Pretty accurate summary of my first two days at home, and the coming three months.
Update: I'm spending my summer in Boston, working in a restaurant, and immersing myself in all things food and drink for the duration of my summer leading up till August 12th when I fly back to California and drive up to Westmont the following day.
I fly to Boston on Monday, and in the meantime am working my way through Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course with a glass of wine nearby. Needless to say, summer is off to a pretty grand start.
Look out for more comprehensive blogs after I get settled into the city.
But here's to summer, new adventures, learning SO MUCH, and a breath of fresh air.
How is it already the last week of classes?
I feel like I blinked and the last 10 months went by.
But alas, here we stand, at the starting line of the final stretch.
The last week of classes, on the verge of finals week, and then...summer vacation.
The last few months have been marked by long nights, heavy academia, and lots of coffee. I spent $10 on a coffee maker during black friday last year and I think it was the best investment I've made...ever. I've brewed at least a cup per day, usually two, and sat at my desk each morning, bible and journal open, and a thin pen in hand...jotting down feelings and observations, decisions and fears, everything going through my head.
There's a lot going through my head.
I'm finishing my third year of college. I'm spending my summer somewhere new. I'm finally done thinking about things that don't deserve my attention. I'm moving forward. I'm almost done being an RA to my wonderful section. I'm almost done with rhetoric. My friends are getting married. My brother's getting married. I'm about to start this Residence Life adventure over again. I'm going to be a senior in the fall. I'm a little scared about graduating. I'm growing up.
A friend asked me that today.
"When did we grow up? When did we become adults?"
I don't know. But here I am, 21 years old, in a dorm room in Santa Barbara, blogging amid twinkle lights and Vanessa Carlton on spotify, 10pm on a Sunday night with a paper to print out and four more days of classes to demolish before finals rear their ugly face once more. When did I get here? I'm no longer the girl I was in high school. I've grown up.
Everything is a little bit frightening.
I mean, I know I'm fine. That the unknown will come and pass, I'll look back on it in retrospect and wonder how I could have ever feared something like that. But the fear is always there are the start. It's a constant when I'm about to embark on something new and unfamiliar. Like growing up. Or starting over. Or forgetting someone. Or moving to a new city, for a fresh start I think I so desperately need. It's all a little bit frightening.
But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God's unfailing love. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name, in the presence of your faithful people.
I have had to trust God more than ever this semester. It feels like every night I find myself laying awake in my bed, staring at my ceiling in the dark, asking God for wisdom and discernment as I make my way through big decisions and confusing situations. I've had to trust that God is faithful. He has been, he is, and he will always be. But there have been nights I've laid in bed and been so frustrated that I can't control the outcomes of certain things, that I don't want to trust anyone. I try to do things on my own. And time and time again, I learn it doesn't work that way.
This year has been about community.
Living in community, learning in community, building a community, feeling encouraged by a community, realizing just how vital it is to our lives. I wouldn't trade anything that happened this year for anything else -- because it showed me how much I love community. My favorite moments from this year have been late-night conversations with my women in my lounge, one-on-one dinner dates with friends, indys with my RD, anything and everything to do with community has been my rock this year.
And it will continue to be.
Past tonight, past tomorrow, past the final stretch and past this summer.
Into my senior year, and the great unknown that is life after college.
I will always trust in God's unfailing love.
Respectfully submitted, Leah
To the 14th week of the semester.
To the final papers, the final projects, the lack of motivation and the drive to finish.
To the late nights, endless cups of coffee, and scribbles upon crumpled notebook paper.
To the early mornings, blaring alarm clocks, sleepy eyes wishing for just 5 more minutes.
To the remaining 12 days of classes.
To the 3 final exams.
To the finish line.
To the lessons I've learned over the past 14 weeks.
To people who don't deserve to be in my life.
To the people who made me see they want to be.
To my beautiful section of women, the lessons they have taught me, the laughs we have shared.
To twinkle lights and cups of tea, to chocolate cat cookies and sunflowers.
To quiet mornings with my journal, the stories I only write, and never tell.
To unexpected surprises from life, the blessings that pass me by.
To my "family" in Farmington, to event-planning and debriefs, desserts and staff meetings.
To 14 weeks well spent in community.
To what the coming months hold.
To the unpredictability, and uncertainty.
To the scent of somewhere new, somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere fresh and clean.
To city life and public transportation.
To the life of adventure-seeking and spontaneity.
To new beginnings, and fulfilled promises.
To potential, and never settling for less than I have to.
To family, to love, to taking care of myself.
I propose toast.
To this season of life.
It's been a crazy last couple months. School is over in three weeks. I don't know where I'm heading. All I know is my soul is aching for some wide open spaces. A time where I can sit down and think through all the things I can't think through now because I'm busy. Or tired. Or sick. Or sick and tired. And busy. Did I mention tired?
