Sophomore Teachings

Sit tight; this could be a long one.

Last year I sat down and wrote a really difficult blog about how challenging my first year of college was. God has definitely been with me through the deepest of pits and that never changes, as sophomore year was a whirlwind of emotions. There were many sweet moments and some rough patches strewn throughout. But mostly, (I can thankfully say) sophomore year has been sweet. I have learned a lot from both God and the people I have journeyed alongside:

 

  1. Be open with others.

The thing is, college seems like a super social place, but the reality is hiding is incredibly easy. Sometimes you become tired of all the “I’m good”s and the constant smiles on social media. You start to wonder if you’re the only one who’s actually not having a good day, week, month or even year. I used to loathe crying in front of anyone growing up because I didn’t want to burden my loved ones. However, the older I get the more open I’ve become with my emotions and although sometimes it may seem like I cry a ton (sorry fam!) I’m thankful I don’t hold my emotions back anymore.

Not only is this freeing for the mind, but it automatically helps relationships when I can have a good cry. Something about someone having seen me at my worst creates a new bond in our relationship. One day I was having a rough time and I thought about calling my mom, but instead I texted a friend I wasn’t super close to and she ended up sitting with me and we talked for an hour. If I’ve cried in front of you, it’s a good sign I love you a lot.

I also love having serious conversations about faith and sin, like one night when my pal and I watched Nacho Libre and then hung out for an hour talking about our struggles with lust. Another cool moment was at church when people were invited to have leaders of the church pray over them. Specifically we had been talking about control, which is something I struggle with a ton, so I timidly went up to my statistics professor, promptly started crying from nerves, and had her pray over me. That brings me to my next piece of knowledge…

 

  1. I struggle immensely with control and selfishness.

God is constantly illuminating sin in my life, but this school year these were the two most prevalent sins. I need to let go of the burden of grades and the future especially. I grip to those things so tightly when I don’t need to. Selfishness has always been something I’ve known I struggle with but this school year really illuminated how it impacts the ones I love. You would think selfishness would only hurt yourself, but sin always leaves its mark on others. My roommate in particular really helped me see that and how I wasn’t cognizant of all of her struggles.

 

  1. Examples of Godly forgiveness.

The sad thing about being close to any human is you’re going to hurt them at some point. I’ve found the true character of a person to come out when they forgive someone and how they forgive someone (or don’t…). The first instance I truly experienced this forgiveness was last summer (yeah, yeah, it’s not totally consistent with sophomore year). I left an uncomfortable voicemail on a previous friend’s phone about my struggle with lust and how I felt it was negatively impacting our friendship and we should probably cut ties. Personally, if I was in his shoes I would have been super upset and uncomfortable, as he had every right to be. But what stopped me in my tracks was the fact that he messaged me back, which I at first took to be a slap in the face (that I really did need), but at the end he said, “Annah, I hope you do well for yourself.” I cannot to this day get those words out of my head, simply because of the grace and forgiveness that rests within them.

My roommate was another person that really exemplified not just what it means to say ‘I forgive you,’ but how to truly forgive as God calls us to. Back to what I started referring to about my selfishness and lack of cognizance, she acknowledged my actions/words, conveyed how they hurt her and then looking past them to say ‘I love you.’ (Roommate, you are such a blessing in my life.) Finally, I can only imagine the amount of times my mother has had to gracefully forgive me for dumb and mean things I say to her. Thank you, Mom, for showing me how to gracefully forgive others in a quiet, humble way.

 

  1. Everything you love has faults, if it’s not God.

Basically, this is me saying I never thought I could dislike an English class, but American literature proved me wrong. It’s nothing personal; pre-nineteenth century writing is just not my cup of tea. (But did you like how eloquently I stated that instead of ‘I didn’t like an English class’?) Although it is still true in a serious way, I think sometimes we forget and are let down by the world.

 

  1. Talk to who you want to!!!

I’m an introvert, and while I have a secret sassy and loud side only certain people see after hanging around me for so long, I’m generally not a very spontaneous, I-love-talking-to-strangers type of person. But sometimes I have hardcore friend crushes and I’ve begun to gradually ignore my fears of ‘oh, but that could be weird’ or ‘but I don’t really know them, I shouldn’t join them,’ because I want to hang out with people I think are cool! Even if it might not be obvious to others I have at least internally gotten bolder this year about socializing with people I’m not good friends with. (Maybe it’s because of my public speaking and barista experiences?) One time I just messaged a girl I thought was cool and was like can we please hang out sometime I’d love to get to know you and she was super flattered! (Maybe she’s even reading this!) I asked people to lunch I wanted to get to know a little better and I even spontaneously hung out with a group of cool tall dudes and had them teach me Spike Ball.

