“HURRY!” said the College Student’s Brain

It’s a Friday night. I’m a college student… and I’m sitting in my room alone, writing this blog, and listening to 80’s music. And honestly, this is the most relaxed I’ve felt since my senior year started a month ago.

Daily I watch housemates, strangers, and friends zip from classes to school clubs to bars to exercise to restaurants, and on and on… Perhaps this academic year more than any other I’ve done the exact same thing, too. But the stillness tonight has revived me and helped me realize how utterly exhausting and burned out my peers and I are from this frantic pace. I hate watching my friends with a constant frown on their face or a wrinkle in their brow, while a glowing screen reflects off of their vacant eyes.

Dear fellow college students, we are terrible at setting aside genuine relaxation time where we can be alone and recharge. Maybe this is just me, but reflective introspection in solitude is absolutely necessary for my wellbeing, just as much as three meals a day, exercise, and belly laughs with friends.

We don’t know how to be alone and be okay being alone… As in silence without the presence of the internet. But those kinds of moments are exactly what can be the most liberating and recharging, and I highly suggest trying it at least once a week; but more if you can. Journal. Draw. Listen to music and reflect on the past week. Read something you find interesting. Reprioritize for the coming week. Remember what you value, not what the world tells you to value. For me, that means my faith and getting to know the people around me in a deeper, authentic way.

I think the inability to say ‘no’ for many people my age is part of this struggle. Yes, there are always fun things to go out and do, but sometimes what your brain might love you the most for is taking a night to be still!

“Slow” is really not a word in our vocabulary, but it’s one we need to start incorporating into our regular routine. It may not be the most popular option, but it sure is a lovely, healthy option. Go-go-go is only going to wear you down, even if you’re go-go-going with fun things. There’s a reason you need a certain amount of sleep to function properly. There’s a reason you can’t burn through all of your homework in one sitting. We were created to rest. That’s not “lame” or a weakness, it’s just a fact we need to shape our lives around.

Trust me, solitude and stillness will never lead you wrong; it can only help you in the long run.

~Annah

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My Final Academic Summer

And here comes another end to a season… this one marking the end of summer/college transitions.

Here’s what I did!!!

⁃ I SPENT A MONTH IN IRELAND?! STILL pinching myself about this one, still in awe of St. Patrick’s cathedral. I want to live laidback like the Irish.

Fearless doggie at the Cliffs of Moher

⁃ I worked 26 concerts and met some cool people in the music business and at Frederik Meijer Gardens (some of those volunteers were absolute sunshines)

Selling venue merch with my fellow intern, Carlie.

⁃ Unfortunately, I moved SEVEN times. We don’t talk about it.

⁃ I’m finishing up book #10 by classes (Tuesday), which is two more than last summer!

⁃ I tried and utterly failed NaNoWriMo. HECK YEAH! That means I’m actually human. Plus, prioritizing matters more than ever in a non-stop world. Learn when to press pause and play in life, you’ll thank yourself.

⁃ I saw Harry Styles perform in Detroit

Styles bringing back the 70s

⁃ I went geocaching for the first time with my dear friend Emma.

⁃ Many beach trips!!!

⁃ I had a much needed family vacation

⁃ I was on the news, hula-hooping behind a reporter! Still trying to find it…

⁃ I partook in Mason’s Amazing Photo Challenge! It’s for an INCREDIBLE cause and an even more incredible guy—here’s the info!

The ‘rents

⁃ I went to a fair for the first time in 10 years and rode rides for the first time!

Here’s what I learned!

⁃ Loss takes many forms, like losing my life dog 🐶 💛 And thus, I would own any and every dog if I could.

⁃ Cribbage

⁃ Paddleboarding

⁃ Hula hooping (right before they asked me to be on TV!)

⁃ The shoot dance

⁃ I idolize relationships and spent years despising singleness

⁃ I’m an AMBIVERT! nowadays

⁃ I have more spunk than I realize—don’t mess with me👊🏼

⁃ I need variety in a work environment

⁃ I’m addicted to social media

⁃ I’m constantly looking for ways to challenge myself (like giving up social media)

⁃ I have a passion for music and will do whatever it takes to find a career manifestation of it

Four years ago this ending would’ve freaked me out. But I’m not the same young adult I was at 18, who constantly looked backward. I look at the present and the future now.

This is a precarious year—so many question marks on the balance beam of both my and my classmates’ lives. It’s a guitar string pulled taut. For years I’ve been trapped by grades, worry, and stress. I’ve kept thinking only one more year of what I like to call ‘robot Annah,’ my least favorite version of Annah. She only comes out during the academic season. She’s more selfish than usual, near-sighted, a homework slave, and bristly to the touch. If you put robot Annah on a dance floor, she would stand there motionless and roll her eyes at everyone. She’s a real mood killer.

But as I sat in the bathtub for the first time in over 8 years last night, I found stillness again. And a little thought bubble flickered across my consciousness that said, ‘if you’re constantly letting these little things worry you, what does that say of God’s size to others?’

Because the way robot Annah acts, you’d think God’s the size of a piece of paper, or an online application. And that’s really pathetic. AND disgraceful.

I’m not meant to spend this coming year hoping for the future or wishing for the past. I’m striving to delete robot Annah from existence. So I’ll let you know how it goes.

~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)

Perspective and Remembrance

I was so excited for this brief Thanksgiving break for many reasons. Mostly because it would be a break from homework and stress… I got all of my homework done except for handing out surveys for  my statistics project. I thought it would be easy. But much to my dismay, I sat in Biggby on November 25th, trying to get strangers to read three papers and fill out a survey and I succeeded only two times. I knew it was a lot to ask and I wasn’t very hopeful–when my doubts were confirmed, I came home and cried.

Yes, I was frustrated over the project, but more than that I was upset over the fact that even a small amount of work created stress. I was frustrated because I realized we never truly get ‘a break.’ Not in this world.

This has been the busiest semester of school by far, not to mention the fact that it has included my least favorite class of all time: statistics. (How did you guess?!) It has really made me stop and think. It has pushed me to my emotional limits. I went two weeks with headaches. My hypochondria tried to tell me I was dying, but reflecting on it, I’m pretty sure they were all stress headaches. This world is going to kill me. It just asks for more and more and more until I’m too tired to give any more.

I take a glance at my workload, jobs, what I’m trying to do with my life, relationships with people… but man, I don’t know how I’d survive everything without the hope of Jesus. When I get caught up in these trivial things the car of my life speeds into the ditch and I question how I landed there, only to find God standing on the highway saying ‘why didn’t you listen to me?‘ Time and time again I see the storm when I try to control my life and give in to the demands of the world. Yet I walk towards the storm countless times anyway.

We as people are so forgetful. Christians are also so forgetful. There are many Christians today who are caught up in the rules, the right and wrongs, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ people. Yes, there are many things in the Bible we are told to follow. But we also screw up and need forgiveness. People are fixed on the rules and forget what it means that God is Love. We also forget that we are told to judge, but judge only our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, to keep each other in check when we fall. We cannot judge nonbelievers, only God can.

I, and maybe you too, need to take a moment to ourselves. Breathe a bit. Soak in the hustling, crazy world around us and see how tiring it is. Do we really want to be a part of that? Then look to the truth, crack open the Bible, say a prayer. Let God breathe life back into our tired bones. Remember who can control the entire storm.

~Annah