Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part X

May 14, 2016: Snippets for Seniors

Since I’ve GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL WHOOP WHOOP, here’s the conclusion to my Senioritis series: just ten tips to help out incoming seniors.

  1. Believe. In yourself, in better days down the road, in a bigger story than what you can see here and now. In a world of cynicism, hope.
  2. Say the things that are on your heart, even if they sound weird or clingy or you just send them in a quick text. Let people know that you appreciate them. Write people a note that tells them how much they rock. Encourage people that their hard days are going to be over soon. Your words matter so much, so use them to build others up. Even if you cringe as the clumsy syllables make their way out of your mouth, making someone feel better about themselves will give you so much.
  3. Sometimes, the best advice is no advice at all. Your loved ones will face rejection letters, tough goodbyes, stressful nights, and other situations that you have no power in. No matter how much you will want to, you won’t be able to fix it. Instead, offer a hug and an “I’m sorry.” Hearing someone acknowledge the suckiness of your situation feels so much better than trying to improve it with an “at least…”
  4. You will never regret a moment you spend hugging your mama.
  5. Let go of everything you’ve thought about the people in your life and your relationships with them before this year. Give people room to surprise you, and they will. People you judged before will turn out to be kind and funny and good to/for you. Some of the best friendships are the ones you least expect.
  6. Invest in some waterproof mascara. Not doing so is probably one of my greatest regrets about senior year.
  7. a) If you didn’t see my last post, go check it out. I strongly recommend making some sort of senior year/before graduation bucket list. You might get out of your comfort zone, you might experience some failure, you might not complete everything. But if you try, you’ll end up doing things you’ve always wanted to do. And if you’ve always wanted to do them, why not?
    b) Say yes. Throughout the year, I did a good job of saying yes in some seasons, and a meh job of saying yes in other seasons. Say yes to graduation parties, even when you have four in the same day. Say yes to group chats with your weirdo friends. Say yes to conversations with the kid no one else talks to. Say yes to events you’re not sure you should try. Just do the things. You’ll have fun, go on adventures, and meet good people. Life is great; go live it.
  8. Be where your feet are. I’m stealing this from Hannah Brencher, but it’s so important as the senioritis really starts to kick in. You will want to graduate and move into your dorm and start college classes and make new friends at some point well before graduation. You’ll use the phrase “so done” to describe how you feel about high school about a bajillion times. As real as the senioritis is (and trust me, it’s real), try to stay present and rooted. Love on the people around you while you’ve still got them. Pass your classes. Participate in cheesy senior traditions. You’re still in high school until you get that diploma, so make the most of it while it lasts. “Stop waiting for Fridays, and stop waiting for summers, and stop waiting for someone to fall in love with you, because those things will happen. But in the meantime, enjoy right now.” -Lucy Sutcliffe
  9. Forgive yourself and know your worth. You are so much more valuable than the colleges that you get into or don’t get into. You are better than your scholarship or lack thereof. You are not defined by your friends’ successes or failures. Who you are is good enough. Senior year is full of feedback–acceptance letters, rejection letters, comparison to peers, opinions of well-meaning adults. Stay rooted in who you are no matter what that feedback tells you. You are a treasure who is so needed in this world, and nothing you accomplish or don’t will change that. You are loved, you are awesome, you have a purpose. Remember that, please.
  10. You can do this.
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Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part IX

May 14, 2016: The Bucket List

In Part VII of Senioritis, I shared a bucket list for the 99 days leading up to graduation. It had such items as hiking, leaving love letters at Target, eating at Holy Taco. Throughout the spring, my family, friends, and I got to go on adventures. We had bomb queso, took a cool time lapse while freezing our butts off, found tiny doors on a giant trail filled with artwork. I could write about our successful bucket list fun. I could make a cute photo slideshow of all the pictures we took. But really, it’s time to come clean, since I graduated this morning: I did not complete this bucket list. 

We only conquered two-thirds of the items I wrote down back in February. Life got in the way, I guess. I was busy with softball and AP classes and deciding on a college. 99 days and we only did six things? It seems like a letdown… but honestly, I am nothing but grateful.

