Loving With No Boundaries

fullsizeoutput_3d56

My first year of college is almost over, and I’ve learned a lot over the past ten months. Being away from home and starting over in a new environment gives you a chance to experience life in a very unique way. I’ve met a lot of people throughout my freshman year. Some have just been a fleeting conversation, a familiar face, or an acquaintance. Others have become friends and study partners. And then there are the few who have quickly transformed into my inner circle.

When you get to college, you meet all sorts of people. At first, I was introduced to a TON (like hundreds) of 18-year-old girls during rush. We suffered through almost a week of walking around to different sorority houses in the blazing heat, patting each other’s sweat off our foreheads before walking into a new house for more small talk. Those conversations revolved mostly around topics like your major, extracurricular activities, passions, and my personal favorite—values (GT sorority women, you know what I’m talking about). There are still a few people from that week who I keep in touch with, and I’m thankful for those experiences with them.

Then there are others who I met once I accepted my bid from my sorority. These girls became my sisters immediately and welcomed me with open arms. We’ve shared date night catastrophes, zagels, clothes and shoes, a spring break trip, and so much more. I never expected to get so close and comfortable with 200+ girls, but ZTA has given me that and so much more.

One of the most important things that I’ve learned this year is that it becomes easy to find who your true friends are. They are the people who stick by you when you make a mistake. They accept you, flaws and all, and they don’t judge. They are the people you call at 3AM when you’ve hit maximum stress level and need to have a little breakdown. They’re the ones who are willing to drop everything and come running to you (sometimes literally) when you just need a hug. They do not choose boys and parties over your friendship. They support you and your decisions—even the big ones. They understand that sometimes you need a little space, but they’re waiting right there when you’re ready to come back. They encourage your passions and invest in your happiness. And most importantly, they love with no boundaries. Find these people. Cherish them. Make sure they know that they are appreciated. This kind of friendship is so rare. So,

To the few who have loved me with no boundaries,

Thank you. Thank you a million times over. You have helped me become a stronger, braver, and kinder human. Your love is bold and selfless. I can only hope that my love for you works the same magic as yours has for me.

 

 

Numbers

calf-362170_960_720

You know that horrible feeling when you get a bad grade on a test? The gut-wrenching, tear-inducing sadness that makes you feel like you aren’t good enough? That’s something that I have experienced far too often in the past few weeks. In fact, my closest friends can tell you that I recently spent about 40 hours studying for a test that resulted in a score close to the number of hours that I spent preparing for it. The overwhelming feeling of disappointment can do some serious damage to your self-confidence.

A huge problem in our generation now (and even in society in general) is that we are taught to rely on the numbers. If you don’t have at least a 3.9 GPA, there’s no way you’re getting into medical school. If you weigh more than 150 pounds, you should probably start watching your weight. If you don’t own a pair of $118 Lululemon leggings, what are you even doing? And one of my personal favorites—if your goal isn’t to make at least $60,000 a year in your first job after graduating from Georgia Tech, you aren’t at the right school.

Why do we think that these numbers define our worth as human beings? They don’t. They can’t even come close to describing how significant, how capable, and how LOVED we are. That number on the scale? It doesn’t tell you how beautiful you looked today. The amount of money in your bank account? It doesn’t tell you how wealthy you are in love and happiness. The number of likes you got on that picture on Instagram? It gives no indication of how unique and brave you are. The GPA that appears on your transcript? It doesn’t show your diligence and determination. We use numbers to put quantitative labels on our value, but what about the parts of us that are truly immeasurable?

How can you assign a number to how inspiring you are? What type of scale could ever capture how much compassion you have? Can you put a finite label on how truly alive you are? You are NOT made of numbers. You are made of love and laughter. You are the things that you believe in. You have more substance than numbers.

To anyone who has found themselves wrapped up in the numbers lately, I challenge you to take a step back. Just let go for one moment. Is that number indicative of your worth as a human being? Does it define your integrity, selflessness, empathy, self-awareness, or compassion? Then do not let it define who you are.

