3 most important lessons I learned in 2017

3 most important lessons I learned in 2017

Lessons coming from a rough year

It's officially 2018. And, it feels like the beginning of 2017 started a century ago. However, simultaneously, 2017 rushed by in the blink of an eye. As the holiday season is coming to an end, I am able to relax, clear my head, and collect my thoughts on everything 2017 brought. From starting another semester of college to devastating heartbreaks to finding myself and renewing spirits, 2017 never failed to keep life interesting It was as if I was on a rollercoaster with the highest drops, most dramatic twists, and exhilarating, gut-wrenching speeds. Nevertheless, I have grown more spiritually and emotionally in 2017 than I have during any other year, and I only hope to continue to improve in the years to come. Undoubtedly, the lessons I've learned in 2017 will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I am positive that God will remind me in the future of these teachings. I hope to communicate the three vital lessons I learned in 2017 and how I will proceed into the new year with a different perspective on life. It is my intention that you may relate to these lessons and learn from your own experiences to better yourself and draw closer to Christ.

1. Find the positive in every situation. And I mean every. single. situation.

Although God blessed me with some of the best memories and friendships of my life during 2017, He also brought me through some turbulent moments as well. Within one year my heart had been broken, my faith in Christ was distant and hazy, and my academic and professional career felt as if it was an all-wheel drive truck stuck in a mud ditch just pushing and pushing to get out but never making any progress. I questioned my career path and my goals for life after college. I didn’t know what I wanted and that reflected in my quality of work, as I turned in unedited papers, sloppy homework, and attempted to shortcut every single assignment, which is not my regular behavior. I barely tried, and the truth is…I just didn’t care about that area of my life anymore. My classes were difficult, and I just happened to get almost all the terrible professors my school has to offer. The frustration during this time in my life sent me into emotional breakdowns, where I doubted myself and God’s plans for me. It was hard, and I was giving up. While during last semester I was caught In a fog and didn’t realize the error of my ways, I look back on 2017 and find the positive lessons and outcomes of those difficult situations. All those strenuous classes and frustrating professors helped me learn that everything is not perfect, and I am not in control of what happens in my life. God is. Now, that I have found and learned from the positive product of my burdens, I am able to learn from them and progress forward with an upbeat attitude and a skip in my step. Now, that the fog has lifted around me, I can reflect on all the amazing blessings God gave me during 2017. So, stay positive and look on the bright side of the situation.

2. Live your life to the fullest

2017 consisted of a multitude of movie-like and Instagram worthy adventures: road trips with the windows rolled down, trecking through the mountains with fog at my feet and rain lightly drizzling over my skin, music festivals, and countless exhilarating activities with amazing people, experiencing some of the greatest laughs and memories. While the phrase “live your life to the fullest” may seem arbitrary and commonly said, the majority of people do not put the phrase into action. But, if you truly live your life to fullest, take risks, and be vulnerable your perspective on life with drastically shift. For many of us, including me, we struggle with enjoying the season of life we are currently in, always looking forward to the next stage. If you’re in high school, you look forward to college. If you’re in college, you look forward to being done with school. If you’re working, you look forward to retirement. This mindset creates anxiety and stress about the future, where we are not able to fully enjoy the moments directly in front of us. While planning for the future today is a sold tactic, we also need to make sure it doesn’t consume our lives to the point where we never take amazing adventures in the present. So, go out, be active, live in the moment, and create many memories!

3. Count your blessing and never take them from granted.

I have the bad habit of proclaiming “I hate my life” every time something goes wrong. However, in reality, God has given me such a blessed life, filled with caring family and friends, an amazing school, and countless opportunities. Unfortunately, in the midst of all the hardships 2017 brought, it was easier to focus on the bad that was surrounding my life rather than realize the amazing blessings God was sending to my life. Now that I am in a better mindset, I am able to fully appreciate the people around me and the opportunities ahead. So, my advice to you is to enjoy every moment of your life and be grateful for everything: good and bad. If you focus on the blessing in your life, you not only show the people around you that you care, but you are also able to gain a new, positive perspective on life. As Big Sean would say, “Look, I feel blessed. Blessings on blessings on blessings. Look at my life, that’s lessons on lessons on lessons.” Take Big Sean’s words to heart and learn from your blessing and have a spectacular 2018.

Cover Image Credit: Alli Kennedy Photography

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30 First-Apartment Essentials College Kids Forget To Buy At Target And Later Order On Amazon

Don't wait until you need to take something out of the oven to realize that you don't have any oven mitts.


If you're anything like I am, you're beyond excited to start planning and shopping for your first apartment. It's easy to get wrapped up in the fun stuff for your first apartment, trust me, as a former Bed Bath & Beyond employee I could spend hours wandering through shower curtains and bedding.

Before you get too carried away there are just some essential things that you'll need, but they aren't as much fun to pick out. Don't wait until you need to take something out of the oven to realize that you don't have any oven mitts, because I really don't see that ending well for you (I may or may not know that from personal experience).

1. Oven mitts

Gets those oven mitts because the sleeve of your sweater might seem like it will work, but I'm living proof that it won't, most sweaters have holes.

2. Trash bags

Don't wait until you need to throw something away to realize you don't have them.

3. Hand soap

It's not like a dorm bathroom where the maintenance staff refills a soap dispenser that's drilled into the wall. You're on your own kid.

4. Toilet paper

Again, no staff replacing it for you. Stay on top of it and make sure you always replace an empty roll, especially if you have roommates.

