the commencement speech I never gave

I graduated on Saturday.

At my beloved alma mater, I was a finalist for commencement speaker.

I wasn’t selected, but I had a good mindset going in: I have done all I can. I no longer feared the failure, I knew that it was going to be exactly how it was supposed to be.

Turns out I wasn’t meant to be commencement speaker… and that’s okay. I got to enjoy my last several weeks of college, and I didn’t have to stress over not crying on stage in front of a couple thousand people.

However, I still feel this words on my heart. So here’s a “rendition” of sorts of the commence speech I never gave… and to my fellow seniors, we did it!

My name is Alexandra Farber, and I am fully aware that my classmates are all students who have accomplished great things, inspired many, and impacted our community…. and now, a small town girl from Britton, South Dakota will share a few words.

A classmate once said to me, “Our experiences at SDSU are so different,” when I was discussing the variety of meetings and activities on my schedule for the day. This couldn’t be more true. My experience involved the Students’ Association, CAPERS, State A Thon, Step Team, Intramurals, Honor Societies, Undergraduate Research, and so much more. Even though our experiences are vastly different, I wanted to find a way to relate to all the members of the SDSU class of 2019.

My thoughts kept circling back to one word: FAILURE.

I know, probably not the word you were expecting! I asked several classmates, fellow seniors, to enlighten me in my speech-writing process and narrow down their four-year experience into just one word. There was a variety of answers: growth, discovery, opportunities, excitement, friendship, love, and community… just to name a few!

While I am sure many of these terms relate to your college years, my mind kept floating back to a conference I attended last fall. There, I was introduced to the idea of a “Failure Memoir,” where we reflect back on our experiences in terms of all the ways in which we have already failed.

So here’s the thing… Our lives are the way they are today because we have failed. If I hadn’t failed, I probably would be an excellent pianist or an Olympic swimmer. Both of these, I failed in middle school. Now, I can no longer read music or swim a couple laps without getting winded.

In our collegiate experiences, we have all failed. I failed to star in an SDSU production, I failed to become lifelong friends with every person along the way, I failed assignments, I fail to wash the dishes in a timely manner (sorry, roommates!), and so far, I failed to keep off the freshman 15, find my the love of my life… I’ve failed to accomplish all that I hoped to do as a bright-eyed freshman when I lugged my room and my life into Honors Hall room 210, and today I’m sure I will fail in my valiant attempt not to cry as I hug my parents.

Failure is hard. and it hurts. Failure makes us question ourselves and the world around us.

Failure has taught me so many lessons. Failure has made me strong. Failure has shaped me into the woman I am. The idea of the failure memoir is to allow ourselves to realize that we have already failed. It somehow makes any future failure seem less daunting. Even though I know I will fail time and time again, I know that this success today is just one of many that await us.

As I began to write my own Failure memoir, I came to realize it was a resume of what I didn’t achieve. Our memories are selective. Our brains push aside the failures. In 5, 10, or 50 years we will not remember that extremely difficult economics exam or the group project that cost us a night of sleep, the speech that made our voices quiver, the time we slipped on the ice, a lost intramural championship, or forgot, once again, to wash the dishes. Our failures may not be our best memories, but they hold the best lessons.

What will we remember? We will remember this moment. We’ll remember the people who reminded us that while we fail, we are not failures. We’ll remember the passion-fueled paper or project that reminded us why we selected our programs. We will remember the 4 Hobo Day celebrations, our beloved clubs and organizations, internships that kick-started our careers. We will remember our residence halls, our first time on the 9 dance floor, and, because we’re the class of 2019, we’ll remember things like the Frost parking lot, and the use of Doner auditorium. We will remember accomplishing goals after we believed we could not. We will remember thriving off of coffee and pizza. We will remember screaming GO JACKS at the top of our lungs. We’ll remember mentors and professors who helped us to fall in love with our future professions. We will remember this place and the monumental impact it has had on our lives.

So as we leave here today and go on to face the world around us, I hope you are unafraid to fail. Because, the growth, discovery, opportunities, excitement, friendship, love, and community we have experienced here are the products of our failures. I hope you remember that your failures will not define you, but instead they will enlighten you and reinforce your purpose in this world. I hope you will remember that your successes, alongside your failures, brought you here, and that, as we all know, right here is a pretty great place to be.

Today, my friends, we have succeeded.

This is what we will remember.

Oh, and we’ll always remember: GO JACKS.

