Learning the Importance of Jounraling

Learning The Importance Of Journaling, Especially On A Mission Trip

A timeless lesson that I seem to learn over and over again each year in Jamaica.

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I have this one journal that has my journal entries from three out of the four years that I have been to Jamaica. The first two years I remember sitting on the plane telling myself I was going to try to document everything that happened in my journal. Obviously, that didn't happen. I would start out strong but as I got more and more tired throughout the week, journaling took the backseat and I usually just went right to sleep. My third year I wanted to do better with my journaling but I decided instead of writing exactly what happened each day, I would instead write down things that were going through my head. I would rely on the pictures I took to recap what happened each day, but the journal would retell me my feelings throughout that week. I had no idea how important this would become to me months down the road when I was at Emory.

One particularly frustrating weekend at Emory I was sitting in church taking notes on the sermon when I flipped back a few pages to my journal pages from Jamaica. I read through how on fire I felt after leaving the hospital that we visited (read more about that visit here) and how I knew I really had a calling to be in the medical field. I sat there with tears streaming down my face, confused on how easily I had somehow forgotten my passion when the weight and cloud of stress and hardships seemed to completely surround me. My own words became the encouragement that I needed at that very moment.

So, this year I wanted to make sure I wrote plenty of how I was feeling so that in November when I am getting close to my chemistry, human physiology, and physics finals I can be the exact encouragement that I need.

This year my entry in the afternoon spent at the hospital in Jamaica was mostly focused on how I felt assured as I was walking around the hospital and talking to patients and their families. It was almost like I was having all of the feelings from last year but everything felt familiar and a little bit more comfortable. I think I felt more comfortable because I had a year of school at Emory under my belt and I was a small step closer to achieving the goals that I have set for myself.

I also felt comfortable because instead of zeroing in on the fact that we were talking to people in a hospital I focused on that I was there to talk to people. Being in a hospital doesn't bother me, the medical equipment doesn't faze me. I was just talking to the people that were around me. The patients are people that have lives separate than the circumstances that led to them being in the hospital that day. I am in school to learn to better help and serve people. Yes, I will treat patients but more importantly I will be helping people.

So, I wrote that all down and as I continue to reflect on the trip I have continued writing and rereading. I am continuously surprised by how much my own thoughts can teach me. And as weeks separate me from Jamaica I am left with a book of my thoughts and the reminder to help, love, and care for others.

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An Open Letter To Those Not Graduating On Time

Graduating college in any number of years is an accomplishment to be proud of.
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To the person that isn't graduating on time,

It sucks, and I won't lie to you and tell you it doesn't. The day you walk out of Advising, head hanging down because you aren't going to finish in four years, makes you feel ashamed of yourself. You did well in high school; you were always told you were smart, expected to be smart, so why couldn't you make it out in four years like you were supposed to?

You know you're going to have to tell your family, so you begin preparing yourself for the worst reactions possible. And telling your friends you won't be graduating with them will only add to that sense of hopelessness.

Soon, you'll see photos and posts from people you left high school with, talking about graduation and the wonderful lives they are about to begin in their new careers. You'll wonder how they did it, and you'll feel like a failure.

But you're not.

Graduating from college is a huge deal. It really is. And it will be no less of an accomplishment in five, six, or 10 years.

"According to the Department of Education, fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college each year graduate within four years, while almost 60 percent of students graduate in six years. At public schools, less than a third of students graduate on time."

Things happen. You might change your major. You might have financial troubles. You may take a year off to figure out exactly what you want to do. That's okay. Take all the time you need. The real world and your career will still be there whenever you graduate.

Guess what else. Your family will still love you, and your friends will still support you. Give them some credit. Your loved ones want you to be happy and successful. Don't get me wrong, they may be upset at first, but give them a chance. Odds are, when the emotions settle, they will go right back to asking how classes are going. And when you do get the news that you'll be graduating, they will celebrate with you, and they will be there in the crowd, waiting for you to walk across that stage.

Graduation will happen. If you attend your class and study hard, it will happen. There is no reason to rush. Just do your best. Try your hardest. Take classes when you can. Just by doing that, you're doing more than so many others are able to do.

"Among 18 countries tracked by the OECD, the United States finished last (46 percent) for the percentage of students who completed college once they started it."

You'll get there. Take your time. Enjoy your classes. Find new interests. Study what you love. Embrace opportunities. Study abroad. Take that weird elective class. This is your time to take in everything the world has to offer. Take advantage of that. You'll graduate when you graduate, filled with pride and wisdom. And when they call your name, and you walk across that stage, hold your head up high, because you've earned every bit of your degree.

Graduating from college takes countless hours of studying, long hours in the library, and a tremendous amount of dedication. Don't add pressure to yourself by setting a timer. It is completely okay to graduate when you graduate, and it is still something to be proud of.

Best Wishes,
A woman who is finally graduating

Cover Image Credit: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/120417041415-education-graduation-cap-story-top.jpg

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Things I Miss Now That I'm Home From College Again

There are so many reasons to be glad that the school year is over, but if you've done it right... there are a lot of reasons to miss it too.

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So, school is over now and I've come home. As expected I was so relieved at first. No more showering with flip-flops, no more listening to screaming girls running up and down the hall, and a space that is mine and mine alone. But after a week or so of being back, there are a few things I've already started to miss.

I know that not every single person has the ideal roommate but I got really lucky with mine. Coming home I was excited to have my own space, but now when I'm doing my midnight scrolling, I'm realizing that I miss being able to talk to her about the funny things I see in that very moment. Tagging, DMing, and texting her doesn't feel the same as a long night of giggles spent together.

Also, while seeing old friends when you get home is amazing, and there is always a lot to catch up on, you do start to miss your other friends too. Being in college means that your friends are going through similar things as you are all the time. You have tests together, clubs together, and sometimes you spend way too much time procrastinating together. The bond you begin to form is one you definitely begin to miss - especially when you guys don't live close off of campus.

Coming home also means you don't have a set schedule or at least not immediately. You may come back to a previous job and that puts something on your calendar, but the free time you still have during the week can be a little too much. I know I've spent way too much time obsessing over the Tati/James drama than I ever would have at school. The routine I had at school kept me busy and entertained, and I'm honestly missing it a lot right now.

There are a lot of other things to miss too - even things you thought you wouldn't. You miss the classes, the teachers, and sometimes the food. I know I miss the environment. It isn't a perfect one, but it's full of people just trying to find their way. We are all working through the roller coaster of life and we are all stuck on one beautiful campus together while we figure it all out. I miss meeting new people at the bus stops or running into old classmates and catching up.

I guess the bonus for me is that I just finished sophomore year which means I have more time to spend at school. Come senior year, I guess I'll have to learn quickly how to deal without the things I miss - and also create a schedule so I can travel to see all of my friends, but those are all problems for future me.

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