Grades Are Not Eternal

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There are always those things I have to remind myself at the end of every semester…grades are not eternal.

Now, it seems very self-explanatory. Of course, grades are not eternal. Inherently, I know this to be true. However, when it comes to the end of the semester, I seem to always find myself frantically checking every medium I can multiple times a day to see if I can find out what my grades are.

I don’t know why I do this when 99% of the time nothing will ever be updated. Yet I always, always do (even thought I tell myself “I don’t care how I finish as long as I pass). I mean, C’s get degrees, right?

However, no matter how many times I tell myself this, it doesn’t seem to make the difference. I tell myself I don’t care how I finish when in actuality I’m calculating to see if I will get the A or the A-. I tell myself C’s get degrees until I feel my heart stop at the thought of ACTUALLY getting a C (talk about nightmares).

I try, and I try, and I try, yet at the end of the day, I always seem to care tremendously about my grades.

I don’t say this as a bad thing. I highly encourage everyone to take their education seriously.

But I think of it this way – in Harry Potter (yes, I’m making a HP reference, bear with me here), Hermione’s boggart (a thing/creature that takes the form of what a person fears most) is failing her classes.

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It seems silly doesn’t it? To have your biggest fear be failing your classes? But, as in most things, I feel like I can relate to Hermione so much on this one.

Hermione is defined by her education. She is the smart girl. The teacher’s pet. The one who always gets the questions right, and probably the one who is banned from answering questions because of that. I’ve been in the same position. I was always the smart one growing up. I was always the one who chose homework over hanging out with friends. I was the one who didn’t like getting B’s and especially not getting C’s. My freshman year of college I skipped football and basketball games (two sports I love dearly) to sit in the library and study Latin conjugations and the Communist Manifesto. My grades were everything.

College can be slightly different. After all, losing a 3.0 GPA could mean losing my scholarship. It was a little bit of pressure. But I remember having a freakout with my mom one day because I felt too close to the line, to which she reminded me as long as I never went below 3.0 I would be fine.

I knew all of this. I knew I was fine. I knew it was enough. Yet somewhere along the way, I convinced myself it wasn’t.

As I’m sure Hermione did, I became defined by my grades. Or more so, I let my grades define me. It was as if I lived in this fear that I would face rejection and loss if I didn’t do well in my classes. Almost like, I could only be accepted if I had a GPA acceptable enough to be on Dean’s List.

The pressure I placed on myself almost destroyed me at times.

I distinctly remember ranting at work one day, flat out freaking out about my GPA, because I had four A’s and two A-‘s. (It really wasn’t the end of the world). I showed my computer to my friend Kaelan and he basically gave me the “you need to shut up now” look, shortly followed by a sarcastic phrase of you’re kidding right? In the way only a best friend who also doubles as your big brother could, he looked at me and went “You do realize so many people would kill to have that GPA, right?”

In that moment, I was reminded of a Jesus Calling passage I had read one day. Funny how in moments God gives us exactly what we need to hear, and in this moment, this memory was exactly what I needed.

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While it does not completely correlate to grades, there’s no denying the truth found in the text:

You are on the path of my choosing. There is no randomness about your life…[Most people] avoid the present by worrying about the future or longing for a better time and place. They forget that they are creatures who are subject to the limitations of time and space. They forget their Creator.

It’s powerful. It’s the word of God. Along with the passage were the verses Luke 12:25-26 – “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matter?”

In these moments, I remembered how truly small I am, and how truly small my grades are. I work very, very hard for my grades. I make school a priority because education is important to me, and I value learning.

However, what makes grades not eternal, is that my grades aren’t what God uses to define me. God doesn’t love me based on how well I perform in school. God does not look at me and go “Oh…you couldn’t recite Cicero’s orations verbatim? Well that’s too bad.” If he did, well, things wouldn’t be too great.

As with most lessons in life, my grades taught me that my identity is found in Christ. That my Father accepts me, will never reject me, or leave me if I don’t perform top-notch in my classes. Because God’s love for me isn’t defined by my grades, it’s defined by what was done on the cross.

