My Little Jar of Happy Things

On my bookshelf sits a little, inconspicuous jar. It’s surrounded by beautiful books, make up brushes, box sets, study equipment and a little bit of mess. It’s quiet, it doesn’t shout out to anyone who sees it, other than it being a little bit hipster becauIMG_3166se of the blackboard sticker stuck on top. Even now, after having it for so long, it’s strange to me that such a little, seemingly meaningless jar can hold so much joy.

What this little jar is, in reality, is just a jar. But if you were to come and open it up, other than this being a bit of an invasion of privacy (what are you doing in my room anyway??), you would discover it’s basically fit to bursting with little bits of paper.

When I was in fifth or sixth year of high school (which is getting worryingly long ago now) I decided to write down little things that made me happy for a year and put them in a jar, to cheer me up wheneverIMG_3161 I was feeling down. And like most good ideas I have, I was sure it was probably going to be exciting for a month or so and then ultimately teeter out.

But as you can probably guess, it didn’t. Over the past 4/5 years, I’ve been writing down things that have made me happy and putting them in that jar. And this morning I looked back in that jar for the first time in a few months, and the warm feeling I felt in my stomach was enough to dispel the anxiety that has been rumbling away there for the past few days (exam problems, amiright).

IMG_3153What I didn’t realise when I first wrote down something like ‘I passed my prelims!’ was that I was about to start collecting little forgotten moments of joy in my life, moments that time extinguishes with bigger things and new challenges. Little moments of joy are, I think, what get us through life, and without them I don’t really know where I’d be. A good book on a cold night, making a new friend, laughing with my family – lots of tiny things that are forgotten within even a few weeks. But I wrote so many of them down, and now I might never forget them.

IMG_3146Looking back was honestly like reading a book of my last few years. I found excitement over being accepted into Glasgow Uni of all places, but then even more excitement about accepting my place at Strathclyde. I suddenly remembered the absolute horror of waiting for replies from unis, and the ultimate excitement in realising that yes – I was in, and four years of my life were now planned.

I found the excitement in friendships developing that I had thought would never happen – friendships which, even though I am incredibly thankful for, I do take for granted because they’ve become just like breathing to me. I forget that there was a time when I didn’t know these people, or that I was worried we wouldn’t still be friends when I got to this stage in my life – and the utter joy on those tiny bits of paper at the realisation that I was getting somewhere helps me to relive and re-appreciate the people in my life.

IMG_3155There are moments that I don’t remember, but bits of paper celebrating God’s provision and plan for my life, and though I don’t know why I was celebrating that at the time, it’s beautiful to see that God was working then, as He is now.

I found moments in Daniel and Nathan’s lives which were massive milestones tIMG_3147.JPGo me – the first time Daniel giggled at me, the first time Nathan smiled when I sung to him. Things that now happen every time I see them, but then were new and big and exciting.

And there are things I’ve taken out of the jar. Plans I had which were never going to happen, some friendships which naturally drifted apart, futures I saw for myself which I know now weren’t what was best for me – but instead of just putting them in the bin, I replace them with the lessons I’ve learned, with what I’ve been taught from the bad times, and what I have now that can go and be remembered in such a happy little jar.IMG_3151.JPG

I forget to look in it often when I am feeling down – typical really, but sometimes all I want is to feel a bit sad, and have a good cry. But on a morning like this morning, when all I feel is that studying is never going to end, that I’ll never reach where I want to be – it’s amazing to see the little things that used to make me happy that are now just life to me. It makes me wonder what, in a few years, I’ll be reading from today in my little jar and going…’Oh yeah, that was such a big deal to me back then? That’s normal now.’ There’s something so beautiful to me about the happy things in life becoming the normal things.

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Required Reading

The words on the page are staring at me.

I should have read them months ago, admittedly. My procrastination is catching up on me and I really can’t complain. When I chose to study English, reading hard books was kind of a given. But at the same time, the words on this page are rubbish and I’d really rather be reading some trashy romance novel which requires basically no effort for my eyes to skim over.

My eyes are scanning words but not taking anything in, and I sigh as I start at the top of the page again.

The words continue to stare.

I really need to read this, I think to myself. I have an exam in just over two weeks and I’m not going to be that person who doesn’t read the book I’m writing about. That really isn’t me. That’s why I’m sitting here, staring at these words.

Except thinking about what I’m trying to read isn’t actually reading it, is it?

I return to the top of the page. The words are staring at me.

I should really just suck it up and read it, but I can think of a million other things I’d rather be doing at the moment rather than reading. Ugh, I hate reading. No, that’s a lie, I love reading. I hate being forced to read stupid books that are supposedly masterpieces. The creative writing student in me is picking apart the flaws and the English student in me is picking up on all the great quotes for analysis. Darn you, joint honours.

Will this torture ever end, I wonder. Because the words are still just staring at me. Probably because all I’m doing is thinking rather than reading. I wish this book was Harry Potter, because I’d have no problem reading that. I’m hungry, and consider going downstairs for a snack. Probably not the best idea, actually, I’ve eaten enough today and want to have a good dinner tonight so I’ll just not do that…

Oh, I should really send that email, actually. Let’s do that – NO. I need to read.

The words stare at me. I stare at them.

I’m sure they mean something on this page. Someone spent hours putting them there, switching words, switching meanings, switching names. Editing editing editing. And here I am just staring at them, unable to get my mind to focus on how they link together sensibly. I feel slightly guilty, as well as confused. Someone out there thinks this book is good, right? It must be good. Maybe I don’t think it’s good because I’m not reading it. Yeah, that’s probably what it is.

Ok. Focus. I can do this. I’m good at reading. This is my third year of an English degree, I have to be good at reading.

I’m doing it. Yes, I’m actually doing it! Read a page, and another page. Man, I’m amazing. I could really go that snack now. I get up, the book abandoned. I read a total of five pages, I deserve a reward. Good job me.

Great, only another 250 to go.