What are you doing with your life?

So I graduated from college. You know what that means… I get asked 278,342 times a day what I am doing with my life.

Every time I get asked that I want to turn to sand and blow away in the wind. Or shake the person and ask them what they are doing with their life. I want to say several different things like, “having this conversation with you” or “if I told you I would have to kill you.”

But the reality is that right now, I work in retail. At first, I was really ashamed. It isn’t fair to be ashamed of my job, great people – thousands of people, have jobs exactly like mine. When the question inevitably pops up in conversation, I would feel like I was letting the interviewer down, even if they were a complete stranger. I felt like everyone expected me to do something really great right away. After all, not everyone graduates from college at 20. Surely, if anyone was going to start off as a CEO right away it would be me.

Friends, family, that right there is some nasty, toxic pride. In a way, I think God very intentionally placed me where I am right now because if I am being honest, I have let people judge me by my performance since day one. It worked for a long time, too. You could ask me about what was going on or how I was and I could provide a three minute explanation of how busy I was with so many great things.

I was doing great things, but too often, for the wrong reason.

I thought the only way that I could serve God was if I did everything, perfectly. Jesus would have gotten the internship with the non-profit that saves babies right? He would have immediately been promoted to Director? He would still sleep eight hours and get coffee with his friends and followed the Whole 30?

First of all, no.

True, Jesus did amazing things, but his life wasn’t so extraordinary that the kings felt inferior compared to his resumé. (He was also the perfect son of God and I am the daughter of a navy nuke guy.) Jesus served God by the way he lived. 

He took time for people, he prayed, he taught, he celebrated others, he made time for family and disciples. He did not compare himself, brag about miracles, turn loving others into a start-up with a cool logo, forget about his Father.

Jesus and his disciples model a life that reminds us that fisherman or tax collector, the most important thing about your life is how you are living it. That is something I missed in my busy-all-star-greatness. I am not saying that I was an all-together garbage person the past three years, but there was an undue anxiety to prove myself as a worthy servant of Christ.

Jarod Noel said at the Focus conference when we humble ourselves in our communities, we are able to focus on God’s will being done instead of whether or not God is using us. Humility doesn’t keep score. Along that same line, Tim Keller said in Every Good Endeavor, understanding work as being the hands and feet of Jesus “elevates the purpose of work from making a living to loving our neighbor and at the same time releases us from the crushing burden of working primarily to prove ourselves.”

Do I need to say that again? Understanding work as being the hands and feet of Jesus releases us from the crushing burden of working primarily to prove ourselves. 

When we frame work that way, it becomes clear that every detail of our ordinary lives adds up, and should ultimately paint a much bigger picture. Work proves that Jesus loves our neighbor, not that we can do great things. We then have the opportunity to make room in our lives for the pieces that the world may not value as much as our Creator does. Learning these lessons in my post-grad season may not have done much for my resumé, but has helped heal me and brought me a new peace I am excited to take into the next season.

I have hope that God does have a bigger plan for my life than the answers I can give you right now. I hope that He will make me a teacher and wife and aunt and mother and bridesmaid and secretary and so many other things. But through it all, it is so important that I remember the most important title I can ever adorn is “loved daughter of the Heavenly Father.” The works I carry out due to my faith in God are the most important and most valuable.

You Are Not You

I sat in the waiting room with a clip board and a pen. I checked box after box.

Strongly describes me. Does not describe me at all.

I was pouring out my heart and soul on an intake form and it felt… weird.

That kind of vulnerability in such a medical way was the first step on a long journey to discovering how mental and emotional health play a role in my life. I didn’t feel like someone who was supposed to be in therapy. I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t going through any kind of trauma. I was just a 19 -year-old girl with a little too much on her plate and a lot of questions about her future.

Choosing to start therapy was more of a utilization of a tool than a necessary step to help prevent my imminent destruction.

And honestly, it was great. I learned a lot about myself and how I handle emotional situations. I learned about shame and blame and all that jazz. I stepped away from the process confident that I could handle the problems I had going on without the weekly meetings with my counselor.

But around the end of the school year I started to feel different. My fears and insecurities felt so big and I felt so powerless. Suddenly I wasn’t myself. Sure, I was joking around and smiling at strangers. But every action felt empty. I didn’t want to see the people I loved and I didn’t believe that they loved me. I felt like I couldn’t take the next step in my career or just function like a normal human being. I was tired. I was sad. I was not me.

