You. Are. Enough.

Dearest you,

Yes, you.

The one who has wondered. The one who has wandered. The one who doesn’t have a clue where their going. The one who knows it all. The one who yearns for more knowledge. The one with the full-proof plan. The one who’s lost. The one who is madly in love. The one who’s broken-hearted.

Yes, you.

This one is for you.

There’s something I need you to know. Something that needs to be said.

                                                   You. Are. Enough.

Always. Everyday. Everywhere. All the time.

                                                   You. Are. Enough.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, to be a great writer, you have to be willing to put it all out there. No filter. You must be prepared to place all of your deepest thoughts, stories, and mixed emotions in a glass case on display for the world (wide web? Ayyy 2014, I see you, I see you) to take in. But here’s the thing about glass: it can break. Really easily, at that. That’s a whole lot of fragile, and not necessarily something I’m ready to play around with just yet. You see my friend, I don’t have the guts….I might as well admit it. I don’t have the guts to be the best writer I could possibly be. I will never put it ALL out there.

However, I will say this: I think what I encounter, more than ever as a part of the 20-something crowd, is this endless search for a sense fulfillment; this deep longing to be “enough.” Not just in regards to relationships, but in general, really. We’re all searching to feel whole. And in a generation that’s all about being the one who cares less, that can be hard at times. Really, really hard- for everyone. But, my friend, you are not alone.

 “She cheated on me.”

      “I didn’t get the job.”

           “He walked away from me like I was nothing….”

                 “I failed a huge exam.”

Oh, don’t you know it breaks my heart? When you cry out those words the way you do, it cuts me in two. Those are words that reek of self-contempt. They’re sharp. They’re ridged. They’re painful for me to hear. Honey, those are the words that’ll leave you starving for more from this thing we call life. And don’t you know that when you’re hungry for more, half a sandwich just simply won’t do. You’re gonna want something else. Something substantial to make you feel whole. And doubt? It makes for a weak plate. It won’t fill you up. Not even close.

I’d like to define enough to you, just to prove to you, once and for all, that you are. It’s far too subjective, though. No one can truly define it…..no one really knows.

But I do know this:

You don’t need doubt. You don’t need to question yourself.

                         You. Are. Enough.

  You, yes you.

                        You. Are. Enough.

Always.

                                                       

xoxo,

Shelbs

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22 signs you’re nineteen-going-on-twenty

“How old are you?”

“Almost twenty.”

“So 19……”

 

1. Not only purchasing Chacos (the collegiate equivalent to Crocs, see “20 Things They Don’t Teach You in University Perspectives”) but wearing them shamelessly. Jesus rocked those sandals, so can you.

2. That hot player from freshman year? You all have at least one who comes to mind….he’s significantly less attractive the second time around the block as a sophomore.

3. But still kinda attractive….dammit….

4. Ordering a salad at Chipotle. The Freshman 15 is real- and very, very scary. Acceptance is the first step to recovery.

5. Your Facebook newsfeed slowly transforming from what was once Spring Break photos to polished snapshots of couples and (gasp) engagement rings.

6. Coincidentally, the idea of adopting a cat becoming more and more appealing.

7. Accepting that your Dad is, in fact, always right.

8. ….and offering to pick up the check when he takes you to dinner (still with full intentions of letting him pay the tab)

9. Using “remember freshman year….” as the opening line to your best stories. Ah, the glory days.

10. Facing the striking fear that accompanies watching older guys flirt with innocent freshman girls, which has an uncanny resemblance  to watching a deer unknowingly dart in front of a moving semi-truck, blinded by the headlights.

11. Leading to the realization that, with this kind of protective instinct, you might actually make a semi-decent parent one day….

12. Keyword: might

13. In about ten years.

14. Maybe fifteen….

15. Embracing one of life’s greatest truths: the only person in control of your destiny? YOU. No one else is responsible for your choices and direction. Live and let live has a whole new meaning as the big 2-0 approaches.

16. Coming to terms with your inability to twerk. Exploring other options. Ballroom Dance Club? Sure, why not.

17. Finally acknowledging that walking through the Ozark hills to get to class doesn’t actually substitute for a leg day at the gym. Midnight Taco Bell has, and always will, void this myth.

