Christmas Eve

Seven years ago today, I found out I got accepted into Evangel University. I remember being home alone when the mail came, and seeing the return address on the package immediately filled me with a nervous excitement. I couldn’t even wait for my mom or dad to get home to be there with me when I opened it to find out their decision. I tore into the package, and pulled out a pale blue t-shirt that read “EU loves newbies,” along with an official acceptance letter.

Seven years ago today, I was full of expectation, hope, and excitement. I had no idea what exactly my future held, but I could not wait. The idea of living 1,000 miles away from my family didn’t seem daunting to me; I was too excited for the new beginnings and opportunities that awaited me.

That was exactly the reminder I needed seven years later. Because a lot can happen in seven years. That once undaunted girl may suddenly be fearful of what lies ahead, because her future seems so uncertain. Especially today, since she’s away from her family on Christmas Eve for the first time. That reminder brought me back to that girl who once lived in fearless pursuit of her future, even if she couldn’t see where it was headed. It brought me back to the girl who could take the bad times in stride, knowing that this too shall pass, and come out stronger on the other side.

Seven years ago today, my life was totally changed. I knew from that point on, things would be moving in a completely new direction. I was right. And things haven’t stopped moving since. While a majority of the seasons I’ve passed through have been pleasant and full of adventure, not all of them can be described that way. Especially the one I’m in right now. And when you’re in a time of seemingly unending uncertainty, it can be easy to lose sight of all of the things you’ve already come through. It can be easy to forget the once fearless and hopefully expectant person you once were.

Being reminded that seven years ago today, a door was opened to me that literally changed the course of my life, was just the reminder I needed.

Sometimes You Make Lifelong Friends in College, and Sometimes Those Friendships Only Last for a Season

Has anyone ever told you that the people you’d meet in college would be the friends you’d have for life? Well, they’re (mostly) right. When I moved into the dorm, I met my roommate for the first time. I remember both of our families being in the same shoebox sized room, trying to loft beds and rearrange furniture. It was terribly awkward. I wasn’t the greatest at befriending new people, and I was a bit of a mess both literally and figuratively. Savannah, on the other hand, seemed to have her crap together. Our families are also polar opposites. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive at all about moving in with this stranger who obviously had a very different upbringing than I did. Fortunately for me, she took my extreme neuroticism and uncomfortable level of disorganization in stride—and we became best friends.

Can we talk about that phrase for a second? “Best Friend.” For a long time, that phrase left a bitter taste in my mouth and I refused to use it. I refused to use it because any time I had used it in the past, the friendship ended. It was like a curse. So, when Savannah and I started to become good friends, I pushed her away in some feeble attempt to protect myself. It was like I couldn’t accept that someone wanted to be my best friend. I couldn’t accept that she was in it for the long haul, because I had never had that kind of friend before. Fast forward nearly six years, and we’re still best friends. I don’t know what I would do without her. I can’t even post an Instagram caption without taking a screenshot and sending it to her to make her proof read it. She moved like 1,000 miles from me, but we still make it work.

But not all college friendships are that amazing. I’ll talk a little bit about one friend I made, whom I no longer really speak to. I’ll call her Jen. Jen and I were put in the same launch group, which was essentially a small group of random people in which the university tried to get you to make friends. And it totally worked! At first. We spent almost every waking moment together. I explained to her that I would not, under any circumstances, use the phrase “best friend.” I told her things about myself that I still have not spoken of to anyone else. But almost as quickly as that friendship started, it ended. I eventually felt comfortable with her calling me her best friend, and I even got comfortable enough to use that phrase myself. And guess what happened? The friendship ended. Crashed and burned. Two whole years of investing in a friendship—and it was over just like that. Let’s just say it didn’t end on the best note. But a few months later, I met her for lunch and apologized, and she did too. We don’t really talk anymore, but there’s no bitterness there either. Notice how I’m not saying my time was wasted. Notice how I’m not saying I regret being her friend. Because neither of those statements are true. Yes, that friendship is over. Yes, sometimes it still hurts. She got engaged and married and I wasn’t there for any of it. Do you know how hard it is to look at someone who you once considered your best friend and see them go through all of these wonderful experiences, but feel like you can’t even tell them how happy you are for them? It sucks. But, I learned a lot about myself, her, and the kind of friend I wanted to be. I learned a lot about relationships. And I grew a lot in those two years of friendship with Jen.

