To the Mom Who Did It All 20+ Years Later

To the Mom Who Did It All 20+ Years Later

This is the congratulations that you deserve. The thank you for showing me that no matter what life throws at you and no matter how tough things may get, that you can still find some way to push through it all and come out stronger.
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You didn’t have the normal life; graduate 8th grade, go off to high school, then graduate and go to college, meet a guy, fall in love, and start a family. Instead, your family started in high school. There was no graduating and college. No perfect guy. You had your first kid when you were still one yourself. That’s one of the biggest challenges you encountered that caused you to start the life everyone leads 20 years later.

You then met my father and got pregnant with me. That postponed whatever opportunity you may have had to pick back up the lasso and get back on the horse. However, you did it anyway. You still had me. Rather than trying to take the life that others deemed right, you choose me; you got on a different horse.

I know it was never easy for you. While you may have come and gone in your first two children’s lives, you came around when things were right. Yeah, there were bumps in the road and during those tough times you weren’t as present and even though that hurt at times, I knew there was part of you with me and that you were trying to do what was best for you which ultimately would be best for your children. Then came my half brother.

Seeing him be the motivator and the apple of your eye made me happy. To see you finally have that drive within you made me proud. Even though you may have had a couple bad seeds looting the garden which caused about a year set back total, you still did it.

So this one is for you. To the mom who did it all 20+ years later.

I am so proud of you. To see all those tough times you went through in life and to see you now, I am thrilled to see you finally be who you are. That you finally overcame all those things and people who were holding you back and get what you deserved.

I cannot believe how happy I am for you. How happy I am that you dropped that 200 pounds of weight and got your degree instead. That you persevered and pulled through when only a few of us knew you could.

So, this is the congratulations that you deserve. The thank you for showing me that no matter what life throws at you and no matter how tough things may get, that you can still find some way to push through it all and come out stronger.

“So mom. I am extremely sorry that I wasn’t able to get out of work and be there for your big day. I just wanted to let you know how proud I am of you. These past few years have had their ups and downs yet you never let that tear you away from school and chasing what you wanted. You persevered in way that I admire. I know it has been tough but you did it. You did it, mom, and I could not be more thrilled and happy for you. I know you’ll continue to be strong and I know you’ll find an amazing job and won’t stop till you do because that’s who you are. You’re someone who doesn’t stop. You don’t stop fighting. Don’t ever lose that. I am so proud of you. Smile big and proud, you deserve this.”

You waited 20+ years to start and finish your education. I can’t wait to see you prove to those who thought you couldn’t do it that it doesn’t matter when you get it done, that you can do amazing either way. I love you, mom. Keep your head up and keep moving forward. Be proud to look people in the eye and say, “I did it”.

Cover Image Credit: UC Magazine

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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It Took Me 4 Years And $100K To Realize Why Poor Kids Like Me Don’t Go To College

But now that I know, I can't get it out of my mind.

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I grew up poor.

There, I said it. It's out in the open now—I don't come from a family that has a bunch of money. In fact, my family doesn't have much money at all. My single mother works in fast food and does a DAMN good job trying to support herself and the rest of us. A lot of the food my family gets comes from food pantries. We have received government assistance before. I grew up poor, but I haven't let that define me.

Especially when it came to going to college.

I didn't want to let my economic background hold me back from my potential. I wanted to be the first person on both sides of my family to receive my college degree. I wanted to get a better paying job and moving up in socioeconomic status so I don't have to be the "poor" girl with the "poor" family all my life. I'm not really ashamed of coming from a poor family, but I also don't want to be poor my entire life.

For a majority of my college career, I wondered why there weren't many poor students around me at college. I go to a public university, and it's just the same price as any other state school really. Coming from a lower income home, I did receive a lot of assistance, and without it, there's no way in hell I could be here. I know that many other lower-income students can get this same assistance, which really made me wonder why there was such a lack of other poor kids around me.

I mean, everyone posts videos from their nice, upper-middle-class homes on Snapchat over holiday breaks while I go back home to the trailer park.

Everyone can call mom or dad and ask for money when things get rough while I pay for 100% of the things I own because my mother simply cannot afford it.

Everyone walks around in their name-brand clothes while I'm rocking Walmart knockoffs. It's not something I thought about for a couple years in college, but once I noticed it, I couldn't think of anything else.

It took me nearly all four years of college to realize why there's such a lack of poor students at my average, public university. Poor students are set up for failure in college. It's almost designed to be a survival of the fittest when it comes to us lower-income students, and those of us who are deemed the fittest and do make it to graduation day are typically stuck with a lot of debt that we don't have the financial intelligence or support to even think about paying off.

Poor students are in the minority in college, and when you're in a minority anywhere, surviving can be difficult. When it costs $100 just for a 5-digit code to do your homework, it can be hard to stay in school. When the cost of living on campus is $10,000 or rent for an apartment is nearly $500 a month, it can be hard to stay in school. When you don't have a car because you can't save up the money for one and your parents can't help you, it can be hard to stay in school. When you're forced to get a minimum wage, on-campus job that limits your to twenty hours a week, it can be hard to stay in school. When all of your friends don't understand why you can't go out to eat or to the bar every weekend, it can be hard to stay in school. All of these reasons add up to the main reason why poor kids don't go to college—the odds are stacked against us.

I never had shame in my socioeconomic status until I went to college. In my hometown, I wasn't much less than the norm. Now, my home life is drastically different than that of all of my friends. I know that this is something that is never going to change because when I enter the workforce in less than a year, I'll be going in as the first member of my family with a college degree. People will treat me differently when I tell them this, even if I don't want them to. People will treat me differently when they ask where my parents work and I tell them McDonald's. It's an unfortunate reality that I cannot control.

It took me nearly all four years to realize why poor kids don't go to college, but now that I know, I can't get it off my mind.

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