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Posts Tagged ‘college’

There is nothing new under the sun. I used to have quarrels with that idea. I could sit in front of a notebook for hours in college, doodling deformed stars because I felt washed up at twenty years old. What could I say that hasn’t already been said? What could I possibly know at this age that meant something?

Some stories really do feel new, and then some just feel like a repeat of something else. You think up an idea one day, and the next, an author has just published a book about an idea that you were going to start. There is a lot of competition for ideas in the arts. But that doesn’t mean that our art, our stories, aren’t important. The endings still make us cry, still give us hope, still remind us something about life or imagination beyond the life we know. You can use the same chords, but change the notes and words on the page to create something new. You can use the same storyline, but change the characters and circumstances and still find a way to have a fresh perspective on it.

Some friends I made in college had lived in the city or a suburb. They talked about how flat Minnesota was; but where I live, the land is covered in hills and bluffs. They hadn’t spent a lot of time on a farm, but my mom used to work on a dairy farm, and I live on a hobby farm with cattle and pigs. I grew up riding four-wheeler and picking bales of hay off the fields. I rode with my dad on tractors and in the back of trucks down gravel roads. That life wouldn’t really be new to anyone in my small hick town, but my perspective would be new to them.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t criticize artists for creating something that is similar to something else. Just because it may not seem different to you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to someone else.

So keep writing. Keep changing note progressions and keep painting lines because people can still be amazed. They can still be moved. And that’s all we ever hope for. If it matters to you, it’ll matter to someone else.
Isn’t that a beautiful concept? You matter. Even if you’re not an artist. I’d like to think you could make anything an art if you put your mind to it. When I was in college, all the professors liked to say how they thought their subject was most important. But you and I are both needed in different ways. We both have unique understandings that the other person doesn’t have, as well as understandings the other person can relate to so we don’t feel so alone. We can both leave some kindness and hope in a place the other person isn’t.

There is already an excess of complainers. It’s become the norm. Instead, be a daisy in a field of dandelions. Don’t give up on your art, don’t give up on hope, and don’t forget that your perspective is needed, no matter where you are, no matter who you are.

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Another year older, and maybe even a little wiser, though I have ended the year with more questions than answers. I turned 24 on Christmas Day this year, and I am still shocked at everwhere I have been and everything I have done in those 24 years. It will never cease to amaze me what can all be squeezed into just one year—memories and new understandings fitting in day-to-day life like packing peanuts. Last December I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in English. I moved back home in the beginning of March, went to the San Juan Islands in April, became single in May, went to Dallas, Texas in August for a Mary Kay Convention for the second time, took a road trip to Alabama where I saw friends I made in Italy that I hadn’t seen in two years, and flew to Wyoming for the first time in October to visit my best friend. I even wrote a new song on my guitar about a friend comforting another friend in pain. Recently, my favorite thing has been receiving a VHS player for my birthday. I have three boxes of VHS tapes in my bedroom closet that I was finally able to take down from its dusty shelf. So I spent a lot of the weekend watching old Christmas movies like Annie and Anabelle’s Wish, as well as rediscovering how many Disney movies I have on VHS. If they were unbreakable, I would have been tossing them all in the air to let them fall around me like some would do with money.

I ran my first 5k this year and made a lot of new friends that have become a big part of my life. I have felt the pain of missing loved friends more deeply this year than I have in a long time and discovered that a broken heart truly feels like your insides are cracking in every nook and cranny. I cried a lot more this year than I have in previous years. But that didn’t make it a bad year. I drank too much coffee, spent endless hours listening to music, and slept in too late too often. But I made it through another year with my loan payments up to date and no broken bones or sickness. I’d say I’m doing just fine.

This year has taught me that every single one of us could be better communicators. Especially when it comes to listening. In the midst of wanting to jump in and give our opinion in a conversation, we forget that listening is a significant part of communication. Why should anyone listen to us if we don’t take the time to listen to them? Are we really so prideful that we think what we have to say is more important than what they have to say? You don’t have to agree with the person, but that doesn’t mean you won’t learn or rediscover something. My goal for next year is to also have more conversations that are important. That sounds a little arrogant, but it’s not meant to be. I simply mean that we have too many conversations that are surface-level because that’s what’s comfortable. But there is so much to discuss and discover when we take the extra step to talk about deeper things than the weather. Getting to those topics can be tricky sometimes, so it takes some practice.