It is hard. It’s very hard. If you haven’t noticed by now, I love school. But school isn’t the end. School, in the grander scheme of things, is only the beginning. School doesn’t define who I am, my heavenly Father does.

I definitely struggle at times, but grades are not eternal. However, God’s love for me is.

To See the Forest, You Have to Look Past the Trees

You know those times when life gets crazy? And I mean like REALLY crazy. Yeah, this is one of those times.

Guys, I started grad school. It’s kind of surreal to think back in December I was graduating from college and now I’m swamped with work for grad school (on top of work itself). To say I’m exhausted 200% of the time is an understatement. To quote Lorelai Gilmore – I NEED COFFEE IN AN IV.

So concerning grad school itself, overall it’s been good so far. Granted, I’m only a couple weeks in, but I’ve definitely enjoyed it. I’m taking two classes over the summer – Writing for Turabian (ugh) and Economics & Public Policy.

Turabian. Well…it’s a class on how to write papers. Now, please do not misunderstand, I will NEVER undermine the importance of knowing how to write a well-thoughtout, highly analytical argument, but, I had to take a class just like this in undergrad. It’s only slightly tedious to have to do it again for my masters. Alas, I have to do something to help me reach that Ph.D. level.

Then there’s Economics & Public Policy. For the sake of transparency, this was the class I was insanely worried about. The last time I took an Economics class was for dual-credit in high school. And I took it online because all but three of us dropped the class and therefore there weren’t enough students for Hill College to actually send the professor to the high school campus. I was completely overwhelmed and everything WAY over my head. I tried super hard, but I still finished with a C in the class (and I had the highest grade of the three of us).

That brings us up to this class now. I was really worried. But maybe it’s a maturity thing, or maybe I’m just studying harder, who knows, but this time seems to be going better. What I’ve realized is I can’t let my previous experiences dictate how this class because that’s when I get thrown off.

Think of it this way – you know those times when someone compliments you, and it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since the compliment, you’ll never forget it? Well, I had a really good friend of mine do that for me in undergrad. We started off freshman year together and basically stayed in all the same history courses throughout our time at Baylor. During our last history class together, we were studying one night and I got beyond stressed out. I was drinking coffee, eating pizza, and felt like I was on the verge of having an anxiety attack. Renie pulled me aside and basically told me to stop (you could also see a little bit of the Marine Corps officer coming out in him when he said this, so slightly intimidating). But then he told me to take a deep breath and just breathe.

He proceeded to remind me how he’d known me since freshman year and that I was very smart and highly intelligent. He told me to trust him when he said I knew the material better than majority of the class because he had heard me mummer answers and arguments under my breath in class (we sat next to each other). Whether I wanted to hear it or not, Renie told me I lacked confidence in myself and mostly my intelligence. He said if I just let my mind flow, the solutions would come and I would be okay. He was right.

I will never forget that conversation with Renie because it was true. I feel so often I try to control everything, I lose sight of the bigger picture. I think of it like the idea of focusing on each individual tree when I really need to be focusing on the entire forest. Everything he said was right. It didn’t really hit me like a truck at the time because I was so tired, but it does now. I can’t control everything, and when I let my mind process and simply do it’s thing, that’s when the answers/solutions/arguments/whatever I’m looking for will come.

One: I think it’s important Renie told me that. We should never underestimate the power of our words to someone, especially a compliment they likely don’t hear very happen. The bottom line is I push myself to be book smart because I desire to be good enough, almost like I have something to prove if not to anyone but myself. Having a peer tell me that I didn’t need to try so hard because I was already on a level higher than where I needed to be is what made this conversation so special.

Two: Whenever I begin to feel down and discouraged in grad school, I think back to this conversation with Renie to just have confidence. So what if I got a C in Macroeconomics in high school when I was 17. I’m almost 22 and in my first year of grad school studying a different form of economics. I never should have shut the class down before I even gave it a chance. Especially since (as I’ve since learned) when I just go with what I know and let things happen, the outcome is generally positive.

I mean, I have a topic proposal due for my research paper soon. I’m still struggling figuring out what to write my paper on since I don’t really understand all the ins and outs of economics. However, what I do have are 12 copies of The Economist from September to November. And per Renie, I am confident that as I sift through those I will surely find a topic to peak my interest for my research paper. I just have to let my mind do it’s thing.

