500 Words On Life's Surprises

500 Words On Life's Surprises

Here are my thoughts on life's surprises as we move into a new year.

Life is full of surprises. I know this — we all know this. We all know that we cannot foresee every single thing coming our way. Even considering the fact I cannot predict the future, I still wonder about it and, sadly, this is not a normal amount of wondering. This is full-blown worrying about every single thing that happens or might happen to me. I want to know if someone will stay in my life or why they’re not in my life anymore. I wonder if I'll end up in a relationship with this person or if I'm wasting my time. Why is it that I always need to know the answers? Am I just not a fan of the unknown or am I scared of being alone?

For one, I actually love the excitement and anticipation of the unknown when it comes to surprises on my birthday and Christmas. Two, I’m working on being alone sometimes and being okay with it. I grew up with three siblings, so my house was always full and in college I've hardly been alone. There are almost 500 people living in my dorm complex, so there’s always someone to grab coffee or lunch with. My suite is always buzzing during the day. I do need my hour or two of "me time" every day, but, other than that, I’m happy when I'm completely surrounded by others, talking to people or doing something fun.

Back to my initial question: Do I really need to know how my future will turn out? I need to chill — I know that. I need to stop worrying about what will happen and just be. I’ve been saying “I’m living!” a lot lately and I really am. All the changes in my life over the past few months have brought me to this moment and I’m happy — I’m living! I feel like 2016 came along with so many happy memories. I grew very close to so many of my high school friends. I got my first job at a restaurant and figured out how to balance my life. I visited colleges and got accepted to my top pick. I graduated high school and had one of the best summers of my life. Then, my favorite part of 2016: I completed my first semester of college!

I have met so many great people, passed all of my classes and made it through my first semester. I am truly happy in Charleston. When my family left me after move-in day I was very uncertain about being (sort of) on my own and not knowing many people. A week later, I had fallen in love with everything about The College. I became fast friends with one of my roommates, found a group of gals that like going out as much as I do and I made friends with people who look out for me and have my back no matter what. So when I look at the big picture, I’m thankful for all the surprises because I would’ve never expected my first semester to be as great as it has been. Many people couldn’t wait for 2016 to be over, but I think I’m happy with everything that 2016 brought — the ups and the downs.

Cover Image Credit: Lindsey Ocock

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An Open Letter To The Future Me

I want to say that I know you, but really, I don’t think that I do.

Dear Future Self,

I’m laughing as I write this -- I remember writing a similar letter in the 5th grade and my teacher keeping it until the end of the year. Here I am, writing a similar letter.

Who knows when I will read it again: next year, in five years, or perhaps in ten years?

Well, here I am; “past” you. The decisions that I am making today, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem to me, are helping to shape you. I’m succeeding and doing great things, but I am also messing up and and facing hardships. It’s life; it’s our life.

You spent your childhood wanting time to slow down, but also itching to reach those “milestones” in life -- the double digits of 10, sweet 16, a totally legitimate 18-year-old adult, 21 and fun, etc. etc. You’ve felt both old and wise, but also young and insignificant.

Here’s something I want you to take to heart and to listen to -- slow down.

You move way too fast. Your mind is always in the future, worrying about class tomorrow or getting accepted into veterinary school next year.

Most of the time, you are not living in the moment, which is not a way to live. Slow down and enjoy what is happening when it is happening.

You have time, so stop stressing so much.

Make more time to go out with friends, to go on dates with your boyfriend, to have movie nights with your family (heck, go call your Mom, Dad, and sister right now! Let them know how much you love them, appreciate them, and need them.).

Make more time to to wish on dandelions, talk to strangers in coffee shops, and listen to new music for hours on end.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t finish what you think you’re supposed to because, chances are, you did what you were actually meant to do.

Don’t lose your relationship with God.

No matter how busy everyday life gets, make time to talk to God.

Make time to thank Him for all that He has down for you.

Make time to tell Him about your life and to open your heart about what you want.

Go to Church when you can and read your Bible verse every night.

It will keep you sane; He will keep you sane.

I know sometimes your anxiety is going to get bad; sometimes, it will truly be unbearable. But, here is the thing -- it will pass. It will. Just keep pushing another day, just one more day. Facetime Mom or color a picture or go listen to “C’mon” on repeat on your phone. The hot moments will end and cool moments will replace them.

No matter when you may think, the best is not behind you. Life is only going to continue to grow and get better.


Your 21-year-old self

Cover Image Credit: Amanda Topolski

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Dear Knoxville,

This girl misses you.

I'll admit upfront that I wanted to leave you ASAP post-high school, and I took you for granted. It's not surprising since you were all I really knew, and I wanted to explore outside of what I knew. I wanted to leave as soon as I could, and I jumped on opportunities to stay away. Now I find myself missing you more than not.

My senior year of high school I could not wait to get out of the "Knoxville bubble." I felt like I was stuck and wanted to leave before I was chained to a city I felt was mundane. After living in one spot for all my life, I was eager for a new experience and craving independence. This influenced my decision to go to college out of state, and I didn't look back. However, I wasn't homesick much my first year of college, and I told myself I would never move back to Tennessee after I graduated.

I had always been told that East Tennessee was one of the most beautiful areas to live and that I was lucky to live there. I never believed that until recently, because as of recently I have been suffering homesickness and it, frankly, sucks. I miss going to the mountains, I miss my family, and I miss the culture. More than anything I miss familiarity, and as Dayton becomes another home to me, it will never beat Knoxville in my book.

Now, in my second semester of sophomore year, I have found myself planning when I come back home as soon as I leave. My time at college now revolves around the question of: "When will I get to come back home?" It's frustrating as life continues while I am gone, and every time I return home so much has changed.

I'm afraid of the day that I'll come back and not recognize you or the places I grew up knowing. I accept change, and know it is for the best, but I rely on you to remain my home-base which I can return to when everywhere else seems no good.

I don't know if I'll come back to Knoxville once I have finished school, but it isn't out of the question. Not anymore. However, wherever I end up, I know I will always come back because part of me will always miss you. I will always come back to you, because this city raised me and formed the woman I am today. So, Knoxville, I'll see you soon.



Cover Image Credit: Tim McCready

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