5 Things My 5th Grade Self Should Have Heard

5 Things My 5th Grade Self Should Have Heard

Stay a kid a little longer, it'll be worth it.

Have you ever looked at the innocence of a child and seen yourself in them? Maybe it’s the way you see the little girl next door skips everywhere she goes, or you when you look into the beaming eyes of the 8-year old girl you babysit when her face light up whenever she talks about the best new book she finished reading.

Recently, I have caught myself wondering what I would tell my 11-year-old self before I reached an era of my life full of the childlike innocence fading — learning people can’t always be trusted and mistakes are a part of life, but things will get better. Reflecting on growth past my childhood nostalgia, there are a few pieces of wisdom I would endow my 11-year-old self:

1. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever

I remember thinking in 5th grade best friends and I (or the "Fab 5") as we called ourselves, would be my soul-mates, my bridesmaids and forever friends. Fast forward to middle school, when suddenly finding boyfriends to go to the movies with became more important than planning the next sleepover on the weekend, friendships started to turn into dust. Soon I learned girls can be mean and it's sometimes not worth it to hold onto a friendship. People come and go, but what you learned from them never changes.

2. Don't judge based on people's decisions

If there is one thing I discovered as I grew up it's that people's poor decisions don't always reflect their hearts. When I was younger (and probably way too deep into my teenage years) I had the mindset that people that did bad things, weren't good people. I have learned that some of the best people haven't made the best decisions. Just because people don't have the same choices in life as you don't make them any worse.

3. Don't be so hard on yourself

You will make mistakes. This is a part of life. This may be messing up on your math test in 7th grade, it could be saying something unkind to a friend at 16, or truly being sorry for how you acted during because you were hurt at 22. Despite your mistakes, know you are human and they are inevitable. Learn from them, accept growth and forgive yourself.

4. Not everyone can be trusted

Children tend to see the best in everyone. This trait can be carried into your 20s, to believe it or not. My best friend once said, "you biggest downfall is giving everyone the benefit of the doubt." It is good to see the best in people, but remember not to expect too much from everyone and don't take it to heart when they reflect less than what you thought.

5. It's not bad to not be in a hurry to grow up

Sometimes you're going to feel pressured to grow up. Maybe in 6th grade, your friends started talking more about boys and makeup. Perhaps in high school, everyone only cared about drinking and parties. If you're not interested in growing up fast — don't pretend to be. Staying a kid a little longer was one of the best things I could do. Growing up will happen eventually, but don't rush it. Stay a kid a little longer, it'll be worth it.

One reminder that I give myself when I decide whether or not to trust my judgment is to be some that would make my 11-year old self-proud. Children see the best in people, dream big and are hopeful for the future. No matter what grow up stuff gets in my way, I try to bring out my 11-year-old soul from time to time to remember to not take life too seriously.

Cover Image Credit: Olivia DeLucia

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I May Be From A Small Town, But My Dreams Are Bigger Than Its Population

Have dreams bigger than the amount of people in the stands for a homecoming football game.

I grew up in a small town in Southeastern Kentucky. It was there, in the heart of Appalachia, where I was raised from the ground up. I attended school with the same people starting at the age of four up until I graduated high school. While this sounds truly grueling to some, and at times it was, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was spending hours painting a new themed poster each week just to cheer for our boys on Friday nights. It was the science teacher who made me contemplate my future career path over and over but ended up being my greatest mentor. It was coaches who made me realize the value of hard work. It was having a support system larger than my immediate family who saw my potential and encouraged me to chase my goals.

You see, growing up in a small town, let alone rural Appalachia, every single odd is set against you. It’s a poverty-stricken region that also so happens to be stuck in the bullseye of the opioid epidemic.

While derogatory stereotypes run true to many individuals throughout the area, it’s a stereotype that blankets nearly everyone living there. And it’s not all true. Not everyone living there fits the mold of these infamous stereotypes. These cold-hard truths of just one sector of this region prevent many young individuals from chasing their dreams.

Though I don’t speak for all, it’s sometimes hard to see big dreams become reality when the place where you were born and raised only has a negative connotation. However, it’s up to you to change the idea society has about the place that raised you.

Over the years my intelligence has been doubted based solely on my accent. I’ve been called a “Backwoods Barbie” (yes, that actually happened). I’ve even been asked if my family and friends back home wore shoes. Though these things disturbed me, to say the least, they only have been motivation.

I’ve had a dream in the back of my head for quite some time now. I am going to be a Pediatric Dentist. There are no if’s, no but’s, no “if it doesn’t work out.” I’m not stopping until I accomplish that goal.

Of course the road there isn’t easy. If it was then you’d see everyone chasing doctoral degrees. It’s because I want to do whatever it takes to prove all those stereotypes wrong. It’s about having that drive and determination to be a kid from Southeastern Kentucky who made something of themselves.

Against all the odds, you became successful. You’re the underdog and sometimes you just have to be your own cheerleader. You’re just as capable as anyone else is.

You just have to find your passion and chase it without fear of failing. I found that “want to,” and so should you.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram | @visitlakelureblueridgenc

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A Love Letter To Stevenson University

Dear Stevenson...

Dear Stevenson,

Let's be honest, you weren't my first choice. It's true. I was looking at more well-known schools and I came across you and honestly, you didn't blow me away. You were a relatively small private school in Owings Mills and when I asked people about you, they would say "Where?". Even when I first looked you up I even got an ad for Strayer University, but nevertheless, I wanted to find out more about you and figure you out. I found that you had a really good program for design so why not add you to my list of potential schools and apply. Somehow, out of the blue, I got a really great scholarship to go to you and I went.

So now it's been about two years since then and we've been on a long road together. From me wishing I had gone to MICA like I originally wanted to finally feeling at home with you, it's been a ride. Maybe it was the fact that you were very welcoming to me and had people that I could really vibe with, maybe it was the fact that I could really do whatever classes I wanted, maybe it was the fact that you offer a close-knit community or maybe even the fact that I can grab free chicken tenders to take to my dorm after my 10 pm class, but I'm happy with you. I've found that even though you're not the most impressive school out there or the one with the most honors or the one with the highest graduation or job after graduation rate, you're the perfect school for me and that's what really matters.

Sometimes now you still do some things that really irk me off, like the fact that we only have one printer in the design building that acts up whenever I need to print something (and yes, I still salty about it) but hey, you're home.

So, thanks.

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