18. Accepting that, no matter what your age, the bouncer’s at every 18+ event will always ask you to spell out your ridiculously long last name and/or other information, should you happen to have the dreaded baby face.

19. Calling your mom for advice. Actually taking it.

20. Using a spoon when you eat Nutella from the jar, as opposed to pretzels, crackers….your hands….

21. Finalizing long term career goals. Whether it be filling out internship applications, or accepting a professional employment position in addition to course work, it’s time to put those big-girl pants on.

22. ……and mini skirts, on the weekends. Not retired just yet.

#YesAllWomen: the best and worst thing to happen to feminism

At first, I jumped on the bandwagon.

The #YesAllWomen campaign began in response to the recent Southern California shooting lead by 22-year-old Elliot Rogers. His misogynist ravings and 140 page manifesto outraged social media users. Using Twitter as a tool, women (and men, for that matter) took to the web to share their personal stories and draw attention to the sexism women can face daily using the hashtag, “#YesAllWomen.”

To date, #YesAllWomen has reached more than a million tweets and counting. And I am truly head over heels for the campaign.

The instant I saw the trending hashtag I was motivated to play my part in speaking up and speaking out in regards to the injustice and double standards women can face in society. Not only as a female, but as I human being, I hold a civic duty to advocate against what is wrong, and in favor of what’s right.

Initially, the campaign’s efforts appeared to be on point. It seemed to be aimed towards shedding light on the various forms of injustice against women, encouraging lasting cultural change, and inspiring positive action. And for the most part, it still is.

The messages and motives that #YesAllWomen originally presented? They are all too real, and all too often, overlooked. As I read tweets from women with the courage to open up and share their stories, my heart swelled in admiration of their strength. But, as I continued to follow the trend, I found myself equally as heartbroken….because as an incoming college sophomore, many of the #YesAllWomen testimonies made I see in the culture surrounding me.

Every. Single. Day.

“He’s a 19 year old freshman guy….that’s just how they are.”

“He only acts that way because you put him in the ‘friend-zone’…”

Two statements I would hear again and again throughout my freshman year- from both men AND women, and in regards to matters of all sorts. Having grown up surrounded by both peers and elders who set positive examples of how women should be treated, I still can’t quite grasp how we so easily rationalize some behaviors.

So, needless to say, I share the same passion for change that the #YesAllWomen campaign promotes.

But, what started as a call for action and a much needed conversation starter has sense become a BATTLE in ways, and wrongly so.

….que the also trending hashtag, #NotAllMen.

uneducated

Really….?

A defense of sort from the male community, who have been attacked by the, for lack of better term, uneducated and misguided #YesAllWomen campaign band-wagoneers.

#YesAllWomen isn’t about demeaning or surpassing our male counterparts, although it has arguably become such an effort in some aspects.

And now, the BEST thing to happen to feminists could also be considered the WORST, should we fail to clearly define the matter at hand.

Is equality a battle? Yes.

Does a double standard exist between men and women in today’s society? Yes.

Should we be working towards cultural change? Yes. Yes. Yes. YES.

….but not against one and other. And certainly not in some of the ways #YesAllWomen has begun to slowly take shape.

Because a gender movement is far more powerful than a gender war.

Their are, indeed, men who publicly support this effort. And they rock my socks off.

men

You go, Glen Coco.

And overall, the #YesAllWomen campaign has already made incredible strides for women. But, if we look at women’s rights and feminism as a “Man vs. Woman” effort, we get nowhere.

#YesAllWomen is about cooperation, working hand in hand as a community to establish lasting and meaningful cultural change….not attacking one and other.

I look forward to the day where women are no longer labeled  because they place a man in the friend-zone. To be selective is to be empowered.

I look forward to the day where being a “freshman college guy” is no longer an excuse. For anything.

But most importantly….

I look forward to the day where feminism can no longer be viewed as a competition.

Because #YesAllWomen battle sexism and discrimination.

