Thursday, December 21, 2017

Enjoy the Journey. Embrace the Detours.

             Wow! What a whirlwind life can be. I truly cannot believe I have completed my first semester of college. This season of my life has been abundant in change and full of new people and encounters. With its ups and downs, I have come to learn much about life and even more about myself. With 2017 coming to an end, I wanted to take time to update family and friends on where I am in life and where I am headed.

            There is so much I feel compelled to write about, and I honestly have no idea where to start or how to organize the many thoughts I want to share. In fact, while my body is bursting at the seams to document so many things, I have dreaded writing this post because there is so much to say. I meant to write it at fall break, then Thanksgiving, and now, Christmas. No more procrastinating!!! However, if you choose to take the time to read a recap of my year, I’ll be more than grateful, and hopefully, I will leave you with some significant food for thought.

            The thing about change is that is rarely comfortable… in fact, if it is comfortable, you are not really changing and you should probably reevaluate. College has been the change I was incredibly ready for, or so I thought. You see, high school was a really dreadful time for me. I don’t like to talk about it or dwell on it because it brings about a very miserable and depressed side of me, but it is relevant to this post as I think sometimes even when things are negative or bad, we grow comfortable in the darkness. While I was depressed and discouraged throughout my high school years, I was extremely comfortable. So I head off to college searching positive, joyous, and happy, yet I am SO uncomfortable in the new, foreign, and unknown.

            So now, the million-dollar question, the one I have been asked numerous times: are you happy? This question makes my heart flutter and my palms sweat. Talkative Sarah is at a loss for words. I still am incredibly unsure on how to answer this question as it appears simple but implies something so incredibly complex. Allow me to explain:

            I have always been different. I’m very much an old-soul, and I often feel very out of place with my peer group. I sometimes feel like a fly on the wall in many scenarios and I never have really felt like I belong in my environments. I am very observant, very introspective, and incredibly self-aware. I spend a lot time inside my head, and even when I’m supposed to be having fun and living life, I catch myself over-thinking and overanalyzing. My old-soul self is constantly seeking things that will not come until later in life. I am also very much a perfectionist, even if I want to deny it. I waste so much time fixated on minute details that aren’t to my standards that I often miss out on life around me. I spend so much time analyzing the things that aren’t right instead of embracing and cherishing the way things are and the beauty that lies in the imperfect. I also have a very strong moral compass, and this isn’t to toot my own horn or bash my peers, but my value system is the core of who I am, maybe even to a fault. I don’t want to admit it, but I think I was incredibly naïve entering college. I did not expect the norm to be what it is. I have always been a very accepting person, but many situations have presented themselves where I have had to try hard to hide my expressions and lend a compassionate ear. College is a time of finding yourself, and I think I entered college with a pretty strong sense of self. However, some of my closest new friends make very different choices than I do, possess very different perspectives than I do, and are on very different paths than I am. I have learned to see the beauty in this, but I have also grown even stronger in my own personal convictions. Situations have presented themselves asking me to compromise my character, and I have tried hard to follow my heart and my conscience and stay to true to myself. It is not always easy, but I sleep each night knowing that I have tried my best to be my best. I have learned the power of letting go, and forgiving myself and others.

            I have always held myself to remarkably high standards, and I think I set my goals a little too high for my first semester. While it is incredibly humbling to admit, I came into college thinking this first semester would be the time in which all parts of my life would come together and I would face Christmas with everything in place and everything figured out. It’s comical now… the naiveté of a high school grad. While the first semester most definitely did not turn out quite like I had planned, I have learned so many splendid secrets of life. If you don’t mind, I would absolutely love to share them with you!

·      One Day at a Time
-   I am the most futuristic person I know. I constantly think about the future and live in this daydream fantasy of the future. I see success, family, love, and fulfillment. I get so caught up in tomorrow, that often times, I forget about today. My stress gets out of hand, my fears grow way too heavy, and I feel myself panicked and uneasy. College has taught me that life occurs in the present and now. While it is important to keep the future in mind, the present demands our presence. I think this new way of life started as a survival strategy as I adapted to college life, but now I intentionally try to practice this philosophy each day. This “one day at a time” practice changed my life. I noticed a weight being lifted off my shoulders as I focused less on tomorrow and more on today. I was lighter, more joyful, and I went to sleep feeling fulfilled and accomplished. While this might not be the most “by the book” technique, it has worked wonders for me and has made the day to day not just bearable, but enjoyable.
-   I dream about being 30. In my mind, that seems like the most perfect age. I see myself settled in my dream city, with my dream husband, with my dream job, perhaps maybe even a mother already… regardless I think I have a tendency to wish away today in hopes of being 30. I know how ridiculous this sounds, and I also know how dangerous it to wish away my life, and I have really working hard on it. I crave this season of my life with all my being, but the fact is, it is not time for this season. I now must find the beauty abundant in the crazy season of college, and I think I am doing much better at this task.

