In 10 days, I leave for college. In 10 days, I move from my hometown of 300 people to a city of 684,410. In 10 days, I will pack my car, drive 248 miles, and unpack it at my dream school. Am I excited? You betcha! Am I scared? Out of my mind.

This really is an exciting time of life, and I really am loving every second of it. Like, I am adult enough to sign legal papers alone, but still kid enough to make my mother schedule my doctors appointments. It’s a pretty cool place to be, honestly. But I know I will have to grow up a lot  in the next couple weeks, and so I decided to make a list of ways I want to grow, ways I want to mature, and things I don’t want to forget. There are a few very important things not listed here, but all in due time. So, for now, here are eight of many things I want to remember and be as I start this next chapter of my life.

  1. I want to be brave and bold. 

 This has been a theme in my life the past few months. See, I like safety, I like rules, and I like comfort zones. Little things like trying new foods and cutting my hair off have never made me nervous, but things like walking to my car alone when it’s dark and giving my honest opinion scare the crap out of me. But starting now, I want to focus on being braver and bolder. I want to step out of my comfort zone and make new friends, new connections, and new relationships. I want to ask my professors hard questions, stand my ground when I am disagreed with, and speak my mind concerning things I am passionate about. There are too many people in this world who do not speak up for what is really important. I can’t be one of those people; my fear is not a good enough excuse not to do what needs to be done. So I vow to be brave when fighting for what is right, putting myself out there, and facing Nashville traffic. I vow to be bold as I go to interviews, debate with others, and follow my dreams. Wish me luck.

2.   I want to remember who I am.

I know that I will be surrounded by lots of different people, and I know that sometimes I have a tendency to let others influence me. But I want to remember who I am. The big stuff is easy for me to remember; I am a Christian, I was raised by a great family, I love to learn… those are things that are easy to remember and hold on to. But I want to remember and hold onto the little things that make me who I am. Things like: I like salt and vinegar flavored anything, canned coconut milk in my coffee, and cucumbers in my water. I love yoga but I hate cardio. I would rather dress like a businesswoman than a college student. I like people but I love my own space. When I get overwhelmed the best therapy for me is to drive around, cry, blast some music, and then get back to work. I pinch my skin when I’m nervous/scared and pick at my fingernails when I’m bored. I cry at everything but I laugh just as easily. I underestimate myself and overestimate others. I hate the way bare feet feel on concrete. I love mangoes but not when they are overripe. I love doing random things to make people smile.  These are the types of things that I have noticed I tend to fluctuate on depending upon whose company I am in, and these are all stupid little things that make me who I am. Therefore, they are vitally important.

3.    I want to be more self-assertive and self-confident. 

Most people think I am a confident person, but really I’m just a good actress. See, I am confident in who I am, but I am not confident in my abilities. When I was named one of fifty, and Illinois’ only, Phi Theta Kappa Coca-Cola Gold Scholar, I was sure it was a mistake and waited a few hours for the next email to come saying “Oh, sorry, we sent that to the wrong person!” I didn’t believe it until I texted my advisors and they confirmed it (with lots of exclamation points and hugs). If someone disagrees with me, I usually let them have their way to avoid confrontation. I don’t think I am a good writer, and I’m not even sure I am a good enough student to be transferring to Trevecca as a junior at age eighteen. But as I walk through these next few months and years, I want to focus on standing up for myself, not apologizing for what I believe/say, and believing that I am smarter than I feel.

4.   I want to remember that food is just food. 

This may seem stupid to some people, but as someone who is gluten free and vegan because of health problems, I have to remind myself of this daily. I want to remember that having some pizza is not worth spending the next four hours laying on the bathroom floor trying to force myself to vomit, and root beer is not worth looking eight months pregnant. Food is just food; it is good, but it is not more important than my overall well being and comfort.

5.   I want to have fun. 

I’m someone who will not let herself have fun until all the work is done. I know what an asset this can be, but it can also be a detriment to my overall well-being. Sometimes, you just need to relax and have fun. Take a few hours off studying and go get a cup of coffee with a friend or partake in a little retail therapy. I want to remember that I am at school to study, but I am also at school to become a more well rounded person. I don’t want to look back on my years in Nashville and only be able to remember what the library, classrooms, and my apartment looks like. I want to see the city, explore the little hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, and just enjoy my time there. Fun is important too.

6.    I want to remember to take time for me and do what makes me happy. 

My nutritionist and close friend once suggested that I take some times of the day just to do something that makes me happy. That is a really hard concept for me. After all, what if someone else needs me? There are things to be done! I have a planner that is crazy full! I can’t just waste a single second! But once I started putting this into practice, I realized how vital it is to my happiness. Especially during the school year, I would go crazy if I didn’t take at least thirty minutes to do what I want to do. Sometimes I will read, sometimes I bake goodies to share, sometimes I will take a nap, and sometimes I will just scroll through Pinterest. It is vital for my sanity. I know how hard it will be for me to uphold this, and so I want to remember how important it is.

7.    I NEED to remember that it is okay to fail.

Those who know me know how I hate to fail. I have a legitimate fear of failing. In my mind, failing means letting people down, and I HATE disappointing people. But I don’t want to kill myself if I don’t get the grade, the internship, or the connection that I want. I have really big aspirations and they are laced with opportunities to fail and turn back. But you know what? Maybe it would be okay to fail. Maybe I would still wake up the next morning. Maybe it would redirect me to something better. I don’t want to limit the ways God can speak to me because of my inability to listen; maybe failure will be His way of showing me the best option. I resolve to stop fearing failure and start taking risks in order to achieve my dreams.

8.    I want to learn. 

This may sound like a “duh” one, but I want to really learn! There are SO MANY things out there to learn, and it simultaneously saddens and comforts me that I will never be able to learn everything about everything. I want to learn more about my passions, more about the things I hate, and more about humanity. I want to learn who I am now, and who I am meant to be. I want to learn about my new friends and my new professors. I want to learn how to write well and how to read well. I want to learn all I can in the two years I will be at Trevecca. There is so much I want to know! There is so much I want to learn! I want to make the most of every moment, and always be on the lookout for learning opportunities. I am never too old or too experienced to broaden my mind.

So there you have it, eight things I want to remember as I move away and begin the next chapter of my life. This is, of course, an insanely condensed version of the list, but you get the idea. Like I said, I am scared. I am terrified. But I am so, so excited and ready to go. I know I will cry, a lot, and I know I will be homesick sometimes; but it is my duty to go out into the world and change it. Wish me luck, it’s time to g(r)o(w).

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