 

  1. God’s plan always happens and yours does not.

I am a planner so every week I would map out what I hoped to get done and every week my perfectly laid out plans would fail. Who knew? Oh right, God. I definitely still struggle with a healthy balance between school and socializing, as I have a hard time studying with other people around. Thus, when my work I hoped to accomplish doesn’t get done right away, I become easily frustrated (so basically, I was frustrated most days.) But my goal for next year is to really let go and be okay with how every day goes, even if it’s not what I envisioned. Because frankly, it will never be what I envision, as much as I love and try to deceive myself that I’m in control. So thanks God, for constantly reminding me of this one.

 

  1. Listen to everyone, especially those you disagree with.

This semester I took an argumentation class for my Communication major that focused on analyzing arguments and forming our own valid ones that were not just ‘your view sucks!’ I’m pretty sure everyone in the class was either in the ‘this is hard’ category or ‘this is boring,’ including my professor (who is also probably the best one I’ve ever had!) who blatantly said ‘yeah, I don’t really enjoy teaching this class, it’s not the most interesting.’ Well little Annah was silently sitting in the corner like ‘I kind of loved this class.’

Normally I avoid controversial topics and conflict in general at all costs. But since taking this class, I’m more confident in sharing my opinions, even if they aren’t popular, because I genuinely want to hear the opposing side’s thoughts and try to understand them. I love when argumentation and viewpoints (especially controversial ones) can be looked at subjectively and broken apart so that the emotions are not involved, to really analyze why people feel the ways they do. It’s not just ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ but it’s humans versus humans, and I want to understand it all!

So sue me, I’m super nerdy about forming and analyzing arguments.

 

  1. A hip hop musical was the best idea EVER!

This one is essentially for my father. So he’s probably groaning and rolling his eyes right now, thinking ‘not again!’ But I would be lying if I didn’t mention Hamilton, the current Broadway phenomenon taking over America, because it was a big part of my year (and how my roommate and I interacted with one another.)

Honestly when I heard the first couple of songs I thought 1. History is not my favorite, I don’t know if I’ll like this. 2. Holy crap, they’re singing really fast, how am I ever going to keep up with this?! 3. I never really listen to rap or hip hop, this will be interesting. So I’m sure my dad has similar thoughts. But then you realize there are slower songs and you also start catching on to the beat and smooth syntax, (the poetry is ingenious, yet historically accurate!) and before you know it you’re bobbing your head and crying at the same time. I finished listening to the soundtrack while I was home filling out my taxes. Needless to say, I’m not sure which thing made me want to cry more. But dad, since you love words, I promise you’ll enjoy it (despite an arm and leg being cut off to get tickets. That might hurt a little).

 

  1. Don’t wait to tell people you care.

One way I exemplified my love for my friends was writing spontaneous letters to people and putting them on their doors. Always tell people how much they mean to you; that will also strengthen friendships.

 

  1. I am truly blessed in every way possible.

Music, writing, food, college, a home, friends, family, and every boss I’ve had so far in life (knock on wood)… I cannot be reminded enough that I am truly blessed, especially in the midst of annoyance with homework or finding a job.

I love the messages God pulls out for us to remember in certain seasons of our life, whether sophomore year of college, first year out of college, or first year of retirement. Keep your ears open to his words.

~Annah

To Every College Student

This is something I desperately want you to hear and truly understand, as I am part of your population. I don’t think anyone stops to tell you this or remind you of this. Here’s the thing, sweet college student reader (or really anyone in their twenties): there are so many question marks in your life and I think you put at least one too many upon yourself. There is one too many burdens on your shoulders.

We are constantly on the move, constantly planning, constantly trying to hang out with our large spectrum of friends. There is a need to keep socializing, meeting new people, and branching out. You scroll through social media and everyone is posting pictures with their groups of friends or talking about friendships through written posts. That is all well and good, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. Believe me when I say we were made for community.