Yes, you will make some AMAZING, lifelong friends in college. But also, you may make wonderful, temporary friendships. And I think that’s okay. I think both kinds of friendships should be embraced. I don’t think you should ever look back on a friendship you had with someone and think your time was wasted. It took a lot of years for me to come to that conclusion. It took a lot of years for me to be okay with the fact that not all of the friends I made would be in my life forever. Being okay with that has helped me cherish the time I do have with them.IMG_2299

Man, I love my friends.

A Little Bit More About Myself

IMG_1170As you probably gathered from the title, yes, I am a woman, and yes, I am in my early twenties. My name is Katy (my friends call me Kath), and I’m going to tell you just a little bit about myself. I was born and raised in Upstate New York (No, not the city. Yes, there are even cows. No, I do not have an accent). I’m the oldest of four in my family, and I have some of the greatest siblings out there. We have an interesting family dynamic, which I’m sure I’ll devote an entire post to at some point, but for now I’ll be brief. My parents are young and also pretty cool (maybe I’m a little biased). For example, my dad just got another tattoo. I think that makes nine in total? But if I had to pick one thing about my parents to boast the most about, it would be their constant support and encouragement. They knew from very early on that I would leave home to pursue my dreams, and they never shied away from that. When I told them I wanted to move 1,000 miles away to go to school, they did everything they could to help me make that happen. Although, my dad was far less fond of the idea than my mom was. He’s been wrapped around my finger since day one. That being said, I still live 1,000 miles away, I graduated from Evangel University two years ago, and I’ve recently graduated from Missouri State University with my masters degree in experimental psychology. I think those are the important things you need to know, at least for now.

How I Survived as an Introvert in a City Where I Knew Literally No One

I moved from Vestal, New York to Springfield, Missouri in the fall of 2011. I had gotten accepted to Evangel University and was SO PUMPED. I met my wonderful roommate and best friend Savannah on Facebook a month before, but otherwise had no connections with anyone else. It was a completely new city, with completely new people. Let me just say, I would not by any definition of the word describe myself as an extravert. Not. A. Chance. In high school, I had like four close friends and a few friendly acquaintances, but that’s about as crazy as it got. I spent all of my spare time in the art wing, hiding from the rest of the student population. I quit band my freshman year because I figured out we would have to perform at GRADUATION. ARE YOU JOKING? It was like the worst thing in the world to me, could you imagine performing in front of all of those people?! Quitting band is still a decision I regret very much, so if you’re contemplating quitting something or giving up on something, simply because it pushes you out of your comfort zone, I challenge you to take a step back and really think it through. Or you’ll end up like me, a girl who still looks regretfully at the flute that sits collecting dust in the back of her closet, wondering what could have been. Back to my original topic, moving to a new place should have scared me, right? Shouldn’t I have been terrified? I mean when I say I knew no one, I mean it. I had also never been to Springfield nor had I visited Evangel’s campus. But…I was so excited. When I look back on that time I remember just being overwhelmed with the excitement of new opportunities. I was excited because the people in Springfield didn’t know me. Because that meant that they didn’t know anything about me. They didn’t know that I was shy and awkward. They didn’t know that I was shy and awkward because of crippling insecurities. They didn’t have any perceptions or judgments of me. What I’m getting at is, it was an opportunity for me to reinvent myself; for me to decide who I wanted to be, and to grow in that.

Moving to a new city is a scary thing, but the attitude that you approach it with makes all the difference. For me, it was a chance to be someone new, be someone different, be my own person. I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the expectations of others, so much so that it shapes who we become as a person. Sometimes the people that shape us mean well, but they force us into a mold that we don’t necessarily fit. That’s why I left, that’s why I moved 1,000 miles away from anyone and everyone I knew and loved. I had to do what was best for me. Which I think is a decision more people should be more comfortable making. Being there for others and being who they want you to be is all fine and dandy, but are you really making yourself happy?

When I got to Evangel, I got involved in everything I possibly could. I even played flag football (but I still have no idea how football works so please don’t ask)! The best thing I did, though, was join something called “Hall Council.” It’s a team of girls that live in the dorm that works together to plan and host events for the rest of the hall residents. I started as the freshman representative, which meant that I was essentially the liaison between the freshman class and hall council. I eventually ended up serving as hall president for three years, and I loved every minute of it. I loved it because I found a team of likeminded people that I could relate to. I got to work with these amazing girls to plan events that brought people together. I loved it because I learned that I have leadership abilities, and it taught me how to be a better leader. And now I just love telling people what to do! I guess what I’m getting at is, finding a way to get involved in a community of people that you can work alongside of or relate to on any level really helps to transition into a new and scary place. You might even learn a few things about yourself.