Life may be crazy lately. We can all agree life tends to get crazy, a lot. In years past when things like this would happen I had a tendency to curl up, stress out, and shut down, but this time I’m fighting forward. I wouldn’t be in grad school if my parents, the university, and most importantly myself, didn’t think I could do it.

I still have a huge chunk of the summer semester ahead of me, but I remain so excited to see where this goes. I’ve already learned so much in the past few weeks and it’s been fun. Give me a little bit of coffee and whole lot of Jesus and I’ll be conquering the world in no time!

Dear Baylor: Be The Standard

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Baylor vs. Kansas State, Dec. 6, 2014

Now that the dust has settled and everyone has had a chance to process the news, I will discuss the topic I have been wanting to discuss for months now – Baylor football.

As a recent graduate of Baylor University, I came into the system during the rise to the top and the quest for national recognition. The 2012 freshman class set a record for the university; the largest number of applications ever received and the fewest amount of students ever accepted. We were still the largest freshman class in school history (and my tiny less than 250 girls dorm was 50+ girls over capacity).

The “Year of the Bear” just happened. RGIII won the Heisman, the men’s basketball team had the best season in school history finishing at 30-8, the women’s basketball team won the national title and finished 40-0, Brittney Griner was named National Player of the Year, Coach Kim Mulkey received National Coach of the Year, and the baseball team went on a 24-game winning streak. As if that isn’t enough right there, all 19 sports programs on campus advanced to the post season. Things. Were. Booming.

I remember the athletic vibes throughout my collegiate career. The wins for football just seemed to keep coming. The “Has Baylor Lost Yet?” Twitter account was created. Football had become a religion on campus; everyone knew it and no one complained about it. We loved it.

In my three and a half years at Baylor I often advocated both sides of the argument – Baylor deserves national recognition but at the same time we didn’t. Of course I wanted the national title. I also recognized pummeling SMU straight into the ground in the 100-degree, season-opener game wasn’t enough. (I’ve wanted to see a Baylor-Oregon match-up for a while now).

Five years later, the university finally has the national recognition everyone in Baylor nation has so desired. But at what price?

In the past week, Baylor lost the university president, the head football coach, a number of faculty, and the respect we as a university have been fighting so hard to gain. The debate my freshman year always seemed to come down to the idea “can Baylor be both a top research institution and a powerhouse athletics school while maintaining their Christian values?”

Right now, many would say the answer appears to be no. Many other universities have been rooting for years for our good times to fade, unfortunately, this is not how anyone would have expected it to come.

In February, ESPN’s Outside the Lines released a report covering assault allegations on Baylor’s campus concerning the football players. The media went crazy; the university remained quiet. I began a post I had entitled “Dear Baylor: Start Talking.” However, I never published it because the article faded and nothing else seemed to come up, or so I thought.

Accusations continued to come. By mid-to-late May, ESPN released another report on the abuse and assault allegations against Baylor football players. Baylor still remained quiet. In a matter of days, my beloved university had been tried and found guilty by the media.

People no longer called for action, they demanded it. One report claimed Starr would take the fall, others declared head coach Art Briles be fired. Yet, amid all the media accusations, the university remained remarkably quiet.

On May 25, rumors began that President and Chancellor Ken Starr had been fired. On May 26, an early-morning rumor claimed Briles had been fired. By lunch time, the Board of Regents released a statement confirming the rumors. Starr would transition to role of Chancellor and law school professor only, Briles is suspended with intent to terminate, Athletic Director Ian McCaw is placed on probation, and the Pepper Hamilton summary (the law firm hired by the board to externally investigate the allegations) released.

May 26, 2016 became one of the darkest days in Baylor University history.

A black-eye hit the university that will now take copious amounts of time to recover from. Heart-breaking and extremely difficult to read due to the excruciating detail, the Pepper Hamilton summary stated sentence after sentence that Baylor athletics and administration failed in the handling of the allegations. From police reports, Title IX reports, administrative reports, and athletic reports, the break down and lack of action covered the entire chain of command.