I love that this blog gives me a space to share some of my creativity, thoughts that I have (because I’m terrible at journaling), and connect with others.

This one’s for my classmates.

We’ve failed… but in the end, we’ve all succeeded in amazing ways, too.

So… I’m proud of you, congratulations, and go jacks.

always,

Alex

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the breakfast club: dance 231

My dance professor ended our final class period by saying… “In my twenty years of teaching many classes, I can say that this one has been my favorite and really mean it because of all of you. I have dubbed this group “The Breakfast Club.” Laughter and cheers exploded in the studio. 

Our Breakfast Club: 9 college students of different ages, backgrounds, and dance experience who came together for a 2-credit dance technique class…. a class that I’m sure none of us will ever forget. 

tappin’ away 

I’m honestly so sad to be writing this blog, because it means that the semester is over. I can’t even think of the right words to describe how this class has impacted me, but the sentiments that my professor left as feedback on my final reflection summarize my vibe pretty well: 

Your positive attitude toward the class, my teaching, and the content played a large role in your learning. It was fun to watch your confidence and skill improve over the semester. It was also refreshing to watch you be empowered as you worked through relationship issues. You seem like a very different person today than the one who walked into the studio in August.

-Mel 

I cried reading those words. 

As a senior, it’s easy to think back on collegiate experiences and feel pangs of regret. “I should’ve done this, I wish I had never done this, If I could do it again I’d do this…” all of these are common thoughts. My version? I wish I had become a dance minor.  As I finish this semester, however, I no longer view this as a regret. I truly believe that I was meant to take this dance class in this season of my life. It has benefitted me so greatly both mentally and physically as my life has done a 180º turn in the past year. As life was changing and I was changing, this class was a beautiful reminder that dance will always be there for me. I smile as I reflect back on my time spent in the studio this semester.

Some of my favorite moments of the semester have been the beginning of the class period where Mel asked us how we’re doing. This question isn’t the surface level “How are you?” where everyone responds, “Oh, I’m good!” We all wore our hearts on our sleeves… even if it happened by stating what item of furniture we felt like that day. On more than one occasion, I felt like a doormat when I entered the classroom and left feeling like the comfy recliner. Tears were shed in our class… but none were because of what was happening inside the studio. The studio was a safe haven from the craziness of college and life. The studio was where our Tuesday and Thursday mornings began, quite often with a smile. This is what I will remember most. 

a group of us also took part in the Christmas Celebration!

As I look back on the goals that I set at the beginning of the semester, I am proud to say that I feel proud of what I have accomplished. My first goal was to increase love /appreciation for my own body. I have given myself so much love this semester. (yaaasss!) Beyond the studio, I’ve spent hours at the gym, I’ve practiced more positive self-talk, I have spent time in reflection. I have become active on social media in encouraging others, especially women, to love themselves, be encouraging to others, and live their truth. In the studio, I gave my all… my FitBit happily tracking my morning dance sessions as a workout. While I didn’t always succeed at keeping my emotions out of the studio (thanks for the hugs, Mel), dance helped me to channel many emotions. 

My second goal was to improve my technical skills / embrace a new learning style. This was so much easier than I anticipated. I have learned new terminology, frameworks, and steps and put them into action. My mind has opened to new pedagogy both for dance and collegiate instruction. The word I would use to describe Mel (Dr. Hauschild-Mork) would be transformative. I hope to implement what I learned from her in my own classroom next year. I felt challenged by the content, but in the way that every person who enjoys learning wants to be stretched… just beyond the comfort zone. I feel like a much stronger dancer due to not only the refreshing of old techniques but the addition of new techniques, terminology, and dance history. It was equally as wonderful to see this growth in my classmates, especially those who had not danced in this kind of setting before. I felt so giddy watching them nail a move or step… perhaps even more so when they didn’t quite nail the step but gave it their all and had a smile on their face. That’s what it’s all about. 

Me being ridiculous, Matty laughing… the usual 

In this class, while we all formed a great friendship (so much so that we asked to be randomly assigned to groups for the final project), we also formed awesome relations with our randomly assigned ‘dance buddies’ from the first week. I was lucky enough to be paired with two lovely ladies because our class had an uneven number. During our final exam time, we shared a thank you note and small, homemade gift with each of our dance buddies. I will cherish the words of thanks that my dance buddies wrote me: 

“Alex, you’re probably one of my favorite people to get feedback from. Your positivity tempers my tendency to hear feedback as huge negatives I take personally. I want to thank you for your supportive disposition and constant encouragement that is felt in all you say and do.” 

