An Open Letter To Lila

Dear Lila, You're Not Perfect But You Don't Need To Be

You didn't deserve all of this.

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There are many things that I would like to tell you so let me begin with the most important lesson of all. You're not perfect but you don't need to be. You're everything that this world needs you to be and more, you are resilient and beautiful. You are all the things that you see in other people, somehow you don't see these things in yourself. Trust me when I say it makes all the sense in the world that you see yourself as flawed and broken but also find that you're that way without a cause.

This doesn't make it strange to be needy and broken, in fact, you're right as you should be.

You should know that letting a stranger put their hands on you will not make you whole, that giving yourself up so easily does not solve your problems or numb the pain. But it also doesn't make you all the things that people say you are. You see this matters, in the end, what you think of yourself matters more than what others think of you.

You are everything that you need to be and you are who you are today because of everything that you have been through. You never needed to search for love in physical affection, with those who didn't know you and those who didn't care. You needed to search for the love within yourself, and you need to understand that whether or not you believe it you are loved in all the ways that you'll need to be. There is so much love in your heart and you know that which is exactly why you should be spreading love to other people but also to yourself. Learning to love yourself is important and learning that your struggles and your life story are valid is just as important. You're not defined by pieces of paper that say what's wrong with you, you're not defined by the medication that you take every morning, you are not defined by the mistakes that you have made.

These mistakes that you have made are to be lessons and good ones at that. The lessons you learn from the mistakes you have made last you a lifetime and they will carry you through the difficult times and the heartbreaks and the loss because you are stronger than you think you are and you are more beautiful inside than you could ever imagine. Loving the wrong person can be a mistake too and it turned you blind. Losing him was the worst but everyone told you differently.

Being so young you think that the person that you're with is going to be the person that you're going to marry and that life is going to be happily ever after, that they can save you when they can't. The only person that can save you is yourself and I know that's not something that anyone wants to hear, especially when they're in love. It has to be said, this is such an important lesson and I'm so glad that I learned it. Without this lesson, I don't think that I would have ever found the man that I'm with today, I don't think that I would've felt whole over the past almost 3 years at all. I know that you have to save yourself and it is so much harder then you will ever think that it is, it is waking up every day and telling yourself out loud that you're important and telling yourself that you are caring and you are loving and you are kind.

Saving yourself as a choice, it is the choice you make every single day. Choosing to live your life with your own purpose and stop trying to please everyone else and proving everyone wrong is what is going to set you free. That's all you want, isn't it? You want to be free from the demons that haunted you your entire life, you want to feel like you can become something and you want to be able to maintain the feeling of joy and not give in to fears which can sometimes even be irrational. You don't need to prove yourself to anyone, only you. I know that things are hard and lonely sometimes and sometimes it feels like your stuck and you just want things to change overnight but they don't just go away because you want them to. In fact, they don't go away at all, you simply learn to live with them and use them to your advantage. I promise you things will get better but not without a little bit of help.

I know that it is hard to talk about the things that you have done to mask the pain that you've been living with for so long and that for the first time you have to be honest and there is nothing more painful than that and that I do know. No one has an excuse to hurt you, not because you were blackout drunk, not because you were too frozen to say no and certainly not because you are just a woman. This also means that you have no excuse to hurt yourself, that you have to love yourself and respect yourself so that other people can too. I need you to know that you are everything that you are for good reason and God made you as you are because that's exactly how He wanted you. You are loving and you are kind.

Why not give some of that loving and kindness to yourself for once?

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10 Abnormally Normal Things About College

Some stuff just doesn't fly in the real world.
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College is a weird, weird place. For whatever reason, the young adults who are supposed to be cultivating their minds with all of the worldly knowledge available to them, seem to get away with quite a bit using the justification "it's college." Even the best students live abnormally while on the alien planet that is a university. So, while to us college students it may just seem like another day, here are ten things that are only normal in college.

1. Straight up theft.

In the future, if I walk into my forty-something-year-old neighbor's home and see a collection of stolen signs, stuff from the local restaurant, and property from the construction site down the road, I would definitely be concerned about the character of my neighbor. However, in college, people proudly display campus signs, traffic cones, or dining hall napkin dispensers that they have impressively commandeered - it's a cheap decoration and a great conversation starter.

2. All-nighters.

Maybe with the exception of parents of little babies, very few people willingly stay up for close to 24 hours on end. In the real world, if a friend came to you and said that they literally did not sleep the previous night, it's completely logical to be worried. On the other hand, when a friend in college says that he was up all night you laugh a little, give him an understanding pat on the back, and walk with him to the coffee line.

3. Atrocious eating habits.

Sometimes you don't have time to eat. Sometimes you order pizza at 2 in the morning. Sometimes you eat three dinners. Sometimes you diet. All I can say, is thank goodness that our metabolisms are decently high at this age.

4. Breaking and entering.

In high school, you hopefully knew everyone who entered your home. After college, hopefully, that's still the case. However, when you live in the middle of thousands of bored college students, people knock at your door, walk into parties, cut through your yard, and stop by without invitation or hesitation. It keeps life fun, but still not normal.