Pepper Hamilton found during their investigation the benighted belief among administrators that sexual violence “doesn’t happen here.” The firm found the university instead resorted to victim-blaming by researching the complainants choices and actions rather than investigating the report to the fullest extent.

Humorous though, since my freshman orientation had an entire session entitled “Don’t drink the punch.”

Furthermore, Pepper Hamilton found the football program conducted their own investigations into the allegations, preventing the university to critically impose necessary disciplinary actions. Page 11 of the report stated the inappropriate involvement from staff “reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules.”

As a Christian university, Baylor urges the student body to #BeTheStandard, especially in athletics. What standard have we as a university set?

Seeing Briles go was hard. He took a mediocre team to a national contender team. The Bears have made their fans proud, but at a hapless cost. Of course the football boys were upset on Thursday. They found out their coach who invested so much time into them was gone.

Likewise, many female students began to speak out on how they never felt unsafe during their time at Baylor. I think we can all agree this is wonderful to hear. However, I pray everyone realizes this was not always the case. There were female students who felt unsafe, who feared for their lives, and who now live with the pain and trauma of what happened to them.

On May 26, Baylor decided to turn the standard.

The standard that Baylor is now setting is a moral one – no football victory is worth rape.

Baylor broke our hearts. The once Palace on the Brazos that became a beacon for the places Baylor and its football program would one day reach now lights the tragedy befallen upon its banks.

Baylor has a long way to go. The road to recovery will be hard. All-American players, national titles, and even single game wins are not worth campus safety. The Board of Regents are pushing Baylor back to being the standard, beginning morally.

When I learned the consequences of a gridiron glory, I was ashamed to be a Baylor alumna. I was upset and angry at what happened. Then Baylor started talking. Baylor started taking action. Baylor began to set the standard and started being Baylor again.

Pro Ecclesia and always Baylor proud.

Pepper Hamilton Findings of Fact
Pepper Hamilton Recommendations

That Good Old Baylor Line

  That good old Baylor line! That good old Baylor line! We’ll march forever down the years, as long as stars shall shine. We’ll fling our green and gold afar to light the ways of time, and guide us as we onward go; that good old Baylor line!

Three years. Three months. 27 days. That is how long it had been since I started school at Baylor University. I can guarantee that three years, three months, and 27 days ago I did not expect my college experience to be so unbelievably perfect. 

Three years ago I came to college ready to simply grow up and move on with my life. Three years ago I thought I knew exactly how my life would turn out. Three years later I have never been so thankful for an incredible time in my life. 

My college experience consisted of a colliding of worlds. The experience was a time of self-discovery. I had to journey down the sidewalks of fountain mall (which finally has a fountain again) day in and day out, facing both friends and unfamiliar faces, to become the culmination of the person I was created to be. Whether it was studying Latin in the laundry room of SoRo, discussing post-modernism in Tidwell, sharing donuts with Johnny Jefferson in the BSB, or accidentally pulling all-nighters in the library, everything about college led me down a path, though sometimes winding and broken, to the realization Baylor is my home. I will always cherish the memories I made at Baylor, both the good and the bad. 

Beyond the red, brick walls, hidden rhinos, and always freshly watered sidewalks of this beloved campus, there is something more profound and historic to Baylor than having the NoZe brothers interrupt chapel or sitting on Judge Baylor’s lap, and I’m not talking about how Baylor was a university before Texas was a state. Baylor’s Christian value undoubtedly had an affect on my life. My faith has reached the strongest it has ever been during my time here. This would not have been possible without the people currently surrounding me. 

My journey has ended. Though I counted down the days, hours, minutes, and at times seconds, I’ve never felt so thankful or happy in my life. Yet, to think I reached this moment on my own would be ludicrous. While the campus I have loved so much since my tour back in 2011 (or even my cousin’s doctoral graduation if we wish to get technical) has always been there to warm my heart, beyond the Baylor bubble exists a world extremely real and entirely my own. A world of flesh and bone, utter love, complete inspiration, and far superior than Baylor could ever give me.

