Your Health is Your Wealth

Friday January 10th 2014

It’s somewhat daunting to think that this blog entry will be published in a different year that it was written, because I am currently writing it on the last few days of 2013. With that in mind, there’s no better time to consider the progress I’ve made in 2013, to reflect on the year I’m leaving behind and, most importantly, to look forward to the year ahead.

Christmas has truly been and gone. Father Christmas visited where his presents were as generous as ever, Christmas Morning Mass was attended in my hometown parish, and copious amounts of Christmas Dinner was consumed. I love this time of year; I got to celebrate Christmas both in Belfast and at home. In Belfast, I participated in ‘Secret Santa’ with my flatmates and then had Christmas dinner with friends before we broke up for the holidays.  Now, at home, I am appreciating the time I am spending with my family before the chaos resumes and it is back to ‘Business as usual.’

Image 2

It’s not all a holiday (unfortunately). Now, I’m preparing for the inevitable January exam season. I’m fortunate enough that I already have a few assignments submitted, but I’m still aware of the fact that I have exams looming in the near future. As I’m sure every student will empathise with, they fall at a horrible time each year. It’s that little bit harder to enjoy the festivities and Christmas atmosphere knowing that exams are around the corner. Yet, it’s far from the be all and end all. As I always try to remember, a little bit of stress is good – it motivates you and gives you the drive to succeed. However, too much stress is overpowering and you will only end up drowning in worry, which is neither healthy nor productive. I take Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day off as a guilt free ‘reward’ for the work I have done this semester and to enjoy the time with my family. After all, the latter is what’s most important. I will admit, finding the power to get started again is monumentally difficult, but I just try to reassure myself that making slow and steady progress or ‘chipping away’ is far better than late night cramming just days before the deadline.

As I mentioned at the beginning, a new year is a chance to evaluate your strengths, and define your flaws so that you can work on them. To be honest, I have never really been a person for New Year’s resolutions, and yet, this year, I’ve made a list of resolutions a mile long. Don’t worry – there’s nothing so large on it that means it can’t be achieved. I prefer to think of them as being aspirations rather than resolutions – a series of things that I would like to achieve before the year is out.

There are times when I would like time to slow down, because it still amazes me that I have already completed my first semester at university. I’m excited to start the second semester, and I honestly think that things will be different this time. This time, there won’t be as many inductions or easing you into a module – things will just begin a lot quicker. That seems a bit daunting at first, but I would like to think that I’m ready. I’ve learned a lot from the first semester and I think it was a great learning experience. At the end of September, I was introduced to so many new concepts: lecture halls full of roughly 200 students, smaller tutorial groups, and a much larger use of independent study. In the next few months, I know what I need to do, when to do it, and how to do it. I’m not saying that it will be a breeze, I’m still expecting the content to be difficult, but in terms of routine, I hope that I will be more prepared and better equipped on how to approach my studies.

Although we are already in the early days of the New Year, I would like to wish you a healthy and prosperous 2014. I have a lot to be grateful for. For most people, a year is generally filled with their ‘ups and downs’ and that is true for me also. However, I also know that 2013 was a significant year for myself. I passed my A-Levels, I was accepted into a University and I am completing a course that I love, I made the transition to become what I call semi-independent (haven’t burned any food in halls…yet!), I made new friends, and I continued my journey as a volunteer of this wonderful foundation by becoming a Michaela Scholar. Lastly, as the saying goes, your health is your wealth, and I am also grateful for the fact that my health and well-being is showing signs of improvement after a tiring and challenging few years. Things are never perfect; I doubt anyone could honestly say that. But it’s important to give thanks for what you do have – Family, friends and faith. What more could you ask for?

Have a wonderful 2014!

Until next Month,

Stephen.

Image 1