5. Calling mom when stuff goes down.

I really doubt a time will ever come that I don't need to call my mom for guidance on how to do something. But, hopefully the frequency of those calls with go down a little bit post-graduation. Maybe after four years of doing it on my own, I'll know how to fill out government forms, cook real dinners, and get stains out. But for now, I'm going to keep calling while I still can without seeming totally pathetic.

6. Being intoxicated at weird times.

Drunk at noon on a Friday is the quintessence of an alcoholic at any time - unless it's college. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, and it certainly doesn't apply to everyone, but there aren't many other places where people would instantly assume someone is intoxicated if they're acting even a little weird. I've even seen people drink in the library....

7. The messed up dating scene.



There are people who meet the love of their life at college and live happily ever after. They are people who meet the supposed love of their life at college and never talk to them again after Sunday. There are people who use Tinder. Hormones are high, freedom is bountiful, and football players are cute - what else needs to be said?

8. A warped sense of time.

The career I'm pursuing will require me to be at work by 7 am, five days a week. I am fully aware of this. Now, will I enroll in an 8 am next semester? Absolutely not - I'm not a demon. In college, nights often start at 10 p.m., dinners are eaten at 4, and mornings can begin anywhere from 8 to 2. We don't get that whole 9-5 idea.

9. Costumes... for no apparent reason.

High schoolers have a dress code. Adults have dignity. College students have fun. Here, people will wear a corn costume to get on ESPN, a fanny pack to get into a fraternity, or a tutu to match a theme party. Is it actually a weird thing, though? No one even blinks an eye.

10. Insanely close friends.

Name another point in your life when you live with your friends, study with your friends, drive with your friends, eat with your friends, go out with your friends, and even grocery shop with your friends. I'll wait. At college, it's easy for friends to seem like family because you're with them constantly. Love it or hate it, it's weird about college.

So, enjoy this weirdness while you can - it won't last forever!


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Cover Image Credit: Matthew Kupfer

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12 Unhealthy College Habits That Never Should Have Become Normalized

No, you shouldn't have to pull an all-nighter to pass every exam.

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College is a weird time in our lives, but it doesn't have to be bad for our health. Here are some trends I've seen on social media and watched my friends practice that really never should have become a "thing" for college students in the first place.

1. The "freshman 15."

Everyone has heard of the dreaded "freshman 15," where college freshmen gain 15 pounds because of access to all-you-can-eat dining halls. Rather than eating healthier options at the dining halls or, you know, only eating until you're full and not stuffing yourself, we've just accepted our fate to gain what's really a large amount of weight. Not a very healthy mindset.

2. Eating only junk food because we're "too poor" to buy real food.

For off-campus students, the theme is ramen and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. This is really not how it needs to be. You can buy a bunch of romaine lettuce for around $1 at the grocery store I go to in my college town, and other produce like broccoli, potatoes, and apples are always cheap. Shop sales and keep your pantry stocked on staples like dry pasta, rice, beans, and other canned vegetables. It's not that expensive to eat decently.

3. Gorging on food at the dining hall just because you can.

This is what leads to the freshman 15. Just because you can eat whatever you want doesn't mean you should.

4. Procrastinating EVERYTHING.

I'm always ahead of my schoolwork, but all of the people in my classes push things right down to the wire. It creates unnecessary stress. Just get things done in advance so you don't have to worry.

5. Being generally unorganized and struggling to keep your life together. 

Actually using my planner is one of the best things I've done for myself in college so far. I don't know why it became popular for college students to be a hot mess all the time, but again, do what you can to avoid putting unnecessary stress on yourself.

6. Pulling all nighters, ever.

If you don't understand it by midnight, you won't understand it any better by five in the morning. You'll do so much better with less studying and more sleep than the other way around. Take the L and go to bed.

7. Waiting until the very last minute to start studying for your finals.

This is what typically leads to the aforementioned all-nighters. If you have an exam in two weeks, start studying NOW. Give yourself time to figure out what you need to focus on and get in contact with your professor or a tutor if necessary. Do yourself the favor.

8. Getting blackout drunk Friday and Saturday night...every weekend.

A lot of college students like to drink. That's fine, I get it, college is stressful and you just want to have a good time. But you don't have to go out every night of every weekend and drink so much you don't remember anything that didn't occur between Monday-Friday every week. Give yourself a break from drinking every so often.

9. Getting iced coffee before class and being late because of it.

I always make sure I get to campus early if I plan to get Starbucks, which I often do. It's rude to come in late, and it's detrimental to your education to consistently miss class. Your coffee can wait if you're running late. Plan better next time.

10.  Committing to 10 different extracurriculars because "it'll boost your resume if you have more on it!"

If you only participate in one club where you're the head of marketing and the treasurer, that will look SO much better than if you participated in five clubs but were just...there for all of them. Excel in one thing rather than being mediocre in many.

11.  Skipping class whenever you feel like it.

You can take the occasional mental health day, but if you're just being lazy, you're only hurting yourself. Go to class. You're paying a lot of money for it, after all.

12.  Spending every last penny you have to go somewhere for spring break (Daytona Beach, anyone?).

"Broke" college kids always end up taking the most extravagant spring break vacations. I'm sure it's fun and you'll cherish the memories, but wouldn't you cherish that $500 more if you saved it for things you actually need rather than living off of ramen for a month when you get home?

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