…….and #YesAllPeople must unite if we’re ever going to end it.

closing

9 Ways to Say “See You Later”

I’m just going to put it out there:

I don’t believe in goodbyes.

Really, I don’t. I reject the idea in it’s every way, shape, and form. Because goodbyes, they mean letting go completely….of a person, a place, an idea, a memory, an experience. Goodbyes are half-hearted attempts at forgetting, which no one really knows how to do- even those who claim to hold the ability.

I’ll tell you what I do believe in, though.

I believe in “see you later’s.”

A bit of a cliche, yes. It’s a saying we’ve heard time and time again…..but truth, nonetheless. “See you later” is the warm, incredibly tight bear hug with emotions that linger long after it’s gone. You can’t help but love it, even if it hurts a little.

So, as we all part ways for the summer…..

9 Ways to Say “See You Later”

1) OVER DINNER.

Because no matter how many times we whine about being broke college students, somehow there’s always room in our bank accounts for Chipotle. It’s a mystery.

2) WITH A T-SHIRT

Ideal for the frat-stars in your life. If you really aren’t sure what to say to him before you go, then say it with Comfort Colors. It’s like a Hallmark Card, except less endearing and without all the hearts. Giving someone a t-shirt before you part ways is cute, fun, and pretty to the point….kinda like most freshman guys. Plus, you can always stick it to the srat-status-quo and nab it from his closet should the opportunity ever present itself…..it’s the parting gift that keeps on giving.

 

3) IN A LETTER

Handwritten notes are special….the kind of extraordinary special that can only be found in between the curves and curls of a shotty cursive signature and extensive “xoxoxoxo’s.”

 

4) DRUNK

Emotional? Nahhh. Blame those tears on the tequila.

 

5) WITHOUT WORDS

In some cases, certain things are better left unsaid. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason for that. I’ll admit, I have a hard time accepting this. I’m one who would much rather say too much than remain silent. However, silence isn’t always a bad thing. You can let it be, without letting go.

 

6) IN THE LIBRARY

No, this doesn’t mean you’re a loser. It means in the midst of move-out madness and different schedules amongst friends, you’ve got to take a final exam here and there. The best way to get everyone in one place? Over coffee and Economics notes.

 

7) WITH A PICTURE

…they still print photographs? Why yes, yes they do. A snapshot on an iphone is nice, but there’s something about the feeling of physically holding a memory in the palm of your hands, squinting just to see the delicate details of the expressions of those pictured. It’s timeless, and it’s meaningful. Great for a close friend.

 

8) WITH A SONG

Maybe it’s the song you blast full volume when your with your girlfriends, and sing at the top of your lungs in (not)so perfect harmony. Perhaps it’s the tune you heard at EVERY frat party this year (turn down for what…..?) Whatever the song may be, play it.

 

9) ANY WAY YOU POSSIBLY CAN

Shout it from across the street. Send a text, make a call…..do what you gotta do. Whatever the case may be, let no one in your life leave, for any period of time, feeling anything other than needed, wanted, and loved.

Freshman Year: what I thought I knew, what I know now, and all I have to learn

I want nothing more than to pour my heart and experiences out on to this page, so I can ignite the fire in yours; to share all of my knowledge and stories of freshman year, packaged seamlessly into sweet sentences, and leave you feeling as though you can conquer the college world.

….but I can’t.

 

You see, I don’t have mass amounts of wisdom. The things I do know? I hardly obtained that knowledge seamlessly. Learning who you are in this life is a messy process….countless mistakes and missteps that somehow, some way, allow something broken to become something beautiful.

I’d like to tell you that my words are a bulletproof vest- a bulletproof vest that you can use as a shield against all the wrongs that will come your way as you navigate freshman year. I’d like to tell you that I have all of the answers, and that this blog will shine a light on the path you should take. I would…I really, really would. And in a perfect world,I could. However, it’s quite the opposite.

Because if there’s anything I’ve come to find in a year on my own, it’s that this world we live in is entirely imperfect and flawed, and that’s what makes it so very incredible.

I arrived on this campus a year ago with a plan for my life. It was a plan I ignorantly believed would be unchanging, in all aspects. As I struggled to pack a ridiculous number of shoes into a tiny dorm room, I held on tightly to the belief that I was in total control of my destiny. With clenched fists, I gripped the childish concept with all my might. Like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, I was determined to have my way, no matter what the stakes. I foolishly convinced myself that everything that happened would go according to my calculations.

It didn’t. For many reasons, and in many ways. Like any good tantrum, eventually the fight came to an end- pretty quickly, at that. So I got up, slowly, and went back to the drawing board to remap and reevaluate what I wanted in this life. Because for the first time in 19 years, I didn’t know.

In front of the drawing board….it’s a daunting position to find yourself in. A blank page, completely at your will, is ever so frightening. Throughout freshman year, I would stand in that place on more than one occasion, and every so often, I would go back to square one, and start from scratch. If you give freshman year everything you have, without holding back… then you, too, will find yourself in the same place. Maybe once, maybe twice. Maybe a lot, if you give college all you’ve got.

It’s not a matter of knowing what you want. It has nothing to do with “confusion,” “distraction,” “immaturity,” or any vocabulary with negative implications that may fall underneath that umbrella. It’s quite the opposite. It’s a matter of enlightening experiences, interesting people, and new places that shed light on the dark corners and minor details that all too often, we miss. Caught up in our own thoughts and pre-conceived desires, the delicate details that we miss.

So as I reflect upon freshman year, I see that what I thought I knew is minimal in comparison to what I know now. And what I know now? It’s nothing compared to all I have to learn.

As a high schooler, a negative ora surrounded the concept of change. My decisions and choices were less about paving new paths, and geared towards security, structure, and comfort. All are admirable desires that I still yearn for. But, in a different way. To attempt to designate my entire future at just 19 years old was naive. Transitioning into college, I threw all notions and ideals away in favor of a more “Carpe Diem” lifestyle.

I’m not suggesting you drift through this life with no direction. That’s taking it a little too far. It’s important to have some kind of structure freshman year, however minimal it may be, in order to make progress.

That being said, it wasn’t until I released the tight hold I thought I’d had on my future and took a good look around, that I saw it: the people, the places, the scents, the sights….the many elements I’d let pass me by, as I stood with blinders on, focused only the goals I’d set prior to my arrival at the University of Arkansas.

*******************************************************

I thought I knew….

My major and career path. I was convinced I’d go to school for non-profit management, join the Peace Corps after graduation, and eventually work for a non-profit corporation.

I know now…..

That you don’t have to have a degree in non-profit management, to work for a non-profit. Several major changes later, I’ve found that I can impact the world from various career outlets beyond the obvious. Peace Corps is still in the picture, as I work with recruiters and prepare to apply at some point. But where I go from there? Who knows. The not-knowing is the best part of it all.

 

I thought I knew….

My style. Incoming Freshman Shelby would dress to the tee for class everyday, no matter what the costs.

I know now….

Nike shorts,various t-shirts with Greek letters, and a solid makeup foundation are a blessing in disguise. All natural and comfortable is key when you live on a campus with hills that are practically mountains. Cute clothes and full makeup are a better fit for formals and functions…..and Chicken Finger Fridays, if you happen to have a hot date.

 

I thought I knew….

What I wanted in a relationship.

I know now…

That I don’t want to be someone’s world. I want to be their sun. You see, the Earth revolves on its axis independently; it holds its own, regardless. Alone, the Earth is outstanding…. the Sun simply illuminates that beauty, with it’s warmth and light. As I grow, I have come to find that there is nothing more attractive than a man with a strong sense of self, and independent ambitions. As someone once said, “A great relationship doesn’t consist of two parts that fit together to make a whole. A great relationship consists of two wholes that, together, make something even bigger and better.”

 

I thought I knew…

How to actually keep a room clean.

I know now….

I don’t. At all. It takes me a full hour to clean a tiny dorm room, and less than an hour to destroy it again. It’s a vicious cycle.