I could also use a little more practice when it comes to bravery. For the past two years, I’ve wanted to take my guitar to the nursing home sometime in the week before Christmas and sing Christmas songs to the elderly who may not get many guests if any at all, and maybe even stick around to listen to stories of those willing to talk with me. But I have been afraid to go alone because I have stage freight. I am insecure about my guitar playing abilities since I make mistakes while playing in front of people even though I don’t make mistakes when I’m by myself. But I also have a soft voice, and I don’t know how many would even be able to hear me. I also don’t talk to many people I don’t know. It’s always been hard for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger, even when I want to.

I’m filled to the brim of my glass with love today that I don’t know how to give it out any faster. I’ve been telling a lot of my friends and family the past couple days how much I treasure them, and I find myself in tears most of the time while writing to them. I think that’s partially because of the fact that my monthly gift arrived this morning. But the other half is truly because I feel blessed beyond words. I don’t know what this year would have looked like without them. There are so many hugs yet to give, so many experiences yet to occur, so many people to meet and stories to hear that part of me feels like I’m wasting time sitting here writing this. However, I’m only human, and there are days my glass is tipped over, kind of like how I’d like to flip over the tables of customers that test my patience. But thankfully those days are limited. Emotions for me tend to be overwhelming because they hit me like a train, and sometimes there’s not much I can do to hold them back. I found myself crying quite a bit at work this year, no matter what I told myself to calm down. But I will take those days if it means I can love people more deeply as well.

Only God knows what will become of me by next December. But I’m excited to see where I’m led.

 

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Have you ever noticed how fake we are with each other most of the time?

I’m a waitress, and a lot of days I have to stand in front of my guests and lie to them. When I’m asked, “How are you?” I have to respond with “I’m good,” whether I actually am good or not. Sometimes the people asking are asking out of kindness and not curiosity, but for the people who might have actually been interested, I can’t respond with, “I’m in my menstrual cycle so my lady parts are in a type of civil war right now” or “I’ve been depressed because I’ve been missing my grandma a lot lately.” Once when I was being honest with a table of customers by telling them I was tired after having been there all day, my manager overheard me and told me I wasn’t supposed to say that.

Maybe some will claim that we are giving “too much information,” but sometimes I don’t have a filter, and if you’re going to ask me how I am, I will give you a short look into my private life because I don’t have anything to hide. Maybe some will claim that we aren’t honest because we aren’t given the time to really dig into our stories, so we just don’t say anything. But most of the time I’d rather hear someone say, “You know, I’m really not doing good, but I’d rather not go into it.” That is more honest than saying, “I’m okay.” Because at least by admitting you aren’t doing well, I can pray for you. Or on days I’m not doing well, I can be thankful that my struggles aren’t as bad as yours might have been that day I talked to you.

The way I see it is if you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask. Don’t ask me how I am if you don’t want to hear about how I had to borrow money from my mother because I couldn’t pay October’s rent. But at the same time, the culture I live in doesn’t want to hear a sob story. So I pretend everything is fine.

I pretend it doesn’t bother me that some of the people I thought I called friends don’t really seem to care whether I’m in their life or not.

Sometimes we talk to others about others behind their backs instead of talking to them directly. And then pretend to their faces that we weren’t just talking shit. But then who is all talking about us behind our backs?

I used to pretend it didn’t bother me that a guy I used to like didn’t care to spend time with me anymore. Now I’m dating someone who wishes he could see me more than he gets to.

We pretend we know what others are talking about even if we don’t.

We pretend to like certain people even if we don’t.

We pretend to like our jobs even if we don’t.

We pretend to know everything when most of the time we hardly know anything.

Where does it end? What would the world look like if everyone was honest? Would people be more or less offended than they are now? Would we be able to heal faster if we didn’t have anything to hide?

I don’t know about you, but I’m awfully tired of pretending. I can’t be a ray of sunshine every day. I hate lying about the little things. There is so much I feel like I need to learn before I can truly contribute to some of the bigger conversations out there. And I hate that I allow people dictate my emotions and my life sometimes. I’m not a confrontational person, but I’m a very emotional person, and I feel like I’m not allowed to show that side because it makes people feel uncomfortable.

But maybe we need to feel uncomfortable to be reminded about what kind of world we live in. It makes me sad that we have more fake conversations with each other than real ones.

Whether we like it or not, every single person on this planet is a mess in some way or another. So why do we hide? Why does it take us so long to be honest with each other?

