Things They Don’t Teach You In School

On multiple occasions, I have been told that a child learns more in their first 5 years of life than they do throughout the rest of their life. Being the argumentative person I am, there are times that I have wanted to debate this theory. Upon further reflection, there is no way that I would win this argument.

The development of people is quite fascinating. Starting from conception, fewer than half of all fertilized eggs (zygotes) survive beyond the first two weeks. Those lucky ones that survive work their way into the embryonic stage (weeks 2-8). During this stage, humans are pretty much formed. The embryo develops all the major organs which are necessary for survival. The heart begins to beat and the liver starts making red blood cells. Weeks 9 through birth (fetal stage), all the fine details are worked on and the baby pops out with all fingers and toes in the right places (hopefully). Then the fun begins…

I am in my last semester of college and I have learned plenty of things ranging from the incredible to the ridiculous. Over the past 6 weeks I have learned mostly about life. I am interning at F—– G—– and get to hang out with a bunch of old people who are losing their minds. That isn’t meant to be offensive in any way, shape or form, actually it’s sort of a term of endearment. There are about 60 residents at this facility and I have had the pleasure of interacting with almost all of them. Many of them don’t make sense half the time but there are those occasions where they say something that is clear as a bell.

I think one of the most important lessons I have learned so far is, we all have our good days and our bad days. There have been days that I sit and talk with some of the residents and they can’t even tell me their name. On those days, it is very easy for them to get frustrated and start acting out. However, I have noticed differences in how people react and I think that has a lot to do with personality and their outlook on life. For example, J.A.  tends to get really frustrated then starts lashing out at everyone. She can often be seen screaming and chasing people down to tell them how mad she is. It’s just overall a negative experience and its taking its toll on her. Part of me thinks that the disease is progressing faster in her because of her negative reaction to situations like this. In the 6 weeks I have been there, these outbursts are becoming more frequent which is stressful for everyone. Then there are the people who seem to have a positive outlook toward life such as H.P. who even on her worst days, can still find something to smile about. Most of the time it is something I would consider small or insignificant but to her, its something that brightens her day. I had a chance to talk with H.P. on one of her more clear days. She explained to me that ‘even though its getting harder to remember things, the things [she] remembered are worth remembering’.

So, where does this leave you and me? Well, for me, I have started to make a conscious effort to look at the glass as half full. Our glass is always going to be halfway filled, our perception is what is going to make us lash out or smile. In my opinion, life is better when smiling.

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