·      Thy Will Be Done
-  This leads me to my next big discovery which is letting life happen, and letting go of a plan. I have always been a planner. I have standards, expectations, and steps for how I wish everything to happen, and much to my dismay, things rarely go as I plan. The same can be said for my first semester of college. I envisioned things happening so much differently than they did, but I am slowly learning to let go of my visions and expectations and adopt and accept life as it comes to me.
-   I took choir my senior year of high school. I cannot sing to save my life, and after listening to my parents sing Christmas carols, I think my lack of ability is hereditary. (LOL). My choir teacher gave me the best advice I think I have received in my life, and she didn’t even mean it in the way I took it. It has to do with roller coasters, and she changed the way I ride. You see, I have always been stiff on roller coasters, fighting the flow. This left me hating roller coasters, dreading the sensation of losing control and losing my stomach. She gave me the best advice: let your body be loose and flow with the ride and you will no longer feel sick. (Y’ALL --- this works wonders for roller coasters, the ride slows down and it makes it a whole lot of fun.) However, this piece of advice left me analyzing SO much of my life. You see I noticed that I live my life with this resistance… I fight everything that comes my way with my perfectionist mind seeking to fix it instead of embrace it. If I could flow with all comes my way, instead of fight it, I wonder what a change it would make to my life. So I put this philosophy into practice, and it is much easier said than done. I think often times, it is easy for a life to take on an auto-pilot habitual way of functioning, so to break these habits can be a bit tricky. When we embrace life as it comes, raw and undefined, imperfect and unpolished, we experience a richness that to me defines the meaning of life. While I love the fairytale that my imagination has allowed me to live for so long, I am learning to let go and accept reality instead. You see, I have experienced so many of these “raw” moments in my life, and I am now grateful and beginning to see the beauty. Right before Christmas break, a bunch of friends came to my dorm room and since it was snowing outside, we ordered Chinese food which was delivered to school. We sat on the floor of my room (THE FLOOR PEOPLE) and distributed the food and filled the silence with vibrant conversation. This was not what I would have envisioned for an ideal holiday dinner in college, but I have to say, it was one of the highlights of my entire first semester. And friends, it was about as simple as comes. I am beginning to crave these little moments just as much as the fairytale events!
-   I really don’t want to talk about faith because it is personal, private, and we all interpret it a bit differently based on where our journey has taken us. However, I cannot begin to discuss my first semester without mentioning faith. I am about to reference one of my most favorite books of all time from author, Matthew Kelly, titled Resisting Happiness (Highly recommend – please please read!!).  In this book, Kelly pointed out many profound things that I would love to talk about, but one of these things is most relevant to my first semester of college. Growing up in a Catholic home and 13 years of Catholic education, I have recited The Lord’s Prayer more times than I count. However, I think like mentioned above sometimes these moments in our life run on auto-pilot, and it breaks my heart to share this, but I think at some point, I stopped listening to the words I was praying and recited the prayer on auto-pilot. I read this book a while ago, and so many things stuck out to me including what I’m about to share, but just recently have I understood the true depth of his words. You see when we recite “Thy Will Be Done,” we are praying for our life and its path to be done according to the will of the Lord. I, like many of us, have taken on a very “My Will Be Done” mentality towards life. I think I know what I want and need, I think I know what is best, I think I know how it should be. However, throughout this semester as things occurred, my eyes were opened. Things I thought I wanted were not what I thought they were. A college experience I fantasized and desired did not happen according to MY plan, but I am slowly starting to see how everything has panned out according to HIS plan. Some doors have closed in my life, and I know that God has much better ones for me to open… I just haven’t quite found them yet! You see, I always viewed not knowing as weakness and complacency, but I now know that the not knowing is one of the most important parts of the journey. God’s will is greater than my will. I have discovered that I really need to work on trusting God, and I think that is why I am at such a freeing place right now. I am starting to embrace the beauty that lies in the unknown, and while this isn’t a place I wish to stay for long, I know it is essential that I am here. This season of not having a plan is a new and foreign concept for me, but it is where I am meant to be. My whole life I have had strict visions and plans that I have tried to execute, and while this ambitious and driven and great, this often leads us to have a closed mind. And now, my mind is so open – there are so many things I can do with my life, and even if I follow the path I initially sought, I think I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t cherish this time to explore so many options. Embrace the uncertainty!

            Back to the question, am I happy? While this is a complex question and happiness is a state and not a destination, I must say I am quite happy. I have moments of doubt and disappointment, but I have this inner sense of lightness that I really cannot explain. I held on to this bitterness in high school for a very long time, and I let these emotions affect my sense of self-worth, peace, and hope for the future. A fresh start was what I needed – what I need. While this new beginning most definitely looked very different than what I had intended, I must say that each and every encounter has shaped and transformed me.

