The Top 15 College Experiences

I took a commemorative walk around campus today, and as I circled buildings, I had flashbacks of crazy or fun or terrible moments throughout the years. I’m not the only one to accomplish many of these, and they sure wouldn’t have been much fun alone. These events were definitely worth the memories.

So, here’s a list of the 15 most college-like events I have experienced in these past four years (although there are many more).college

1. Waking up in the middle of the night to see my freshman roommate staring at me, naked.

2. Exploring new study niches around campus.

3. Falling asleep in the library after hours (and being woken up by a librarian cleaning).

4. Throwing up after my first neuroscience class because I was so nervous….and failing the class several months later.

5. Recording a music video of “Do-Re-Mi” at 3 a.m.

6. Dressing up as Scary Spice for Halloween.

7. Stealing plates/silverware/toilet paper/cookies from campus because we were out.

8. Crying to a professor about my grades.

9. Tanning on the front lawn.

10. Drinking campus water that tastes like metal.

11. Almost getting fined for building too big of a snow fort.

12. Climbing on the University Center’s roof.

13. Playing campus-wide Capture the Flag.

14. Getting food poisoning from dining hall food.

15. Finding a casserole in the dorm hallway.

…..16. Graduating – tomorrow.

 

Goodbyes and Growing Up

Lately, each day I have set aside time in the peaceful, quiet mornings to reflect on my college years.

It’s not much, but it’s helpful looking back on how I have matured through the processes these four years took me through. And while I wouldn’t be considered “good” at goodbyes, I’m saying goodbye in my own ways. I don’t like the sad goodbyes. I like the ones with smiles, knowing we won’t easily be forgotten or the smiles affirming how blessed our time together has been.

The process of growing up is to be valued for what we gain, not for what we lose.” – C.S. Lewis

Similar to goodbyes, growing up can be looked at as losing the things – or people – we desperately want to hold on to. Instead, goodbyes and growing up should be valued and revered for the how time has brought us to where we are now.

I could never have imagined the relationships I have formed with friends, roommates, classmates or professors. And if I would have planned my life out in advance, I would have missed a lot from the unexpected.

I can’t follow my own plans, I have learned.

This college was never on a Top 10 list, or even a Maybe list. It was on the unwritten, Do Not Go list along with several other schools that had too many hills or not enough nature paths. But what do I know? Turns out, this was the perfect school for me. If I would have followed my own plan I would have passed up on a lot of good things.

I wanted to drop out of college my sophomore year. Thankfully, I was persuaded to stay. And I will soon be a college graduate, with classes and lessons I would not have experience had I given up years ago.

My plans may be subpar, considering I would have missed a whole heck of a lot between just two decisions. But I can now look back at the university and all the formed relationships with a smiling goodbye, knowing we won’t be easily forgotten and have been blessed to be together.

So with goodbyes and growing up, I know definitively I have gained much more than I will ever be able to lose.

10-Day Forecast

What’s on the 10-day forecast, you ask? My college graduation.

Almost ceremoniously, my backpack ripped this week. It was a cry for help – telling me it’s ready to stop carrying books, notebooks and assignments. And I completely agree. I’m ready to take the weight off my back and do away with textbooks.

I’m ready for a new chapter. Not a new start, but a new piece to the puzzle.

Photo: Part of me wants to cry thinking of my last two weeks here, and the other part of me wants to dance on top of this sign in celebration.God has been preparing me for this. He’s been changing my worries into excitement, my plans into a purpose.

Most recently, I’ve seen how God was developing me for life after college: homework. It sounds like the craziest thing, but God knew I needed the push to release my grip from this university. I have been loving my classes, well most of them. I love writing articles instead of taking tests. I love practicing my interviewing skills rather than taking citation lessons.

For two semesters now, I have accepted my career-path change with motivation for the future.

And a month ago, just about the time I started thinking of all the “lasts” I’ll experience, homework became my downfall. I despised the way professors were making me, a 22-year-old student, write a summary of a chapter to prove I had read the required number of pages. I dreaded the petty assignments that held up only as busy work.

While these weren’t exactly new emotions since being a student, they were new in this field of fun technology, events and professors.

Little by little, I became okay with these feelings. They were helping me say goodbye to the town and school that has become my home.

In a few short days I’ll walk proudly across the stage. It will not only signify the end of my college career, but also the growth I’ve had throughout these four years. I can walk tall, knowing and thanking this college for the ways it has forced me to mature in ways I never knew existed.

I can walk tall – without tripping.

Say Goodbye to Tax Season

Today I said goodbye to tax season, and my only source of income.

Thankfully, I no longer have a reason to listen to clients sighing out of impatience and unfortunately, have an excuse to read a book for seven hours straight. 

It came just in time too. I almost screamed at a client on my last nerve after she complained her appointment was late – well Miss Call-the-Kettle Black, maybe you should reconsider your attitude when you schedule an appointment on tax day.

Anyway… I celebrated by eating the remaining crumbs out of a cheesy garlic bread chip bag found in the office and leftover lemon cookies. I’m a little grossed out myself, to be honest, but thinking of not being forced to hear country music all day long is a cause to celebrate.

