Anyone that knows me knows I am a serious animal lover. I am that girl at the party that you find in some random room alone with the host's dog or cat. I volunteer with shelters and have two dogs of my own. So yes, I'm the worlds biggest animal fan. However, I'm not just someone who thinks they're cute and cuddly. I truly have a passion for animals that transcends just an owner/pet relationship. I have come to understand how important and unique animal's roles are in our lives.
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My incredible experience from the summer I spent in Arizona (and California).
On July 9th, I flew from humid and slightly hot Illinois to extremely hot Phoenix, Arizona.
When I got off the plane, my friend, Carolyn, told me to stay inside until she got there unless I wanted to melt. When she got here and I went outside, it was extremely clear to me why. In the shade of the pick-up area at the airport, it felt like I was standing in the sun in the middle of a paved parking lot at home.
Fortunately, we left for Flagstaff almost immediately, which ended up being a lot cooler and a little closer to the weather I was used to. After getting up at 5:00 a.m. for my 9:40 flight, only for it to be delayed 2 hours, I was pretty exhausted so throughout the day I had to get my caffeine fix. By the time we got to Carolyn's apartment in Flagstaff, I was feeling a little better but I was still pretty exhausted. It was a pretty quiet first day.
Our second day, we went to downtown Flagstaff and wandered around all of the stores. It doesn't take long to fall in love with Flagstaff, at least for me. It's located in the mountains, all the restaurants we visited were good, and there were lots of places to amble. Since it was still pretty early in the day, we decided to go to Sedona, where we had planned to go, but didn't have time to, when I was here in January. It was so hot and bright out but it was still cool to get to see, even with all the little tourist shops.
Monday started, as did most of our days, with a stop for our caffeine fix. Dutch Bros Coffee, which I had never been to, was donating all profits towards the Second Chance animal shelter. Carolyn, her roommate, Molly, and I all went out for coffee and stopped by Fractured Prune for some of the most delicious donuts. The rest of the day was mostly dedicated to wandering around downtown yet again. Tuesday, we planned on going to the Grand Canyon extremely early, which meant taking it easy for the rest of the day so we could handle getting up.
On Wednesday, Carolyn, Molly, and I went for a (short-lived) hike and spent the rest of the day watching Food Network, as is our way.
When I was here in January, before Carolyn had graduated, she showed me around the Northern Arizona University campus. We went around again, stopping by the bookstore, and the Comm Building she spent the majority of her time in. Shortly after, we went to downtown Flagstaff, as we frequently did. Spending so much time down there made it really clear why it would be so hard to leave. I always knew leaving Arizona was going to be difficult because it meant leaving Carolyn until we could both manage to see each other again, but leaving Flagstaff was difficult in its own way. It's beautiful and unique and I loved every second i spent there.
Hopefully you weren't missed!
This one goes out to those of you who have the unfortunate timing of exiting the womb in the lovely month of September! I want to take this moment to wish you a happy birthday! I hope you have or had a wonderful birthday and celebration. As a fellow September birthday, I would like to encourage you as you make your way through the next school year or through work.
For those who are not born in September, it probably strikes you as weird that I am wishing a happy birthday to people born in a specific month but let me explain for a bit. September, while being blessed with beautiful weather and the beginning of Fall, is not so kind to people born in that month. As a student, September is usually the first month of school and is also usually the most awkward. You all know what I'm talking about; that moment where you have to actually try and make friends. You get a little small talk in here and there, sit next to your classmates, and you figure out who you want to be your friend. That's great!
...Except now it's already October. Your birthday has passed. Your friendships are getting stronger as you start struggling through the school day and try to finish the cumbersome homework for class the next day. Eventually, you get to later in the school year and everyone starts talking about their birthdays!
Hooray! The one conversation you didn't want to have because it is extremely awkward. Everyone goes around in a circle saying their birthdays but you'll only remember a handful and have to ask about five more times. Either that, or you let Facebook remind you (honestly, I love this feature. It helps so much). It gets to your turn and you have the joyous opportunity of telling your friends that you birthday has already passed; in fact, it was last month. The whole room tells you happy late birthday and you put out a half smile but it's not the same.