            If you took the time to read about my journey, thank you from the bottom of my heart! I hope it gave you things to think about, as it is so easy to micromanage our lives. I want to leave you with my mantra for this upcoming semester and upcoming year:

Enjoy the journey. Embrace the detours.

            Life is about living. Living doesn’t happen when you’re settled, content, or 30 years old (in my case). Living is every second of each day. Life is too short and too precious to not enjoy it, so I am finding ways to enjoy each and every day. (As Kate Spade says, "Eat cake for breakfast.")  There will be many detours – there already have been – and my resolution is to embrace them instead of resist them. It is never going to be perfect, and it is exhausting to try to make it perfect – take it from me, I’ve tried. My goal is to accept life as it comes and cherish it. Each day is important, not just the ones when we are where we want to be!

            Thank you for taking the time to read the vulnerable thoughts and realizations of a college freshman. It means the world.

Wishing you the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years!


Sarah Beth

Sunday, August 27, 2017

College Move-In Letter to Mom and Dad

Dear Mom and Dad,

As I watched your car drive away and back to Nashville, I tried (and failed) holding back tears. My tears were an awkward mix of happy, sad, confused, and overwhelmed, but more than anything, they were grateful tears.

I want to thank the both of you for well... everything!

I stand here today confident, capable, and oddly content, and it is all thanks to the two of you. You have blessed me beyond measure with your love, support, and guidance. Your example has served as a foundation for both my dreams and values.

Thank you for providing me with an education rich in both challenging curriculum and transformative theology. Thank you for helping me with homework, being my advocate, and believing in me even when I doubted myself. Thank you for teaching me that the greatest life lessons do not always lie within the classroom, but outside in the world. You taught me this through traveling to new places, exposing me to a vast array of interests, and through meeting and engaging with people from all walks of life. Thank you for loving me when it was not always easy - from the drama, to the breakdowns, to the backtalk, to the negative attitudes - your love never wavered, and with a few simple words, you always brought me back to a humble, grateful place. Thank you for prioritizing the value of family, and putting family first always. Thank you for my strong value system. Thank you for encouraging me to be a little different and think outside the box. You taught me that as long as I know who I am, I shouldn't worry about being misunderstood by others. Thank you for allowing and embracing my strong personality and desire to stand out and always be myself. Thank you for always encouraging me to dream big dreams and shoot for the moon, and thank you for believing in the possibility and power of my dreams to come to life. Thank you for always cultivating strong ambition and tenacious determination. Thank you for giving me the courage to leave my safe, sheltered bubble and attend a school 7.5 hours away (and making sure my brother was by my side... literally)!

As I'm writing this, it feels like the end of something, and I guess in a way it is, but it is not over. In fact, it is only just beginning. I know you two are still right by my side even though distance separates us, and I know that your life lessons and abundant love and support are still very much in present tense.

Thank you for making these past 18 years ones full of love, comfort, experience, growth, laughter, learning, and memories. As you have always taught me, it is in the scary, challenging, and unknown where we grow the most. While I tend to get frustrated with the unknown destinations that the future brings, the two of you are there to remind me that the beauty lies in all seasons of life and the journey is what living is all about.

Here's to the next four years! I'm thrilled to discover what all is in store!

Thank you for letting me be your princess - always and forever. See you soon!

With love,
Your Sarah Bearah

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer in Review & Future Blog Plans

Hi friends!

I feel like it has been ages since I've posted (because it has been...), but in three days, I head off to college. It's incredibly exciting and beyond surreal, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared, overwhelmed, and a little intimated by the whole experience.

As always, summer has seemed to disappear, but my summer truly has been one abundant in opportunity and personal growth.

The summer began as I walked across the stage and officially graduated from high school! I had been ready for a new chapter and change for most of high school, so it was such a powerful experience to officially move forward.

Soon after, my family headed to Europe for over two weeks, and it truly was a remarkable trip. We began in Rome, traveled to Florence and Pisa, explored Monaco and Monte Carlo, and visited many highlights of Spain! I loved immersing myself in new cultures, and I loved growing my perspective of the world.

And finally, the month of July, I participated in a summer experience program at my college where I took two classes (Business Calculus & Ceramics), so I have a jumpstart on the whole college thing. It was a long month, but it most definitely aided in my transition to college as I learned to adapt to living 7.5 hours away from home and I got to meet new people and make new friends!

With college on the brink, I am determined and excited to return to blogging. This is something I have a great passion for, and I think it would be such a treasure to document the new changes and experiences that are about to occur in my life. This being said, I am really focusing on rebranding my blog. While I still love fashion, I find much fulfillment and am much more passionate about empowering others (myself included) to live their best lives and pursue their passions. This path is something I hope to pursue in my career, and I would be honored if you would join me on this journey of finding beauty, joy, and contentment in the everyday.

I hope your summer has been a wonderful opportunity to recharge! Best of luck to all in this upcoming school year!

Talk to you soon,
Sarah Beth

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