2017 Word of the Year // Bold

“And if you like midnight driving with the windows down, and if you like going places we can’t even pronounce, if you like to do whatever you’ve been dreaming about, then baby, you’re perfect; so let’s start right now” – One Direction // Perfect

I’ve gotten in the habit of choosing a word of the year because in my opinion, New Year’s resolutions don’t work, typically aren’t realistic and people rarely stick to them. Choosing a word of the year allows you to look at your life, find an area you’re lacking in and then dedicate an entire year growing in that word; whatever that looks like for you.

2015 was Intentional, 2016 was Authentic and 2017 is going to be Bold. It was going to be ‘bet,’ but I thought I’d do something a little less trendy.

This post is gonna be confusing, sporadic, overwhelming at times and a little bit spiritual, but that’s exactly what this next year is going to look like. Also it’ll be littered with music lyrics and inspirational quotes because you know I love them.

First things first. I’m an extremely sheltered person. I’m a dutiful daughter, I make realistic decisions, I’ve always been the mom of the group, I succeed academically in school and I’d rather have my teeth pulled than have the attention placed on me. My whole life I’ve felt in control of my appearance, my school work, my extra curricular activities and my future. It’s in that control that I’ve found safety and comfort in knowing that I had it all figured out.

William G.T. Shedd once said, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”

I’ve spent my whole life safe in that harbor, and I can count on two hands the amount of times I’ve really felt of my comfort zone. “One foot in and one foot back. But it don’t pay to live like that. So I cut the ties and I jumped the tracks. For never to return.” -The Avett Brothers // I and Love and You

A few weeks after being dumped, I woke up one morning and vividly realized that this life is completely my own and I have infinite possibilities if I allow myself to take heart. Biblically speaking, ‘take heart’ means to become confident or courageous during a difficult situation. Jesus says in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Have more comforting words ever been spoken? True Identity Ministries breaks down the passage like this, “The way Jesus uses the phrase take heart here in John 16:33 is as an imperative verb. That means that he is saying taking heart is an action, it’s something we do, and that it is a possibility in our lives based off the choices we make…but it doesn’t become a reality until we actually make the choice.”

Freshman year of college I had set myself up for success joining the right clubs, working hard in school and interning in the years following. Fast forward to my senior year, I was paralyzed by fear of realizing I don’t have it all figured out. I had been working so hard towards goals I wasn’t sure I still wanted.

“Sometimes, making the wrong choice is better than making no choice. You have the courage to go forward, that is rare. A person who stands at the fork, unable to pick, will never get anywhere.” – Terry Goodkind

I don’t want to stand at the fork of my life, paralyzed by both sides, stuck in my head ruminating about the details of both. I’d like to take a leap of faith and figure it out from there. In every Christian girl’s favorite song, Hillsong United // Oceans, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me.”

Deep in my heart I know that God would never leave my side, but it’s a scary feeling being called to do or be more. He calls us out to live our wildest dreams, and all we have to do is trust in Him. Trusting is hard; it requires you to submit control to something you have no idea how it’ll work out. Last night, I realized that Mary fully trusted the angel Gabriel with the most insane prospect of giving birth to the Son of God. All she did was listen and she was led to the most important job of all the world. What amazing things could God be calling our hearts to if we just listened?

“My whole life I’ve been telling myself ‘don’t be afraid.’ And it is only now that I’m realizing how stupid that is. Don’t be afraid. Like saying ‘don’t move out of the way when someone tries to punch you’ or ‘don’t flinch at the heat of a fire’ or ‘don’t blink.’ Don’t be human. I’m afraid and you’re afraid and we’re all always going to be afraid, because that’s the point. What I should be telling myself is ‘be afraid, but do it anyway.’ Live anyway.”

If you’re getting the gist of this, I’m a total control freak. I like to have everything planned from what I’ll have for dinner to what age I want to be married by. After breakfast with a friend, I described to him what I wanted my life to look like in the future, and he asked me why I wasn’t doing any of those things now. Initially, I was pissed. I couldn’t do those things until I moved, or got my first job, or got married, or had a salary, or was different as a person.