My flesh may fail, but my God you never will.
I'm being vague.
But that's where I am tonight.
Deep breaths. Everything will be just fine.
The battle cry of the final stretch is still ringing out loud and clear.
I should really get into the habit of blogging more than once a month.
Time is flying by, so insanely fast. Weekends come and I think "I should really update my blog," but then I get distracted, I get busy, I get swamped with some sudden work, and suddenly - it's Sunday night and I'm getting myself prepared for another big week.
That didn't happen this week.
Four day has granted me some room to breathe, a chance to catch up and an afternoon of leisure reading with a latte at my favorite Starbucks where I actually have some time to write.
A lot has happened since I've last updated. I was in a very weird spot the last time I sat down at my desk, opened my blog and sat looking at the template, scared of what I could write, frightened of what I could publish onto the world wide web, but motivated by a burning sensation in my soul that could only be extinguished by allowing it to burn free. I was hurting, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and was standing there, waiting for a response, waiting for a reaction, waiting for something. And I sat there, doubled-over, unsure of what to do next.
In the course of a month a lot can change.
Slowly, but surely, I began to feel better again. I began to wake up and feel excited about the days, I wore a smile that genuinely reflected how I was doing, I laughed - not to cover up that burning sensation, but a response to joy. A response to feeling okay again. I am feeling okay again.
Life has settled into it's normal routine, classes go by, exams are taken, hall events are executed. I wake up each morning, have my cup of coffee, write in my journal, and set off to take down the day. I come back, I do my homework, I chat with friends, I clean up and I go to bed.
It seems like the only chance I really get to sit and reflect on the events of a day are when I am laying in bed, staring at my ceiling, in darkness, slowly going through the moments of the day before I drift off to sleep. I replay moments, I think words over, I wonder if I made the most out of the day. I think about when I woke up that morning, when the first words that came to mind were "When is the next time I can take a nap?" as I sleepily stumbled out of bed and shut off my alarm. I think about the busyness of the day, not being able to take a seat on one of the many wooden benches on campus and simply sit, and be. I think about eating meals while doing homework, literally flooding every moment of free time with the next load of work to be done. And before I finally drift off for 6-8 hours of sleep, I think, "what if things could be different?" I think...why can't I slow down?
No one ever tells college students to slow down, unless they're telling us to stop driving so fast down Cold Springs road. No one tell us this because I think they just expect that we are too busy to slow down. That we are so flooded with homework, and social work, and life work, that every aspect of our lives become work. "Doing work" and "slowing down" are polar opposities. They don't work together. As long as we are "doing work" we aren't intentionally slowing down. And even if we do finish the work - there simply isn't enough time to slow down. We want to move forward, we want to finish what is next, we don't have time to slow down. It's a self-destructing habit, it's a cycle we're stuck in and we don't have one damn idea about how to break out of it.
We have to be intentional about slowing down.
We have to look at ourselves in the mirror, declare that busyness is not okay, and make the small steps that allow us to slow down.
Four day has allowed me to slow down.
I took this weekend slowly. I let myself stop and breathe. I didn't overload myself with work, I didn't spend every little moment getting work done and getting ahead. I let myself stop - if only for a day, I let myself slow down. It came in little aspects. Sleep in one day. Spend a night writing instead of writing a paper. Go to Starbucks and read a book not related to your classes. Walk down state street with no place in particular to go. Sit and stare out the window. Let yourself think. Let yourself slow down.
I'm a point in my life where busyness is becoming the norm. It's a good thing to have work to do, I'm the most comfortable when I am slightly overwhelmed, I drown myself in work to find purpose. I seek achievement from crossing off everything from my to-do list. I am locating my identity in what I have done rather than who I really am.
And that's not okay.
Sure, I've accomplished a lot. People tell me I have a gift in staying on top of things, I excel in organization and getting work finished. That's a great skill to have, but that's not what I want my life to look like. I don't want to feel good about myself based on how much work I have done. I want to feel good about myself everyday, despite if it's been productive or not. Why not slow down a little bit each day? The work will still get done, the homework finished, and I'll be able to start placing my identity in something else. Something more meaningful. Something that will last far longer than a grade in a class or a finished to-do list. Something divine.
I think I need to work on finding my identity in God.
It's more than writing "strength and dignity" on my mirror, or scribbling "agape" on my hand during long lectures where I can't stay focused on the subject manner. In this season of my life, I really want to intentionally see myself the way God does. To the beauty that he used when he created me, the love that he continously exhibits as he fashions my futures and walks with me through my days. God looks upon me and sees something radical, sees someone whom He loves entirely, sees someone who He created in his image, who he cares about and wants the best for. He sees something I'm not sure I've discovered yet.
Maybe it's time to slow down and discover that someone.
And maybe you want the same as well.