You don't really care about the gifts or the celebration that you missed. The real bother is that you'll have to relive this same scenario every year for the rest of your academic career. The awkward silence that follows, the shifting eyes as you all try to figure out what to talk about next. The conversation eventually ends and don't worry, no one will remember what just happened.
Well, except for your friends the following year! A select few will remember and wish you happy birthday the next year. You'll go out to celebrate or whatever your means of fun is, and you'll enjoy your birthday this time!
But for all those awkward first conversations, it is still somewhat unfortunate. And that's why you get a free happy birthday, on me. Go enjoy yourself and your new year!
A list of 50 indie songs perfect for studying.
Recently, I have started to listen to music a lot more while I'm studying; I've found that it helps keep me motivated and focused, and I have taken a lot fewer study breaks because of it. I had been playing around with what type of music was better to listen to while I study compared to other tasks, for example, the genre of music, tempo, etc. Personally, I have found that I study best when I listen to slower tempo indie music, and for perspective, I have curated a list of my favorite 50 songs to listen to while studying. Enjoy!
Til Kingdom Come - Coldplay
First Class - Rainbow Kitten Surprise
Fallingforyou - The 1975
Feeling Whitney - Post Malone
October Skies - Mumford & Sons
Holocene - Bon Iver
Harmony Hall - Vampire Weekend
Awesome Day - Tokyo Police Club
Big Black Car - Gregory Alan Isakov
Bloom - The Paper Kites
Anchor - Novo Amor
Oblivion - Bastille
Banana Pancakes - Jack Johnson
Technicolour Beat - Oh Wonder
Intro - The xx
Hold My Girl - George Ezra
Cherry Wine - Hozier
Youth - Daughter
Atlas Hands - Benjamin Francis Leftwich
Conrad - Ben Howard
What It Is - Kodaline
Free Fallin' - John Mayer
Naked As We Came - Iron & Wine
Romeo And Juliet - The Killers
Underground - Cody Fry
Drummer Boy - Misterwives
Pools - Glass Animals
West Coast - Coconut Records
Celeste - Ezra Vine
I'm With You - Vance Joy
Make Your Mind Up - Moon Taxi
Where's My Love - SYML
All The Pretty Girls - Kaleo
Tap Water Drinking - Lewis Del Mar
The Girl - City and Colour
Cleopatra - The Lumineers
Sedona - Houndmouth
Coins - Local Natives
Punks and Poets - Elliot Root
Warm Foothills - alt-J
Thick As Blood - Honeysuckle
In This Life - The Strumbellas
Sweetie Little Jean - Cage The Elephant
Tiger Striped Sky - Roo Panes
Crosses - José González
Mykonos - Fleet Foxes
Lullaby - Lord Huron
Clouds - Milky Chance
Lost In My Mind - The Head and the Heart
I Don't Feel It Anymore - William Fitzsimmons
Yes, I did the math.
Okay, I’ll let you in on a secret: I’ve never been to a concert before. That is, before this one. I’d always imagined my first concert to be something amazing, some grand experience that I’d remember forever. It’d be an artist I’d loved for at least a decade, and I’d be in the front row.
Some things were more accurate than others. For example, I’d only ever heard a few 5SOS songs before; I hadn’t been listening to them for a year, much less a decade. My friend, the one who convinced me to go with her, she asked me to go about two weeks before the actual concert. It was an incredibly impromptu decision, but honestly? That made it so much better.
Throughout the weeks leading up to the concert I was busy studying their music. I didn’t want to go and not know any songs whatsoever. I quickly learned that 5SOS is pretty great, especially their music. For those who don’t know, 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) is a 4 person band. Luke is the vocalist, Michael is the guitarist, Calum is the bassist, and Ashton is the drummer. They have some pretty popular songs, like “She Looks So Perfect” or “Youngblood”, but in my opinion, some of their better songs are less well-known. After listening to their setlist a couple of times, I decided on a few favorites: “Red Desert”, “Teeth”, “Disconnected”, and “BLENDER”. And then, I was ready for the concert. Or as ready as I’d ever be.