 

I thought I knew…

Where I’d be in a year…and in five years…and in ten years

I know now…

To attempt to predict the future is a futile effort. Uncertainty is scary. It’ll leave you shaking in your boots, with knots in your stomach so tight, you’ll feel like you’ve had one too many margaritas. And while uncertainty may be frightening, it’s also invigorating.

 

I thought I knew…

The right way to study for a big test. An all-nighter beforehand, of course.

I know now….

Flashcards, time management, and studying weeks in advance are far from overrated. Smart is the new sexy (although a little mascara still never hurts ladies). That cute study buddy? He’s more or less a distraction. A sweet one, but a distraction nonetheless. Shut your phone off, put your ipod in, and step away from the outside world for a few hours. You’ll thank me later.

 

I thought I knew….

What I wanted in a friend.

I know now…

Label’s mean nothing. If anything, they’re what hold us back. It’s not just about finding pretty girls to go out with (although having fun is a HUGE part of any friendship dynamic.) It’s about surrounding yourself with friends who have depth. People who you can call at any hour, without thinking twice. People who understand what you’re feeling, before you even said it. People who you can laugh with, party with, cry with….people who you can be your full, uncensored self around.

****************************************************

Every morning, I read a daily passage in a book called “Jesus Calling.” Not because I’m a perfect Christian, but because I am not.

Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Atheist….wherever your thoughts or beliefs lie, I truly believe the words found in this book can speak to anyone, on a universal scale. If not from the perspective of the religious, then from the perspective of the worldly mind. This morning, as I sat down to finish this blog, I opened “Jesus Calling” to the April 15th passage, where I found a verse that spoke directly to the message that I was attempting communicate with this blog post.

“Trust Me, and don’t be afraid….you tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable…When you are shaken out of your comfort routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities. Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new…” -Isaiah 12:2;Psalm 61:2-4;2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Live boldly, and the places you go in life will change you. They’ll shift your insides and move you so deeply that you could cry and laugh, all at once. Your opinions, your wants, your needs….all will be affected by each and every day as you navigate freshman year. Some will remain the same, some will change slightly, and some will be thrown away completely.

 

Every wrong step is leading you in the direction towards something right. Embrace it.

Boyfriends are temporary, sisterhood is timeless

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh God, not another anti-Valentine’s Day post from another lonely, bitter woman who ‘don’t need no man…’ ”

On the contrary, my friends. It just so happens Valentines is one of my favorite holidays. Whether in a relationship, single, or somewhere in between, I have historically held an over enthusiastic love for Valentine’s Day. I am a holiday hater’s worst nightmare.

So, there’s my disclaimer: I’m not lonely or bitter…..although I do shamelessly take full advantage of the half price candy sales on February 15th, alongside the 50+ divorcee crowd.

One piece of the above statement does hold itself to be true, though.

“…don’t need no man.”

As a freshman in college, what I want and what I need are two very different things.

Do I want a man? Sure. The fruits of the casual dating pool really can’t be fully enjoyed until the college years come along, and it’s absolutely wonderful. As freshmen in college, our goals and desires are ever changing. This is a time of self discovery. I have the rest of my life to find my “forever”….why rush it?

I can tell you what I do need, though…..I need my sisters. My girlfriends. This part of my life I do, in fact, need.

I’ve been around the block. I know the nature of the judgements that we as women pass upon each other during the Valentine’s season all too well. Why? Because at one point in my life, I was the girl who made them. This time last year, I was convinced that anyone with anything other than a Type A perspective on this holiday just “didn’t understand what it was like to be in love.”  As a high schooler, Valentine’s Day was less about intimate moments, and all about professing my love via every social media outlet available. Your love is only as deep as the caption to your Instagram collage, right?

……and then I grew up.

So this year, I made a New Year’s Resolution that I intend to keep. I resolved to take the time and effort I threw into my relationships with men in 2013, and channel that additional energy into my friendships with the women who have never left my side.

No, I haven’t switched teams. It’s affirmed…I really, really like guys. 100 percent. But, when I look back on my high school years it breaks my heart to admit that many times, I passed up on spending time with good friends, in favor of spending time with whoever I was dating at the time. College is all about growth and change, so this resolution seemed fitting.