You are much too wonderfully made to be condemned to just another number.

The Strong Ones

woman-1209866_960_720

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have so many strong women in my life. Recently, I have seen several of them struggle through difficult times. Some are losing a friend to a terrible disease; others are trying to understand their parents’ divorce. I have watched people battle through failed relationships, losing loved ones, and overwhelming feelings of loneliness and unhappiness. They are trudging though storms, carrying a massive weight on their shoulders, yet no matter how horrible the cards that life deals them are, these women persist with extraordinary fortitude. That is what makes them so strong.

If you are lucky enough to have a strong woman in your life, hold onto them. The lessons that these women can teach you are endless, and their love is unbounded. A strong woman can teach you to walk with the class and conviction that is necessary to face the world head on.

They will teach you to take risks. Barriers are meant to be broken, and that can only happen if we believe in our ability to fearlessly rise to the challenges that we face. To the strong women who helped push me out of my comfort zone when choosing a college to attend, thank you. Georgia Tech is ridiculously hard, but it is a risk that has paid off in so many ways already. Because you taught me to put myself out there and not be afraid of failure, I have begun to embrace what it truly means to be a “Ramblin’ Wreck”.

A strong woman will teach you to be independent. They will undoubtedly be thrilled when you bring a guy home for the first time, but they will make sure you know that you do not need to be completed. You are full on your own. Thank you to the women who taught me from a very young age that the light that shines within me is brighter than anyone’s love for me ever will. There is nothing that is more empowering and freeing than enjoying your own company. Because of a strong woman, I have the confidence to stand alone without fear or insecurities.

A strong woman will teach you the importance of faith. It is not something that we just have; it is a conscious decision that we make every day. Faith is trusting not only in a power that is greater than you but also in people, in love, and in yourself. Thank you to the strong women who taught me that if I have unshakable faith in myself, I can become everything I want to be.

A strong woman will teach you that it is okay to falter. Failures and doubts are inevitable. We are not perfect. Setbacks will discourage us, and we will experience times when we want to give up. But we can be unstoppable in spite of the obstacles that we face as long as we choose not to give up on ourselves. I am so grateful for the strong women who have been there to watch me stumble but also to help me stand back up.

To the strong women who are blessings in my life, I strive to be more like you every day. Thank you for your constant encouragement, support, and love. You have touched my life in infinitely many ways and shown me the importance of having strong women to lean on. I am forever grateful for you.

Sincerely,

A strong woman in the making.

19 for 19

19

In celebration of my 19th birthday today…

19 things that I want to accomplish at 19

  1. Learn some form of self-defense
  2. Shadow a doctor in a field I haven’t worked in before
  3. Go skydiving
  4. Perfect the art of a kale or spinach smoothie
  5. Find a research lab I am interested in and contact the professor
  6. Confidently hold my tripod headstand
  7. Go to a concert of an artist that I’ve never seen before
  8. Attend a book signing of an author I love
  9. Go for a sunrise hike
  10. Make a budget and SAVE money
  11. Stop biting my nails
  12. Go on a yoga retreat
  13. Start a clean-eating recipe box
  14. Read 3 new poetry books
  15. Run a 15k
  16. Create an itinerary for my trip to Spain and Portugal
  17. Apply for a big person job
  18. Take a road trip somewhere I’ve never been
  19. Become unshakable in the belief that I am worthy of a big life (thanks for this one, Kristin Lohr)

Here’s to 19, my friends!!

 

 

light>>>darkness

 Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

 Every human being on this planet will at some point in their life encounter an obstacle or hardship. While for some these struggles may be small, others face problems that shake them to their very core.

   The entire point of humanity is to experience life in its purest form—the blessings and the burdens, the joys and the sorrows, and the pleasure and the pain.