A day later, I realized that there might not be a future; I should adopt the style I want to be wearing, I should move to a big city and struggle to pay rent because I spent my money going out with new friends, I should take adventures to the mountains and avoid mundane rituals of everyday life while I still have the chance. I don’t have a mortgage, kids or a husband keeping me from doing literally anything I want to do. I’m absolutely free to make as many mistakes as I want, while they still have little consequence.

This is my time to be reckless, to chase dreams and move across the country. I’m about to be 22 years old, and I am so scared: to move, to leave my friends, to get a big girl job, to be an adult, etc, but that’s exactly why I need to go. I’m not going to let fear keep me from doing things I feel are right for me or making big mistakes. I’d be lying if I said I know what I’m doing day-to-day or even what I’m going to do with my life. One thing that I know for certain is that for every closed door and every failed dream, “I’m learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things not meant for me.”

I’m deciding to relinquishing control, and not allow myself to feel comfortable because when you’re uncomfortable, the magic happens. Maybe I’ll live in a sleepy little town on a lake and work at a local bookstore, maybe I’ll become a fancy account manager at a top PR firm in a big city, maybe I’ll move from city to city experiencing new things and living the nomad life. Who knows what I’ll end up doing, but at least I’ll be living out my story, however it’s meant to unfold.

So what is bold going to look like for me?

I want to speak up when I’d rather keep quiet. I want to stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves. I want to keep carrying boys on crutches’ luggage across a parking lot even though it weighs more than me because no one else offered. I want to make eye contact with people instead of looking at the ground. I’m starting to write a book I’ve always dreamed of writing; a freaking book. I want to adventure wherever my feet and my friends will take me. I want to every day make decisions that get me out of my comfort zone, because according to my homeboy Ben Rector, “Life is not the mountain tops, it’s the walking in between.” This year is probably going to be really tough, and I’m sure I’ll shy away at times when I should stand up, but I’ve never felt more ready to take chances; maybe you’ll take some with me.

life: You’re not good enough. You can’t be brave. You can’t do this.
me: Bet.

Ohio University – A Senior Looking Back

I’m sorry freshmen, but you won’t understand this; there is just no way you could. In three short years, you’ll know. Oh man, will you know. I have left a note for you at the end, I think you need to hear it.

