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I like to think that, in my 20 years of life (almost 21, just 11 more days!), I have been extremely fortunate. My positive perspective is brought on by wonderful parents who love and support me, valuable friends who make every day exciting, and the opportunity to do almost anything I set my mind to. I’ve never really experienced anything truly awful, the people around me are happy and healthy, and I always have at least a few dollars in my bank account (which is pretty good for a college student). With all of these securities, I have grown comfortable.

Of course, as soon as you get too comfortable, something is bound to happen.

Two weeks ago, I went out of town with a friend. Students say, “I’m a senior!” as if it gives them permission to be irresponsible, and that’s exactly what I was. This was the third weekend in a row I had recklessly pushed aside real life, so it was time for a reality check.

On Sunday morning, I received a text from my roommate: “Did you take your computer with you? Mine was stolen last night, the police are here.” No, I didn’t take my computer with me. I know exactly where I left it: in the front room, open, on the couch, and just asking for someone to take it.

I freaked out. My laptop was gone. Along with every paper I ever wrote, picture I ever took, and password I ever used. Gone. I hadn’t backed up on an external hard drive because 1. I have no idea how to do that and 2. this was never going to happen to me. I hear about bad things happening to people every day, but I never thought I would be “one of those people.”

That rosy perspective I mentioned before? It was shattered – along with my sense of security. I got home and assessed my situation. I was down a computer and a charger (they had enough time to take that, too?), but it could have been much worse. The thief could have taken my car, my wallet, or vandalized all of my possessions, I was lucky that they didn’t,

Insert words of wisdom – “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond.”

Learn a lesson through me. In this situation, perspective made all of the difference. Everyday things will happen to you; some of them will be good and others will be bad. A lot of times, you may not have a say in any of it. What you do have control over is how you react to each situation. Someone may steal something of fiscal value from you, but they cannot steal a positive attitude and perspective.

So, when something bad happens, stop, take a breath, step back and acknowledge the bigger picture. A different perspective can be just what you need to stop looking at the negative and be thankful for the positive things in your life. I’m not thankful that my laptop was stolen, but I’m thankful for the reality check it caused.

Thank you, thief, for bringing me back to reality… much appreciated.

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