coffee date #33 with aahna rathod
senior 🥺, mathematician, premed, president of TCNJ’s CONTACT, runner, curly-haired queen, a hot coffee fanatic, an avid reader
me: iced vanilla latte w/ almond milk | aahna: hot chai latte w/ 2% milk
location: starbucks, new jersey
It’s funny how many of my coffee dates are with people that I first met or saw on a ZOOM meeting, never intending to actually sit down with them over an intentional cup of coffee (i.e. coffee date #14, #24, #30).
Unsurprisingly, my interaction with Aahna started off the same way. My first recollection of actually speaking with Aahna was during a FaceTime call we had for ISA big/little matchings way back in 2020. I remember Aahna was all smiles as we spoke about our common love for smoothies & the challenges that come with a pre-med life. She even sent me a copy of an email template that I could use to reach out to professors for research opportunities a few days after our call, showing me that she gave our conversation some sort of importance and wanted to help in any way.
A few months later, come time to select classes for my freshman spring semester, Aahna texted me a cute little message telling me to reach out to her if I need any help at all with sorting my life out for the next semester. A gem.
Once in-person classes began again, I’d see Aahna here and there on campus. We’d exchange some smiley waves and a ‘hey, how are you?” every time. One time in particular, though, coffee date #25 and I were sitting at Starbucks doing our work and Aahna was at another table working on her own things. We greeted each other with a smiley wave. A few hours later, Aahna came up to coffee date #25 and me to just chit chat about life. I think that was our actual first conversation that we had in person! It was so easy to talk to her because she was so real and authentic as we spoke about classes, social lives, MCAT, and a whole bunch of other things.
Also, side note: Aahna’s instagram is the most adorable, raw, and cutest feed ever. I love how real everything she posts is and it just makes me incredibly happy.
Here we are, almost 2 years later to talk about all things life and dive a bit deeper into Aahna’s world.
- Don’t delete your Insta posts!
Everyone go stalk Aahna’s Instagram right now.
We spent a good portion of our date talking about the evolution of her Instagram almost accurately reflecting the real-life evolution of Aahna Rathod. She told me that she never deletes her old posts because she kinda likes seeing how she has grown over the years. On the other hand, you have people like me, who see their brace-faced, weird-hair, pubescent selves and immediately archive/delete their old posts. This is exactly why I love that Aahna just left it all there because it shows that her social media is no longer for other people – it’s for herself.
“You are a person first. You’re not your social media. You can be really happy in the moment. You can see all these people that look so happy, but that may not be real life. Everyone still has to go get groceries and run errands. Life isn’t all photoshoots and glamor. I liked the everydayness of it.” – Aahna Rathod, 2022
Instagram feeds are often glamorized and only include perfectly curated pictures. Aahna just posts whatever and whenever she wants to. A picture of strawberry yogurt? Find it on @aahnarathod. A picture of a cute coffee selfie? Find it on @aahnarathod. Some zen pics from the beach? Find it on @aahnarathod. It’s the ‘everydayness’ of it that brings me so much joy and reminds me that authenticity (both online and in real life) is all you need to be the happiest and truest version of yourself.
- Best friends leaving us behind.
Both Aahna and I have similar stories regarding how much our friendships have changed during college. We were both fortunate enough to meet our best friends during this time. Aahna met Seana last August and I met Shivdaballer last August. And of course, within less than a year, they both end up graduating, leaving Aahna and me behind to fend for ourselves (*just being dramatic for a hot second*). A little note: Aahna and I both teared up during this particular part of our coffee date because talking about these precious souls is the most wholesome feeling.
Aahna described to me what it felt like to be with Seana, which I think also perfectly encapsulates how I feel about Shivdaballer:
“Whenever I was bored or wanted to just live & be in a space with someone, I would text her [Seana]. We’d do everything together. We’d make the effort….I think I will be sad for a little bit that I do not have another Seana, but I don’t think I’m going to find another person that was as good as her and it’s not someone who I need to find.” – Aahna Rathod, 2022
I remember as I went through all those weird feelings of preparing myself to come back to TCNJ without Shivdaballer ready to conquer the world with me, my cousin said something along the lines of “It’s okay to grieve the time that you no longer have with her. She’s always going to be in the next town over, but grieving that loss of time and experience you would have had is okay.”