The moments leading up to the concert are a blur. I remember laughing at the pre-show skits that were playing on the screens, and admiring other people’s outfits. Pale Waves opened for 5SOS and they were incredible. We were so lucky, because we were the last show they were opening at. No other shows get to witness Heather Baron-Gracie’s amazing vocals (and red boots, oh my GOSH), or the insane guitar switches. After Pale Waves, we were pumped for the 5SOS, and they did not disappoint.
Before we knew it, “No Shame” was playing, and it was unbelievable. Not only was the song good, but it was better live than it was on recording. The speakers were incredibly loud, but in the best way possible, and the crowd thrived off of the band’s energy. They seamlessly transitioned into “Easier”, and from “Easier” into the next songs. I was waiting (with the utmost excitement) for “Red Desert”, and to my extreme delight, they did a stunning rendition of it. Though they didn’t play the entire song, Ashton had an impressive drum solo, and the light effects worked perfectly with it. Eventually one of their new songs, “BLENDER”, played, and my friend and I were gasping for breath near the end. Not only were we dancing like our lives depended on it, but the song is very wordy, and hard to sing to; it’s okay though, we were dedicated to singing along. Before any of us realized, we were begging for an encore, and then heading home for the night.
One thing I did not anticipate for my first concert was post-concert nostalgia. There’s a rush that comes with being surrounded by hundreds of people, connected in one moment by music. For me, that made this concert a night to remember. I also didn’t anticipate that my first concert would be one I wasn’t aware of a month before, or one that I’d be in the bleachers for; in some ways people would think that it was a total let down, but for me, it was the best seconds of my summer.
I could walk into a room with my closest friends and family and laugh all night but still feel as if I was by myself in a dark corner in a room I didn’t know. My phone could be blowing up with notifications and text messages but I’d still feel as if everyone forgot about me. It’s hard growing up and faking your happiness. At some point it’s hard to determine which is real or not.
My mind is sending out the wrong signals and it’s hard for me to escape. I shut down and push the ones I love away, not on purpose anyway. At times I often thought about what would happen if I just disappeared, if one day I staged it to look like I was kidnapped or just walked off into the night. I feel so happy until I don’t, until i’m alone with all of my thoughts.
They say life gets harder after you graduate because when you live the way I have been, you grow up thinking there’s no way you’ll make it to 20. So, you make no plans; no future goals. Now we’re stuck in this transition period we didn’t know we’d have to deal with.
My feelings of loneliness have pushed me away from putting myself out there, from smiling by myself; learning how to love myself. I always resort to feeling as if it is my fault. My whole life I assumed people just didn’t want anything to do with me, that any words that came out of my mouth were unnecessary.
I started to use guys to fill the loneliness in my brain. A different guy, a different week. I couldn’t stand to hangout with myself or be alone for more than a few minutes. I would waste my time away with meaningless flirting and stupid conversations. Throwing myself into any relationship I could because if I was alone, it meant I was not good enough. I can’t remember a time I didn’t have a boyfriend in high school, afraid to be seen sitting alone at lunch or in the hallways. Afraid of the whispers or the laughs, I’d act as if I didn’t care but there were days I’d eat in the bathroom to avoid someone, anyone seeing me alone.
I would put up a front and pretend I didn’t have any feelings. Pretend I did have feelings for most people too just so I wouldn’t have to sit in a classroom and have nobody want to be my partner. My self esteem was so low I resorted to doing things I wouldn’t write in a auto biography. High school ended and my feelings about myself and everyone around me have yet to end.
I still felt the need to surround myself with anyone just so I wouldn’t have to be alone for a minute. Loneliness is such a powerful feeling and could consume you. When the truth is I had never felt so lonely, surrounded by so many people.
By accepting the way I feel, the signals my brain sends out; I’ve learned how to push my thoughts behind. Spending time with myself I’ve realized how much I am my only friend in every way. I am lonely, and that is okay.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign