Singleness Is So Underrated

I grew up thinking that everyone who went to college met their spouse there, got married soon after, and starting having a family. It was just a given that I would meet a guy here and get married after graduation; it happened to my parents and lots of other people I knew, so why wouldn’t it happen to me?

(feel free to laugh at how hard reality hit me)

Almost all of my close friends are engaged or married, so here’s a sneak peek of what graduation will look like.

Funny Pictures Of The Day – 42 Pics:

And you know what? I’m okay with that. There’s obviously perks to both sides, but I’m just going to talk about the single perks because it’s not talked about enough.

 

1. I get to choose my next step for me.

Would I mind having someone who would influence my decision? Of course not, duh. But that’s not where my life is now, so I’m free to look at opportunities in cities from every state in every part of the country. That is an insanely huge decision that I get to be really selfish about; assuming life stays how it is now, I don’t have to worry about if my boyfriend has a job offer or if we will do long distance or if one of us has to stay close. I’d love to have someone to help with that, but limitless options are pretty awesome too.

2. Nights out? Yes please.

Again, this isn’t something that you HAVE to be single for, but it can be pretty great knowing that you could flirt with any guy you meet and not feel guilty about it. That also means I probably have a few more years of getting my beverages paid for (#blessed).

3. That GPA though.

I will be the first one to admit that I am very easily distracted by boys. At all times. Dang hormones. I can’t even imagine what a mess my GPA (and life) would be if I tried to manage the problems that come with relationships on top of trying to figure out how to pass Organic Chemistry. I have been stupidly stressed and overwhelmed as it is, and I probably would have exploded if there was more to deal with.

4. Boy friends.

I may not be leaving Mizzou with a life partner, but I’m definitely leaving with life people. I would not be as close to many of my friends at school if I was trying to schedule weekly dates into my crazy life, and I definitely wouldn’t have the guy friends I do. I absolutely love all of my girl friends, but there is something unique and comforting about being close to guys that you’re not in a relationship with. I can visit or grab lunch or study or talk one-on-one to a guy without it upsetting anyone, and that has allowed for some very honest and caring friendships to form.

BONUS: Columbia is definitely not the safest place in the world, so being able to walk downtown or on campus at night with a human shield is wonderful. Seriously, you just throw a good guy into a situation and all of the cat-calling/general creepiness magically disappears. It’s amazing.

5. You do things for yourself.

Running, yoga, weight loss, Netflix binging, and trying to look pretty are all things that I have undoubtedly done for myself over the years. I think we easily get wrapped up in subconsciously doing things to impress other people, which has only ever resulted in wasted time on activities I don’t enjoy.

 

College has easily been the most life-changing time in my life. I am a completely different person than I was 3 years ago, and I love myself a heck of a lot more now than I did then. I’ve been able to slowly discover the kind of person I want to be without worrying how someone else wants me to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get jealous of my friends who are getting married, but it clearly hasn’t been the the right time for me; I needed to go through a lot of challenges and changes before that could even remotely be possible. My story won’t be the same as my parents’, and it’s taken me a long time to accept that is completely fine; I want to have a healthy relationship when the timing is right.

If you’re single in college, you aren’t alone (although you may feel like you are). I always suggest trying yoga or running, but find something that sparks a passion you didn’t know existed.

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A Millennial’s Take on Participation Ribbons

Diamonds

I was born in 1995, so I am a millennial and grew up in the age of participation ribbons and entitlement. And it clearly made me just the absolute worst person in the world.

LOL.

The argument that participation ribbons are causing kids to think they are entitled to everything has been around for a while, and quite frankly I don’t agree with it. I got participation medals and ribbons, but I knew I hadn’t actually won anything. It was still disappointing to know that other teams had gotten medals that didn’t have “PARTICIPATION” (often misspelled) engraved on the back. I still have almost all of my old awards, because they are a pleasant reminder of when I got to play sports because it was FUN. God forbid we actually let kids have some fun nowadays, right?