   We don’t always enjoy everything that we experience. We hurt, we cry, we get angry, and we get even. Sometimes these moments make us question our abilities and our purpose. I am not afraid to admit that sometimes these battles make me question God.

What we fail to understand is that these struggles are a privilege. When we confront a low point in life, whether it be an illness, the end of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, or any other tragedy, we feel like we are surrounded by darkness. People tell you to search for the good, but you can’t even see your way out of it, let alone focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. It feels like you are being swallowed in a pit of darkness.

   There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.

It is in this place of misery that you are able to find yourself. You begin to realize that you are not your circumstances, but something far greater. Everything we are tested by—every setback, trial or failure, is truly a gift. Here we are brought to our knees. Our gift is the ability to dig deeper into ourselves and find the gold of who we are.

   Kelly Clarkson reminds us “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Personally, I love that song because it feels so empowering and motivating. There is a profound truth to that saying. When our world falls apart, we face two choices. We can either give up or push through it, and come out much stronger than we were before.

   I truly believe that God does not hand out things that you can’t handle. How we approach the hardships we face determine the next part of our lives. By choosing to find our inner strength, we are demanding humility, bravery, and intelligence from ourselves. All the time, people talk about being blessed to have gone through a major setback because it helped them get to where they are today. People don’t just say this. They know it. Through darkness comes light, through fear comes bravery and through tears come smiles.

   This is the triumph of the human spirit, and we all have it within ourselves. We are esteemed, valued, set apart, chosen, pursued, and loved by a God whose love for us will never run out.

He will sustain you (Isaiah 46:4).

looking back, moving forward

One of my favorite things to do for New Year’s is to recap the previous year and write down things that I am looking forward to in the coming year. For me, this is a really cool way to thank God for the many blessings He has given me and to drum up some excitement for new adventures. So many people (me included) get caught up in the “new year, new me” phase, where they try to make huge changes in their lives all at one time. And let’s be honest…not many people stick to their New Year’s resolutions. By reflecting on the previous year, we can see how much we’ve grown, and by looking forward to the new year, we can visualize the potential for even more growth.

2016 Recap:

  • kicked off this year by swimming with manatees on January 1st!
  • got accepted to Georgia Tech…on my birthday
  • took a trip to Athens to watch my “big brother” pitch in his first collegiate baseball game
  • went to prom with my best friend who flew all the way down from Massachusetts
  • nervously gave my first public speech to accept one of my school’s scholarships
  • graduated from high school, yay!!
  • surfed on the Oregon Coast (wohoo bucket list item checked off)
  • continued world-traveling with my sweet babe Jack (we worked on a potable water project in the Sacred Valley in Peru)
  • bungee jumped from the highest jump in South America (hooray for ANOTHER bucket list item being checked off)
  • hiked Machu Picchu (a THIRD bucket list item?! you bet!)
  • got surprised by two of my most treasured friends when they initiated me as a sister of Zeta Tau Alpha…ZLAM for the greatest sisterhood anyone could ever ask for
  • dressed up as a minion and Gru with my best friend Noah (shoutout to him for putting up with my craziness 24/7)
  • hiked Stone Mountain with the best group of froomies EVER!
  • said goodbye to 2016 with some of my best new friends….

What’s 2017 got in store?

  • relaunching my blog, FINALLY!
  • serving as the Assistant Fundraising Chairman for ZTA
  • turning 19 in a few days, ew I’m getting closer to having to be an actual adult
  • adventuring in the Caribbean for spring break
  • finishing my first year of college at Georgia Tech (if I survive finals again)
  • traveling to Spain and Portugal with my mom in May (two thumbs up for checking La Sagrada Familia off my bucket list) AND getting to see my favorite Spanish friend Iria while I’m there
  • cheering on the Yackets for another football season…THWG)
  • adding a perfect new little to the best ZLAM fam there ever was
  • preparing to study abroad for the following spring
  • and MANY more adventures that I’m so thankful for already!!

Cheers…to appreciating the past and anticipating the future!!