Goodnight taxes, until next year.

 

 

 

From Football to Faith

Tonight I went to dinner with a former NFL player. A gay, former NFL player I had interviewed for the school newspaper took me to dinner. That's what I'm doing. Even my own opinion doesn't matter. He calls, He equips. The glory is His.

Cool? I think so too.

Well…there were other people there too, but it was still nice and I was famous-by-association I’d say.

The really cool part though? Halfway through the dinner, this public speaker, author, singer and ex-pro player began sharing his faith. Sitting in a restaurant with members of the LGBT group on campus, he explained to a very diverse group of students and staff how happy he was to have been forgiven and loved by God.

I usually don’t divulge in many controversial topics, but this one was too great to be left behind.

Although people have their preconceive notions about famous people, gay people, football players or whoever, it comes down to something greater. It comes down to Jesus.

It all comes down to Jesus.

 

Because You’re Fresh

Summertime come soon. Bring back with you the freshness of fruit, the colorful world and the juiciest life.

I love my fruits – and my citruses. Once you bite into them, it’s like a whole new, happy day is coming alive.

I’m finding my inspirations in the things that make each day fresh. Long live the colors of newness.

JUSTINA-BLAKENEY-CITRUS

 

The Pages Ahead

This road of life we are on is so strange sometimes.

It’s odd to me that near the end of college and the beginning of career, what I want most is to write. And write. And write.

But what I find myself doing less and less, is writing.

I write for classes. I write for the school paper. I write for resumes and cover letters. But I don’t write for myself. I jot down bullet point lists and have a notebook full of ideas, yet can’t deliver in my personal creativeness.

Well, that’s no good.

Can you imagine writing at this desk, with this view? Writing Table, Leeds, England  photo via things

My discipline hasn’t gone anywhere, while my schedule may have.

In all my chaos I seem to have lost time for what I enjoy most. Luckily, I’m still young and creative writing is still inside me waiting to be used.

The sun is still overhead and as long as that’s still true, I’ll know there’s something to write about.

Not-so Cookie Cutter Lives

Last week I went to a lecture and the speaker said something that’s really resonated with me since then. She said,

“Our stories aren’t out of books, they’re not cookie cutter lives. But good or bad, it’s our job to share our messy stories for the sake of the movement.”

I had to let that sink in for a while. Now, she was referring to the women’s rights movement, but I think what she said is so very relevant to much more.

It’s always seemed to me like people want to hear the happy, feel-good stories rather than the hard, still-struggling ones with unknown endings. But maybe that’s not so true.
For whatever sake, we should share our stories. Good or bad, our stories matter.

Sometimes we can give off the impression that we do have neat, story-book lives when in reality, we could be made up of somewhat difficult pieces.

Just like when snow covers the ground flawlessly, I am easy to forget all the dirt and grim underneath.

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When snow is so beautiful, it’s simple to focus on what it looks like now without remembering all it took to look like the picture perfect scene.

Trees went through a lot to get where they are now, blanketed with winter. Their leaves went through the color-changing process, falling when they finished to a pile on the ground. Mud and dirt filled the brown earth before the snow arrived. And soon, ice was all around, threatening car and walkers alike.

But then, all the change suddenly seemed worth it on that first snowfall.

Looking out the window overjoyed at the beginning of this new season, how soon we forget the frozen ground left behind.

So whether our lives currently resemble fresh, fallen snow or like the melted, messy passing kind – it’s up to us to share our stories for others’ sake. We share to let others know they’re not alone in this fight, to remember we’re not cookie cutter, and to see how much we’ve been blessed.

To Hobby or Not To Hobby

I’m not a quitter. No, I don’t particularly enjoy quitting. Somehow though, along the way, I’ve lost my hobby.

I’ve had my seasons and phases.

The one I remember most vividly – rock collecting. That’s right, I was your average elementary/middle school girl that collected rocks of beaches, usually from Lake Michigan on walks with my outdoor-appreciating father. I had a rock polisher and a secret stash of favorites in the corner of my closet. It was a treasure.

I was into sports thereafter – volleyball, basketball, and softball. Starting second base for many of my teenage years, and proud of it. I loved being part of the team, the sound of crowds cheering, knees staining with dirt as a result of sliding into home. The smell of rain in late spring during practice. And slowly that too faded.

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I had a go at singing, tossing around instruments one after another, testing out different sports teams, yet nothing stuck.

All in all, I think the thing with hobbies is that I don’t have one. Rumor has it they’re healthy and a good use of your time. Maybe I need to try them for a longer period of time or try for more accountability. Projects tend to become obsolete to me quickly and I move on. This time though I need focus and persistence. Stamp collecting, rollerblading, wine tasting. Too many choices – how could I ever decide. It’s almost like I should have started this years ago, but here I am with not yet a hobby.

Or is the thing with hobbies that some people aren’t wired for them? Maybe I am the exception. Maybe I should be thankful for an opportunity to not focus on one activity or collection, but a variety. I am in hobby-limbo. One day I can do parkour and the next be an equestrian. Hm. The world is my oyster.

Here comes the soul searching. I’m out to find a hobby, or run from the idea.

Stay tuned.

xx