[[Please Note: I’m aware a lot of us have close friends to go to to discuss the messy and painful things with, but sometimes we are even fake to those people. And I don’t think it undermines the fact that we are not acknowledging the amount of pain in the lives around us. If we could be open about our struggles, would that change things like bullying? The ignorance of others makes things worse for those who were already in pain.]]

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Life is a string of piñatas. Sometimes there’s candy, sometimes there’s mice, and sometimes there’s cow dung.

This past semester was one of the hardest semesters of my life, both mentally (class load) and emotionally. Past issues that I thought were healed were only scabbed over, and all of it bled into my eyes, my anger, and my self-esteem. I was crying about something at least every other week. I took on two writing classes with two literature classes, all of which involved their own amounts of reading and writing, while tacking on two other classes and an assistant editor position on my school’s literary journal. I felt like I was half-assing not only my homework, but my relationships with my friends. I pulled three all-nighters in a row because I wanted to be there for them.

But the truth is I can’t be there for everyone. I can’t make it to every party, every concert, every bonfire because I really like sleep. I fall more than I catch myself, I don’t give myself enough “me” time, and when my time of the month comes, I’m going to be a bitch because being a woman can be a pain in the ass.

There will never be enough time in a day. I may spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how to better prioritize the things I want to do with the things I need to do and still not find a good balance.

But this is not a pity party. I want to remind you that if you feel like the semester is never going to end, if you hate your job, if you are sick of putting on a smile to people you don’t even like, hang in there.

You will probably meet a lot of fake people in your life. You may find the people who know exactly what to say to get you to do something, you may drown in the bills that pack like dirt in your mailbox, you may find yourself crying at night because your day was just plain crappy. Don’t be fooled thinking the person you pass by in the hallway, the cashier taking your order, or the person surrounded by friends at the coffee shop are all flying high. Cute clothes and a smile are only a show sometimes. There are a lot of good liars in this world.

But if there is a down, there’s an up. I passed my classes, I had a memorable Christmas break, and I worked out my financial problems just in time to take on another round of classes. I can’t go shopping for a while, but I can pay for groceries. Sometimes you just need to pick yourself up enough to get through one more day.

But that’s life. No one skirts their way around all their problems. You can dodge some, but you can’t dodge everything. So if you need to cry, find the Kleenex box and fill the trash can. If you need to vent, grab someone you trust and spew away. Make a pot of coffee and finish that stupid project, take a walk so you don’t destroy public property, and find something that makes you laugh so that, for just a moment, you can remember what it’s like to be stress-free.

It’s going to suck sometimes. You’re going to want to go home when you can’t, but hang tight. You’re going to want to give up, but hold on. “There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.” 

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“Often we cleave to things because they possess heavy negative charges. Pain has strong arms.” –Patricia Hampl

Painful memories can be as aggressive as the wind.

I was best friends with a girl from Kindergarten till sixth grade. She was slowly pulling away like silly putty in the fifth grade, but I didn’t realize it till years later. One day after school on the bus, she handed me a note. A few words still stick clearly in my mind like gum on the bottom of a desk: “I don’t think we should be friends anymore.”

Though I have watched my sister lose many friends over big fights, I had never lost a friend straight out of the toaster like that, and haven’t since. 

Through Jr. High she built up a reputation as one of the cool kids, and by High School she was one of the most popular girls in the class, listed in the yearbook as “Most likely to become a gold digger” along with others of the sort. As I had watched her de-pants others in the hall and become a Witch with a capital “B,” I decided I didn’t need a friend who’s wardrobe took on a whole new meaning of  the word “easy.” Still, that note bothers me to this day.

I believe that our hardest critic is ourselves. Maybe that’s why we cling to pain. We usually settle for what we think we deserve, when in reality we probably deserve higher than we give ourselves credit for. But then we are hurt by those we glued to ourselves—maybe they get up and leave or die—and we cling to the pain because it is the only reminder we have left of them. Friends and family help us spew out excuses of “new beginnings” like a rip in a water hose, but once we are alone we admit the truth to ourselves. We wonder what we did wrong.

So if we can’t have love, we settle for pain. Feeling something is better than feeling nothing, because at least if we are in pain, we can punch a wall, we can soak our pillows, we can buckle over and wait for the cat claws in our stomachs to subside. Even if it is a little thing, we feel something.

Eventually everyone we care about and love will be gone. However, we know that we have to eventually expect that kind of loss. But the kind of pain that we don’t see coming, that can sometimes be the pain with the strongest arms. 

