5 deaths in 2 years. I love my college, but it can’t seem to catch a break recently.
Some of these deaths were avoidable. Others were not. All of them, however, have been impactful. I never knew any of these students personally, but impact doesn’t have to be measured by association. Two murders, a drug overdose, a car accident, and a suicide later, I’m sure everyone can identify with that statement too.
I don’t want to talk about death, though. I want to talk about life.
Who we choose to surround ourselves with says everything about us. They are who we are, who we will become, and who we think are doing life right. “Doing life right.” Everyone has a different definition for that – this is why not all 7 billion of us are friends. Hopefully, your definition involves making the people around you proud in a way that helps you grow, heal, and learn. Life is amazing. Whoever you believe in up there, or even if that’s nobody in particular, the universe decided that it needed a “you.” If you’re here, that means you were always meant to be here, which is, yeah, pretty amazing.
So, you now have this “life” thing. Who are you going to spend it with? Now we’re back to square one. See how much who you surround yourself with matters? We’re meant to be social beings. Even if you’re an introvert who prefers to work from home and stay single your whole life, you’ve interacted with at least one person one time. People matter, and they always will. People, or the lack of people, in our lives are what make our lives. The catch?
The only guarantee you have is whatever happens right now. Not in an hour. Right now. The pictures you take with them, the things you say to them. The places you go together, the things you eat together. The arguments you have, the compliments you give.
We have to look out for each other. We think we know how we fit into other peoples’ lives, but we can’t always rely on assumption. What if you mean a lot more to someone than they’ll ever disclose to you? What if their “doing life right” is having you in it with them?
The deaths at my school have taught me about death but more about life. Although we never know when we mean the world to someone, we can’t always be a hero for them, but we can always be present for them. Although we never know when the last time we see someone will be, we can’t always shield them from oncoming trucks, but we can always cherish every time we see them. Although we never know when someone is struggling, we can’t always hoist them out of a black hole, but we can give them resources they need: a conversation, an ear, a therapist recommendation.
As my coach says, control the controllable. There’s life, and then there’s how we live it with whom we live it. Which one can we control?