– a dance buddy 

Oh miss Alex, thank you for your words of encouragement throughout this dance course. It had been a long time since I had danced in this way and I came in feeling very nervous. You made me feel like I was doing a good job and that my body looked beautiful while doing the moves. You are a strong woman, Alex. You will dance on to do great things.” 

– a dance buddy 

…like, wow. I was blown away by their kind words and even more touched by the hint of sparkle in each of their eyes as I read these words out loud. What truly beautiful souls filled the dance studio this semester. I don’t always feel positive; I don’t always feel strong. I aim to be an encourager in what I say and do and I know that I sometimes fail… but these two amazing ladies made me feel like a million bucks by sharing their experiences with my encouragement. I feel like God is showing me my divine purpose more and more every day and he did so even within the dance studio this semester. I left a mark on these two ladies, and they left their mark on me. I am so grateful for the friendships made in this class… I could add many more examples. 

my final choreo group 🙂 

One last thing that I am thankful for as I end this semester was the opportunity to see Haley each and every Tuesday and Thursday. We planned this accordingly so that we could take this class together during her first semester as a jackrabbit. After four years of friendship from afar, driving Haley to dance class, listening to worship music with her, and reflecting on our days has been such a highlight of my semester. Haley often reminds me of myself. I refer to her as my “little sister.” I have expressed to her that I am so happy that she can continue to learn from Mel and advance her dance career here at State. Through Haley, I will live my “what if.”  

my friend, my sister

The fact that I have accomplished my goals, made friendships, danced my heart out, and learned so much more than the Cincinnati step just furthers the idea that I was meant to take this class during this season of my life. I will always look back on this class as one of the most impactful classes for me here at SDSU and as a constant reminder to never stop dancing (and to never forget the breakfast club.)

To my breakfast club pals: I love you all and you’re wonderful. Thank you so much for creating the environment we shared this semester. The class was amazing, Melissa’s pedagogy is transformative… but the class could never be the same without each and every one of you. 

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I’m proud of me.

I haven’t written a blog in over a year. I kept thinking to myself, “I don’t have anything worth saying.”

Now, I think I do. Maybe it won’t be worth it for you to read (sorry, folks) but it’s worth it for me to say.


This year has really sucked.

It’s also been totally great.

I am not usually one to brag. In fact, when people post about all their wonderful successes, I tend to think “but what about the crappy stuff?” We live in an age of social media, where everyone posts the highlight reel. While I’m happy to see the people in my life succeed and excel in their passions and love and travel and learn, I tend to get comparative. We all do it.

So here we are.

This is my highlight reel for junior year. And also the rest of the story, because it’s not always great. And sometimes, we need a pal that can share in our brokenness and say, “me too.” If this is you, welcome. Sometimes, life sucks. It’s okay. We’re all in this together (cue HSM soundtrack.)

I’m writing this to celebrate me, because I am proud of myself. I am more proud of my accomplishments BECAUSE of the struggles I have been through this year.

Junior Year 

I have 111 credits at a 4.0 GPA.

I presented social media research in my first National Collegiate Honors Conference in Atlanta, GA this fall, alongside my friends and mentor within the Honors College.

I gave blood for the first time. While it may seem small feat, I was absolutely terrified. The only other time my blood had been drawn was the night of my car accident, strapped to a stretcher. So this year, I did it and checked something small off the bucket list. Getting a text message saying “Your blood saved a life!” was a good feeling.

Thanks to a faculty member who put faith in me and my ability, I was hired as a research assistant for the South Dakota Department of Health. This became my third campus job this semester.  At the University Undergraduate Scholarly & Creative Activity Day, I won an award for it. I also got accepted to the National Collegiate Honors Conference, and will have the opportunity to continue this research and share results in Boston, MA in the fall.

I struggled with my mental health. I never really thought I had any mental health issues, and I know mine are on a much more manageable level than others, but it’s a struggle. Nearly all college students feel consumed by it at one point or another. It’s not fun, it’s not easy, but it happens… the stress and anxiety and sadness get the best of us.

I received the Honors College “Campus Champion” award based on my campus involvement. I have spent hours and hours and hours on the campus of SDSU, dedicating myself to amazing groups of inspiring college students. This was truly an honor to be recognized by my peers and professors for my work outside of the classroom.