As I would later discover, I have clinical depression.

It wasn’t this dramatized, glamorous thing where I just laid in bed and cried. It was me, trying to function, and feeling it wasn’t worth it. It was all those little voices saying “you’re not good enough” but instead of it being a small whisper, it became a coach with a bullhorn, ever present and working over time.

It got bad. I thought it was what the rest of my life would be like. But somehow, by the grace of God, I had the wisdom to say something and go to a doctor.

It was not an instant fix. There is no magic pill to take to make your life perfect. Sometimes it takes chemical regulation and a change in diet and conversations of vulnerability and wisdom from your mother and the liberation of saying “I am never going to be perfect and that is okay.”

But that journey is the difference between life and death and that is not an exaggeration. I am writing this not because I want to let you all know that I beat depression! My life is perfect now! Because that is not true and I am still very much in the midst of my story and it took me months before I got the courage to sit down and write this blog. I am writing this because I didn’t know that I was not alone. I didn’t know there were ways to live with depression. That there would be good days again when the darkness could be hushed and I could celebrate being alive.

I am writing this because when you are not you anymore you need to get help.

Because not only is your life worth fighting for, it is infinitely valuable. I wouldn’t wish this journey we are on for anyone, but I will say that fighting has given me so much insight into who I am and how God created me.

Even when you are wired for struggle, your life will not be absent of the blessings that God has promised to you. You can still have a future and a plan to prosper. But please. Don’t just sit idly by. Get the help that you need to feel like yourself again.

Just because you can’t put emotional and mental health in a cast and try to reset it doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a doctor. Just because you feel low doesn’t mean that you are weak or worthless. The most dangerous lie that you can believe is that things can’t change.

So be patient and take the first step on the journey. If it is a crippling weight or just a little too much on your plate, therapy, chemical regulation, and vulnerability are tools God has given us to make sure we are able to live our lives with joy and stability.

So please friends, if you are not you, fight to get your life back.

Enough is Unattainable

One of the words that I hate most is enough.

Enough feels like a chain around my ankle that keeps me from coming up for air.

I will never be beautiful enough. I will never be smart enough. I will never be funny enough. I will never work hard enough. I will never be loved enough. I will never have enough energy, money, or time.

Sometimes, the weight of the pressure to be enough for myself – not even for others – is crushing. It is always present when I walk into a room of new people or even when I sit down around a table with my friends. When you factor in the expectations that I perceive that others have for me it will always be a losing battle and I will never be enough. If I have to be enough, then I can look forward to a lifetime of getting home and feeling sick as I analyze every part of my day to see where I didn’t measure up.

Because recently I realized that for me, enough isn’t even perfection. Enough is being better than the absolute best. It means comparing my worst parts of myself to the best of others. It is collecting all of the good things I hear people say about others and working day and night to make sure that I go above and beyond to make sure I can be more than that.

When I am not enough I am a failure.

This practice of measuring up is not only unhealthy, it goes against everything I am actually trying to be according to the gospel. When you have to be enough there is no room for humility. There is no grace or gratitude for your gifts or others. Instead of seeing the kingdom all I can see is my own perceived brokenness.

I believe lies in the “enough competition” like “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” actually means “If you are doing enough others will do unto you”. I believe God stops fighting for us when we don’t sit down for a Instagram worthy daily devotional. I believe that I have to be an invaluable member of the team in order to take part at all.

But all of these beliefs are lies. They are standards that can’t be reached and they prevent us from hope, joy, and love. They breed competition and insecurity. They make it impossible to be the person I really want to be, a person with faith and hope for the future.

I wish I could tell you that it is easy to just stop the “enough competition” with a simple prayer or just being aware. But it’s a fight that takes everything you’ve got. Prayer and awareness certainly help. Vulnerability is a key player. Gratitude can go a long way. The most important thing is that we keep fighting together. I still don’t have an easy fix for you but I promise to be vulnerable along the journey.

I hope that is enough for you.

Almost Dun Aengus

I was not ready for this year.

I am not ready to graduate in December. I am not ready to sit down with my parents and look at the next 10 months and how much it is going to cost and where I am going to find a job and where I am going to live and how I am going to make it out there in the “real world”.

I was not ready to try to balance two jobs, a leadership position, and being a full time student. I failed a lot this year at all of those things. I missed days at work and turned in papers I was not proud of and repeatedly let down my team and my organization.