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Americans are making life into one big deadline:
-If you aren’t married by this certain age, you will probably be single forever.
-If you don’t have a kid by this certain age you are too old to be a parent
-If you don’t have a job or a college degree by this certain age you are going to scrubbing kitchen floors or shoveling horse dung off the state fair streets for the rest of your days.

It is exhausting finally being able to finish a project and then turn around to get a cup of coffee and be thrown three more. Americans are becoming so time-oriented, that the quality and value of things are definitely not what they could be.

I’d like to buy a shirt or sweatshirt that doesn’t have a hem threatening to rip on me a couple weeks after I buy it. I’d like to work on a short story and not have my professor poking me in my back asking if I’m done yet. I’d like to be able to sit out on a park bench today and read a new fiction book that I just bought and be able to put off my homework till tomorrow.

But I can’t. Time is precious, yes. But nerves can be as fragile as the tick of the clock. By trying to make so many deadlines all the time, we aren’t able to let ourselves enjoy the present, for we are always trying to make sure we are caught up with the future deadlines. No human is patient forever.

Time is important, but so is sleep. There are only so many days that I can stay up till 1am doing homework and wake up at 7 for a morning class. I have felt terrible lately because I’ve had friends that want to spend time with me, but my excuse has been homework.

Time is a luxury, but so is living. What is the point of living a long life if you’re rushing through it? We NEED give ourselves the time to reflect, to observe, to ENJOY.

Americans live by the “Quantity over Quality” standard. We live by the “Timing is everything” standard.

I think Americans need to sort out their priorities.

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I slept in till 10 this morning and realized I had to go to work at 3:30. I was annoyed. I’m not a big fan of working nights because everything happens at night. I sat up in bed and started wondering, “Is this it?” I will wake up everyday, get some housework done, go to work, come home and eat supper, and go back to bed. I love the people at my job, but I’m getting really tired of the actual job part. I’m a waitress, and though I like jobs where I work with my hands, sometimes I wish I could just quit. 

Then I started realizing that maybe that’s why I’m a Writing major. I would love to find a writing job where I could work from home. I like being home. I’ve been going going going all the time ever since I got back from Italy at the beginning of May, and now it’s June already.

Where are you at in your life? I decided that since I have homework that I don’t want to do and work that I don’t want to go to today,  that I am going to sit for an hour and do something that I actually want to do–read a book that I’m not forced to read. For you, maybe it’s going for a run or riding your horse. Maybe it’s watching your favorite TV show, movie, playing a game, working out, reading the Bible. 

There may be days where you are frustrated or upset about something, but if there is a way to change that for yourself, then do it. Keep a little time stowed away for yourself, even if that means you may have to stay up a little later. Do something that will make you smile, because no day should be smile-less.

I may have woken up disappointed, but that doesn’t mean I need to keep myself at that level. 

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A friend of mine has been struggling with money situations. I’ll call her Molly, though that’s not her name. Long story short, Molly’s parents are crazy and basically want nothing to do with her right now. Seriously, even as I told the story to my parents, my mom was like “what the heck.”

So she doesn’t have any help from her parents. A friend of ours and Molly rented a house together because our friend needed to move out of her ex-boyfriends apartment and the house was cheaper and more convenient than some of the two-roomed apartments they found. Now, our friend is moving to live with her dad, and Molly doesn’t have the money to put a down-payment on a new single apartment, because you have to pay rent and a half to even be able to move in. The single-roomed apartment she had before they got the house ran at about $425 a month…so she would have to pay $650 to move back in….

Plus she has to pay rent yet for the house they are livin in, which i think was about $350. That’s $1,000 by itself. THEN she has bills for her phone, food, insurance, all that hunky dory junk.

Plus, she is doing part time at college, so she doesn’t even have time to get a second job.

It’s a mess. A friend of Molly’s said she could move in to her apartment, but it is 20 minutes away from Molly’s job, and Molly doesn’t have a car. The house they have rented out is in walking distance of her job. You can’t even take a bus to Molly’s job from her friend’s apartment like Molly used to do

Why am I telling you this? This is why.

In her mailbox at church, Molly got a couple hundred dollars worth of gift cards to places so she can buy food and stuff. A friend of hers gave her a hundred dollar bill. I’m putting money in a card and telling her she has to use it for bills.

Molly may be in a tight place right now, and even without any help from her family, she has people that are looking out for her.

If you are having a hard time, don’t think that you’re all alone. We are all blessed with people in our lives to keep us sane, keep us alive, keep us healthy. Don’t be afraid to ask for a little help from the people you are close to, because they don’t want you struggling any more than you do.