I grew in my faith, surrounding myself with people who God put in my life for a reason. I have always been a woman of faith, but in the times when I have needed God this semester he has always been there to say “your brokenness is welcome here” and has placed other amazing women of faith in my life to pick me up and tell me to pray about it. I have to give up my plan for God’s plan. (Also, a shout out to my amazing pastor who always can give me the words or verses I need to hear and for being absolutely instrumental in my journey in faith.)

I performed on stage in multiple capacities, working hard for months to prepare dances. This is part of that ‘involvement’ piece of the puzzle of college. It wasn’t always easy, nights were late and sweaty and tired, but I was proud of my performances.

I booked flights to Europe. Again. My original plans fell through due to unforeseen and sad circumstances… I was terrified that the trip I have been dreaming of for 5 years would slip through my fingers. However, the tides turned and Jenna stepped up to say “yes” to a crazy month-long adventure through Europe. I will finally see Alona and Nata again, and eat a large amount of gelato.

I got kicked off a team that I cared about, shockingly and seemingly without care for my feelings after years of commitment. This was a hard setback. In the end, my time on the team was a blessing and I learned a lot. It’s okay to say goodbye.

I hung out with my roommates, the dimes @ 629. These ladies were such a blessing. It was such a good feeling to be excited to come home. From venting about classes with Alex, wondering about the next time Amanda would return from Daktronics, dad-like advice and jokes from Jen, and the smell of Abi’s microwavable vegetables, it was a year full of laughter & great memories in a house that continues to test us in new ways and a garbage can that we always forget to take to the alley come Tuesday morning.

I finished my second year-long term with the SDSU Students’ Association, alongside some amazing individuals. I was selected to maintain my role as the Communications Chair on the executive board for the upcoming year. I look forward to serving in this capacity again. This organization has taught me so much about service and friendship and love for South Dakota State.

I got my heart broken. Twice.

I received and accepted the largest scholarship in my department. That ‘academic’ piece of the puzzle… the true reason I came to SDSU was to pursue my education. I am proud to say that education becomes far more obtainable through the gifts of scholarships I’ve received. Hard work pays off.

I drove more, continuing to conquer demons from my past. My friends support me in this and cheer me on, and every drive with the windows down and the radio on feels like a big leap in the right direction.

I cried in bathroom stalls, my car, and almost every place in between. I’ll admit it, and I’m not ashamed of it. I feel my feelings. I can’t hide them or shove them in a deep dark part of myself. I face them head on and I choose to validate my feelings. It’s okay to feel and feel deeply.

I was a teaching assistant with the best mentor and an amazing co-TA. This was definitely a positive experience for me this year, and I gained so much.

I traveled to Arizona for spring break for the second year with good friends, and am ready to continue planning flights, roadtrips, and adventures. We always say, “you can’t take it with you when you go.” $$

I made new friends. If you’re one of them, you rock. I am so thankful that our paths crossed.

I kept old friends. If you’re one of them, thanks for sticking with me… you’re a blessing.

I let some people go. In the words of a wise friend, “Some people are only meant to be temporary.” If you’re one of them, thank you for the lessons.

I learned to take time for myself, go to movies, pray, read a book, and relax. This is the puzzle piece in college that had been missing for awhile. Self-care is real, folks. I needed to remind myself that I can do anything, but I can’t do everything. That’s okay. I learned to say no to opportunities that didn’t feel right and trust God’s plan over my own.

I made a lot of mistakes.

Regardless, I’m proud of me.

Despite everything, despite the bad, I made it through. I excelled. I worked hard. I am more than just my highlight reel… I am every bump/curve/detour in the road. (Okay, maybe now I’m just combining metaphors.) I am proud of me.

In today’s society, sometimes it’s seen as taboo to truly celebrate yourself. It might be seen as selfish or conceited… but today I’m writing not because of either of those things. I am writing this because it is me declaring it to the world that it’s okay to be broken and bruised and still kick ass and take names. It’s okay to struggle, cry in bathroom stalls, and pray to the Lord for strength. I wouldn’t be who I am without all the struggles I have faced. I think we all know that no one else’s life is as perfect as we can make it seem on social media.

So that’s me.

Authentic.

Broken.

Strong.

Proud.

…and a senior.

Junior year is over, and it’s one for the books… the real story, that is.


always,

Alex

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when things aren’t easy

Yesterday, I may have failed my macroeconomics test.