However, I’m afraid we’re not stopping to love ourselves. I don’t mean stop and find some alone time once in a while, because I think we’re all decent at that. I don’t mean we hate our outward appearance, I think we all have at least okay self-love. What I mean is that I want you to slow down, disconnect from everyone else, and really observe yourself. Take time to journey on your own now and again. This is not because I want you to be antisocial or self-centered, but I want you to establish confidence and knowledge of who you are and what being you truly means. In this time when we are figuring out who we are, I think it’s crucial that we have confidence in our individualism in order to do that. Too often we are in groups and in community, so we forget the importance of establishing ourselves in our own unique capabilities when no one else is around.

Why do I think there is a lack of self-confidence and individualism? I see it constantly and have experienced it numerous times. Sometimes when eating alone people become oddly self-conscious. Or on the flip side, people see others eating alone and feel bad. Almost no one attends church, clubs or events alone. There is an unspoken thought that solitude equates loneliness. Therefore, we remain constantly surrounded by friends.

When you go out in public, it does not need to be a group outing. Go out alone, dare I say it. Enjoy being on your own, and if it’s uncomfortable, continue to push yourself to loving you.

You have a presence that is all your own. Your identity is not in your friend group. Push off the burdens of insecurity and uncertainty about being alone and embrace the experience. There is nothing wrong with solitude, there is nothing wrong with not being in community all the time, and I just wanted to make sure you heard that.

So to answer your unasked question: Yes, you are good enough as an individual.

~Annah

You’re Hired

My first half of college is quickly drawing to a close (yikes, that’s scary!) and summer is approaching. The past few months and the next few weeks will continue to be application season for so many people, and I among them. To be honest with you, these seasons are very difficult and disheartening for me. But I’m always oddly calm, too.

Growing up, I always placed too much emphasis on my grades. Now after 14 years of school I’m starting to realize I’ll be okay no matter what the grade is. My life will go on. But now I face the struggle of putting my identity in jobs, or more appropriately, having numerous applications rejected. I’ll admit I’m a pretty naïve person when it comes to jobs and applications. I have so much confidence that I can land any career when the world is far from that simple. When things don’t work out, which is more than the number of times they will, I get super bummed and feel a little unwanted. Have you ever felt that way?

But it’s not even just the rejection from jobs that bothers me. There’s this pressure that I need to be super stressed and worried when things don’t work out. Yes, money is obviously necessary in this world, but if it takes me a little longer to find a job the world will not go up in flames… The thing is in the midst of the chaos and application season when everyone is rushing and frazzled, I kind of step back and intentionally try to do the opposite.

I’m weird, I have anxiety and worry a ton, but when I’m in a huge group of people who are all worrying that instantly makes me want to calm down. Everyone was freaking out about housing earlier this year and constantly kept asking me what my plans were, concerned for their future living situations. I would reply with something like, ‘you know, I don’t know where I’m living, but I’m honestly not that worried. Somehow it’ll work out.’

The pressure college puts on us to be constantly stressed about the future really turns me off. I just want to yell, “No, I’m not going to enter this season worried and I’ll be better off for it, thanks!” Was I bummed when an interview I thought went really well didn’t land me any of the multiple jobs they were hiring? Heck yeah! But then I dusted myself off and thought that that Dad of mine has something else in store this next season and I’m going to trust that. Instead, I’ll be working with my school newspaper crew again next school year. They’re pretty cool, so I’ll walk through that open door.

I’m at least starting off this coming summer at the coffee shop I worked at last year. Honestly, I was pretty bummed none of my other job efforts paid off and a little frustrated with God for personal reasons. I’ll keep applying and hopefully at least acquire another new part-time job on the side. I thought my season at the coffee shop was over and needed to be over, but God has a different plan. He always does, doesn’t he? I told one of my coworkers I was returning and her sweet response made me feel a lot better. Maybe it wasn’t my ideal vision but there are people there God has blessed me to work alongside.

What I want you to know and hear if you are in my boat of changing seasons is that things work out. They always do. And you will meet some cool people that teach you more about life and all the kinds of intricate people you share the planet with.

~AnnahIMG_0448 (2)

Concerns from a Christian College

I go to a wonderful school with so many beautiful people. Its name is Hope and it’s tagged a Christian school. But it’s also a scary place.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” ~Matthew 7:21

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian actually is and I think that’s pretty evident when we think of “Christians” who have tainted the name for the rest of the world. They profess they have faith but their actions do not line up with the Scripture. They spread hatred and intolerance for people different than themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, we all screw up and no one is a perfect Christian, but beware of those who don’t actively walk with the Lord daily.

When you have opportunities to attend chapel three times a week, church on Sunday, and Bible studies, it’s so easy to pretend. And that’s scary. We have to be discerning and examine not the outward actions of our peers–anyone can do that–but what is truly at the core of their heart. God? How they appear to others?