If you aren’t struggling right now, take a look at even the faces of strangers around you. Some of them are struggling more than you know. Maybe pay from someone’s gas, their food at a drive-in, their groceries at WalMart. You can make someone’s day better just by being generous. We are living in hard times, and though there is much we all disagrees on, we should be willing to help those in need.

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I’m running out of money to buy coffee from Starbucks or Caribou, and I forgot to bring my coffee maker from home, so I have succumbed to the free coffee that came from church after the service.

As I sip from the flimsy white paper cup, I smile as I watch someone from the window of our college library smack a snowball onto the back of his friend, bursting into a firework. Homemade snowflakes decorate the inside of the window, and I’m tempted to take one down and fold it back up so I can see how they cut it out. I have never been creative with snowflake cutting. Mine become deformed shapes that are barely symmetrical.

Only four days of finals left till Christmas break, and I have been so ready to go home. But for small things, such as the gorgeous view from this window that overlooks the main square of my college covered in snow, I am going to miss it very much. Back home, I am not as close to a library as I am here, and there is a Barns and Noble just a 7 minute drive away, whereas back home the closest one is almost an hour away.

Though I am stressed about finals and want to see my parents, I am going to miss this place. I am studying abroad in Italy next semester, so I won’t even have anymore classes here till next fall.

Though Christmas time is coming, and I am sure you are all planning your Christmas dinners, finding cookie and pie recipes that your mother-in-law will approve of, finishing finals, buying last minute Christmas presents for people you feel obligated to buy for, or even starting to buy presents like me, take a little time to relax for a minute. Pimples have been popping up lately on my face, but it is kind of my own fault because I haven’t been using my time wisely.

You may be stressed now, but one day your kids will be moved out. If you are the kid, you will be moved out of your parents and having Christmas with your own family. Maybe you will move a couple hours away and might not make it home for Christmas next year. In the spring, I will be across the world and won’t be able to spend Easter with my family, so I’m going to use this time now to spend with them.

If you hustle and bustle everyday until Christmas, then be running and organizing all day on Christmas…before you know it, it will be over, and you might not even have enjoyed yourself much. You don’t need to buy expensive stuff all the time. It is okay to save some of your paycheck for next week’s bills.

Take this day, this week, this holiday to remember the things you are blessed with. This holiday is not about getting what you want, or leaving cookies for Santa. Thanksgiving may be over, but Christmas is a time of giving, and even in this time we need to thank God for everything He has given us, for the money and jobs that we can afford to give to others.

Have a good Sunday everyone 🙂

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This is what it looks like to be an English Major. This is from one class.

Finals next week. Praying for those who are stressed!

Have a good week everyone 🙂

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I found out yesterday that one of my friends is being harassed at her college for being a lesbian. Word got out, and now she said people have been throwing notes under her door saying things like “faggot,” “dyke,” “go back to where you came from.” 

I personally don’t feel that being gay is right, but I would never dream of going up to anyone and calling them that.

This kind of thing is how suicides happen. No one has ANY idea about her past and what that kind of thing could do to her. You wouldn’t have known she used to cut. What if these words led her back to that? You can use your imagination about the rest that she’s been through.

If you don’t agree with someone’s choices, you meet them, understand them, you DISCUSS things with them. Calling her a dyke wouldn’t do anything but possibly throw her back into depression…or maybe even the opposite. Even wonder how school shooting happen? It starts with throwing hateful notes under their doors. I know my friend wouldn’t do this, but I know the Columbine School Shooting story.

This needs to stop. You are all smarter and more mature than this. How dare any of you who have bullied someone. You are NOT above them, and they are NOT beneath you. They are not bugs, so stop stepping on them. Everyone needs a friend, everyone can be pushed to a limit. Just because you didn’t START the buildup, doesn’t mean your words or actions can’t be the cherry on top of a very shitty day.

We were made to love. To love each other and to love God. Only God has the right to judge, so do you think of yourself higher than God? Do you not realize how hurtful your words are? Do you even know what if feels like to be ignored, unwanted, unloved?

Lift someone up today. If you put everyone down, then what makes you think they would pick you up if they were the only ones there? We need to stop sectioning ourselves into groups, and start becoming one group. We are not labels, so stop treating each other as if we are.

Watch your words. Sometimes just a few of the wrong ones can push someone off the edge. Are you forgetting the phrase “Treat others as you want to be treated”? Knock it off and actually give a shit about those around you, and you might find out how rewarding it is to be nice.