At first you may read that and think, “Well, that sucks.” Let me put it in perspective for you: I have never before failed a test.  This year, I’ve had to adjust. Or maybe, I’ve been adjusting all along in hopes of making myself ready to combat this crazy world. I’m used to things being easy. I’m used to studying for a hot minute and acing an exam. I like easy. Easy is fun. Easy doesn’t frustrate me.

Before my economics exam, I had to give an impromptu speech in my public speaking class. My prompt: “If I ruled the world, the first thing I would do would be…”

My statement: “treat myself.”

I am stressed. I am busy, I am worn, I am frustrated, I am imperfect, I am unbalanced, I am exhausted.

I launched into 90-second speech about the importance of personal mental health and finding the time to refresh.

Following my speech, a perfectly lovely human in my class asked me something along the lines of “How do you find resilience?” Resilience – such a strong word, it almost caught me off-guard.

My mind was turning with economic terms, so I defined it the same way I would with the aggregate supply lines on a graph – long run and short run. Resilience is getting through the tough times in the short run and focusing on the long run. While I’m sick and exhausted and heading to my third meeting of the evening without returning to my room since 8:30 a.m., I have to remember that I LOVE my activities. I love raising money for Children’s Miracle Network, and finding ways to encourage students to purchase Love Your Melon gear for a great cause, and using dance to stomp out frustrations and make new friends. I love my majors. I know that all of these activities make me who I am and will continually shape me in my future. I am resilient because I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel of a bad day, a bad week, or a rough semester. I am resilient because I know I am loved beyond measure. I am resilient because I believe in myself and my capabilities.

Lately, I’ve felt disheartened when things don’t come easily. Grades, time for myself, the election, friendships and relationships, participation, excitement – they all come at a price. I must give in.

I must also give my all.

When things aren’t easy, you must work extra hard. When things aren’t easy, you must problem solve. When things aren’t easy, you must rely on the support and love and aid of others. When things aren’t easy, you must never give up.

So today, as if I ruled the world, I am treating myself. I’m going to spend my time with my mom, I’m going to paint, and I’m going to take a bubble bath.

But when it’s Monday, it’s back to the grind. 

always,

Alex

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blessed by stress

Today, I thought about how blessed I am by the stress in my life.

All the stress, the crazy schedule, the busy running, and the never-ending amount of homework or club meetings or attempting to eat or work out or sleep or get to church… when those loud elements of life begin to hush, I feel the most blessed.

I am blessed to have food to eat, a bed to sleep in, classes that are preparing me for two majors that I love, clubs and organizations that I am proud to be a part of, and people who hold my hand or encourage me to take a leap of faith along the way.

In the quiet moments, when I take my ‘introvert time’ to recharge myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually…I feel so blessed. College has been pretty surreal, showing me time and time again how introverted I am. My definition of the term is that I recharge by being alone. I need quiet and peace and chill vibes. I need to organize my planner with my colored pens, and listen to Andy Grammer, and get off campus, and laugh, and sit in my bed at 10:30 with my twinkle lights around me as I blog. In these moments, I feel blessed.

However, I can’t function by myself. I’m an extroverted introvert. I need to fuel my day with people and recharge my internal batteries by night. I have friends who laugh with me, guide me, support me, eat food with me, go shopping with me, tell me their stories, listen to me, and make me feel at home in this crazy place. (Lookin’ at you, #suitehearts301)

I have classmates who help me through classes I don’t quite belong in (Thanks for the help, Ian). I have classmates who’ve been by my side the entire way through (AnnaLee). I have classmates who hate science right alongside me (Bailey). And so many more that make each minute in the classroom that much more meaningful. (Barb K.)

I have a person in my life who consistently brings a smile to my face and butterflies to my stomach — a person who knows that I’m stressed by how I sigh, a person who willingly gives of his time to make me feel better on a rough day. This is a person who knows that a perfect recharge weekend is not complete without time in the hammock on a beautiful fall day. A person who loves endlessly and cares wholeheartedly. (I love this person.)

Amidst the stress, I have found many ‘little blessings’ that I have compiled in a note on my phone over the course of the semester thus far.