So Aahna and I grieved and we continue to grieve because these individuals were so incredibly special. But it was honestly pure luck that we even met them.
Shivdaballer is in the 7-year med program and I had no idea who she was going into college last year. She was just a random roommate at the time. Seana was a Nursing student who became a Bio/Public Health major, so she had to spend a fifth year on campus. They both were only going to stay on campus for a year and Aahna and I just happened to meet them during that one year. How in the world did we get so lucky?
“No one gets how terrifying it is to be back without them. It’s not like they’re gone forever. They’re still there. It’s just time & perspective and realizing that we’ll always be there for each other when we need to be.” – Aahna Rathod, 2022
Before this coffee date, I would just fixate on the fact that Shivdaballer and I did not get the chance to be together for all of our college years. However, once Aahna described how lucky we are to have even met them in the first place, it’s astonishing that I even got that one year with her.
A note to our best friends: Seana & Shivdaballer.
Dear Seana & Shivdaballer,
Thank you for giving us the time to meet you, connect with you, and love you with all that we have. You have changed our lives in many ways – more than you might know. Your absence is felt deeply as you both are doing bigger & amazing things across the country/world.
We miss how we could cling by your side every day. We miss our little adventures. We miss how we could just sit with you and do nothing, but feel everything.
Thank you for making our hearts feel at home every time we were together. We love you and we will always be your #1 cheerleaders.
your favorite TCNJ homies: Aahna & Esha
- Choosing a major that brings YOU satisfaction.
Aahna started off her freshman fall as a Biology major. Coming into college, she explained that she had an idea of being a pre-med student and decided to major in Biology because why not? As she finished a semester, she soon realized that she also always loved Math, so she added a Math major.
“I think the Bio side aligns with what I want to do with my life more, but I’ll always love Calc. I just don’t want to make a career out of Calc.” – Aahna Rathod, 2022
I LOVE that Aahna eventually pursued to study something that actually brings her joy. I feel like college can be such a life changing experience if we just allow ourselves to explore what we truly love.
- Thinking Before Speaking? Woah.
You know that saying where people say that they can literally see the other person’s ‘gears’ turning when they speak? That’s Aahna. Every time I speak with her, I can tell that she actually thinks before she speaks. It sounds trivial, but how many people just blurt things out (which I am also a culprit of) instead of actually putting intentional thought into their words?
This is the example Aahna gave me:
When she gets mad (which is incredibly rare), instead of exploding at the scene and possibly saying things that she’ll regret to the other person, Aahna just ‘shuts down.’ However, this is different from the folks who might just ‘shut down’ and bottle up all their feelings. Aahna described that she essentially takes a step back and processes those feelings afterwards, so that when she does approach the other person again, she comes from a clearer headspace.
This concept of processing through feelings is something that is so intriguing to me because it takes an immense amount of emotional maturity to be able to not react irrationally in that moment, but react rationally in the next moment.
- Identifying yourself with your passions/hobbies.
Usually I’m the one asking questions during my coffee dates, but Aahna threw a few at me during this one. One of those questions was “Do you like writing?” I freaking love writing (about the things & people that inspire me of course), but I’m too shy to call myself a ‘writer.’ In my head, writers are people who work their butts off and publish a novel. Meanwhile, I just write a few blog posts and talk about the amazing people I meet.
Aahna changed that perception for me and gave me the confidence and the little push I needed to identify myself with my creative work.
“I like to run, but it took me a really long time to call myself a runner. I thought a runner would have to be able to run a half marathon again. I cannot do a half marathon again. Maybe I will later, but even though I only run 2 or 3 miles now, I’m still a runner because I’m still running.” – Aahna Rathod, 2022
A lot of us have this made-up construct in our minds of what a particular ‘job’ entails. For me, writing meant publishing a novel and having it sit on a Barnes & Noble shelf. For Aahna, running meant always being able to run marathons. I am a writer right now and even if I take a break from writing later, I’ll still be a writer for as long as writing brings me joy. Aahna is a runner right now and will continue to be a runner for as long as she wants, even if she doesn’t run marathons every month. We do not have to be at that peak point at all times of our lives to identify ourselves with our passions.