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When my dad was a teenager, he and his brothers would hop on cows and ride them until they were tame and eat what was put on the table. Only one of his siblings was able to save up enough to go to college, and even she ended up working at a factory like most of the rest of them.

Moral of the story: It is not only my generation, but the whole damn world that is living in a very ungrateful period. I wish I lived in a time that didn’t involve so much technology, and maybe people would go outside more and get real tans and find a different kind of fun instead of staying inside on their iphones and fake tanning to make it look like they go outside and complain that their food has too many calories.

GROW UP. Parents: how are you raising your kids? Kids: how are you treating your parents? You don’t need a new phone every single year. How many times a day do you go on Facebook? Do you really need a new shirt today when you just bought one yesturday and you have 50 other shirts at home?

I’m a waitress, and the amount of food we throw out because of the tiniest things that customers complain about astonish me. Thousands of people died today because they starved to death, and you are complaining that there is a hair or that your food is touching…

Respect each other, respect the earth, and respect yourself, cause this generation is turning people into a bunch of sluts and players and it’s pissing me off. It’s called abstinence, learn some.

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I legitly love people. I moved back to college for my junior year 2 days ago and as I sit looking out my window, a bunch of the new freshman are just outside by the sand volleyball court and pond, grilling hot dogs, playing volleyball, playing bean bags, chinese ladders, and sitting in circles on the grass talking and hanging out.

The Bible says that above anything else, we are here to love people. If you can bring someone to Christ, bring them out of the pit of poverty and help them back to their feet, or just put a smile on their face for the first time in a week, awesome…but we need to love, and looking outside, I only know five out of probably seventy-five people that I see, but I love them. I don’t know them, but I don’t need to. I see what God must see when He looks down on us–the life in our eyes, the smiles on our faces, even the limp in our legs. I don’t know if that guy is wearing a vikings Tshirt cause he actually likes the Vikings, or because he got it for free ; I don’t know if that girl likes volleyball, or if she’s just playing because her friends are; I don’t know if that guy is playing beanbags cause he wanted to, or if one of the guys dared him into playing. I don’t know anything about any of these people, I can only make guesses.

I’m not a creeper, I promise, but there is something soothing about watching people. As a writer, it is basically my job to watch life, watch love, watch the sun rise and set so I can describe them in my writing. I need to see deeper than what the eye glances over, see the piece of gum squished by a thousand high heels and dirt-stained tennis shoes because someone was too lazy to walk an extra six steps to a trashcan. The eye misses so much. They don’t know I’m watching them from my dorm room window. If they looked up here, they might be able to see me, even though there is enough daylight to make glares, but they are too busy talking to friends, flirting with guys, and living what they know as their lives.

Most will go back to their dorms, maybe a few to rooms with quiet roommates that make things awkward, maybe a few to the student center to flirt with whoever else they can meet. If I knew them personally, a couple would probably annoy me, a couple may make me blush, a couple may even turn into good friends, but for right now, I love them if they were my own kids.

Learn to love everyone, and when you look out your window, maybe you will see the beauty that I see, the casualness as they fling a frisbee, the way they lay on the grass and read a book. So normal, yet beautiful. Beautiful people.

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Home is where my heart lays in barn dances on saturday nights, home-grown beef for supper, and a family who drinks the grocery store’s supply of coffee. I had the best childhood ever, and I think it’s because of my parents that I chose a college only an hour from home. I like getting out there to start my own life, but through that life, I don’t want to be far from my family so I can still see them from time to time, otherwise I’d probably move to Texas. I went there on a vacation with my sister August 2010, and I fell in love with the place. I almost didn’t want to come home because I felt like I fit in down there, but then I come home and realize that no matter where I go, Minnesota will always be home, and I will always find my way back here no matter where I go for periods of time.

I saw a post on Facebook that said this:

“My curfew was the street lights, and my mom didn’t call my cell, she yelled “time to come in.” I played outside with friends, not online. If I didn’t eat what my mom made me, then I didn’t eat. Hand sanitizer didn’t exist, but you COULD get your mouth washed out with soap. I rode my bike without a helmet. And getting dirty was okay. Click “Like” if you drank water from the garden hose and survived.”

That was my childhood. Heck, I still drink from the hose. Nothing is better than well water. I also realized how much I miss home cooked food after months of college food. I watched the movie “Sweet Home Alabama” today and realized that is kinda how my life is. I speed to get off the highway, but then slow down once I get back on those curvy country roads where I find my peace. Small town life is awesome.