Here goes:

  • first day of school pictures
  • chacos
  • indian food
  • quick visits from loved ones
  • state fair // ferris wheels
  • a familiar face in a large classroom
  • deep breathing
  • music (favorite song right now: She Sets the City on Fire – Gavin DeGraw)
  • flannel
  • belly laughter
  • windmills
  • the words ‘i love you’
  • motivational text messages
  • stimulating intellectual conversation
  • dancing
  • girls’ days
  • food that tastes like home
  • late night cupcakes (Christine, you’re the best.)
  • weddings
  • getting your nails done
  • a cute outfit (all my outfits get cuter in fall)
  • watching pageants
  • a comfy couch and a midday movie
  • making a difference
  • fresh sheets
  • giving a speech
  • late night drives // jam sessions
  • phone call to mom
  • pinning home decor on pinterest
  • getting a good grade
  • a good makeup/hair day
  • a church service that helps you feel connected
  • fall leaves
  • hammocks
  • love. (that’s not a little blessing though. that’s huge.)

Despite how crazy stressed I have felt so far this school year, I have also found time in my (color-coded) schedule to feel insanely, immensely, incredibly blessed.

And just think… these are only the blessings I compiled in a note. It’s crazy that they’re abundant if we only take the time to realize it.

 

(Here’s some photos of some blessings!)

 

 

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a new generation of dreamers

 

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“Hello, my name is Alexandra Farber. I’m a sophomore Speech Communications and Advertising double major from Britton, South Dakota. Today, I’ll be working with the College of Arts and Sciences.”

This is how every session began. With endless smiles and a pink fanny-pack on my hip, I welcomed hundreds and hundreds of new students to our university at New Student Orientation.

This summer, I served as an Orientation Leader, primarily for the College of Arts and Sciences. I felt at home among the dreamers: future architects and chemists and linguists and economists, all listening to my words, welcoming them to a bright future at South Dakota State University. You may wonder how these new freshman, the ever-so-present hashtag of #newjacks16, impact your life at our university. I guarantee that these new students, these fresh faces of first-day nerves and lanyards around necks and students far too excited to eat at Chick-fil-A for the first time, can make a difference in your life, in our university, and in our world.

That new student may challenge your professor to think in a new way. That freshman may use their voice in student government to impact change for all students. That student may become the university’s largest benefactor in 30 years and create a brand new facility on our campus. That student may create a device that saves thousands of lives. These students will not only impact the long line at the University Bookstore, but also the long line of innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers, pharmacists, and successful people that have once walked the same paths as you and I.

The First Year Advising Center has taken an approach called the Appreciative Advising Model, encouraging our incoming students to dream. Imagine if we, as upperclassmen, also encourage these students to follow those dreams and utilize the resources here to propel them into futures filled with success. From our campus to Cambodia, our students have dreams that span beyond our imagination. I saw them, in colorful sticky notes, plastered upon a glass wall in the student union.

I ended every orientation session with a smile, thanking these new students for their impact on me. These students, in two short days, allowed me to improve my leadership and communication skills, learn more about various academic majors and career interests, and gain more friendly faces welcoming me back to campus this fall. Most of all, these students have inspired me to dream.

 

 

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to senior girls: my post-freshman year thoughts

My freshman year is coming to an end, and I’ve realized that nearly everything I thought about college was wrong.

Thank goodness.

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When I was planning for college, I thought I had everything figured out. I’d get the perfect roommate, the perfect dorm furniture and pinterest-inspired everything and it would all look like a magazine. I thought I’d be poor and hungry, struggling to get by. I thought my friends I met the first day would become my best friends forever. Honestly, a boyfriend was the furthest thing from my mind back then. I thought that the food options would lead me to a bagel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I thought I’d have no time between classes and organizations. I thought I would struggle to find out where I fit in and if I could even find organizations for my interests and hobbies and ideals. I thought that classes would be boring until I “got into” my major. I thought it would be scary.

I was wrong.

My room is a mess. It never had a color scheme; I never take my trash out until it’s nearly flowing onto my carpet. I have clothes on every surface. But it’s home. This little dorm room has become my bedroom, kitchen, study room, dance floor… you name it. It’s not pretty, but it’s mine.

I thought my roommate would be my best friend forever, but I live alone now. We both changed and found happiness in other ways, people, and spaces. But that’s okay. College is about growth, finding yourself, and learning how to make tough decisions that benefit you. Having a roommate first semester was awesome, though, and I definitely love the memories we shared during that time.

I thought I’d constantly be worrying about paying for fun things or how to get by without online shopping. (gasp!) But I got a job. It’s not glamorous, but I learn from it. And I have awesome coworkers. I make it work with my schedule, and I pay for my own things. “Adulting” is a real thing, folks.