To my friends – thank you for always standing by my side. Thank you for loving me in different ways. Thank you for simply being y’all. Whether it was Caroline and I fitting in a XXL dress, Michelle and I complaining about Texas Rising, Haley and I having entire conversations in Gilmore Girls quotes, or Kaelan and I playing 1 to 10 every time we go to Chuy’s, something tells me the relationships I have made will last a lifetime. 

To my family – thank you for always supporting me (and Baylor). I know a select few of y’all are thankful I didn’t to go to A&M. Y’all were always ready to watch Baylor sports with me, and always willing to throw sic ’ems with me, except for the one who still prefers to hook ’em (looking at you brother-in-law). I am blessed by each one of y’all and the time we have shared throughout this journey. 

To Rachel – I’m not even sure where to begin. There is no other person I would rather call my best friend. You stood up for me at a time I needed you the most. You are always there when I need you. I cannot imagine a day without you in my life. To reference one of our favorite quotes you are bold and fearless, and you have a loving heart; you are poised and graceful, and so wonderfully smart. Thank you for being my sister. 

To Momma and Daddy – If being at a loss of words with Rachel was hard, then this is going to be near impossible. Thank you for promising me a bachelor’s degree so many years ago, none of this would be possible without you. Y’all are kind and unfailing in love. You have been twin pillars that have supported the crazy dreams for my life while remaining a voice of reason when my head gets stuck in the clouds. You have always picked me up when I fell and pushed me to become something greater every day. Whether it’s mom and I singing Sweet Dreams or dad and I arguing about the bourgeoisie, my life has consistently been filled with joy because of y’all. While you may have raised an incredibly stubborn and independent daughter, please know I will always be your baby girl. With tear-filled eyes, I thank you for the unsurpassing inspiration y’all provide for me in this life. 

Three years, three months, and 27 days. My journey at Baylor has ended but I am filled with excitement to see where life will lead me next. The road may continue to be winding and broken, but that is what fills life with such great adventure. No matter where I stand on this road, I will always fling my green and gold afar. I have never been more proud to be apart of that good old Baylor line!

Sic ’em class of 2015!

  

Mountains, and Valleys, and Bears, Oh My!

“Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.”
-Rick Warren

30 days. Assuming everything goes right and God-willing, I will graduate from college in exactly 30 days. The feeling is surreal. Seeing where I stand now cannot compare to the 18-year-old I was in August of 2012, pulling up to South Russell Hall on move-in day. I thought I knew what would happen in my college experience. I thought I  knew where I would end up after graduation. I never realized how necessary the next seven semesters would be in transforming my life completely.

Throughout my college experience, I have seen joy and I have seen pain. I have been through utter darkness but I have also seen the faint flicker of the stars at night light up my entire world. I reached the lowest point I had ever been in my life, but I’ve also stood on the highest mountains of my life (literally). Most importantly, throughout college I have experienced God in ways I had yet felt him in my life. I have felt God’s overwhelming peace and presence. I have heard his voice unlike any other moments in my life. A fire awoke so deeply within my soul that no circumstance has yet been able to extinguish. I became filled with life.

In honor of this crazy yet beautiful journey coming to an end in 30 days, I have decided to list 30 experiences that I feel defined my time at Baylor. Some are funny, some are painful, but all are real.

