The Difference One Year Can Make – A Story of Reflection

Learning to do what’s best for me has allowed me to be the best for the people in my life

This time last year, mid to late October of 2017, I was a fucking mess. I was blacked out on the floor of some random girl’s kitchen while my date was in the garage snorting coke. Bet I got your attention now huh?

I managed to fail a class just because I was blowing off all the homework assignments (which like isn’t the biggest deal but it was SO out of character for me). Thursday-Saturday were party days as per usual in college but getting blackout drunk was a common thing for me which isn’t the healthiest recurrence for most college kids. My need to numb the pain that was going on in my life had me in a chokehold and I was on the downhill fast.

So, now a year later, we’re mid to late October 2018 and my life looks completely different and today, as I’m writing this, I feel so good. But, as this time of year did come around it caused me to reflect on my choices and how I ended up here, a year later, feeling and being so much better. This is my reflection on the last year.

First things first, I already knew I needed to take a trip and go abroad for a minute. I had a study abroad trip to Cuba already planned. By the time I finished my disaster of a semester and winter break finally rolled around, I was on a plane to Miami and then Havana for a 10 day trip that would cleanse my soul and give me an amazing group of people to surround myself with. Cuba was the trip of a lifetime. Thanks to my family for helping me finance it, and ASU for making it happen.

one year

Although I was still struggling a lot, studying abroad changed my frame of reference. I got to see an entirely different culture. And not just any country, a country that exists in a world where the cars are from the 50’s, you have to buy a wifi card and then stand in the wifi park, and healthcare and education are universal. I could write a whole entire post on Cuba (which I probably will just hang tight).  

For now I’ll say, studying abroad is a great way to cleanse my palate and open my mind and soul to what else is out there. Not that my problems aren’t important, but that there’s so much more in the world to explore and care about.

Winter was all about finding my people and releasing myself of the people who were dragging me down.

My study abroad group gave me an amazing community of driven people who still inspire me every day. Anyone who wasn’t onboard the Marisa train, was dropped off and #blocked. Not saying I cut off Kyle from my COM class because he wasn’t all about me, but I’m talking about the people who drained me of productive energy, people who stole my time and attention for negative things; people who were simply just not good news for me.

Come Spring time, I found my sorority, my amazing boyfriend, and some of my best friends. I could feel the uphill swing beginning.

Spring brought what Spring usually brings. Fresh blooms, new air, and a renewing energy like no other season has. Around March, I received an email about an upcoming fashion show that would need entertainment. Now, I hadn’t sung since high school but I knew an opportunity to perform when I saw one. I realized this was another thing I needed to do in order to live the life I wanted. I needed to start doing the things I loved.

The fashion show also brought me into the club HADES, the Herberger Arts & Design Entrepreneurship Club at ASU. I had found a club that I truly wanted to be a part of because I’m a creative person with a marketing/business brain. It was the perfect club for me to be in.

In the Spring I also joined my sorority and I could not possibly be more thankful for this group of women that are in my life. My sisters are some of the most ambitious, involved, and loving people I know.

They taught me to reach further than I think I can go, and love deeper than I could ever know. They’re the reason I worked my ass off that coming Summer.

Summer ‘18 was the best Fall ‘18 preparation I think I could’ve gotten. I was taking three classes or 10 credits if that’s how your brain works, working a part-time job at ASU, and working a full-time internship with a digital marketing agency. I was booked and every day had a new challenge waiting for me.

But even though it was challenging, I loved what I was doing. My internship was teaching me so many new things and I was having the time of my life learning everything! It all came full circle when it was time for school to start.

Before school started though, it was time for a vacation! It’s important to give yourself a break and reflect on the hard work you’ve done and what you’ve achieved. This break called for four days in a beach-y bungalow at Huntington Beach with my boyfriend. Bonus! 

When school started, I was still working for ASU, gearing up for sorority recruitment, lining up another internship (hey Metiza!), and starting as Director of Marketing for HADES. I swear the mix of encouragement from my sorority and the opportunity from HADES is why I got to be DoM, but believe me when I say that job is difficult and not for the unorganized. This fall semester has brought me so many opportunities, I continued to work with my Summer internship at the digital marketing agency and have been trying to thrive in all my other activities too.

It’s a balancing act for sure but to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

one year

Staying busy, building relationships, and being involved in the ASU community are things that bring me the most joy. These are the things that keep me healthy and fill up my plate so I can help fill others. My most important lesson over the last year is that if you don’t invest in yourself, you can’t invest in anyone else.

Learning to do what’s best for me has allowed me to be the best for the people in my life. I hope in a year things look just as different, full of growth & learning and loving and new adventures and even more success.

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Also published on Medium.

Marisa Pieper is a student at Arizona State University studying Fashion...