There was a time when winning wasn’t everything. I was allowed to quit sports and try new ones whenever I wanted because it was ridiculous to make an elementary schooler keep playing soccer when she was miserable. I tried just about every sport in the book besides softball, and I honestly learned more during my participation ribbon years than the others; I learned how to work with others, include those that may not be the best, be able to accept defeat, learn how to win graciously, and to be kind to both your friends and opponents. We may as well take away the “good game” hand shakes if we’re going to make such a huge deal about stupid ribbons, because isn’t that just lying to everyone too? It blows my mind that the majority of Americans are blaming entitlement on something so stupid and meaningless.

I was watching a video where a man took his tiny daughter’s participation ribbon and gave it back to the coach because she thought she’d won a race. Okay fine, that’s your personal decision to do that, but then he said, “you go out there and you win next time if you want a ribbon.” What’s going to stick with that girl isn’t that she worked super hard the next time and got a ribbon that she was really deserving of- she’s going to remember that her daddy, who she looks up to and wanted to make proud by showing off her participation ribbon, only approved of her if she won.

Entitlement starts at home, not on the playing field. I know, it’s shocking that my parents had more to do with how I was raised than some ribbons and trophies. I grew up getting participation trophies every year, (and no, my parents did not take them away or throw a fit) but I don’t believe that I’m entitled to really anything. I got an allowance growing up, but I had to do chores because they were a part of living in that house and helping the family out. I got participation awards, but I had to decide to get better at something on my own if I wanted to feel like I’d actually succeeded. My parents made it clear that they would never love me any more or any less based on my grades, wins and losses, or popularity contests. I mean, of course they were happy for me when we won a game, and they would try to help if I was upset with how I did, but they made it crystal clear there was so much more to life than that.

There’s all of this focus on how sports are making kids entitled, but I think there’s bigger issues surrounding putting kids in sports at such a young age. I can almost guarantee kids feel more stressed about the thought that they’re disappointing their parents by not winning than they feel proud about a participation ribbon. If we’re teaching kids that winning is the most important thing in the world, then what are we also teaching them about kindness, good sportsmanship, and loving others? What are we teaching them about people like this?

I do see where the problem with participation ribbons is, but in my opinion it’s been blown entirely out of proportion. If the problem is that parents are baffled about what to say to their kids when they get old enough to not get a ribbon, then the proper lessons weren’t being taught along the way. I think there’s more pressure on kids now more than ever to succeed at everything they do, and they need positive reinforcement from adults in their lives, even if they fail. My parents cheered when I failed my first college exam to prove that even failure can be celebrated. I would rather my kid learn how to be coach-able and kind and be rewarded for participating than only reward them for winning something, despite how they treated others and their coach. Little kids need something like a small tangible item to learn to be proud of their accomplishments, even if adults don’t see it as an accomplishment. My brain was not big enough at that age to understand why someone would be upset about something so little, but I was capable of understanding other lessons my parents deemed more important. They taught me about entitlement by volunteering as a family, talking about what I learned in Sunday school and how I could help others, and not giving me every little thing I wanted. They taught me about putting some of my allowance into savings and putting some aside to help other people. They were never disappointed with a grade I got if I had truly given it my all.

Leave the participation ribbons alone- is it really the worst thing in the world to let a child feel good knowing that they went to practice every week and tried their hardest during games? Everyone gets a minimum wage for showing up and doing their work, so I just don’t see how getting a small reward for committing to something when you’re that little is so horrendous. Entitlement comes from lessons and discussions outside of that one pizza party at the end of the season, so just let the kids be kids for a while.

 

The Best 4 Years of My Life

*I wrote this post a really long time ago last year, but I was worried it wasn’t long enough or good enough to publish. Well, here it is. It seemed appropriate as the start of school is upon us again, and everyone starts to  have college envy. I want to make it clear that I am SO grateful for my college opportunities, but in this post my intent was to point out how it does not benefit college students at all to tell them that it’s going to be the best experience of their lives, because quite frankly it might not be. Thank you for reading my ramblings!*

That phrase. Oh my gosh that phrase. It needs to go.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been told to enjoy every minute of college because “it’s the best 4 years of your life” and “it will be gone before you know it” and “you’ll wish you could go back.” Based on my experience and the experience of most of my friends, college is not the best 4 years of our lives. Or at least that’s not what it seems like now.