  1. Move-in day. I arrived at South Russell Hall and began the next chapter of my life. I said “goodbye” to my parents and my at-the-time boyfriend, even though I still went home every weekend. I was off for this new chapter in my life.
  2. I was the weirdo that decided to take Latin, four semesters of it too. The stress was unreal. I now have a love/hate relationship with Caesar, Cicero, and Cato. Carthago defenda est, always.
  3.  Baylor Baseball Diamond Girls. As a baseball lover, there was nothing I wanted more during my time at Baylor than to be a Diamond Girl. My two years on the team definitely had their ups and downs, but it was still a dream come true.
  4. South Russell vs. the lobby microwave. I will never forget the night I had to evacuate my dorm at 1:30 a.m. because someone set their popcorn on fire. Who knew 245 college girls would need guidelines on how to use a microwave.
  5. My grandmother being diagnosed with breast cancer. This shook me so much harder than I ever wished to admit. But as she got her treatment I was constantly reminded how strong my grandma is. She truly does fight like a girl.
  6. While watching Pitch Perfect with my at-the-time boyfriend on a February night, I learned of the death of CPO Chris Kyle. Kyle, being his hero, had impacted both of our lives. This day was sad and the death was on hard on him, yet this was also a strong bonding time for the two of us.
  7. The ladies of SoRo making a birthday video for our dorm hall director. I crawled in a dryer and we all danced through the halls displaying our obvious lack of rhythm. She loved it.
  8. The birth of my niece. This adorable little girl has brought so much joy to my life. I cannot imagine there was a time in my life I wasn’t Aunt Abby.
  9. The West explosion. Undoubtedly, this would reshape our community tremendously. The night was terrible for me. I wanted nothing more to help. West rebuilt. West became stronger. And it has been incredible to watch.
  10. Meeting Taya Kyle. This was an experience I will never forget. I’d read her story in American Sniper, but meeting her person and feeling her strength was indescribable. I felt truly honored.
  11. Moving apartments. After enough roommate drama to last a lifetime (and then some), one month into my sophomore year, Baylor and I both agreed my living situation needed to change. I’m forever thankful that it did.
  12. The Baylor vs. OU game and the first blackout game. Even though we lost the game this year, winning two years ago was huge. Baylor proved we are a team to watch. I’ll never forget leaving the game with 1% battery on my phone and tweeting “It’s 11:15 and OU still sucks.”
  13. Having the Texas Rangers follow me on Twitter. While this might seem minuscule to most people, getting that follow notification in class made my day (more like my life). I was officially noticed by my favorite baseball team.
  14. Hawaii. The perfect vacation. The vacation I had been dreaming about since I started college. Although there would be a few things I would do differently (like not having such high winds at Pearl Harbor so I can go to the USS Arizona) I would give anything to go back.
  15. My breakup. There is no denying this became the pinnacle of change in my college career. I could write a book about this journey this took me on. The pain experienced this night can still haunt me. Sometimes I still find myself wondering why everything fell apart. My whole world was transformed. BUT the outcome has been nothing but positive. The change was necessary and even though I may not always understand, I think that’s the beauty of God’s plan. I’ve walked forward in faith, and only faith, because I’ve had to and I became a better person because of it.
  16. Working the Crowne Plaza Tournament at Colonial. I love golf and this was such a rewarding experience. This was certainly an event that had it’s ups and downs, but I was right there when Adam Scott won. (Plus I got to see Jordan Spieth, aka my celebrity golf crush)
  17. Roadtripping to Colorado randomly with some friends. I got to get away from Texas for a little bit and hike a 14,000 foot mountain, which became very symbolic of the journey I was on. To quote Third Day – I traveled through the valley to stand upon the mountain of God.
  18. A mission trip to Guatemala. The trip was hard all around. I found difficulty staying focused because I was distracted by own personal issues. However, on the plane ride home I think I met my guardian angel. Everything ounce of support I needed to hear at the time, she provided to me. The experience was overwhelming.
  19. Joining Columbus Avenue Baptist Church. Changing my church membership from my home church with my family was a huge leap of faith. Yet God has truly blessed me with an amazing church family located in Waco.
  20. Baylor beating TCU. 61-58. As a forever Baylor Bear, this will be a game I will never forget. I may have lost some years off my life due to the stress, but the win was worth it. And now there’s a new number one rivalry between Texas schools. See you in Fort Worth on November 27, TCU.
  21. New York. Again, the trip of a lifetime. My dad ran the NYC marathon, I got to go to the Top of the Rock, and of course enjoy some time in Tiffany’s. On a more serious note, I also experienced Ground Zero. Easily the most emotional place I’ve ever been to. As 9/11 was a pinnacle in my life, this was an indescribable experience. Oh and I also went to some place called Broadway and saw a show called Phantom of the Opera? Yeah, I cried. (Phantom is my favorite musical)
  22. Getting my job at the gym. This was a so-so experience, and I was honestly just thankful to be employed. But the job led me to Kaelan and by extension, the best group of friends I could wish for. I am extremely blessed by the crazy yet lovable (in their own way) people I’m surrounded with and I would not trade them for anything.
  23. Running the Bearathon. Running my first half-marathon, dubbed as the toughest half in Texas, was difficult no doubt. I was dying as I crossed the finish line, but the important thing was I finished. Plus I got a nice, big medal to go with the experience.
  24. Getting my internship at Allen Samuels DCJ. This was such an answered prayer. I would not be the employee I am today, I would not have the skills and experience I have today, if it weren’t for the Baylor journalism department and this internship. This job also led me to Haley, my God-given, Gilmore Girls and pizza obsessed best friend.
  25. Roadtripping to San Antonio. For a short, three-day trip, it was awesome and just the getaway I needed. Fedora’s, the Riverwalk, and some Casa Rio were all much needed therapy. Plus, a Texan must always remember the Alamo.
  26. Climbing on top of a roof in Waco. Slightly weird, but I had never done anything like this before and the view was beautiful. If ever there was a moment I fell in love with Waco (which I never thought would happen), this was it.
  27. Getting mono. Unfortunately, I feel like this set the stage for my last semester of college. I was slowed down and thrown off my usual organized self. Everything felt wrong and overcoming mono became more than just overcoming an illness. I had to constantly remind myself to stop being a perfectionist.
  28. Starting this blog. Starting this blog was a huge leap of faith. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was scared to share my thoughts. I was scared to make myself vulnerable. Like most things, however, the experience has been nothing but rewarding.
  29. Staying up until 4 a.m. talking to one of my friends. I cannot remember the last time I did this, but sometimes thunderstorms and heart-to-hearts are so cathartic and absolutely necessary.
  30. The day I realized how truly incredible my college experience has been. I saw how far I had come and all the things I had overcome. I became proud of the person I had become. I realized I was 21, single (I don’t even own a dog), and I literally have the world at my feet when I graduate. All I wanted throughout college was freedom and I felt like I finally had it. I found myself in Christ and I was happy.