As my dad says, look for their fruit. That will tell you a great deal about their true identity.

As for my friends who are non-believers, I have to be honest with you. Chances are you have run into “Christians” throughout your life who are not actually representative of Christ and what they claim to believe. Don’t just take their word for it. Maybe even ask them about their faith.

Believers, please examine your faith and ensure that you are on the right track. How is your relationship with God? Does something need to change? Are you missing something?

It can be difficult, especially in a setting like a Christian school, to pick out the genuine believers. But keep a watchful mind and use God and his Word as your guide.

~Annah

A Brief Thought

So I went through a rough year and a half. I learned what it is like to fail and battle with my inner demons, as dramatic as that sounds. Satan is real and present in my life. I’ve learned how evil of an enemy I can be to myself. But I’ve also learned how loving God has been through it all.

Now I’m in a different period. I’ve been trying to figure out what it is.

I’m still trying to search for God’s voice, but it’s not as hard to hear. I had a hunch this year would be better than last year and God has blessed me with that. But also God has been showing me that His plan trumps mine every single time.

I had a vision of what friends I would grow with this year–He pulled me to different people. I had an idea of how I would do in my classes–it’s not what I expected. The doubts plaguing my faith are being touched upon and calmed by Him day after day.

“He whispered to assure me–I’ve found Thee, Thou art Mine.”

This period of my life is called reassurance.

~Annah

My Freshman Year

I’ve always wanted to be honest with people. I think it’s very important as a Christian that I can be open about my struggles. While I don’t want to make any assumptions, my freshman year of college was probably different than most of my classmates and their experiences. I would not say it has a picture-perfect ending and I’m not completely satisfied. But I have grown and God has taught me more than I ever thought he would.

To be honest with you, my freshman year has been a struggle. Throughout the course of the year I probably would have told you it wasn’t going very well. Now that I’ve reached the end and seen the big picture, I understand why it all happened. The school year did not go how I thought it would, nor how I wanted it to, but it was perfectly in sync with what God wanted for me.

I knew coming to college would be tough, because I have never been one to enjoy growing up, and this marks a huge part of that process. I came into this world too soon, meaning I needed more attention than the average baby. I’m the youngest of four, which also means that I’ve grown up very dependent upon other people. When I was little, I remember I would go to basketball games with my family because my dad was a coach, and I couldn’t even go to the concessions stand alone, because I needed my mom with me. College means stepping out into the world as an individual and taking care of myself, and that has not been the easiest thing.

As this was my first year being away from home, I think it’s important that God has shown me many of my weaknesses. He has shed a light on sins I wasn’t willing to admit to before and he has shown me where I honestly need help. The first semester was rough because of the drastic transition and I cried so often. After doing work crew over the summer, which was life-changing, I think I figured my life was pretty great as it was and I was on a smooth path with my faith. God clearly has said no, I’m far from perfect, and I need Him every step of the way.

Like I said before, I started going to counseling this year for the first time. I had to admit to myself that I struggle with anxiety and now I don’t mind talking about my mental health at all.

God has helped me realize that I am very insecure about myself and my self-esteem is not where I want it to be. I have talked to my counselor about learning to tell people when I’m not okay with comments they make about me. My counselor told me about a situation where she was treated differently at a job because of her size. Sometimes it honestly does seem like petite people are treated differently in our society, and I hope I can become a voice for those who are petite someday.

I’m also not super close to many people here at school, which has been very challenging. Don’t get me wrong—I know so many lovely people. But oftentimes I find myself alone. I’ve eaten alone many times, I’ve gone to chapel alone a few times, and I’ve been to events by myself. It’s easy to look at these situations and think that they’re unfortunate. But it was necessary for me and I know God will provide in due time. He has already started to. I need to be confident in myself as an individual and my relationship with God first and foremost. These moments of solitude have been a good time to do that.

There have been many wonderful moments throughout the year as well. But overall it has not been easy, and I’m not going to pretend it was. My intention is not to make people feel sorry for me, but to be straightforward and vulnerable. I am thankful for what has happened. These challenges have helped me grow in ways I never thought imaginable.

That dependent little girl is becoming an independent woman in Christ. I’m just progressing at my own pace.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9

This was not an easy post to write—this was an emotional post to write. But it’s something I felt obligated to write. I’ve always wanted to be a transparent writer.

~Annah