Even if your past might not have been all that great, it got you to where you are today (which is hopefully a good place. If not, maybe you should look at the direction you are headed). Refresh yourself of past memories that taught you something, made you happy, or made you laugh, because you are going to need stories to tell your grandkids 🙂

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College can be overwhelming at first, but it’s just another part of life. It gets easier, and you’ll end up enjoying at least the parts that don’t involve a lot of homework. You are now studying what you want to do, not what high school is making you take…

But if you feel you want some advice, here’s a couple. Hope they help:

1. First things first, if you can, make a trip to your college and find all your classes before the first day if possible. The first day of my orientation, I got lost twice just trying to get there. If you have an idea of where you’re headed, you’ll have more confidence, and it will be one less thing to worry about. A couple of the buildings my classes are in can get confusing, so you will look less like a freshman if you know where to find your classes as well.

2. College may be a new start for you, and you may want to show off and make new friends, but whatever it is that you do, don’t act all smart-alic in front of your teachers. If you were the jokster of the grade, whoop-dee-do, but your teachers may not find you as funny. Not right now anyway. You have to let them get to know you first—plus then you’ll learn which teachers you can joke around with and the ones that even your dad would hide from.

3. Most of the time, you’ll probably have to be the first to say hi. So far, I’ve only had one person speak up and say hi to me first. If you don’t know what to say, start out by asking what year they are, what major they want to go for, and maybe what other classes they are in to see if you have any more of the same ones. Once they start talking and asking you questions too, it’s easier to think of more things to say. I’m sure they don’t know what to say either. The less awkward it feels, the more comfortable you’ll be. I had a class where no one talked even when the teacher wasn’t in the room…the entire semester it was always quiet, and believe me, it felt awkward. Like I’ve said in previous posts, I’m more of a listener than a talker, but in the beginning of school, you’ll find a lot of freshman not feeling themselves because of a new place, and helping them open up will help you to open too.

4. Look for some hangouts around the college where a lot of people tend to go. On your free time, you can grab some lunch or a book or homework and head over to that area. Maybe you’ll be lucky and meet some friends there. But you won’t make any if you hide in your dorm or at your house all day by yourself. Sometimes people will come up to you first instead, but you have to actually be around people for that to happen. College is a lot more fun and enjoyable when you have friends to share it with. People are already looking for new friends when they get there, so it’s easier than trying to start in the middle of the year when everyone is already getting settled with their new lives. The beginning of the year is the time to take some action.

5. Make sure you are prepared. High school teachers may get a little annoyed if you are always forgetting to bring a pencil, but you will get lectures and “the look” from your professors if you aren’t prepared. In my high school, it wasn’t really “cool” to carry around a backpack, but everyone in college has one. Don’t kill yourself by trying to carry everything by hand. Your arms will die. As long as it doesn’t have Dora the Explorer or Captain Underpants on it, you’ll fit right in.

6. Get involved in extra-curriculars or sororities. If you go to a big school with like 500 kids in each class, it may actually be a little more difficult to make friends, but if you join choir or a capa house, you’ll be more likely to get that best friend bond that you may be looking for if you don’t find it in your roommates. When you join clubs or special classes with people who enjoy some of the same things as you, you find a lot more to talk about. Once you have a friend, he/she can lead you to some of his/her friends, and you can lead him/her to some of your friends, and before you know it, you don’t feel like such an outsider.

7. Put on some clothes. You’re not at the playboy mansion, so skip the lowcut shirts and the shorts that could be swimsuit bottoms. “You want a man to give you the time of day, so leave a little up to the imagination and respect yourself. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and the beholder is anyone you want it to be.” (Saw it on Pinterest, don’t know who said it). And dudes, pull your pants up. I’m not saying wear tight booty jeans–that’s just awkward, but down to the knees is just ridiculous. You might as well just wear boxers to class. I don’t know who said that was attractive anyway. It’s not. Stop it.