I am not ready for right now. While my roommate packs her boxes and my best friends write graduation speeches and I stand in front of people that I love and tell them goodbye when I feel like I only just said hello.

The tension between here and now is something that I have never experienced in this way before. I have always been ready for what is next. I was ready to move to Tennessee. I was ready to go to Lee. I was ready to start the new jobs. I was ready for everything because for so long God’s plan for my life seemed to come with an instruction manual. First grade, second grade, middle school, high school, college. Then this time comes where we don’t get to know exactly what that next step is. You have to wait. It reminds me of Dun Aengus.

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Dun Aengus is a battlefield in Ireland on the side of a cliff on the Aran Islands. The trip up to the cliff was pretty brutal for me. I may seem like a wilderness explorer, but I would say my comfort level in the great outdoors is about the same as your average 7 year-old. I hiked up this big hill over slippery rocks as slowly as I could. Clinging to walls and my friend Graham the whole way. I was terrified. I hated it. I wanted to cry and I was so out of breath. I just kept praying that I would make it without falling.

And then we got to the top. It was so incredibly beautiful. I walked out to the edge of the cliff and I looked at the powerful ocean.

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I stood there and I thought about how God called me up there. He calls me out there into the powerful ocean that absolutely no sane person would ever willingly travel into. There is no boat or equipment that could help prepare you for the rocky cliff or choppy waters. I know “Oceans” is basically a joke at this point but I just kept thinking, take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. 

And while this year has felt like I have been climbing up cliffs and falling in the waters I know that God has called me to come out even deeper. That is what graduating early means to me. Post-grad at 20 is a giant terrifying cliff that I hate climbing but the life God has planned is an incredible, beautiful view that I can’t experience any other way.

I can’t complain, because even though so many times through out this journey I couldn’t catch my breath, people have never stopped cheering me on. Even though I was not in shape to make this journey God has placed the people and support that I needed in order to make it through this year. Just because it wasn’t easy to get here, doesn’t mean I didn’t make it to the top.

I think the mistake I have made at this point is that I thought that finishing this year meant that I had to stop, get off the path and make way for someone else. After all, I am done with my leadership position and I only have one semester left. What good can come of one semester anyway?

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Well, this is what it looked like from the top, just before you go into the battlefield where you can see the ocean and the cliffs. This is where I am right now. It is so beautiful and I fought so hard to get here but I still have one more battlefield to cross. God isn’t done showing me where I am going yet. This next part is scary, but we are all going there eventually. And when I get there I am going to be glad that I fought to get there.

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So with that I say:

2017, what do you have for me next?

 

Share Your Joy, Share Your Pain

I struggled this week with the same ole weaknesses and fears. The same doubts of my worthiness. But through it all I have refused to avert my own joy.

I don’t think I ever expected to be sitting where I am right now. Not physically, I mean, I am in my bed which makes sense because it is 1:30 A.M. But emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I never knew that my heart could be both so heavy and so light.

It’s one of those weeks where you look back and think “Am I even the same person I was seven days ago?” The answer is honestly no for me. Usually these weeks of exponential growth come after I receive a big ole yes from a job, a club, a class. That isn’t actually the case this week.

In fact, this week I have gotten a few no’s.

I sat across the table in a coffeeshop and wrestled with vulnerability and God’s timing.

I picked up a test with a grade I was not excited to see.

I sat in the car after a long day of deciding the leadership for the organization I love so much. Realizing that this would be a team I would not be a part of. That I had just replaced myself with one of these incredible leaders.

I struggled this week with the same ole weaknesses and fears. The same doubts of my worthiness.

But through it all I have refused to avert my own joy. Averting joy is an idea I learned from Brene Brown, an author who has specialized her research in shame. The idea is that whenever we approach a situation where we have to risk failure or rejection we cannot downplay our emotions, but instead we revel in the joy the opportunity presents. She writes in The Gifts of Imperfection,

“It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve learned that playing down the exciting stuff doesn’t take away the pain when it doesn’t happen. It also creates a lot of isolation. Once you’ve diminished the importance of something your friends are not likely to call and say, “I am sorry that didn’t work out. I know you were excited about it.”