The people I met the first day are not my friends today. They are now acquaintances, or floor-mates, but my best friends are the ones that came easily and stayed. They appreciate me for me. Dance parties, pizza rolls, too many clothes… all of it. (And I can happily add, most of them will be living with me next year!) These people have truly lifted me up and made me a better person.

If you would have told me, at this time last year, that I’d have a boyfriend right now… I probably would have laughed in your face. But he’s great, makes me laugh, and has been an awesome addition to my freshman year.

I was so scared, as a picky eater, that I’d have nothing to eat. Instead, the food options feel like the refrigerator door. You just have to open it up, dig around, and mix and match combinations. When in doubt, go off campus. 🙂

I was worried about time management. As an organizer by nature, I took the time to color code my schedule and map out all the buildings. What I didn’t realize is that it takes about 3 minutes to walk to that building, or 7 for that one, or 5 for that one. It’s now down to a science. I didn’t realize that an hour for lunch is the perfect amount of time to meet up with a friend and talk about life. I didn’t realize that 12am is the perfect bed time. (Well, maybe not, but we can try.)

I thought I would struggle to fit in and become a part of something that I enjoyed and that benefitted me personally. Instead, I’ve become so involved across campus and I couldn’t be happier. Whether its honors, Students’ Association, an awesome late-night intramural volleyball team, political activism, dance club, major-specific clubs… it’s nearly impossible to feel lost. Your hobbies and ideals and dreams are shared by others, I promise.

I honestly dreaded any and all of my general education credits. I thought that I would be bored out of my mind or challenged extremely. Instead, one of my favorite classes was a Human Geography class. Of course, my math and science requirements have been less exhilarating, but I’ve made friends in the classes that make them much more enjoyable. However, the classes that are in my major are wonderful and applicable. It’s an awesome feeling to be learning about something that you’re passionate enough about to dedicate your life to.

I thought it would be scary, and you probably do too.

Let me tell you this: you are ready to conquer the world, and this is your first step. It can be scary, but it is so exciting and so worth it. You are at a crossroads. You are ready to choose your path and grow tremendously. I’m excited for you.

Get ready, because it’s coming so much sooner than you know it. And then you’ll blink and you’ll be in my shoes. This year has flown by, but thankfully I have a million memories to occupy my thoughts as I wait until fall to make more here at this university that has become home.

You have about 4 months until you begin..get ready to be wrong.

I was, and I’m so glad that was the case.

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I hope that this brings you peace of mind, excitement, and hope.

 

 

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right in the feels

Emotions, or feelings, are not everyone’s favorite thing to talk about.

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But…The past few weeks in my honors interpersonal communications course, we’ve dedicated our time to learning about, expressing our own, and understanding others’ emotions.

I’ve always known that I’m an emotional person. I have always thought that I wore my heart on my sleeve and my emotions were fairly easy for others to understand, to read. During this three-week exercise, however, I’ve learned an incredible amount about myself and others in my class and even beyond the classroom doors.

Each person in my class was assigned to find a short video that portrayed either how they react to/handle/express emotion, or a video that made them feel a certain emotion. However, we were told to simply find a video that we could explain how it fit the theme. It was a fairly wide topic, I thought nothing of the complexity of this task while sifting through youtube and then my own brain to find a video. In the breadth of this topic, I soon found, each of my classmates found a different perspective.

Several of my classmates found humor the best way to handle emotions and emotion situations. Many others evoked feelings with music; from “Fight Song” to “Cough Syrup” to “Over the Rainbow” to “Concrete Angel” to “Brave” to “If Today Was Your Last Day” —  all of these songs had powerful meaning, some of which I had never before thought about or experienced when hearing that song. The videos, too, held powerful messages packed full with emotion. Another classmate simply attached a satisfying video of a sponge reacting to water being poured on it. He explained that he, like the sponge, soaks up the emotions of those around him and then internalizes all of it. Another spoke about letting emotions out via physical activity and camaraderie on his football team. Another explained how when visiting Greece, she experienced feelings in a place and that place now holds deep emotional meaning for her. Another included a video, entitled “I Don’t Understand God” about how faith is unwavering even throughout confusion and hurt. He explained his desire to be a pastor, and how his faith allows him to feel and express emotion. Another disclosed his depression. Another, her ADD. Myself, my PTSD. Another, his battle with cancer throughout high school. Another, whose routine surgery gone wrong may have left her unable to have children.