While I understand that the term “sisters” is generally used within the Greek community, I believe it extends far beyond sorority life. While my sisters can certainly be found in my sorority house, they can also be found in dorm rooms, on dance floors, in apartments, and coffee shops alike.

Recently, one of them shared this photo with me.

BedHjxnIEAAlGV_.jpg-large

At first I laughed, because on the surface the witty words of the Sex and the City ladies are always humorous. But as the deeper message settled in, I found myself at a loss for words.

As young women in college, many of us put on a front. “I have it all together,” our social media posts, smiles, and actions portray. But in reality, in our late teens and early twenties, we’re all a little lost and confused in some way or another. To find friendships so genuine and meaningful in the midst of such madness…well, it’s absolutely beautiful.

Melodramatic? Maybe a little. But as I processed the photo, it hit me: nothing in this world can replace the unique bond that is sisterhood.

Sisters will protect you like you’re their child.

Sisters will love you like you’re their daughter.

Sisters will lecture you like you’re their grandchild.

Sisters will judge the men you date like they’re your father (or harsher than your father, if they’re doing their job right.)

Sisters are the ones who take the phone from your hand when they see his name pop up on the screen.

Sisters are the ones who will split a box of Krispy Kremes with you, just because.

Sisters are the ones who understand every inside joke, and will always join in your random fits of laughter.

Sisters will hold you as you cry.

Sisters will celebrate your achievements, as though they are their own.

Sisters will love you unconditionally. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but 365 days a year.

They say that “most men are like purses: cute and replaceable.” One day, I’ll find myself that limited edition, high quality Prada bag. I haven’t yet, but I know the day will come. I’m not in any hurry though, because an investment like that takes time and thought.

In the meantime, I’m holding on to a genuine article….sisters. And like a good Kate Spade bag, these ladies are timeless.

Have a happy Valentine’s Day!

xoxoxo

The Second Semester Hangover: signs, symptoms, and cures

It rivals the strength of the strongest drink, and no supply of gatorade or Advil can soften the blow. Upperclassmen reminisce the experience bitterly, and professors greet the sight with a scowl.

I like to affectionately refer to it as the “second semester hangover.”

For so many, college is an opportunity for growth and self discovery. Sure, those words are nothing we haven’t read in the latest recruitment pamphlet. But could there be some truth to the canned statements we’ve heard time and time again?

You see, it wasn’t until December rolled around and I returned to my hometown for winter break, that it hit me:

I’d changed.

For better, or for worse? Eh, depends who you’re asking. If you’re like me and you favor positive vibes, steer clear of the opinions of anyone who in 2013 I:

  1. dumped. Attempting to maintain a friendship with an ex is somewhat like practicing taxidermy. “I’m sorry you’re hurt, Bambi. Let me make it up to you,stuff you back to life, and keep you around so you can stare at me coldly. No hard feelings, right?” Debatable. *cue Taylor Swift song*
  2. unapologetically criticized for supporting Phil Robertson during the whole Duck Dynasty “scandal”.  The family is just a cleaner version of other reality show stars, saying and doing whatever it takes to stay in the limelight….apparently, this is not a very popular opinion in the conservative South. When Southern duck lovers unite, they are a strong  force to reckon with. Be warned. It was a great PR stunt though, I’ll give my duck lovers that much.
  3. watched me twerk. I don’t even know why I try.

 

Nonetheless, I realized that who I was when I left for college in August was entirely different in comparison to who I was returning to the STL for winter break.

Now, don’t be mistaken-reuniting with family and friends back home is comforting and joyful in more ways than one. Close family and friends are the ones who build us up and encourage us to reach our full potential. This beautiful and rare support system generally lies only in those we’ve known our whole lives. Unconditional love is hardly something to be taken for granted or undermined.

But in some ways, winter break as a college freshman is the equivalent of a caterpillar that’s on the edge of becoming a butterfly crawling back into it’s comfortable cocoon. The familiarity of our surroundings can make us, but it can also break us at the same time. It’s a bittersweet symphony, winter break. All too often, venturing back to “home sweet home” can cause us to hit “pause” on the progress we’ve made as individuals, out on our own. With ease, we begin to unknowingly digress along with the winter temperatures, and we often slip backwards into the roles we once held while in high school. Rather than continuing to develop the independent individuals we are becoming and the personality traits we’ve only recently discovered within ourselves while away from home, we fall back into the familiar patterns of the past… both good and bad.