5. Water filter or pitcher

This one depends on whether your water is safe to drink or not, but be prepared. You don't want to move in under the summer sun only to realize you don't have any drinkable water at your snazzy new pad.

6. Tools

Hammers, screwdrivers, all that jazz. If you're moving in some furniture you're probably going to need tools to put it together.

7. Lighting

You don't want to be unpacking and stumbling around a new space in the dark your first night. Know what lighting is built in and where you might need to add some light.

8. Silverware organizer

Ok, so you probably remembered to pack the silverware, but do you really want to throw it all in a pile in a drawer? That's a good way to grab the wrong end of a knife by accident, maybe get some dividers to keep your silverware nice and sorted.

9. Dish towels

Most people think about bath towels, but if you're not used to having a kitchen you might not have thought of dish towels. You're going to need those when you're whipping up your favorite dinner.

10. Measuring cups

I'm a huge advocate for estimating and guessing in the kitchen, but if you're baking anything at all you should probably at least have some measuring utensils as a guide.

11. Bottle opener and corkscrew

You're going to want to crack open a drink and celebrate your first night in the new place. Wouldn't it be a buzzkill if you couldn't even get the drinks open?

12. Sponges

You have to be able to clean the counters and the dishes when you're done being an expert chef!

13. Paper towels

Spills happen, and you don't always want to clean them with your nice towels.

14. Toilet plunger

It's one of those things you never really think about... that is, until you need one.

15. Air freshner

You know, for after you use the toilet plunger.

16. Extension cords

You probably have a larger space than you're used to, sometimes those cords that come with all your new electronics just aren't quite long enough.

17. Utensil container

A little round pot or bucket is the perfect place to put all of your kitchen utensils. Things like spatulas and whisks will take up space in your drawers and create clutter. Plus, keeping them out makes them easier to grab when you're whipping up some food.

18. Batteries

There's nothing worse than getting your new TV all set up and realizing you can't use the remote.

19. Curtains

If you need darkness to sleep, you want to make sure you get those bedroom curtains up and ready to roll.

20. Toilet bowl brush

Sorry, but I'm certainly not reaching in there with my hands.

21. Ice cube trays

To keep you cool as a cucumber during this stressful time.

22. Can opener

Try prying a can open with your hands. I dare you.

23. Stain remover

For when you try to pry the can open with your hands and manage to spray tomato sauce all over yourself.

24. Carbon monoxide/Smoke detectors

Cause we don't want any tragedies here.

25. Collander

We both know you will be making pasta every night, so you're going to need to drain it.

26. Coasters

You definitely don't want to ruin your super fancy new Ikea table.

27. Dry erase board

No need to argue over who should take out the trash, just make sure to write down everyone's chores.

28. Underbed storage

On a college budget there's no way you can expect a walk-in closet, those clothes and shoes will have to go somewhere.

29. Drying rack

For when the dryer in your building inevitably stops working.

30. Step stool

If you're short, like me, you need a little help reaching that top shelf.

Hopefully this list has helped you feel a little more prepared to move into your first apartment. The decorating and planning is so much more enjoyable when you know you have all of your bases covered. I wish you the best of luck with your first major endeavor in the world of adulting!

Note: As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

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Why You Should Bring Your Close Friend As Your Formal Date

Before asking that cute girl to formal think about asking a friend


Every year since I was a junior in high school I have always looked forward to homecoming or prom. When I got to college I began to look forward to my fraternity formal. I was never concerned with what to wear or the expense of formal but rather who I was going to ask. It can be difficult to make a decision. If you ask anyone friends with me they will tell you how I am one of the most indecisive people out there. There are so many people I am friendly with or have a close relationship that it can feel difficult to make a decision. But let's look at that phrase again. You might think why does he want to bring someone who is his friend to his fraternity formal rather than someone he likes or is dating. To answer this question, some of the girls I have liked I have not been able to be the true me around and that also applies to the girls I have dated as well. I am different around my friends and I want someone to know the real me rather than me just having to pretend.

Maybe I am still experiencing the effects of a fun weekend but I have noticed that every formal or prom that I have brought a date with not only was a fun formal but interacted and connected well with my friends. That is the main thing I look for in a formal date, they need to be liked by my friends and many of them are still pretty friendly after the formal. You are spending the weekend with them and the drive down for you formal. There will be a lot of time spent with your date so it is important to bring someone you know you will have fun with. I am not saying that there isn't anything wrong with bringing someone else but I always found it best to bring a friend if you are not dating someone.

Think about the people you know you will always have fun with. This can be an indication of who you should bring and why but you should also think about the positives in this situation. Your fun and the time spent with the people should be prioritized before anything else. This event is about you and you should have someone with you that you know is fun to be around and someone you can enjoy yourself around along with your friends. Friends know you as well as you know yourself so there is not an idea of having to pretend to be someone else. The good thing about friends is that you do not run out of things to talk about and there is always something new to learn. Take your formal as a trip that you get to experience with the people closest to you. That is my take.

The key for me is to know that I will have fun with my date at formal. The drive to formal can be long and you are sharing a hotel room with your date along with spending time with them during the trip. I talk a lot. I want someone I know who I can carry a conversation with and will not just respond with words such as Yeah or Sounds good. I have always been able to remember not only my formals but specific parts of it as well. I think this is possible because of who I have brought and the memories I made with them.

Formals are important to everyone so think about who you want to spend that moment with. There is nothing wrong with bringing someone who you like but there also is nothing wrong with bringing a friend. Some people might bring someone they are dating but you should not have to compare yourself to other people. Do what makes you happy but remember this weekend is about you and you deserve to bring someone you will have fun with.

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