I Choose Joy

I woke up at 6 am – hardly slept a wink the night before due to the lack of air conditioning in my apartment. My commute from Jersey took two and a half hours as trains and subways suffered from construction delays. I trudged through the streets of New York, my stomach angry at me for foregoing breakfast. The sun glared relentlessly over the skyscrapers, the day already sizzling in the 90-degree weather. Already tired, sweaty, hungry and impatient, I turned the corner onto East 71st and made my way to WYA Headquarters to begin my first day as a WYA North America intern.

I had been planning for a perfect morning. I had wanted to start off my internship on the right foot – get plenty of sleep the night before, avoid all the delays, remain cool and refreshed, show that I was New York hip. But as I walked up to HQ, I felt some trepidation knowing that nothing had gone to plan.

I walked in the door. And was immediately met by a huge hug from a friend of mine from college. She had begun working for WYA a few weeks earlier, and she had made it a point to give me a warm welcome and a big smile. I couldn’t help but respond with similar joy, and as we talked I felt the fatigue of my long morning slowly fall away. We made our way upstairs to the office floor, and to my delight, I was met by a crowd of faces – many familiar, some new, but all filled with kindness.

I beamed as I looked around at the walls of the WYA office, and felt more relaxed as I allowed the familiarity of the place to sink in. Many happy memories had been created in this office, and I became excited at the thought of many more memories to come. My morning didn’t appear to be so bad after all.

Today, I’m reminded of the fact that we all have the ability to choose our response in life. Things happen to us which we can’t control, but in every circumstance, we get to choose how we respond. Victor Frankl states that “the last of the human freedoms [is] to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” While Frankl was referring to a much more severe set of circumstances, I believe that he would want his words to be applied in every circumstance. Life can get tedious, and our plans can be ruined – trains are delayed, the weather disagrees with us, and we may feel miserable – but we can choose to remain good and wholesome. I am grateful for good people who remind me to remain kind and excited for life’s daily treasures – who show me hospitality when I need it the most and remind me of my ability to choose.

No matter what happens today, I choose joy.

Written by Theresa Allen, a current intern at the WYA North America office.