With each step I am taking entering into this next phase of work, internships, stepping down from leadership, new relationships, and eventually the impending doom of whatever lies beyond graduation day, it is so important not to downplay these next phases of life. It is crucial that we invite our community into the joy and the pain that these various rejections and acceptances can bring. That isn’t easy. In fact, it is often terrifying to be honest with people about hopefulness.

This weekend I have experienced so much joy by playing a role in the engagement of two of my best friends. Sharing in their love with our community has been so inspiring. Even as I have faced rejection this week I have not walked alone. Just as they invited us into their joy, I have invited them into my struggle. The same goes for those selected for cabinet and those who weren’t. I can be so incredibly excited for those ready to take on this commitment but I can also empathize with those not selected as I get ready to watch these people form a new community that I won’t get to fully be a part of. When we have empathy for each other out of humility we have the same victories and short-comings.

But the joy I feel is not discounted by my doubt. God is not limited by my shallow vision. The community will not let me feel the highs and the lows alone. I am standing in a place I could have never chosen for myself and for that I am truly grateful.

This week I will turn 20 years old. I will get on a plane and fly to Ireland. I will welcome a new cabinet. I will love people well. I will make time to seek God’s will. I will feel every emotion and every fear and I will not allow them paralyze me.

Risk sharing your heart with your community. Risk walking with them. Risk doing life together. See the difference it makes when you share in this journey with humility.

A Guide to Your First Adult Summer

It sort of sneaks up on you, but someday you will find yourself unlocking the door to your apartment.

That’s right, your apartment.

One day I walked into my apartment after work and went to my room. This very first time, I took a minute in the threshold of my room and thought to myself, is this really happening? Am I really paying my own rent and living in this place? I knew for weeks this moment was coming but it still managed to sneak up on me. There is just something so unexpected about the first day you really feel like an adult. It is a pretty simple day, nothing extraordinary, but at the end you’ve worked and provided for yourself. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not completely independent (Love you Mom and Dad) – but I am taking care of business this summer.

And I’ve absolutely loved it. It’s hard work, but it’s so worth while. I believe in what I’m doing. I feel fulfilled. It’s a dream come true.

So I thought I’d share this experience, some things you need to know about what it’s been like spending this summer in conference rooms and making cold calls. The summer you learn to stop thinking: I’m just a kid. 

Adult Diet

If you think “man cannot survive on apples and coffee alone” YOU ARE WRONG*!! My number one concern the first half of this summer was that I would be hungry or tired at work but this diet has proven to be excellent. I keep apples scattered through out my office, car, purse – I am basically the Easter Bunny of apples. The only exception to this diet is that every Monday I get a $5 burrito because

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*Disclaimer: Don’t worry, I actually eat like a normal person but I do have apples and coffee for breakfast everyday and it is great. I probably wouldn’t survive if that was all I ate.

Adult Exercise

I have found the secret to finding that summer bod you’ve always dreamed of! Follow these simple steps and you too can be an adult office goddess like myself.

Step One: Spend as much time at your desk as you possibly can. Only move if you feel like your soul will leave your body should you spend one more moment at your desk.

Step Two: Take the stairs. ESPECIALLY if there is a threat of having to be in the elevator at the same time as another human being. It does not matter if it is your best friend or a complete stranger. There is something about workplace elevators. Small talk and silence are equally uncomfortable in that tiny box of social anxiety.

Step Three: Are you familiar with a dollie cart? Well let me tell you, that baby is going to be your new best friend. Try pulling that beauty all over campus with as much stuff as you can possibly squeeze on that bad boy in one trip. My top two dollie experiences were taking two corn hole boards across campus and when I used it to get 3,117 pieces of candy up to our office.

Step Four: Wear clothes that are appropriate for the workplace, but not appropriate for the 104 degree heat index. Don’t try to tell me not to wear corduroy pants in July because I won’t listen. The sweating will help you lose any water weight you might have. Also a piece of your sanity.

Step Five: At this point you should be pretty toned and fit, but just in case you aren’t, try keeping your supplies in a storage that is anywhere but your office. It could be another building, in a trailer, maybe another zip code. Bonus points if you have to climb stairs to get there. You’re going to be so fit.

Adult Free Time

When I come home from a long day of work, I really just want to clean. There is something so nice about being able to get in the kitchen and fix a problem so quickly without having to think about it. It’s like, oh, this dish is dirty. Well, now it’s not! Bam. Done. I never thought that I would long to clean a bathtub but here I am.