Because of the graduation bucket list, my family, friends, and I got to do things we wouldn’t have done otherwise. We spent good, quality time together. We laughed a lot. We went out and lived what we could have just experienced through a screen or Snapchat story. I’m proud that those bucket list days and nights were just a small part of the final countdown of my senior year. I learned to just go out and do. Like my favorite Jonsi song: go do.

But even more than that, I’m proud of how okay I am with not checking everything off on this list. I am a list person. I like charts, organization, and crossing things off. I like checks in boxes and neat bows on wrapping. I like to have every last duck in a perfect row. And that’s definitely not what happened with this bucket list. We forgot to go to Waffle House after we visited Jackson Street Bridge. We never made it up a mountain. If we were being graded for completion, we would make a 67%, which is a failing grade. But I pre-decided to not let my graduation bucket list make me freak out like I often do before big events, fretting about everything I wanted to get done, worrying that I can’t cross all my color-coded tasks out with my Sharpie pen, more concerned with accomplishing everything than doing it well. Instead, this time, just this once, I wanted to focus on the fun.

And it was fun. Even if it wasn’t complete, it was fun. I couldn’t be more thankful for that lesson: It’s okay for life to be messy and imperfect. It’s still a whole lot of beautiful. My graduation bucket list taught me that the adventure in life is worth so much more than what you’ve got on paper. You can have imperfect fun. And I think it’s even more fun than “perfect” fun.

I’m going to come back at the end of the summer with a bucket-list-related challenge for y’all. Not gonna lie, I’m pretty stoked about it. Please, stay tuned, but for now: go do. Go out and live your life and do whatever you need to do to make this summer the best summer ever. Paint your nails and get your confidence on. Call someone out of the blue. Do that thing that’s been right around the corner for months, but that you’ve never made time to experience. Try lots of queso. Please, go do. I’ll see you soon.

 

 

Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part VIII

February 4-6, 2016: The Last Church Retreat

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I’ve been putting off this blog post for a while. My last church retreat was wonderful, phenomenal, one to never forget, and full of so many tears. Senior year has a lot of lasts, and so far, each and every one has been emotional. #myLIFE16 was no exception.

On Saturday night, at the beginning of my last session ever as a student, I looked at one of the girls I’ve had the privilege of walking through life with for the past five years… and we just burst into tears. I felt so sad that it was really and truly ending, but at the same time, my heart was full of gratitude. In the past four years, Inside Out has been so good to me. They’ve grown me and my faith, given me a family, and been there for me, a constant, when everything else was going wrong. My last church retreat was one last hurrah, but also an opportunity for reflection. As I looked back on four years of fun, friendship, and faith, I definitely couldn’t keep it in.

I cried because I’m sad to leave Inside Out and some of the best people I’ve ever know. I cried because I’m happy that Inside Out is never really over, because I want to pour back into this ministry that’s poured so much into me. I cried because I’m so thankful for all God has done and how He’s moved in the past four years. I cried because I’m grateful that He will continue moving for the next four years, and forty, and four hundred bajillion. I cried because I’m a crier and God is good and faithful.

And that’s #myLIFE16 in a nutshell.

Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part VII

February 5, 2016: 9 in 99

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Lord willing, there are 99 days until I graduate. Here are 9 things I want to do by then.

  1. eat at Holy Taco
  2. take a hike
  3. watch home videos
  4. volunteer at Atlanta Mission
  5. walk the Beltline and visit Ponce City Market
  6. take a #basic pic at the Jackson St. Bridge (with WaHo afterward)
  7. leave love letters at Target (with Coldstone afterward)
  8. watch Return of the King
  9. watch arrivals at Hartsfield-Jackson

99 days and a 9 item list. Let’s go.

Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part VI

January 28, 2016: Provision

*cool God story alert*

My Young Life leader texted me yesterday afternoon. After I shared with her on Monday about the college stress I’ve been feeling, she had been thinking about me this week and wanted to remind me: The Lord will provide. She told me that she’s praying for me and that God’s provision doesn’t always look like what’s expected or makes sense, but that it’s always what we need.

Not half an hour later, I found out that UNC Chapel Hill had posted their acceptances early, and I got in.