Don't make busyness the norm. Don't refuse to slow down because you don't have time. Don't look at yourself and define yourself based on the work you have done, are doing, or didn't do. You are the only one who can change that way of life. You are the only one who can reconstruct your daily life, who can start to discover the person who God sees when He looks at you.
Now might be a dangerous time to write. Perhaps a risky time as well. I've never had second-thoughts about writing a blog post, but this has toyed with my mind far too much this week.
Writing is dangerous now for a variety of reasons. 1) I have homework I could be doing. And I don't really feel motivated to do it. Which is odd for me. 2) I'm kind of angry. And disappointed. It's never good to write when you are feeling those things. Because you say stuff you might mean in the moment, and then regret when other people take it in a way you didn't intend. There's always a risk that comes when you don't say what you are going to do right away. We talked about that in rhetoric earlier this week. I guess I'm still learning.
When I moved back to Westmont at the beginning of this semester, I found a poem on tumblr that caught my eye. It made me stop, read it, blink a couple times, and read it again. Something stuck with me, something made sense, something told me that I shouldn't let that go. So I tore a piece of paper out of my brand new notebooks, grabbed my felt tip pen and begin to copy it down. I tore little pieces of tape, and put it up on my wall, right next to my bulletin board, right next to my line of vision at my desk. I read it everyday, I love the way the words line up together, the sentences they form, the meaning they represent. I knew it was a good decision to put it on my wall. And now I know why.
There is so much about this that we all can resonate with, whether we have been exactly where the author has been or not. Everyone needs a reminder that they are strong and they can endure, and that they have worth, despite how they feel on any given day. You learn that through a lot of good things, and mostly a lot of bad things. With every good bye you learn. I could get rich off of being paid a dime for every time I, or anyone for that matter, said "I wish I knew then what I know now." And I hate that it's the bad things that make us learn, that make us better people, that pain is one of the most shaping emotions in this universe, that goodbyes teach us more than we could every know. I hate a lot of stuff right now, and I guess that means I'm learning.
I'm being vague I'm avoiding the obvious words I could write. I'm not going to write them, so you can stop now if you are tired of it. I could really care less. I know I write and I post my thoughts on a public web site, but I write because it's how I process. It just so happens that people sometimes resonate with it, connect to it, even though I don't say outright what I'm going through. That's the beauty of it. I don't have to spill my guts all over a web page, I don't have to dump out the contents of my soul onto a post to get people to understand. They already do.
I have a wonderful family of friends at Westmont. When one of us is falling, struggling, we don't reach down and pull them out. We don't throw out a lifesaver and reel them in. No, we meet them down, in the guck. We go to where they are, we sit with them, we let them cry into our shoulder, we let them be in the space they are in. And when the tears have been shed, the words said, the hope realized, we walk with them out of that space. We aren't fixers-of-issues, but we love each other, and we're there for each other. I'm in the guck. I'm in that space. But I'm not alone, and it is such a bittersweet experience to be feeling down, but feeling so loved at the same time. I wish I had better words to describe it to you. But I don't, and that might just be a result of still being in the guck.
Life carries on.
My homework assignments keep me busy, doors are opening to take me somewhere new, and I think the idea of fresh start is looking more and more appealing with every morning. The disappointment is giving way to excitement for my near-future. The regret over words I never said is fading as distance grows. The anger is giving way to appreciation, the sadness to new hope. My life is moving forward. I am moving forward. I never thought I would be affected so much by the recent happenings in my life. I assumed I would be able to handle it, receive it, accept it. But it's hard.
Crying is a weird thing. I wonder what God was thinking, when he decided to fashion humans in a way, that when emotions become too much to handle, water seeps out of our eyes, and liquid drips down from our nostrils. And the funny thing is that afterwards, that you really begin to feel again. Anyone who's been there knows what I'm talking about. After the tears stop but your face is still wet. After you wipe your nose, and blink your eyes. When the sobs are reduced to slow breathing, and your heartbeat begins to slow. When you begin to feel okay again. When things begin to be put into perspective. Something about letting go, letting it rush out of your eyes, and unfortunately also your nose, makes you feel empty. Released. Okay. I am okay. I can go forward. It's hard. But it is in those hard things that you learn. And I am learning.
I'm ready to stop holding hands and trying to chain souls. I'm ready to hold my head up, and keep my eyes ahead. I'm ready to meet it with the grace of a women. I'm ready to build my roads on today. I'm ready to let tomorrow stay uncertain. I'm ready to plant my own garden. I'm ready to decorate my own soul. And I am enduring. And I am strong.
Quick facts - I'm back at school, two weeks into spring semester, overloaded with homework, swamped with applications, overwhelmed with a lot. This is a lot of uncertainity about where I will be in the coming months, but I'm hoping things will clear up soon. I'll be back with an actual post, once I sort through some stuff that is in the forefront of my mind.