8. Get your stuff in on time. Procrastination is the devil. This ain’t high school anymore kiddies, and college professors don’t accept late work as much as high school classes. For each hour of class, you should be doing two hours of homework just for that class. It doesn’t matter if you try hiding yourself in the back, teachers pay attention to your work and start making opinions about you by how you act, how prompt you are, and how much time you put into your work. So do yourself a favor, and get some things done so you don’t have to worry about it. They aren’t gonna go around making sure all your I’s are dotted, they expect you to be prepared, pay attention, and get it done. If you fall behind, good luck catching up. They go easy on you at first, but once the semester gets rolling, you gotta buckle down. Partying is for the weekends and summer. Get your work done first. They expect you to put in the time and effort, and won’t wait for you to catch up if you fall behind. This is also a good way to get on a teacher’s bad side. Bad idea. Don’t do it. No. A lot of times teachers are the people who can help get you internships or give a recommendation to companies hiring people. Being dependable will help get you there.

9. Take time for you. It’s gonna feel overwhelming at first, and sometimes you feel homesick. I know a lot of people that cry after their first couple weeks; so take a little time and do something for you. Read a book, play guitar or listen to your Ipod while you go for a walk. You won’t do well on your work if you’re constantly stressed, and your face won’t like all the new pimples either. You think clearer when you have a relaxed mind.

10. Get enough sleep. I had been going to bed at 11pm and waking up at 6 every morning. Come Friday, I was exhausted. Personally, I’m someone who needs around 10 hours of sleep to be satisfied. If you do okay with a little less sleep, then hop to it, but after a couple weeks of the same stuff, you are gonna be worn out, might wake up late to class, tick off your teachers when you slept through homework…well it’s just not pretty. That whole “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” thing is a load of crap. We’re only human after all. Take care of yourself. Naps become your best friend. Yes they will.

Other than all of this, have some fun. That doesn’t mean go to every party known to campus, but spend time with your new found friends, and enjoy your new freedom and new life away from high school. These are the days where you are working to learn how to do your future jobs, and you can finally do some classes that you have been waiting to take. You aren’t stuck with a curfew anymore, but you learn more responsibility for yourself. First year freshman can be annoying cause they are so oblivious to college life, but we have all been there, and should help them out when we can. Freshman–learn the mistakes of your peers, and listen to them so you don’t make the same mistakes. Making older friends your first year is awesome cause they can give you little shortcuts and hints on teachers and the buildings. Sometimes the people who made the most mistakes are the ones who can give you the most wisdom.

Stay safe, don’t be stupid with your choices, and enjoy the time you have before they let you out into the world of work and bills. It may seem like you’re busy all the time, but believe it or not, this is the most free-time you will get until you’re retired. Make the most of it 🙂

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Have you noticed how contradictory the world is? They tell us to be comfortable in our own skin, that we are “perfect the way we are”…and then they slather people in makeup, do close-ups on a couple pimples or slightly shaggy skin, and make us feel like we aren’t pretty enough or skinny enough to be called beautiful. No wonder actors and singers go into drugs and get wasted. We put so much pressure on them, and it can turn a sweet person into a Jerk.

Peer pressure has insane power on us all the time that makes us do things we say we’d never do…and why? Just to get acceptance from people who shouldn’t treat us like that in the first place? Signs say “Just Say No,” but saying no when you are surrounded and outnumbered by people who expect you to say yes…a lot harder when you’re in the moment.

But if we can’t say no to the small things…what will become of us when worse things come our way? It will seem small now, but when you give in, you may think you are in control of it, but it is already in control of you. If they are your friends, you should be able to say no around them. If they keep pushing you, then why do you hang around? It won’t be a one-time thing; they will keep persuading you to do more and more until you are a different person. Find the people you can be yourself around, not the people who you feel like you have to be better. It is good to have people to push you mentally with school work and stuff like that, but when it comes to being who you are, you shouldn’t have to change just because they have problems with it.

If you are shy, like me, trying to push yourself to be out there and conversive…it makes me feel uptight. Once I found friends that actually love to talk a lot, they like being with me because I’m a listener, yet they still let me pipe in every now and then and give my life story while they ask questions and share theirs.

My first semester in college, we were split into halls where we do activities with that hall and a “brother hall” which is a guy’s hall. Most of the girls were fun and nice…the kind of people I like being around…but I didn’t feel myself at all. They ended up not even talking to me , and I felt like I wasn’t being “fun” enough. Since I wasn’t popular in high school, I wanted to try and be in it now…

But then I started making other friends from my classes, people I felt comfortable around. They weren’t the populars, but turns out I’m just not built to be one of them, and I’ve finally learned to accept that.

So be yourself, and you will find that, even if they aren’t the people you are hoping for, they are people who love you for you and won’t try to change you. You were built to be you and will never be happy trying to be someone “better.”

You have probably heard it all before, but maybe that just means we are on to something that others don’t want to listen to.

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