As if that wasn’t evidence enough of God’s faithful provision, later that night, I got an email. Sewanee had posted their acceptances early as well, and I got in there, too. I wasn’t supposed to find out from UNC until Sunday and Sewanee until mid-February, but God orchestrated yesterday’s events perfectly to show off a little. He is faithful and good.

God knew I needed it, too. He knew that after crying my way through yet another family college meeting, filing the FAFSA, visiting UGA last Friday in the freezing rain, and preparing for a Samford visit tomorrow, I just needed some good news. I needed Him to show up in this particular area of my life, college, the green pen in my planner. (I color code.) While I’ve been doing my best to trust Him through this process, it’s a lot harder than I expected. But He showed up for me yesterday and proved, as if He hadn’t proven it a million times already: He is faithful and good.

The Lord will provide, and I am so thankful. He is faithful and good.

Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part V

August 12-December 17, 2015: First Semester

First semester kicked my butt.

The first day, I came home sobbing about AP Biology, college applications, prefect responsibilities, and the fear that I couldn’t do it all. Enter stress: the kind that kept me working until I felt like my brain was about to fall out and resorted to taking Buzzfeed quizzes for an hour and a half. For several months, I functioned on this endless loop of work, sleep, repeat, work, sleep, repeat, punctuated by freak out sessions and the occasional good weekend. Though I accomplished a lot this semester – I applied to nine schools, sang lead on a song in my school’s annual Christmas concert, and didn’t die – I think I’ve learned from mistakes much more than I’ve avoided them.

The biggest lesson, and the one I’m taking with me into 2016 and second semester: Rest is good and necessary. I’m committed to taking some more time for myself. Part of the reason I read a shamefully low number of books this year is because I said sayonara to the library once first semester started. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, but I thought I was too busy. Now, I’m learning to rest. To read, even when my to-do list isn’t entirely crossed off (because isn’t there always one more thing to do?). To commit to The Muppets every Tuesday night at 8. To set aside the busy for the beautiful.

First semester kicked my butt. I guess it made me stronger, and I am proud of what I’ve achieved. There were bright spots: church retreats, Young Life camp, the day I finished college applications. But having your butt kicked isn’t fun or easy, and this semester hasn’t been, either. That’s okay, though. I’m learning from it. I’m still growing. We’re getting there.

Like one of my favorite Ben Rector songs: We’re almost home. First semester is over, and we’re almost home.

Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part IV

October 15, 2015: The First Acceptance

“Anjana, should I wait for a real letter in the mail or check my application status online?”

“Haley, what are you doing? CHECK YOUR APPLICATION STATUS ONLINE RIGHT NOW.”

*clickety-clackety typing and logging in*

*breaks into incredibly wide smile that does not leave for the rest of the day*

I got into Auburn.

Last Thursday, I spent my study hall and lunch flying through the school, calling my family members, ringing the bell in the college counseling office, and generally flailing about.

Because I got into Auburn!

There’s no other way to put it: this was one of the best feelings in the world. Itty bitty freshman Haley with braces and bushy hair was told about college applications and how important it was that she start working hard so that senior year would be full of possibilities and good news. But she couldn’t imagine how crazy it would feel to see those words on her laptop screen: accepted for admission. The whole application process has felt so surreal, but this acceptance felt the most surreal of everything. I couldn’t stop repeating it: I got into college. I got into college. I got into college. What made it even better was that I didn’t just get into college: I got into Auburn University, a school that I’m really, really excited about.

For the past few days, I’ve been riding this orange and blue high. To know that I can have a future as a Tiger, screaming, “War Eagle!” at football games, giving tours and pointing out the Caribou Coffee in the library and Chick-fil-A in the dining hall, bleeding orange and blue, going to Momma G’s for lunch (and breakfast and dinner)… it’s relaxing and thrilling all at the same time. I’m just so grateful: to God, for everything from the opportunity to go to college to the confidence that He will be with me and working wherever I go; to my family, for watching me hit submit on my Auburn app and loving me through this stressful season; to my school and my absolutely incredible college counselors for how early we start our college applications (it’s so worth it) and how amazing and encouraging they’ve been; and to my friends, for cheering me on, being there for me, and well-timed hugs.

It’s the first acceptance, and senior year is really looking up. War Eagle!

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Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part III

September 14-October 8, 2015: The Craziest Month Ever

That title pretty much sums it up.

