Life is rough.
We as students have to constantly keep our lives balanced on a fragile scale of time management. We have homework, studying, jobs, classes, registered student organization meetings, athletic practices, sleep and sometimes even social lives to keep track of. It’s easy to get lost in the mess of priorities and take pity on ourselves for how difficult our lives are.
Finding myself stressed about my current situations makes me think about past generations’ struggles. My Busia (Polish for “grandma” and pronounced “boo-sha”) was born in America in 1921, meaning she turned 91 years old last April. She was raised in Poland and has led an incredible life.
I frequently have 13-hour days that consist of track practice, classes, meetings and work. My eyes get sore from reading tiny text in textbooks and staring at a computer screen for hours; Busia’s eye is permanently damaged from a Nazi backhanding her with a buckled leather glove in a bakery she worked at as a young woman. My body is sore from workouts and lifting; Busia’s body aches from having to have slept on concrete while being detained by the Nazis for nine months with nothing but a jacket to keep her warm. I sometimes feel overwhelmed and miss my family who I haven’t seen for a few weeks; Busia went about 32 years without being in the same room as both of her siblings at the same time.
“I was a happy-go-lucky kid as a youngster; nothing bothered me,” Busia said. “My parents provided food for my mouth. But when the war started, that’s when I really grew up. Life was harder back then. We were under the Nazi domination, so the Germans were telling us what to do.”
I’m not saying that people nowadays don’t have a right to be stressed. Even though the world is a much different place, we are all faced with trials and tribulations that test us. We do, however, seem to take pity on ourselves far too easily. I’m guilty of this as well. There are moments in my life where it seems so much easier to just play the victim and blame the world for my stress, shortcomings and inadequacies.
Busia was extremely blessed to have been born in America. She was able to return to the United States in 1942, during the height of the war, because she was traded for German prisoners released from the United States on the Spain/Portugal border. This scenario of being a war prisoner goes far beyond anything I can compare to my own life when I’m feeling sorry for myself.
Our generation has to deal with the largest student loan debt in history. It’s going to take me years to pay back all that I owe—but that’s just it…I know I have years of life ahead of me (God willing) to do so. I don’t have a world war breathing down my neck, making me wonder where my next meal will come from or if I’ll survive the days ahead.
The debt also means that we were fortunate enough to obtain advanced knowledge that people all over the world are envious of.
“I was only allowed to receive education up to the eighth grade,” Busia said. “I certainly wish I had more education. It would have helped me a lot in life.”
From the words of a wise 91-year-old woman who has survived decades of pain, “Cherish what you have. Cherish your life in America.”