It Mattered

I hope you know it mattered.

I hope you know you made one day a little easier and a little brighter for a high school girl who was running out of steam as finals approached. I hope you know that getting up after a late night studying wasn’t as difficult as it could’ve been, because I knew you’d be on the other side. I hope you know that when you asked to see prom pictures, I looked around and realized how grateful I am for you.

I hope you know that small smiles from you make me smile right back long after your joyous expression has disappeared. I hope you know how I turn your words over and over inside my mind until I feel I could burst with happiness at the thought of someone like you believing in someone like me. I hope you know that when you cheered me on, I kept going. I want to be able to say that I kept going, even when it was hard. I want to say I pushed through and fought through the mud and found the miracles in it all.

I hope you know that when I come out on the other side, you will have touched my story. Maybe it was a simple conversation. Maybe it was one quote of encouragement that I’ve replayed endlessly since then. It could’ve been an offer to share a snack when I needed it most or a long friendship of popcorn-filled nights and movie marathons. But no matter how small it may seem, how insignificant little interactions and complimenting shoes might appear, every bit of it changed something. It changed me. Words with you, your thoughts and prayers, they shaped me into who I am today, and they’ll continue to shape me for the rest of my life.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for caring. Thank you for giving a little extra of yourself to a girl who will never be the same because of it. I promise you, it mattered.

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Crunch Time Tips

It’s that time of year again, when grunts are my preferred communication and something as simple as referencing The Great Gatsby will make me want to tear my hair out. There’s no time for full meals; it’s cereal and pita chips at every hour of the day. My blood is fifty percent tea (heavily caffeinated earl grey, to be specific). If Fall Out Boy isn’t blasting through my earbuds, odds are I’m extremely cranky. If I doze off during class, I’ll wake up reciting the causes and effects of the French and Indian War.

Finals are upon us.

It’s crunch time, and our eyes are on the light at the end of the tunnel while our goal is simply to survive. Here’s a couple quick reminders to make sure you take care of yourself during finals!

  • Make a killer playlist. Good music is key for being able to hunker down and get ‘er done. In the past, my finals playlists have been calming acoustic bands like Penny and Sparrow or The Hunts. This year, if there aren’t at least two electric guitars threatening to burst my eardrums, I’m not interested or focused on studying. For some reason completely unknown to me, Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco have been my jam. Creating a separate playlist for finals will help you focus whenever you’ve got that music on your side… and also give you reason for an occasional dance break.
  • Tell the group texts that you gottagobye. Nothing is more distracting while studying than your phone ping ping pinging from across the table. It’s so easy to scroll through Instagram, then twitter, then Facebook, then repeat until it’s an hour later and a blank document is still staring you in the face. Put the cellular down.
  • Reward yourself. If you’ve spent a solid amount of time having a really good study session, treat yourself a little bit. Push through the crunch time by envisioning what you’ll do when it’s all over. Plan to reward yourself after finals are through and even after you finish a particularly difficult task or assignment. Associating studying with future benefits (aside from good grades or AP exam scores) will help you stay motivated.
  • Color-code. Without a color-coded schedule, I’d lose my mind. Using different colored pens or highlighters helps keep you focused and makes the information more separate and distinct in your mind. It keeps everything you’ve learned from running together into a giant blob, which is often what your brain feels like during finals week. Use lots of pinks and greens and purples and you’re sure to succeed.
  • (Gold)fish are friends and food. A good snack is a perfect break from studying. Use sweet/salty treats as rewards, breaks, and brain food. My preferred finals snack is carrots and hummus. This point also brings me to…
  • People will tell you not to be dependent on caffeine and that it will stunt your growth and that you shouldn’t require coffee as a teenager, but finals week is an exception to all of these slightly ridiculous rules. I’m not a coffee person, but I drink tea like a vampire drinking blood. If the whole “I’m going to keep myself healthy during exams and actually try to maintain a normal sleep schedule” thing fails, get yourself some caffeine and pull an all nighter. Sometimes, a latte is crucial to your survival, and that’s perfectly okay.
  • Attitude is everything. These weeks can crush you, or you can crush them. You got it, boo. That’s all there is to it.

