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TALJONICK: Not the end of the world

I was crushed.

The girl of my dreams had returned my note, the center of which was now occupied with a capital “NO” circled in pencil.

The bullies were relentless, I couldn’t stand the bus rides back home — even worse, I hated that I never stood up for myself.

I was 13 years old, without a girlfriend, and was convinced the world was ending. At least mine, anyway.

At that age, confidence was alien to me. The old “sticks and stones” adage was my favorite song; my dog, Buddy, my best friend.

But at 17, I laughed at my naivete. I was older and very mature — or so I thought. I was in my first serious relationship and spent many nights pretending to be interested in three-hour phone calls, which usually consisted of a little conversation and a lot of awkward silence.

“What are you doing?” she would ask.

“Talking to you,” I would reply.

And then college happened.

Long after Buddy died and shortly after I moved out of my parents’ house, I started growing up.

And it certainly hasn’t been easy.

Juggling two jobs on top of full-time enrollment in school has taught me a lot about myself: that my drive to succeed is strong; that my persistence to move forward can get me back on my feet after I stumble.

During those countless nights full of coffee and empty of sleep, the line between homework and real work often blurred.

Having to decide between making the money for rent or making the grades for the Dean’s List, coupled with the stress of being broke and trying to fulfill expectations — not just those of family and friends, but also my own — constantly weighed heavy on my mind.

But learning how to not fold under that pressure was the most important thing I found during my time in college.

Like many fellow students, I’ve worked hard to get where I am today and I’m endlessly grateful for the opportunities that have crossed my path.

My future, so far, is headed exactly where I had hoped it would and I am happy to be turning my greatest passion, writing, into a career.

A lyric from one of my favorite songs accurately sums up my experiences here at CMU: “When you think you’ve got it all figured out and then everything collapses, trust me kid, it’s not the end of the world.”

Falling down is part of life.

You’ve just got to want to get back up.