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An Attitude of Gratitude

    With the Thanksgiving season behind us and the end of the year rapidly approaching, I find myself once again flooded with reflection. This year has brought, undoubtedly, an immense amount of personal growth and transformations. I began the year in D.C, working for a Senator and preparing to travel to the Middle East in the summer. Like the rest of the world, life was quickly grounded back to my hometown in March, a place I had not spent more than 2 weeks in since graduating High School. An unexpected 6 months brought hard conversations with those I love most, reshaping of internal and external expectations, and lessons in communication.  It taught (and is still teaching me) the value of quality time and that it is OK to slow down. It brought the little wins too, something I am still learning to appreciate. I read some great books. I had the chance to rethink my role in our political system and educate myself. I learned to cook some Indian food! I went on many neighborhood walks and simply enjoyed the sunset. Overall, I learned just to be a little more gentle with myself. 


    In September, I was fortunate enough to move back to Westwood and into my first apartment. I used to think living in LA again would only be a dampening reminder of what this year has taken away, but I was appalled at how glaring the positive differences are as well. For the first time in my college career, I have had the chance to value quality over quantity. The people I choose to spend my time with have undoubtedly brightened each day and pushed me to have critical conversations. We have reached depth in our friendships, and I love that my energy is now concentrated on diving deep with a few people rather than spreading half-hearted energy out amongst many. Even within Bruin Belles, I have to give a shoutout to Arushi A. for reaching out to me. We had a wonderful lunch on the hill, and even 6- feet did not change our genuine connection over shared love for Jhumpa Lahiri and the instant feeling of a little sister. Having lunch with her was a beautiful reminder of all the people the world has to offer, which we can sometimes forget when set in similar routines. I cannot wait to spend more time with her and also be more intentional about diversifying my daily patterns of people, experiences, and thought. 


    Along with Arushi, being a Distinguished Belle in the Campus Culture office is another manifestation of quality friendships. I am so lucky to be in an office with both Kelsey (director) and Bobbie (fellow DB), two incredible leaders and women. But before I knew them as passionate or involved, they were just my friends. When I spend time with them, it is never out of obligation to BBSA or an event requirement but rather because I feel a sense of belonging within my CC family :) For board pictures, I still remember being on campus for the first time in nearly a year. We were at Royce Hall, home to memories of my first ever UCLA tour, an unfortunate GE I took, and the time I once talked to a friend on the steps till three in the morning. All these memories (and more) came flooding back to me, and I felt gratitude, not loss. Everything I was able to do this quarter was just different, not worse or lacking. Even with BBSA- looking back on this quarter, we have evolved. We have mastered remote platforms, redefined meeting structure, prioritized mental health in an unprecedented way, and even updated outdated policies. I am so proud to be a part of an organization that does not passively exist but rather molds each year to fit the needs and interests of its members. 


    As we move into a new year, I actually want to take many of these lessons with me. 2020 is more than COVID- 19, and having an attitude of gratitude has opened my eyes to all the good things the world really does have to offer- sometimes you just have to be willing to take a closer look.


Marisa Sashti

Campus Culture Distinguished Belle 


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