Gail Rhymes With Sail

Research papers are stressful. Beyond stressful. As a history major, I have written my fair share of research papers, however, that does not keep my mind from becoming complete mush during paper time.

A week of all-nighters, forgetting to eat, and endless amounts of coffee lead me to interesting Twitter rambles around 3 a.m. By the time the madness is over, I am completely delirious.

Yesterday, I worked for 20 hours straight on my last research paper for undergrad. Believe me, the feeling of being finished is wonderful, yet the process of reaching this moment was certainly a journey.

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The usual layout of my kitchen table during research paper times

This week, instead of taking to Twitter as my primary form of procrastination to discuss Russian nationalist composers with myself, I remembered a video Haley showed me on YouTube. A 30-second video of a cat that I watched on repeat for countless hours. Yes, I became the person to watch cat videos.

However, there is a story behind the cat video. Almost a year ago when Kaelan and I met working at a gym, I remained a quiet and reserved person. Kaelan, being an extremely extroverted and entertaining person, did everything possible to break me out of my shell. One day when I was very focused on a project and not responding to him, he started calling out random nicknames to me in efforts to get my attention. Out of all the nicknames he came up with that day, the one that stuck was Gail (the runner-up was G-Money). I can easily say this is the day he became my best friend.

As I said, Gail stuck. Gail stuck because I hated being called Gail. I have no fear admitting how much I love it now (although I still prefer it when my friends call me Abs). So how does the cat video relate to Gail? Much to my distress one day, Haley told Kaelan and I we needed to go on YouTube to watch the cat sail video. Why? Because Gail rhymes with sail.

We watched the video and as if Gail was not already my nickname, there was no going back after this. The video really is hilarious, and in my delusional state it was exactly the study break I needed. Sometimes I run 300 mph for so long I forget to take a break and do mindless things, like watch cat videos on YouTube.

Research papers are important, but taking mental health breaks to do things like eating, playing on Twitter, and watching YouTube is even more important. I never would have imaged to be so thankful for a cat video to become such an important video in my life, but in a sense of nostalgia, the video will always remind me of these hilarious moments in my life.