I was reading my book again and the author related motherhood to climbing Mount Everest and how many people tell mothers to enjoy every second of motherhood. I felt like she was speaking directly about my college experience when she said, “And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers, ‘ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF?! IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T! TRUST US!! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!’ those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.”

College sucks. It’s also amazing. But as I’m laying in bed at 11pm (because I haven’t had the opportunity to go to bed this early in a long time) and I’m trying to block out my roommates screaming in a language I cannot comprehend at all and the people above me playing super loud music while having sex (yep I can hear every creak of the bed above me this apartment is a piece of you-know-what), I would have to say that I am definitely not enjoying myself. Trying to block out these noises in my apartment occasionally spikes my anxiety to the point where I cry; there are days that my “home” feels like hell. Most days at school, it takes everything in me just to get through my commitments without breaking down.

If you saw how many tears my friends and I have shared over school, boys, and broken friendships, I don’t think you would tell us that we’re in the middle of the best four years of our lives. I think you’d be more likely to hug us and tell us that it will be over before we know it. If you knew how many of us are on medication to keep our anxiety and depression in order, I think you would understand where I’m coming from. College has amazing experiences and is a unique four (or so) years, but if these are the best years of my life I am going to be a little upset.

For the most part, we are all living for our future while at school. Almost everything I do is about setting myself up for a future job or internship or buffing up my resume or making my body look better for spring break or sacrificing most of my sleep for a test I have next week. Setting ourselves up for our future is drilled in our brains to the point where living in the moment feels strange. Telling me that I’m not enjoying the best years of my life while I am desperately trying to follow my dreams is a bit of a letdown, to say the least.

You know what’s way better? “I am proud of you.” Most of us don’t hear those words enough. We’re all trying to outscore each other and be the most impressive or most well-rounded and it feels as if we will never be good enough. Our professors would never dare praise us or tell us that we did well, and the comfort of friends who feel the same way can only go so far. We need our elders to tell us that our effort is being noticed and appreciated, because our little college bubble is in desperate need of some encouragement.

I realize I will probably view my experience very different a few years down the line, but right now it is honestly really hard. I try to appreciate my school and the people I get to learn from every day, but it’s difficult to appreciate day in and day out. I try to remember how lucky I am to be surrounded by friends all the time, but sometimes I want my parents more than anything. I’m trying to appreciate everything, I really am. I try to not take this opportunity for granted. I just need you to hear me when I say that most days I don’t go to bed going, “Wow college is great I love not sleeping and feeling dead every day just to try to get good grades and keep up a social life and stay active.”

College has some ups mixed in with the downs, but the ups are usually pretty special for many of us, so believe me when I say we don’t need to be told to appreciate those. At the end of the day, what we all need are encouraging words, Starbucks gift cards, and Jimmy John’s delivery.

We’re All Just Screw-Ups

*If you want a quick 4 minute summary of everything I’m about to say, scroll to the bottom and watch the video. Otherwise, please continue on to my rambling.*

Newsflash- we are all a complete mess. Now that that’s out of the way, if somebody knows a perfect person, hit me up because I have yet to come across one. This is why it drives me crazy that so many of us put on this act that we never make mistakes and have the right to judge others simply because we are Christians or think that our mistakes aren’t as big as everyone else’s.

(Side note- I see this more in the Christian communities I’ve been a part of, but this obviously isn’t exclusive to Christians)

I mess up. I mess up a lot and so does everyone else I’ve ever met. I’ve recently noticed that the Christians I relate to and enjoy being with the most are the ones who are “real.” I’m currently reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, which I’m starting to love because she is forward, honest, and isn’t ashamed to share about her screw-ups. Same with Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (probably one of my favorite books of all time). These women talk about their past drinking and drug use and swearing and loose sex without hiding behind the “good Christian” act and it is so refreshing. They are now incredible, strong Christian women, but they make it clear from the very beginning that they are no better than you and me. The same goes for many of my closest friends; if I can’t be real with you about my temptations and problems and things I’ve done wrong without feeling like I’m going to be judged, then we won’t be very close. I mean we can still be friends, but we’ll never truly know each other.

You know how on a first date you try to act like you’re as perfect as possible? We dress up in nicer clothes, take time making our hair look good, and eat with proper table manners when in real life I wear athletic shorts every day, never do anything to my hair, and basically eat like a 12-year-old boy. Some of my relationships with people feel like a never-ending first date.