I’ve made about four drafts trying to talk about my experiences about OU, the things I’ve learned and what I’ll miss, but I just can’t find the words. I don’t think I’ll ever find the right words to describe my experience because it’s been nothing short of indescribable.
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Thank you Athens, for everything. Thank you for allowing me to join you on a wild, four year ride to my adulthood. Thank you for building me up, breaking my heart and shaping me into the person you knew I’d become. When I walked upon your bricks for the first time, I could never in my wildest dreams have anticipated all the life I’d experience, and the joy I’d find.
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I quite literally grew up among red bricks and green trees, I spent late nights that turned into mornings at bars that make your feet stick and I lived in a humble town with humble people. We didn’t come to attend a big football school, we didn’t come to join the biggest greek life system in the nation, we came to a small school with big personality and unforgettable people.
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I’ve ruined countless heels in the bricks and I’ve had way too many drinks spilled on me. I’ve seen heartbreak and unfathomable joy, and I’ve seen desperation and triumph. Classes will kick your ass, boys will break your heart and sometimes you’re not sure how you could ever go on. But you will; you will and you’ll be stronger because of it. The people you meet in Athens are so authentic in nature, and every single person you meet has the power to change your life, if you let them. Please let them. This school has a commanding power to come together as a whole and start a huge party; you’ll be thankful for this, I promise.
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I never would have thought I’d join a sorority. I never in a million years thought I’d be forever connected to girls who are going to change the world, become amazing mothers and change the way I think about myself. There’s the cliche phrase, “Individually unique, together complete.” You don’t know that joining a sorority is more than matching t-shirts and late nights out. You don’t know that these girls come from all walks of life, with different experiences and outlooks that will soften your heart and fill you up with so much life.
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From the sorority house to my freshman dorm to my apartment of two years, the addresses you’ve allowed me to occupy will stay with me my whole life, and I couldn’t thank you enough for the endless opportunities to grow personally, professionally and academically. I’ve sweated my ass off walking up Jeff hill, swiped into Shively just for ice cream and skipped way too many science classes. I’ve failed exams and broken guys hearts, I’ve laughed until I cried and I’ve sobered up over Nelson breakfast. I’ve danced drunkenly at frat parties and I’ve pulled all nighters just trying to pass a class. I’ve tried every coffee shop, restaurant and store on Court, and I’ve found myself among the trees on College Green. I changed the course of my career path, twice, and I’ve dropped countless classes. I’ve met the most awe-inspiring people from every major, and I’ve had nights with strangers I’ll never see again.
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To the freshman: The summer after senior year was a busy and stressful one preparing for a life I didn’t know I was ready for. Picking out matching dorm accessories to match with your roommate who somehow fills a piece of your heart you didn’t know was missing, saying goodbye to friends from your four years of high school that you can’t believe won’t be with you every day anymore, and mostly, trying to figure out how you’ll live on your own for the first time. The night before moving to OU for my freshman year, I didn’t sleep at all. I was excited, scared to death and anxiously anticipating what my four years at the university would look like for me.
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I can assure you that it didn’t look like what I thought it would, but I couldn’t have known the growth and joy I would receive, and the path my life would take. You don’t know it when you first arrive, but the girl down the hall could become your forever friend, the girl who will make things okay as you sit on the floor breaking down over a guy you fell in love with at Stal. You don’t know that the teacher from your random gen ed class will restructure your view on your major and maybe place an intention on your heart that maybe it’s time to change. You don’t know that Shively ice cream is a privilege, and not a right, and taking trips there with your new dorm friends will make memories for a lifetime. You don’t know that joining a sorority is more than getting a full night life.
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Join a sorority, or don’t. Join a bunch of extra curricular, or don’t. I don’t really care what you do, but I want you to do a lot of things, maybe some things you never thought you would. This town will surprise you, break your heart, build you up, make you laugh and make you cry. I hope your time in Athens is full of joy, but four years is a long time to avoid strife. I also hope you find people that will be there for you in the absolute darkest times of your life, and I hope you cling to those people within an inch of your life. I hope your friends take you to O’Betty’s when you’re drunk and scrape you knee, and I hope you cry at your preference ceremony during recruitment because when you look around you see your home. I hope you skip class to hang out with a friend on South Green in the spring when the weather is just right, and I hope you have some nights you barely remember.  I hope you work hard in school, but know that your GPA is just a number. I know you’ll do these things if you allow yourself to. I hope you find a special spot where you always sit for coffee and a restaurant where you grab weekly dinner with a friend. I hope you make friends with your professors and I hope you find joy in every season of life because this ride won’t last forever.
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I could have never expected to make the friends that I did, join the clubs that I’ve joined and lived life the way I have. You can’t plan for life, as much as you’d like to, but you can be present. I’m asking, more like begging you, to just show up. Every day. Your four years here will fly by, and you’ll never be in a time of your life as this in a place as magical as this.
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Thank you Ohio University, for giving me the things that I wanted, and for giving me so many other things I never knew I needed. I am forever indebted to you for the fun I’ve had, the food I’ve eaten and the life I’ve found. I only have one year left with you, and I intend to make every second count.

Self-Talk and Thought Closets

“You’re so stupid.”
“You’re never going to accomplish anything.”
“You’re too awkward.”
Would you say any of these things to your friend or even a complete stranger? No. So why do we think it’s okay to say these things to ourselves??