But cleaning is not all I do. I also watch movies because sometimes I will have two entire hours with nothing I have to work on. Or I will write. Or pray. Or paint. I am learning to play the Ukulele. I have nice candles that I burn while I plan for SLC. It’s incredibly relaxing to not have somewhere to be all the time. I spend all day doing something and then that is it. I get to go home.

But the sweetest of all of these is when I have company. I love hosting people in my home so much. I love making pancakes for breakfast. I love being able to catch up at night with friends over a cup of tea. People being here is still my favorite treat. It’s honestly a little nice being alone, but I still miss my friends and family terribly.

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Adult Job

I honestly never thought I would enjoy working. Think about it, it’s work. But this summer has proven me wrong. I managed to find two jobs – well honestly they found me – that I really love. I have learned so much about the community, my school, the future, what it all is really like. Some times things feel a little slow or ridiculous (like when you have to call the city of Chattanooga about bamboo) but I am loving every second of this field and the people I work with.

If you ever get the chance, work on campus during the summer. It is so cool to be a part of the community when it is just you and staff. We all joke around and get to know each other with out the pressure of thousands of students. Plus, the parking is A+.

And if you ever get the chance, apply to be a VISTA in the AmeriCorps Program. It has completely changed my life and my aspirations. I love being able to help people in a way where I essentially try to work myself out of a job. Connecting with volunteers and clients is the coolest network of people. You will look back and see the difference you can make in such a short amount of time. I can’t wait to take my boss’s job someday (you heard me Mike, you better get ready to take this thing nationally because I am going to direct the Ocoee Region).

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So get ready guys, it will be here before you know it. It will be glorious. You will love it. Congratulations son, you’re a man now.

 

Two Weeks

A reflection on growth from a Summer Honors alum.

If there is one thing that hasn’t changed since 2013, it’s my love for the song Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear. Ironically, since 2013 my life has changed two weeks at a time.

In 2014 I went to Summer Honors for two weeks for the first time. In 2015 I went again. Two weeks at a time I met my best friends, my future sponsors, my future campus leaders. To say that Summer Honors had an impact on my life is truly an understatement. I know this must be getting old, me talking about SH all the time, and if you are getting annoyed then I have good news for you:

I did not go to Summer Honors this year.

For two weeks it was simple. Work. Dinner. Bed. My schedule was incredibly ordinary. I didn’t go to a Braves game or hear Mike Hayes preach about resisting apathy. No devos or break through moments.

But at the end of the two weeks I went to the last chapel for Summer Honors after getting off work early Thursday night. When Jill stood at the podium at the front of the chapel she told the students,

“I hope you have had your life changed by one degree of trajectory.” 

One degree of trajectory? I looked back at the past two weeks and thought about what had happened without Summer Honors.

The work earlier mentioned, two incredible, fulfilling jobs. One with the office of Alumni Relations where we organized an entire picnic for hundreds of people. I had so much fun over the past two weeks buying hundreds of drinks and thousands of pieces of candy. Another with the ANDOR Project where I serve as a full time volunteer building sustainable programming for children facing poverty.

Dinner over the past two weeks was never boring or typical. I ate with my family in celebration of my brother’s birthday, my best friends, at a boy scout roundtable, and with my housemates.

Bedtime was interrupted twice by visits from Ashley, Nik, and Christian. Friends I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Summer Honors.

The past two weeks have been incredibly fulfilling. I worked really hard, saw a lot of my favorite people, and learned a lot about what I want to do in the future. I think it is safe to say that this summer my life has had more than just one degree of change. I think this summer has taught me a lot about the possibilities that exists outside of the changes brought on by my initial two-week-one-eighty.

The key thing about every two weeks is that we let our goals get bigger. We open our eyes and our hearts to see what possibilities lie ahead. We examine ourselves and see where we need to grow. We build relationships that make the next two weeks even better.

It might just be two weeks at a time, but those individual degrees of change help us to set a trajectory for success. And not just self-seeking success, but relational, developmental, sustainable success.

I am proud of my little two weeks that went by so fast. I think for the rest of the summer I will just take things two weeks at a time. Keeping in mind the present and enjoying that. But never forgetting the trajectory that I am setting for myself.

No Regrets

The comprehensive guide to being a Freshman.
A follow up to “Be That Freshman”.