I think the main issue with these relationships extends from the belief that some sins are worse than others. The attitude appears to be, “You have your sins, but they’re way worse than what I do so I have the right to tell you what you’re doing wrong.” You mess up. I mess up. To God, drunkenness is as bad as gluttony and white lies are as bad as huge lies. You have your sins, I have mine, and we are no better than each other or anybody else and I just think it’s time we stop trying to fix each other when we all have our own mountains of problems.

I think it would do all of us a world of good if we were honest with each other, and not only when asked. I can go to my best friends and my parents and go, “Hey guys look how much I screwed this up because I suck but I could really use your help.” I know they will help me take care of the situation, but they will not judge or attempt to “fix” me. I can go up to them and cuss my lungs out (woop now you know one of my persistent sins) because I’m hurt or mad or upset and they will hug me instead of criticizing my language. The Bible even straight up says, “Yo all of these commandments are super crazy important but if you were to only pick two to follow it should be to love God and love each other,” (my paraphrased version of Mark 12:28-31). I believe Carry On, Warrior talks about how one of the best ways to love God on earth is to love His children (which is everyone btw). We have to love Christians and Muslims and Atheists and the kid in class who wants to debate everything and the slow drivers (something I struggle with) and the kids who bullied you in middle school. Many would claim that telling people about their sins is a form of loving them, but I have personally never seen someone change because another person who is up on their high horse tells them to. I have, however, seen people change because they were continually told, “It’s okay. I’m here for you. I love you. We can get through this together.”

In the book I’m reading, Anne Lamott talks about how she became a Christian and the church that helped her learn to love God. Like I said, she was very upfront about her past from the beginning, and at one point in her life she was pregnant with her boyfriend’s child. She didn’t hide this from her church in fear of being criticized for having sex before marriage, even though she knew people wouldn’t necessarily approve of what she did. I think what she didn’t expect was the love that everyone responded with. “When I announced during worship I was pregnant, people cheered. All these old people, raised in Bible-thumping homes in the Deep South, clapped. Even the women whose grown-up boys had been or were doing time in jails or prisons rejoiced for me. They brought clothes, they brought me casseroles to keep in the freezer, they brought me assurance that this baby was going to be a part of the family.”

Being told about her sins didn’t keep her in the church. Being told that she needed fixing wasn’t going to help. Being told that she needed to get a better job or marry her boyfriend didn’t bring her closer to knowing God’s love for her; the immense showing of love without judgement from her community did. We’re all just huge screw-ups anyway.

I feel like I’m rambling now, but that’s just kinda how my brain works. As someone who was raised in the church and usually follows the rules and blahblahblah and is still afraid to go to other Christians with my sins/problems/screw ups, I can’t even imagine what others feel like. I’ve talked with one of my friends at school about stuff like this quite a bit, and whenever he brings up how he would feel judged and dislikes how hypocritical Christians tend to be, I agree. We can come across in the exact opposite way of the way we want without realizing it, but that’s not an excuse to not change. I try to explain to him that although the community as a whole can seem that way sometimes, not everyone is that way. Every human being on this planet is hypocritical, but we are also capable of love. Most of us are doing the best we can, but I think we can all do better.

It seems like all people really need is an outpouring of love, because that love will teach them more about our God and how He has affected us than our memorized verses, Bible verse Instagrams, and Jesus fish bumper stickers ever could.

Now please watch this because I love her and I think she does a way better job of explaining how I feel.

Put Down The Stone – Glennon Doyle Melton

Just Show Up

We can’t seem to get out of tornado warnings, so I figured now was as good a time as any to finally write about this.

love love languages. Knowing other peoples’ top love languages and your own make loving each other so much easier. For example, it took me years to understand why Haley and Ashley got so excited over gifts. I mean don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good gift every now and then, but I mainly experience and show love through acts of service. However, this is basically at the bottom of most of my friends’ love languages, so it was always somewhat frustrating because we all thought like we were loving each other well, but it didn’t feel that way. I really believe that knowing each others’ top love languages has helped all of our friendships grow deeper, because we can actually give in the way that will be best received.