Thus, as we return to school from winter break, the buzz brought by first semester begins to wear off,  and the second semester hangover sets in.

Sure, it makes for a pretty nasty headache. But never fear…. 19 is NOT the new 49. No need to remain static in the face of growth. You, too, can overcome a second semester hangover and regain motivation, despite so much time back home.

Treating a Second Semester Hangover

Step 1:

Admit you have a bit of a problem. Or a lot of a problem. 

Do you feel a bit blasé as you open your new textbooks? Do you find yourself missing that hometown hookup, despite the obvious observation he will probably never leave your hometown? Is that 8:30am class suddenly a struggle to get to on time? Have you found yourself explaining why, when, with whom, and where you’re going out on a Friday night to your roomie, as though she’s your mother?

If you even had to consider your answer to any of the above, stop right there.

The first step to self improvement really is the practice of realism. It’s natural to be a bit out of step as you return to Arkansas after so much time off. Be proactive, and start by accepting that you’ve fallen victim to a second semester hangover. It’s the first step to any kind of progress and improvement.

Open your eyes, and take a good look around. I’m not talking about taking in the beautiful Fayetteville landscape (I know, it can be distracting. Apologies to the pledge I checked while taking an Instagram photo of the campus about a month ago. Luckily, you and I both know you hate wearing that suit everyday, anyways) It’s easy to coast along and sugar coat what’s going on in your life. However, nothing worth having comes easy.

Moving along as though you don’t have a raging headache will only cause you more pain in the long run. Be honest with yourself in regards to where you stand.

On a scale of a functional headache, to unable to get out of bed…how hungover are you?

Step 2:

Make a list.

We’re not talking about half-baked (or fully baked, if you happen to be from Colorado) new year’s resolutions here….we’re talking about actual goals. Make a REAL list. A list of things that will continue to challenge you throughout second semester. A list of things that will help you rise from that winter break Netflix slump and prepare to tackle the end of the year with grace.

For instance, this semester I’m going to do lots of super-duper things. Super-duper things like:

  • start learning a new language. No habla Espanol? YES HABLA ESPANOL.
  • Take less selfies at the gym. Potentially work out* while I’m there.

*Work Out (noun): just enough exercise to fit into my best friend’s wardrobes. Because they have adorable shirts to share. And sharing is caring.

  • Write more. On napkins, in notebooks, on sticky notes, the internet, and even the palm of my hand. Occasionally my random thoughts string together to create something (mediocre at times) worth holding on to, and I’d hate for that to get lost in the shuffle.
  • forget, even when I have forgiven.
  • Come to terms with the fact that I’m most likely allergic to most animals….petting one will never end well, no matter how cute and fluffy it may be.
  • Remove the phrase “forever alone” from my vocabulary. Although personally, I always use this in the context of a joke, it’s a toxic phrase that all women should consider ditching, no matter the context it’s in. The term is WAY over used by a generation that is far too progressive and empowered to even give such a thought the time of day. No one is alone in this life. Chances are, even if you don’t have a man, you’ve got great girlfriends who would go above and beyond for you, at any hour. If you’re lucky, you also have a solid support system of guys who are like brothers, unconditionally protecting you.

…“future cat lady,” however, is still on the table for use in everyday vocabulary.

Step 3

Get to it.

Bite off more than you can chew. Put too much on your plate. Suck all the goodness that’s out there up like it’s free beer on a Friday night. But remember, goals and ambitions are nothing without the follow through. The morning after will, without a doubt, be harsh if your ambition lacks action.

All to often, we rationalize with ourselves, using “timing” as reasoning for static decisions. However, “timing” isn’t a reason- it’s an excuse.

The time is now, and second semester is calling.

20 things they don’t teach you in “University Perspectives”

“Take the ‘University Perspectives’ course,” they say.

