ll have left of you is the love you gave and left us with.


    Jasmine is a freshman in Media.

    [email protected]

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