I wish everybody had a t-shirt or sign above their head like the Sims that stated the order of their love languages. I think we would all be better at treating strangers and our loved ones the way they want to be treated. This is obviously not the case, and if you think this already exists you might want to make an appointment with someone who can help. I like to think the all-encompassing love language is showing up.

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I’m just going to go ahead and lay it out there right now that texting someone you’re there for them and actually showing up and being physically there are not the same. Now, texting and phone calls can be awesome for when it’s not possible to actually be there, but it has to be intentional; I have stomach issues and my friend Gabe used to stay up and text me about whatever until they went away so I could go to sleep. That’s showing up. In high school a group of my friends actually took time out of their lives to come listen to a boring orchestra concert and my contest piece instead of just wishing me luck. That’s showing up. I honestly can’t remember a time when my family was not at my sporting events, recitals, and ceremonies. They have held me when I sobbed and given tough love over the phone about school. That’s showing up. A friend I’d only had for about 2 days showed up at a lacrosse game just because. That’s showing up.The girls my children will know as their aunts have bought countless breakup cupcakes, cried together over dumb boys, held each others hands when times were tough, cheered at each others’ half marathons at 7am, and shown up out of the blue because it was what one of us needed. I recently opened up to Haley about something that’s been bothering me for years. I was crying in the middle of a coffee shop (clearly winning at life) and later that night she called to tell me she was bringing me a gift. It was a book filled with positive sayings and a card. THAT IS SHOWING UP.

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My personality type is INFJ, which means that I am introverted but tend to come across as an extrovert. Because of this, I used to agree to things all the time to support people or hang out with them, but then I would back out because I would rather stay home. Needless to say, it has taken me an embarrassingly long time to understand the importance of physically getting out and being there, whether it’s at the top of your list or not- it’s at the top of somebody else’s list. Most of the time it’s great to know that other people don’t just care about you as a person, but they also care about what you choose to do with your life. I just want to kick my high school self because I think my relationships with people would have been so much stronger had I known how to sacrifice a little bit of my own time for the support of someone else. Better late than never, I guess.

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I am so lucky because I have a family that has always shown up, whether they really wanted to or not. They celebrated my brother and my accomplishments and rubbed our backs when we were upset. I’ve been trying to figure out why my friends have remained so close even though some of us live hundreds of miles apart during the school year, and I really believe it is because we realized the importance of showing up, especially when we rarely get to see each other. I’m not sure whether this makes sense to anybody else, but these occurrences are the things that always stand out when I try to remember what happened in the past.

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You’re not appeasing just one or two love languages, because when you show up you’re spending quality time, providing words of affirmation, having physical touch by giving a hug or five, and serving through your support. The only thing really missing is a gift, and that can be easily solved with a cupcake. 🙂

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“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

Love Language Quiz

Haley’s Blog

Pink Balloon People

When I was really young, our local Hy-Vee used to give free balloons to little kids. Mom almost always let Eric and me get free balloons, and it was basically the best gift in the world to a 6 year old. If that balloon happened to be light pink? Oh. My. Gosh. Don’t pinch me because I was totally dreaming.

Mom used to help tie the ribbons around our wrists so that we wouldn’t lose them (I think she was really just trying to save herself from our tears and possible screaming). We rode the entire way home in the back seat of the mini van with ribbon bows around our wrists and glorious colored sacks of air hitting the ceiling. Life was so good.

Once we got home, though, a huge decision had to be made; let the balloon go, and watch it float up, or bring  it inside and keep it in our rooms until the poor thing had deflated to a crumpled piece of nothing. For a really long time, I kept my balloon for as long as possible- I couldn’t bear the thought of letting go of something that made me so happy before the last possible second.

I’m the same way with people. When I really get along with someone, and I mean really get along, I want to tie them onto my wrist and keep them with me as long as possible. People as special as a pink balloon are hard to find. Sometimes those people aren’t meant to be in your life forever though, and this is really difficult for the 6 year old in me to deal with. These people seem incredible and I appreciate their flaws and I want to spend the rest of my life living this awesome friendship with them. I occasionally get really attached is basically what I’m getting at.