With just five weeks left of freshman year I’m looking back at some of the best times of my entire life. Next year, people might think I’m an adult or something crazy like that because I will be a senior, on cabinet, a peer leader, and I’ll have those other crazy adult titles. I think about where I was a year ago and all of the crazy amazing things I’ve done since then and I get so excited for the people who are stepping into this part of their life. Lately I’ve been making a list of all of the things I’ve done this year that I truly loved. Things I didn’t see coming and almost didn’t try.

I want everyone to look back at there freshman year and think no regrets

So start by

Taking too many pictures

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Everyone will be doing it. If you don’t, you’ll regret it for sure. Looking through a camera roll full of pictures of friends on mountain tops and videos of friends getting hit in the face with pancakes; that will bring you more joy than you could’ve ever hoped for. I felt dumb taking pictures because I always just want to be present in the moment but sometimes it’s ok to snap a quick little memory to hold on to. Especially if you’re as sentimental as I am.

Getting (too) involved

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Everyone warned me when I came to Lee how easy it was to get overwhelmed with commitment. I did everything in my power to listen to those people by only joining one club.

Well sort of, I mean I joined one social club and one academic. And then I started writing for our school paper. And then I joined two committees. And then I took a few extra little volunteer opportunities.

And then I was overcommitted.

You have to be careful with getting involved your first year if you don’t know how to college. Make sure you can keep up with your homework and learn to say no every once in a while before you jump into a life of meetings and agendas. But by all means, GET INVOLVED. 

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You’ll meet the best people in the whole world when you get involved with the things you’re passionate about. You’ll learn valuable life skills. You’ll love college. You never know where that will take you. Learn to say yes. Learn to say no. Learn how to work hard because you want to.

Studying. A lot. 

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You’re paying to go to school. Don’t miss out on opportunities to really learn something by blowing off homework and procrastinating. Skipping classes is a waste of time and money. Take advantage of the resources available to you. Making good grades and coming out of a semester understanding the material feels so good. The pain is way worth the gain.

Dorm life is worth the pain. 

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Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it can get gross. Yes, it can be loud. Yes, there are a lot of rules. But, at the end of the day you’ll be glad you live a few feet from your friends, food, and first class. Not to mention, you can have some really great times. Granted, I spent most of my time in the dorm sleeping, but if you come to campus not knowing a soul, dorms are a great place to make friends. Dorm wars is crazy hype. Where you live matters your first year. It won’t make or break your experience, but it will impact how you transition into college.

Embrace the PCSU.

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 The building we all love. The home we know so well. Freshmen live here on Lee’s campus. It’s a way of life. It’s the best way to see everyone you know in five minutes. You could stay here for hours and get everything or nothing done. Some folks who live further from the building or choose other dining options may not see the inside of the campus living room as much as I do but you can’t argue, the PCSU is an iconic part of the Lee freshman experience.

Don’t let the good friends go. 

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It can be really easy to lose friends your freshman year. You get busy. You just don’t see each other. Make sure you hold tight to the people who matter. Be intentional. Force time together when you have to. Hold each other accountable. You’ll meet some really amazing people your freshman year. It’s easy to only talk to the people you run into. But, if you want to keep growing, keep in touch with the people who make you stronger. Friends are so important your freshman year.

Explore.

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You’re in this city on your own. It’s time to find out what the world around you has to offer. See the sites. Eat the food. Don’t wait until your senior year to discover the best overlooks or the best coffee place. Set out for adventure on the weekend or a Thursday night. This is the beginning of adulthood. Don’t let routine stop you from exploring creation.

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And Pelican’s. Explore Pelican’s.

Have a good attitude. 

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It will rain. Every day. For weeks. You’ll have four exams. You’ll accidentally take a really hard elective. You’ll miss your mom. You’ll accidentally eat 20 chicken nuggets in one day (yes, that can be a bad thing). Through it all, be positive. Remember everything is happening for a reason. Keep your head up and persevere. Laugh through the pain and rely on your community. Literally praise God when you make it through the week.

Have fun for free. 

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Card games became my life when I couldn’t afford to go out to eat or see a movie. It’s a fun way to get to know people, and you can do it anywhere. Your thing might be different, but for my friends and I, board and card games were the perfect activity for any free time we had together.

Accept your caffeine addiction now. 

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I remember the first time I had coffee before my 9 a.m. I remember what we talked about in the class. I remember how how I was actually awake.