Each of us feels, experiences, and discloses emotion differently. For some, it was difficult to stand up and admit to their feelings or their struggles. Others spoke openly.

I always thought that I wore my heart on  my sleeve with my emotions. Some of this, I’ll admit, is true. I cried during many of my classmates presentations. However, I also realized that, like so many of my classmates, my struggle with PTSD may seem well hidden. I’m a positive person, who feels many positive emotions each day. But I struggle, I fall down, I cry. I had no idea that my classmates, who’ve been in my class all semester, had dealt with the issues that they had the courage to speak about during these presentations. It made me realize that we are truly never alone.

What I also realized: emotions are sneaky. They sneak up behind you, they sneak into your mind. You can’t even control which ones end up ‘on your sleeves’.

I have gained so much respect for my classmates. I enjoyed getting to see their perspectives on life and struggle and happiness and all the things in between.

This exercise truly opened my eyes to the depth of what every single person feels. We all feel different things, care about different things, get hurt by different things, feel happiness from different things. If there’s one thing that college has done for me, it has sure opened my mind and my heart to other people’s differences.

My (amazing) professor ended the lesson with these words, “I guess that’s why I don’t like adults as much as my students. Adults get hard. They lose that capacity to understand and appreciate and challenge themselves with others who are different from them. Don’t lose that, folks. That’s a beautiful thing.” 

New Challenge: Accept that others feel as deeply as you do. Open your eyes and your heart. Don’t be afraid to feel.

A friend of mine has recently been struggling, and she has questioned everything she has been feeling. I caught myself saying to her, “You have every right to feel everything you feel.”

You really do.

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and here’s me and my cat snuggling.

…sometimes that’s all you need when you’re feeling emotional.

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my post-graduation hair cut

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I wasn’t a person who loved high school, despite the fact that I immersed myself in fun activities, loved my job, and had enough good times to keep me upbeat for the most part.. I wasn’t satisfied. I wasn’t satisfied with mediocre, or sometimes happy, or attempting to fit the status quo, or feeling lonely, or any of that. I was satisfied with one thing, however… my hair.

Today, I posted a selfie. (yeah, I know.) In the photo, I was surprised to see that my hair looked so long. I cut my hair, about 8 inches, just a couple of weeks after graduation, ridding myself of some weight I had been carrying around… both literally and figuratively. I loved it. I loved the freedom and maturity I felt with it lightly dancing on my collarbone. I loved my tiny little pigtails that I wore while hiking and I loved throwing on my hat and letting my hair do whatever it pleased underneath. Some people told me, “You were prettier with long hair.” or “I miss your long hair!” or “How could you get rid of all that beautiful hair?” But I had to. It was my “big jump” into adult life (or so I thought) and leaving behind my security blanket of hair was a simple part of the transition.

Recently, I’ve been growing my hair back out.. with hair that grows relatively quickly, it has slowly crept towards the length it was back in high school. I can now do the things I missed doing: messy buns, a simple braid, et cetera. But as I was looking at myself, with hair that feels and looks so long to me now… I flashed back to high school, where the end of my hair was much closer to my belly button than my collarbone. I remember a rumor that had been started about me once… that I had gotten extensions. I remember being so bothered by this, the fact that someone had the time of day to think of such ridiculousness… I remember being confused as to why anyone would care. I remember being asked, “Why did you get extensions?” I remember thinking that my hair had been this long for a long time but NOW people are noticing because of a rumor that this hair is fake? I remember being hurt. That’s a feeling I remember a lot from high school.

This rumor, along with so many others, plagued me during high school. But the purpose of this blog is not to hate on high school or complain about my experience. Instead, I have risen from the ashes… or the hair that scatters on the floor post-haircut. I have grown miraculously since graduation. The weight I carried around wasn’t just from my abundance of hair, but it was from all the negativity in my life. As I grow my hair longer and longer, I can’t help but feel a bit sad that I look more similar to the girl I was in high school. But that’s another thing you learn in college: appearances mean nothing. I am NOT the girl I was in high school. I am NOT the girl that is defined by others. I am NOT hurt, or lonely, or satisfied with mediocrity.

I am happy, healthy, changed, and love myself more than I have ever before. And today… I had a good hair day. {More than that, however, I had a good day. I’ve had a seriously fantastic string of good days lately.}

To the girls that are considering the post-graduation chop in a few months: hair is hair is hair, no matter what the length. YOU are the one who will continually surprise yourself with personal growth!

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