Editor’s Note: ‘Tis the trendy season for trends, to reflect on 2015 and to make bold predictions about what next year may hold. This year, we asked thought leaders to share their outlooks on education, but with a twist. They have to frame their thoughts as a response to some of the finest college application essay prompts—yes, the very same ones that high school seniors are feverishly working on now!
Here’s what Kaela Quinto, a sophomore at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School, had to say.
Writing prompt: According to UNC Professor Barbara Fredrickson, an expert in positive emotions, rather than love being lasting, unconditional, or a special bond, love is a “micro-moment of connection.” It is a moment in time when you feel yourself connect with a person in a deep, positive way that builds different bonds with people. People experience these “micro-moments” everyday: when you smile at a stranger walking by, when you watch a butterfly laying upon a flower, when you laugh with a friend, when you count down to one on new years and kiss “the one”, when you finally cross the stage during a promotion, or even when you cheer on your school’s football team with your peers on homecoming night. It’s in these fractions of time that we momentarily fall in love with strangers, friends, nature, lovers, and ourselves. (University of North Carolina)
My “micro-moment of connection” came to me when I was on my freshmen retreat. It was in the November of 2014, the weather was perfect—warm and windy—and it was coming to an end with about an hour left. We were on our break, and I was standing on the second story looking down at my classmates below me as they interacted with one another. Behind me others ran across the hallway me playing tag and opening up to people they might not have known. The sun was setting through the palm trees that swayed back and forth, casting a dreamy color throughout the quad.
As I stood there silently watching I turned my head over to look at a classmate standing beside me. She turned her to face me. We smiled at each other knowingly. We both knew how beautiful it was to watch strangers connecting and becoming friends, to watch the sun falling between the mountains and to watch friends letting out their inner child. And as I looked back to the sunset that streaked the skies with pinks and yellows I knew that in that micro-moment, I was once again falling in love with life.
Before that day I would constantly stress and worry about anything from the grade I would receive for a test to how I would juggle homework with the extracurriculars that I did. I wouldn’t take time to stop and look at the flowers and enjoy a small moment in life. Today I don’t stress as much as a use to. As long as I know that, to the best of my ability, I tried to accomplish what needed to be done, then I can be satisfied with what I do. Being open to this new way of looking at life builds an appreciation for all the beautiful things that we forget to acknowledge. I smile when I see that bright red A on my paper and say “I did it” knowing that all my hard work paid off. Rather than beating myself up for not getting the grade that I wanted for that semester, I have learned to pick myself up and let that previous grade motivate me to get an even better one.
Though not everything will always turn out the way we want it to, we need to take a minute of our time to appreciate the micro-moments of connection we have with everyone and everything around us. You are not always going to love how life is going, you are not always going to love the weather and you are not always going to love yourself, but the “micro-moments” we experience will always bring us back to shower love on what we may forget to acknowledge. Love is healthy, and the more you experience it, the healthier you are and those around you become.
So go out and make more micro-moments of connection, smile at the person driving in the car next to you, sit down with the person who eats lunch alone, celebrate the fact that you got accepted into a university, jump with the person beside you at the concert and experience love as many times as you can. Be open to the idea that love is just momentary, and, though it may not last forever, feeling love will brighten even the darkest days.