Just give in. Drink coffee. It will make morning classes and afternoon meetings so much more pleasant. Just don’t let it drain your savings.

Never forget it. 

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You only get one freshman year. Hang on to the memories and cherish them for the years to come. Remember what made you grow and the lessons you learned. Remember laughing. Remember crying. Have a blast. These days are gone before you know it.

I Don’t Have A Plan

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

That question used to be so easy to answer.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

That question used to be so easy to answer.

Before life became unpredictable, I always knew where I wanted to be in five years. High school. College. Working. Married. The specifics can change, but there is an outline your life seems to follow for the first 20 years.

I came to college thinking I had a plan. But as I look deep into the eyes of my senior year of college I suddenly realize

I have no idea where I am going. 

The thing is I care so deeply about the things I’m doing right now, and I don’t know what to do when I’m no longer doing them. What can I do with a heart for students when I’ll be 20 with a PR degree? Can God still use me to work with college aged students when I’m still college-aged myself? What about PR? How do I implement my degree in the next phase of my life? Will I find a job that aligns with my strengths and training? And what about my friends? What happens to these precious relationships when I won’t be there 24/7 to grab lunch or study?

The next five years are a complete mystery to me. And that is the scariest and most exciting place to be.

I finally don’t have a plan. That means that I get to totally rely on God to open the doors He wants me to open. My life is now a constant prayer where I am seeking Him and His will for my life.

This means it’s time to listen. It’s time for me to close my eyes and practice what I’ve been preaching.

It’s time to trust Him.

For the deadlines, the applications, the opportunities. Knowing that He is in it all and I am simply a vessel. And what a blessing that is! To know that God is in control instead of me, the person who once whole heartedly believed she was destined to be a Disney channel star!

He has done a great job of getting me here. This semester has been a testimony of how great things can be when I let God do the planning. Things always go better when I ask God  instead of tell God. Now all I can do is still my little planning heart and come to peace with the phrase,

I don’t know, but God has a plan. 

Committing to Comm

Committing to communication was really hard for me. I had to lay down my own plans and trust God’s calling. When I let him have control, he showed me where my talents and gifts could truly be used.

If I haven’t mentioned this before I am a bit of a planner. Like, I started going to college fairs when I was in middle school bit of a planner. My plan was to become an engineer, graduate early, and get on with my life. But when I felt called to go to Lee, a school without an engineering program, I had to scrap my plans and start all over. I didn’t know what I was good at, what I would enjoy, or what I was called to do. But for some reason public relations just felt right.

Little did I know that this was God’s plan all along. My strengths and talents have always aligned with the field of communication.

If you are looking at colleges right now and that big ole choice is right around the corner I feel for you. I remember what it was like. Knowing but not knowing. Having to really trust God in such a huge way. Visiting campus and seeing all of the new faces and buildings and just thinking I love this. 

But the thought that overshadows every step of college planning is I have no idea what I am doing. 

I always wanted something practical but business never felt right. In fact, I knew I kind of hated business. Digital media sounded really fun but I knew I didn’t have the passion or talent to be truly successful. Math was off the table (enough said). I felt like I could do anything but I was never passionate about anything. Reading the description of public relations, I envisioned myself being able to help the community and still keep food on the table. And that was it. I was passionate about community and making a difference and I knew I could support myself. I bit the bullet and declared public relations as my major on my application.

It wasn’t like I knew my whole life. I never wanted to write press releases as a little girl. I decided the summer before my senior year to pursue something I knew almost nothing about. I had to simply trust that God was leading me in that direction. Little did I know what a great fit public relations really is.

Public relations requires strategy, communication, and connectedness. Which are literally my top three strengths according to the Gallup StrengthsFinder test. Let’s just take a second to think about how cool that is. God literally designed me for the field of public relations and I would’ve never known if I hadn’t obeyed him and given Lee a chance.

I would have been successful as an engineer, don’t get me wrong. But the successes and joys I am experiencing as I live out the plans God laid out for me are so much deeper.

Committing to communication was really hard for me. I had to lay down my own plans and trust God’s calling. When I let him have control, he showed me where my talents and gifts could truly be used. Even though I didn’t have all the answers, God still lead me with his comfort and assurance.

So if you’re standing on a college campus this spring thinking I have no idea what I am doing, you’re not alone. God’s timing and his plans are perfect. When you trust in him he will reveal a future that is even more glorious than you could’ve ever planned yourself.