However, sometimes keeping the ribbon tied around your wrist for too long will hold you back. The balloon will bump into stuff, make you unable to move like normal, and keep you from going certain places (like school, where latex is basically the spawn of Satan). Sometimes truly wonderful people hold you back too. I seriously struggle with understanding why I can’t keep all of these awesome people in my life, but I’ve realized that the tighter I try to hold on to people, the worse things get. I don’t always understand why I can’t keep them forever, but I’m learning that sometimes it’s enough to realize you simply have to loosen your grip.

I hate losing friends. I hate it so much. We used to share secrets and laughter and meals and hugs, and now we pretend like we never knew each other. It shakes me up and hurts my heart. I guess sometimes necessary things hurt.

When I got a little bit older, I learned about the beauty in letting my balloon go. It was still glorious and bright and great and I loved it, but it wasn’t holding me back anymore. I was no longer holding it back either- it was free to float to wherever its next destination was. People are harder to let go of. I want to be with them when they float on to their next destination, but I’ve learned that doing so would keep both of us from getting where we need to be.

I just really don’t like that I have to let go.

Beyonce Gets 24 Hours Too

Beyonce and Oprah and Emma Watson and the mayor of a small town in Maryland get 24 hours.

So you’re telling me that the Queen of England gets the exact same amount of time as the rest of us?!?!?!

It sucks. I know.

Last semester was a big ol’ ball of hot messiness for me. I felt unproductive and sad all the time (possibly more on that at a later time). I came out of first semester hating school and not liking what my daily life consisted of. I never went to organic chemistry lecture, I went to bed really late, woke up at like 10 every morning, only went to class and church stuff, and took way too many naps. I was not happy. This is not what I wanted my life to look like day in and day out. I am 19 years old for crying out loud! I have a world of opportunities at my fingertips (wow way to be really cheesy Syd you should be on QVC) and all I did was hate class and hate myself. That’s not what life is supposed to be for anyone, especially for young and wild and free college kids. Cool.

I want to be a kind, brilliant, world-changing, running, beautiful, God-fearing, makeup-loving, fashionable, gracious, hard-working, confident, healthy, self-loving, scientist extraordinaire. It’s like I woke up from one of those naps where it’s only been 30 minutes but you feel like you’ve been asleep for 3 days and I realized that I have the ability and drive to be exactly who I want to be. I may not be able to take as many naps, but that’s nothing 10 cups of coffee a day can’t fix (shoutout to Starbucks in Memorial you my main homie). If Emma Watson can be a college-educated, feminism-spreading, incredible woman then by golly so can I. She doesn’t have my parents and grandparents, so I’ve already got an advantage.

This semester so far has been all about taking care of myself. I’ve been learning what it takes to keep my mental and physical health in check. I’ve been prioritizing the things that make me feel like I’m doing something worth talking about (wow big shock it’s not always sitting in class) and I’m taking the time to take care of me. It’s incredible how much better I feel when my schedule is crazy full of things that are turning me into the woman I want to be. I go to bed at night satisfied; I can’t remember the last time I felt that way.

Here’s something I wrote in my journal last night:

“Side note to myself: Taking care of yourself is so important. Wash your face in the morning. Do yoga and Pilates. Sit in the sauna a couple times a week. Paint your nails. Smother your body in lotion after a shower. Run by yourself and with other people. Read more books and watch less Netflix. Wear things that make you feel good. Journal regularly. Pray. Let your hair air dry. Drink water. Cook for yourself. Take naps in public and sit in the massage chair. Don’t be afraid if the most productive thing you do on Saturday is your laundry. Don’t wear a bra if you’re studying at home. Always have a cute and comfy pair of sweatpants. Hang out with people you actually enjoy. Call your parents and grandparents. Stay up late to get the grade then reward yourself with a Frosty, French fries, and plenty of sleep. Ice your legs after every run. Do your arms and abs workouts. Occasionally curl your hair or wear a bold lip when you want to feel pretty. Tell yourself you’re enough. Go to bed before 12 a.m. Thank God for your blessings and His love. Take your vitamins.”

If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t be the best version of me. I’ve decided that I was put on this planet to fulfill a plan that is greater than sitting through class and getting good grades, and I want to grow to be the woman that I feel I am meant to be.

Fire