“It will help you adjust to college,” they say.

In between weekly, hour long lessons on how to manage my time (make sure you open a book once in a while, Shelbs. And occasionally sleep….) and the importance of utilizing university resources (the library is for studying. Who knew?) I learned a few things during my first semester as a freshman at the U of A. While this knowledge was not acquired during my time spent in the infamous, required “University Perspectives” course, I like to think it’s still worthwhile.

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What’s the best fraternity house on campus, you ask? pshhh, that’s a no brainer.  It’s the fraternity house you’re at that night. If he keeps the party going, then he is indeed #1.

No, Target is NOT better than Walmart. Don’t say it….don’t even think it, because Southerner’s are like hawks when it comes to identifying the anti-Walmart folk. They can smell them from a mile away. Learn from my mistakes: don’t be the freshman who disses Walmart while living uncomfortably close to the company headquarters.

People change. It’s just the way life works. It’s the ones who remain the same we ought to worry about.

 

It’s not a gift from his grandmother’s closet. It’s his Patagonia sweatshirt, and he loves it with his whole heart.

 

Those who hail from the STL have an accent. I’m yet to figure out exactly what said “accent” sounds like, but my Southern friends are convinced it exists.

 
Some things are worth fighting for. Some things are not. Knowing when to keep pushing, and when to throw in the towel is an incredibly valuable skill in life. The road to developing such an ability is a long and sometimes painful one: college is where it all starts.

Don’t take mom’s home cooking for granted. Even on her worst days, she’s still better than the dining hall.

It’s a bit of a cliche’, but you honestly will meet your best friends in college. In just a short semester you’ll laugh with them, cry with them, vent to them, and everything in between. Life is crazy, and there’s no better way to experience it than with the friends you meet along the way.

Oh, you say your sporting event is competitive? Try watching thousands of sorority girls compete for a select number of wristbands to the next big fraternity function. It’s like the Hunger Games down here.

 
Some like to refer to themselves by their greek letters. Other’s prefer to identify as a “GDI”. Potato, Patahto. At the end of the day, we’re all just people, trying to get by.

Ladies: self-respect is essential in everything you do. Hold on to it with all the strength you can harbor. You see, Freshman Year is a sneaky one. Let go of that dignified will for even just a moment, and Freshman Year will rip that precious self-respect right from your finger tips. It’s a whole lot harder to regain it, than it is to obtain it. Tread with caution.

Like fried chicken? There’s a southern cookin’ joint on every block. Searching for a Chinese delivery restaurant? Good luck to you….

Do not be deceived: the South is warm, but it’s not THAT warm. It’s easy to laugh at everyone feverishly preparing for the supposed “snowpocalypse” that is on the horizon. Surly it won’t compare to what we’ve seen back home in the STL, right? WRONG. Mother Nature likes to play games.

Our Razorback football motto “#NeverYield” is better suited for the public bus transit system. Pedestrians? Ain’t nobody got time for dat.

Native Arkansan’s will profess their die hard love for Chacos sandals. Just because it’s popular and comfortable, doesn’t mean it’s attractive.  Need I remind you of all those hideous pictures of yourself in elementary school, wearing those bright orange crocs that were so popular? Enough said.

“The bigger the hair, the closer you are to God.”

 
There is, indeed, such a thing as becoming “too trusting.” Like most people, I like to believe the best in others. While everyone is a good person at heart (yes, I really do believe that…) some people will test that theory, and with just a few short months of college under your belt, it’s not uncommon for an unexpected curveball to be thrown by someone you have so easily put your trust in. Believe in them anyways. Just maybe from afar,and with your guard up. Becoming “too trusting” can be equally as damaging as the inability to trust. Search for that happy medium.

Do yourself a favor, and promptly delete SnapChat before going out on the weekends. You’ll thank me later.

So you’ve had to adjust your mini-skirt five times, and you haven’t made it past your dorm lobby? It’s only downhill from here. Go change, honey.

 

Time flies. Before you know it, your first semester of freshman year will be here and gone. Look back on it with a smile…life is too short to be anything but HAPPY.