I hope everyone doesn’t die during finals! Enjoy these crunch time tips and keep going!

The 100 Charity Project

It took me two weeks to watch both seasons of The 100, and I’ve been in love with the show ever since. The premise is that, after the nuclear apocalypse, humanity’s last survivors are stuck in space. Their spaceship, the Ark, begins running out of oxygen and supplies, so they decide on what’s possibly the best plan ever: send one hundred juvenile delinquents down to Earth with no adult supervision whatsoever to see if it’s survivable (hence the insensitivity of pick-up lines about falling from heaven). The show is an amazing and heartbreaking tale of survival, morally grey situations, character development, and beautiful relationships. There’s excitement and sadness and one heck of a soundtrack. But despite the awesomeness of the show, immediately after the hiatus started in mid-March, the creators of the show started getting a lot of negativity from the fans about couples and favoritism. One of the actors even left twitter for a few days due to the excess of undesired tweets sent at him.

This is not how fandoms are supposed to be.

Fandoms are supposed to be communities of enthusiasm and love for a thing that’s pretty freaking great. Not all members have to agree, and not all members need to participate in the same activities, but we’re supposed to be united in a love for the show/series/movie/whatever, rallied around a common cause of appreciating human creativity and awesomeness. Unfortunately, partially due to a controversial poll, several members of The 100 fandom were not behaving in a manner that represents the show or general fan culture positively or accurately.

Then, The 100 Charity Project happened. And I fell in love again.

The 100 Charity Project is all about using “fan engagement, social media, and outreach to focus the incredible passion, support, and enthusiasm of The 100′s fan base and following toward making the world a better place.” Fandoms and helping people have collided, and I want it to be my career. The first mission of The 100 Charity Project is a hunger initiative. They’re rallying fans to donate canned goods to local food banks, as well as to donate money to Action Against Hunger. They also have a group on freerice.com, where you can play trivia and donate rice to the hungry through the World Food Programme.

This is what stories are all about. They’re about something bigger than just words on a page or actors moving on a television screen; they’re about learning life lessons, appreciating the people around you, and making a difference in real life. Stories change us and introduce us to something more than just the world we live in. Various book series, movies, and TV shows have taught me so much about relationships, personal growth, and countless other things, so I’m excited that The 100 is really getting out there in terms of taking its messages off the screen and into the real world. That’s where stories were meant to be all along. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of The 100 Charity Project. This fandom is doing it right, and I’m proud.

Linkity links!

Watch the season 1 of The 100 here

Follow The 100 Charity Project on tumblr and twitter.

Read more about their first mission here.

The images at the top are not mine! All credit goes to this tumblr.

This Is Not Boring.

This is not boring.

This changes everything. 2,000 years ago marks the start of this huge, amazing movement. It’s the story of a people and they were so unfaithful to the One who loved them most. They turned their backs and ran away. He told them how to find Him, but they did not look. They sinned against Him time and time again, and that sin caused separation and despair like nothing else.

But He did not give up. He was not content to watch His people wander, and suffer, and fall short and fall on their knees begging for any sort of help. He wanted to give them hope.

This is not boring.

This is sacrificial love, the giving up of a Son to save a world of sons and daughters. This is the greatest love story the world has ever seen. This is grace in the extreme, because nothing was enough to make the loved no longer loved, the pursued no longer pursued. This is love anyway, a grand gesture bigger than any promposal to say:

“I am here. I have been waiting. Come on home.”

This is not boring. This is a love bigger than anything imaginable.

This is Good Friday. This is when it was finished, and good proved itself by laying its life down for those who had been taken by evil.

The people who ran from the One who loved them most? It was finished. They had been held by chains of hate and lies and death but one act of sacrifice set them free. How could the Friday where the King died be good? Because it was the ultimate goodness, in giving a beautiful and precious gift so not deserved to a guilty people.

It is finished. No more chains, just freedom. Love has won, and the One who loved has won. The people who turned their backs did not deserve His forgiveness, but while they were running, He was calling:

“I am here. I have been waiting. Come on home.”

Today the doors were flung open so we could come home. And that seems like a pretty good Friday to me.

This is not boring.

This is Jesus.

This is freedom.