“When life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade.” –Said by every person who ever lived.
Personally, I hate that saying. I think it’s cheesy and overused. But there are reasons little nuggets of wisdom like this stick around, and it is because they are relevant. When life gives you lemons, you need to squeeze every drop of juice out of them you can. But even if you squeeze and twist and pound a lemon, you can always yield more juice if you allow yourself to be helped and use a lemon reamer. The assistance does not make you any less of brilliant lemon-squeezer, if anything, it shows that you are serious enough about squeezing lemons to accept help. When flavoring your lemonade, it is important that you add just enough sugar: too much, and the drink will be unbearably sweet and artificial-tasting, too little, and the bitter concoction will be left unfinished. And if you knock salt into your lemonade, however accidentally, it can never fully be fixed. Be careful not to add too much ice to make it seem like you have more lemonade than you actually do: when it melts, the drink will be left watery and tasteless.
Having just finished my first week at Southern Methodist University, I suddenly find myself in a position I have never been in before. I am literally surrounded by hundreds of staff and faculty who not only know vast amounts of knowledge, but also are willing to share it with me! The collective knowledge of the faculty on this campus is infinite, and I have four years to learn as much of it as I can.
For instance, this year I am taking Arabic. While there are many other languages offered here, I chose one that was unusual, that I would have difficulty finding elsewhere. My stepfather is Lebanese, so I have grown up hearing the language, and presented with the opportunity to study it, I leapt. While the class is extremely difficult, our rapid success is very rewarding. As and English minor, I am taking two English classes this semester, a course load that is both difficult and exciting. In high school, English classes were driven by the test at the end of the year. Here, I find myself intellectually stimulated for the first time as I am encouraged to develop my own ideas and opinions on a text. I know I’ll sound like a total nerd for saying this, but it is so exciting to learn every day! I feel like the knowledge and skills I’m learning in my classes here will apply to my life, rather than being forgotten immediately after the week ends. But with all of this learning requires good study habits, which, sadly, I am only just beginning to develop.
Whenever I need to get something really important done, I make a cup of tea. While the caffeine plays an important role, it has much more to do with my comfort. I can study anywhere comfortably if I have a hot cup of tea. It’s calming, and gives me the sense that I’m taking a break, even while I am working. At my family home in Ireland, we drink tea together several times a day. It breaks the day into workable sections, with a reward at the end of each. Similarly, a cup of tea while I work keeps me motivated and focused towards a goal of completion.
I find it very difficult to study and work in my own home, where there are too many personal distractions and comforts to be successful. When my bed is just a few steps down the hall, it is far too easy to leave down the book and take a nap. I prefer to work in comfortable places away from home, like a couch in the library or a Starbucks. Of course, you can’t just walk into the library and belt your 16-bar audition piece, so sometimes I use a practice room. I prefer to practice on-stage as much as possible. It drives the rehearsal with a sense of reality and urgency that is often lacking.
When I need a break, I go out for a ride on my scooter, Clonakilty Black Pudding, named for a seaside town in Southwest Ireland and the delicacy it is famous for. Riding anything that small on the street requires serious concentration and care, and it is a great way to wake myself up and refocus my attention. Besides, it’s adorably cute. And green. And it has a wicker basket. And I feel like Audrey Hepburn in “A Roman Holiday” when I ride it. So there.
When we watched that video about the marshmallows, everyone joked around with each other about who would have eaten it quickly and who would have waited. But the more I think about it, I’m not sure what I would have done. In the recent movie, “The Five Year Engagement”, Emily Blunt’s character is a Psychology professor who devises a similar experiment using donuts. It seems ridiculous that any adult would choose to eat stale donuts over fresh ones until Jason Segel’s character notes that there is no guarantee that the proctor ever will be back with more donuts. While the experiment clearly shows trends in powers of self-control, it seems to me far more a question of uncertainty and trust. If you believe that the woman will be back with another marshmallow, then you’ll wait. But maybe she won’t, in which case you’ll be sat miserable for hours.
Would you eat the marshmallow? Because I’d just make lemonade.