Enjoy the video as much as my friends and I do. Remember to always think of me in my crazy, stressed state when you hear “sail.” Believe me, it will be worth it.

P.S. – S/O to Kaelan for cooking me dinner last night. As I said, when I study I tend to forget to eat. I’m not sure I would have survived my last research paper if it weren’t for him. What are best friends for, right?

Bears vs. the Cyclones vs. a Cyclone

First of all, I apologize it has been a quite a few days since I have posted. Life has been crazy and I will try to be better about posting in the future.

So today I attended my last Baylor homecoming football game (as a student of course). This was my fourth homecoming at Baylor and I don’t think I have had a normal experience yet. My freshman year I was in the parade for the Baylor Baseball Diamond Girls. I had been up since 4 a.m. and the weather was bad so I didn’t end up going to the game. Instead I took a 6 hour nap in my dorm room. My sophomore year I was in the parade again for Diamond Girls. Once again, I had been up since 4 a.m. The original plan was to walk in the parade and then go to the game with my boyfriend. However, plans unexpectedly fell through and instead of going to the game, he and I went to Olive Garden and made it a date night. Last year, I was in New York on homecoming. Instead of being at the game, I was seeing Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Yeah, I’m not complaining there.

Needless to say, after missing games every year before for various reasons, I was determined to make it to this game. I am proud to say I stuck to this credo. Today at 11 a.m. I, along with my friends Kaelan and Theo (and some other very brave souls), stood freezing in the pouring rain on the 20 yard line to watch the Bears get a win over the Iowa State Cyclones.

I was completely soaked and freezing after the game, but that's okay because Baylor sic'd ISU
I was completely soaked and freezing after the game, but that’s okay because Baylor sic’d ISU

The day may not have gone as planned, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. The original plan was to have a pre-homecoming breakfast at my house with all my friends before going to the game. Last night, however, we were all up pretty late from the storm. Doesn’t everyone enjoy their power going out at 3 a.m.? Meeting up at 8:30 a.m. was no longer apart of the plan. Multiple cups of coffee and breakfast tacos are the reason I survived the morning. At 10:30 a.m. Theo called me and we were ready to enjoy the game no matter what.

I won’t deny it was pretty miserable to stand in the rain during the game. I was soaked, my glasses were foggy, and I was exhausted. I could complain about how “hard” being at the game was, and in my opinion Baylor did not play their best, however, seeing Shawn Oakman literally pick a guy up and throw him on the ground made it worth while.

Beyond just enjoying the game, today (and most of this week) I have been reminded of how blessed I am and the friends I have made at Baylor. It is not exactly a secret I was not an active student my first couple years of college. I have no regrets for the choices I’ve made, but something within me changed this week. The best way I can describe it is I fell in love with my school all over again. As I reflected on how hard this semester has been, I could not focus only on the bad. I was overwhelmed with all of the good that has come from this semester thus far. I began to feel the memories I have made this semester made up for the “lost” time I was not an active student. In reality, I just began to see how much I have grown and how much I have changed. I no longer saw myself as the person ready to grow up but the person who truly was trying to enjoy life as it comes.

Maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic because I graduate in 56 days, but seeing the life I have been blessed with has filled me with so much joy and happiness this week. I never would have imagined God had such an amazing and perfect plan waiting for me in college. I feel comfortable calling the trials I have been through adventures because they are.

Comparing this post to the rain and the football game, I guess what I’m trying to say is it would have been easy to be upset that Baylor didn’t put up 60+ points on ISU during this monsoon, but it does not mean something positive did not come out of the game. If anything, the Bears still got the win. Likewise, this semester has probably been my hardest semester yet. College has been so much harder than I ever thought. Yet, positive things have still come from this adventure I am on. Even if the only positive from my story is that I stood in the rain to watch a football game, everything is still worth while. Reminding myself of how blessed I am has overwhelmed me with thankfulness and reminded me of how a tough semester has still been a great one.

The rain did not stop Baylor from hanging 28+ points on ISU in the first half
The rain did not stop Baylor from hanging 28+ points on ISU in the first half

So happy homecoming, Baylor nation! I’ll always love ya!