In our results based society, we’re encouraged to be the best, have a successful career and a perfectly curated Instagram feed. With all of these unachievable goals projected upon us through social media, it’s so easy to compare yourself to the girl next door or even a woman who lives in another country.

These comparisons and insecurities can cause the root of the self-talk problems we face every day. It’s estimated that we have up to 51,000 thoughts in a day; some are said out loud, but most are communicated subconsciously in our heads. The majority of these thoughts, for me, are negative.

In a book my small group is reading, our self-talk is metaphorically described as the closet in your home. When you outgrow clothes, they no longer fit you or serve you well, you simply get rid of them. With thoughts, though, you can never really get rid of the ones that aren’t meaningful or kind to your psyche.

I never realized how negative my metaphorical “thought closet” was until I was asked to relay the 5 thoughts I had about myself. I quickly came up with: controlling, hardworking, stressed, sensitive and small. Only one out of the five was kind to myself, and somehow I wonder why my attitude remains negative by default.

Most likely, because the thoughts that fill my head are those of unworthiness, self-doubt and vulnerability. If you’re not kind to yourself, how can you expect to lead a truly happy life? It takes real, intentional work to dispel the lies we tell ourselves day after day, year after year. Recognizing when you’re being unkind to yourself is the first step to realizing just how large of a problem our self-talk is.

When you can pinpoint when you’re making comments to yourself such as, “She’s so much prettier than me,” “He has it all together,” or “I’m such an idiot,” you can flip the script and focus on the positive. Our paths were not designed to follow each other. Each of our journeys serves a separate purpose in our individual lives. When you look at another person’s life with envy, you’re discounting the journey your life is supposed to be following. I can assure you that your path will be meaningful and bring you joy, even if it looks different than what you thought it would be.

When you’re feeling down about your appearance, realize that you are made to look a certain way because you are part of an ingenious design, and God does not make mistakes. If you’re feeling less than, realize that your worth doesn’t fall in earthly materialistic goods, but in the love you share with yourself and others. If you think you’ll never accomplish anything, remember where you are and how you got there. “‘You all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, that’s why you’re here, in college. I want you to know that it’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you.'”

Cut yourself some slack every once in a while. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt like you do for everyone else. Realize that everyone makes mistakes and failing that test does not define you or the course of your life.

Healthy self-talk is so important in the role of taking care of yourself, but it’s the easiest to overlook or belittle. You might not even realize how much damage you’re doing to yourself, but know that you can always transform your thoughts and treat yourself more kindly.

You are worthy. You are beautiful. You are kind. You are important. You are not stupid. Your life is not meaningless. You are not the opinion of others. Your story is your own, whatever that might look like.

Please, be kind to yourself. If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t feed yourself the same lie.

I Wanna Spend my Forever Like That

I’m not really one for big gestures, and I’m not really one for public displays of my affection, especially on the internet. I guess I found someone that really deserves the recognition, because I don’t think anyone really knows how much he does for me.

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I can assure you that I really didn’t want to find my forever person in college. I was waiting until I was settled down and in a career to fall in love and do the whole 2.5 kids in a big house thing.

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I was just out of a messy situation with a guy that I wasn’t really over when on Thanksgiving break last year, I was DM’d on twitter; yeah I’m not kidding, that’s my couple story. For those of you who know me at all you know that’s not my ideal situation either. Anyways, it was a boy from my high school that was cute, extremely innocent, and kind of nerdy, to be honest.

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I immediately texted my best friend and asked if I should go out with him. We both decided that it was just dinner and a movie, so why not. I wasn’t really expecting much, but I can tell you that going to dinner that night changed the course of my life. I should have known from day one that he was so kind because our first date was to Horrible Bosses 2; Jay hadn’t even seen the first one, but he didn’t mind.

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After the movie, we went to get ice cream at my very favorite place and we talked for hours; it got to the point where we had to go home or our parents would have put out a missing person’s report. At UDF, my coat, I guess, had slipped off my chair, and I had no idea; all I know was that I saw Jay walk behind me, pick it up, and put it back on my chair the way it was. The metaphor for our relationship began in that instance, Jay continues to show up even when I don’t know I need him.

