Saying Yes

As today marks the first day of the spring holiday I finally have a spare moment to provide a wee update on my various comings and goings throughout the weeks. To start, I have officially submitted my application to graduate, which is both terribly exciting and frightening. While I am excited to relax and celebrate, especially with my family, the thought of having the rest of my year sorted out by then is very daunting. Perhaps this break from class came at an opportune moment: I can finally get myself in gear for applications and finally be moving towards having a “next step.” But enough on that rather unsettling notion….

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Not only have I been busy with class, dissertation meetings, cross country, and riding, I have managed to squeeze in a few more “accomplishments” on my Bucket List.

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I have never really been a “yes” kind of person. I am usually very calculated, fond of planning and calendars, and never really deviate from what is expected of me. Yet just being in St Andrews has consistently reminded me of all the simple, unbridled joy that can occur when you forgo what you “ought” to do and just say “yes” to any opportunity that may present itself to you. This, I think, has been a major theme characterizing my four years in Scotland: agreeing to do anything and everything, no matter how outrageous, in an effort to experience the hidden joys of a well-lived life. Case in point: last Friday myself and three other very brave souls jumped off the pier at St Andrews as the final touch to a recruitment video the publicity representative for cross country has been working on.

I was initially a bit hesitant about jumping from quite a substantial height, as well as worried about how my body would react to the wintry waters below. However, that smile in the photograph says more than my insignificant words ever could. Spontaneity and boldness are two things I never really associate with myself, but I find that saying yes to doing things like a pier jump in March really challenge who I thought I was in the best possible way. And while a pier jump may seem inconsequential to more adventurous people, I feel that experiences such as these are merely the first steps I am taking towards that kind of life. If I had the courage  to say “yes” now, and I endeavor to make this a habit of my life, what amazing opportunities will come my way further down the line that I will have zero reservations about pursuing? So far, my Fourth Year Bucket List is teaching me to stop focusing on what could go wrong and instead on what can go right. These small moments of wild joy like my March pier jump leave me feeling more confident in myself, and as my time at university is ending, I feel as though that I will take a running leap towards my next horizon rather than a timid shuffle. And that is something truly worthwhile, no?

The day after my gleeful leap into the sea I demonstrated that I can indeed be civilized (and that I wasn’t raised by wolves, contrary to popular belief) by attending high tea at the Old Course Hotel with some of my oldest and closest friends at St Andrews. Such an afternoon of frivolity had just been idle chatter until now, when we finally decided to throw caution to the wind and celebrate the beginning of the spring holiday. As Miranda’s birthday is also in a few weeks, there was even greater cause to celebrate. With a piano trilling delicately in the background we relaxed over pots of steaming Earl Grey and noshed on whimsical little cakes. Afterward we lazily walked towards the pier under a blushing sunset simply enjoying one another’s company. I think what made afternoon tea one of the most magical moments in my four years at St Andrews, though, was the fact that I have been close to each and every one of them — Catriona, Miranda, Kathryn, Siân, Kate, Nicole, and Michael — since my first year. How we have grown with one another over the past four years is something that astounds me, and I feel so lucky that these people have chosen me to be part of something like this. This day was one of those moments that I now keep tucked away in a secret part of my heart, memories to which I will no doubt return to when I am yearning for Scotland from my newest horizon.

After this week of an exhilarating pier jump, delicious high tea, and sunsets, all I can manage to say is how warm my soul feels. I walk down the streets now with my Maggie Smile etched onto my face and I find it difficult to suppress it. While part of me is saddened that this spring break I will not be adventuring to the same extent as years past, I realize that “adventure” doesn’t always have to mean far-off destinations and daring feats. Adventure can simply mean saying “yes” to new experiences, and those experiences can be just as memorable if you are willing to say yes to joy.

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