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He drove me home, opened the door for me every tme, something he continues to do for me now, despite my pleas. Then he kissed me outside of my house before I went back in for the night. That was the moment I knew that it was all over. My life was not my own anymore, and I was embarking on a journey with this nerdy, tall kid from my high school.

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We both went back to our colleges and planned to continue this “thing” we had over breaks and we would be together while we were both home. We fell in love over Skype and the phone, and whenever we could take a weekend off from school.

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Through countless tears and me fighting through the distance, he has shown up. Quite literally when he comes to visit me, and more importantly when I call him on the way to meetings late at night and also when I’m bored and need a break from studying.

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We said “I love you” pretty early on. I’m not some love struck psycho, but I really felt it in my heart, and so that’s how our story went. (If you want the real story, I accidentally had told that I loved him because, one night, when we were making queso dip, I told him that “I love queso, but not as much as I love you,” and physically ran away from him.) Real relationships are messy, and sometimes don’t come out right, but at least they’re honest.

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If he was not my rock and my everyday sanity, I wouldn’t encourage my long distance relationship on anyone. It really, really sucks, and it’s really, really tiring. He, on the other hand, is really, really patient. For those of you who have had the pleasure of getting to know him, or the greater pleasure of being his friend, I ask you to realize the immensity of his loyalty, his selflessness, and his humbling kindness in your life.

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I’ve never felt so endlessly supported, made more cat noises, or felt so comfortable being myself as I have with him. He has been there through every hill and every valley, and I wouldn’t want to do life with anyone but him. Most days, I’d rather do nothing with him, than to do something exciting with anyone else. If you’re not the religious type, this is the part where you can stop reading, I’ll spare you the details.

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I really feel like God brought this man into my life for a reason. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” While on my journey of strengthening my faith and finding community in people worth the time, Jay has been there every step of the way guiding me, and offering me advice.

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This might sound a bit creepy, but I think that we should all strive to find a love like Jesus’, and Jay is so Christ-like to me. Self-sacrificing, humble, the rock upon which I stand, and so so so comforting.

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Our love hasn’t been this electric, can’t-sleep-at-night, heart-wrenching psychotic teen love fest, it’s been a slow, evolving, and very deeply-rooted affection.

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At first I felt like I was missing out, on all that teen junk you read about in the movies, but the Buddhists say, “If you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, that’s not the one. When you meet your ‘soulmate’ you’ll feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation.”

I’m so calm with Jay, I’m basically always asleep, so I think we’ve found a good thing here.

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He treats me like an absolute princess every second that I breathe, he is my best friend, my boyfriend, and my favorite snuggle buddy.

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I’m so glad that I showed up that Friday night in November, because he’s been showing up every day since.

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My Little Piece of Heaven

I only moved in two weeks ago, and have finally gotten around to blogging about my finished decorated apartment.. but I’m so happy with the results.

Our apartment is cosy and came fully furnished, which was amazing for my out-of-state best friend not having to lug everything across states. It’s on the main street of our campus above my favorite little cafe, and I can promise you I never want to move.

Here is a little tour of my humble abode; let me know what you think in the comments!

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My closet featuring my new BFF, my shoe rack, keeps everything organized and able to be seen. I could do with some more space, but I’m just a hoarder..

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My favorite place in the world: bed! I really love how the decor turned out and especially the monogram, I think it really brings it all together.

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Here is my desk area and dresser, my attempt at a gallery wall..

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This is my other favorite space, my window nook. We have two and they are perfect for people watching, reading, and soaking up some morning sun!

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Here’s me and my tapestry, I’m pretty sure I’m dancing, but who can be sure..

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Last but not least, the “gallery wall” in my living room!

We have a kitchen and bathroom too, but those rooms are not cute or photograph worthy, I can assure you. Big thanks to my mom, dad, and boyfriend for moving me in.