The last half of September and first week of October were a whole lot of work, college applications, more work, more college applications, midnight snacks, caffeinated tea, going out of town, and getting very little sleep. But I made it! Leaving school on October 8, heading out into a long weekend and knowing I would get some good physical, mental, and emotional rest, was the best feeling. The month was long and hard, but it’s over now. Looking back, I think it grew me by not growing me, in a way.

When I finally got to take a step back from all the hecticness of application season, I saw the missed opportunities in that month. I could have leaned in: to community that supports me, to God who offers so much more peace and comfort than I can imagine, to my family who put up with my really crabby moods. But instead of putting more effort into quiet time with Jesus or family dinners when I was struggling, I ignored them. Certainly, there were good Sundays and an amazing church retreat where I grew a lot in my relationship with Jesus. But I didn’t learn so much during my time on the struggle bus as I did when I got off and saw that God was the Bus Driver all along, metaphorically speaking.

I’ve learned from this mistake. My tendency when things go wrong is to resort to my own strength and abilities, which is just such a terrible idea. It’s okay to not be pulled together all the time. It’s okay to need things; namely, people and God. By not tuning in to God and the good things around me, I missed out on a good chance to grow in this really busy September. Now, I’m hopeful that the next time a stressful or hectic season comes my way, I’ll remember this and remember to lean in and focus on faith. Life doesn’t have to be just making it through to Fridays and wishing for summers. Life can be so much more if we keep our eyes open and looking up during the crazy times. I’m hoping that the next crazy time, I’ll use this lesson to keep my eyes exactly where they need to be: on Jesus.

“So stop waiting for Fridays, and stop waiting for summers, and stop waiting for someone to fall in love with you, because those things will happen. But in the meantime, enjoy right now.”

Lucy Sutcliffe

Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part II

Retreat: August 23-24, 2015

A few weekends ago, my school’s senior class headed up to the Tennessee border for a two-day, one-night retreat of whitewater rafting, paintball, bonfires, and bonding. It was one of the best experiences of my senior year so far, and I’m so glad I went. It’s crazy how much can change from one night in a cabin.

In the first few weeks of school, I had gotten pretty stressed about the workload of my classes combined with college applications, leadership positions, and the desire to actually have a life. The retreat was a good chance not only to take a step back from that, but also to remember that senior year definitely has some positives, too.

I really can’t describe how being less than 300 days away from graduation all of a sudden unites people who have spoken fewer than ten words to one another, but it does. Both in my senior class at church and my senior class at school, we’ve taken on this identity as the seniors. I feel comfortable talking to just about anyone in the Class of 2016, because it suddenly feels like we have so much in common; a graduation date, a desire for a college acceptance letter, and fun senior shirts are just a few of the things that mark us and make us different.

The senior retreat was full of fun traditions for seniors, including whitewater rafting, and it was the emotional and social transition into senior year, compared to the academic transition that had occurred on the first day of school. Our senior retreat reminded me that homework might get overwhelming, college applications might seem daunting, and some days might feel impossible, but we’re going to get through it. After all, we’re seniors. And at the end of the day, I’m so so proud and #blessed to be a part of the Class of 2016.

Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part I

The Beginning: August 10-21, 2015

(Throughout my senior year, I am going to be compiling posts about my experiences and the ups and downs of being a high school senior. “Senioritis” will showcase those. I hope you enjoy!)

I am knee deep but fighting.

On this blog, and particularly in this series of posts, I am committed to honesty. It’s a priority to display the version of me that isn’t perfect and edited and knows exactly what she’s going to do when she grows up, because that’s just not real. Words that aren’t real also aren’t helpful.

I would be lying if I told you I’ve enjoyed senior year so far. I am an optimist and saying that feels like treason, but it’s the truth. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate. I’ve already made several mistakes.

Most of these negative reactions have come from a root fear: I can’t do this. I’m in three AP classes this year. I have 72 days to finish my college applications. I’m in a student leadership position which requires a huge chunk of time and responsibility. Over the past two weeks, the prevailing voice in my head has rotated between one of preemptive failure and one of #winning. If I plan college tours like my family did last night, I feel organized, in control, and on top of the world. If I get overwhelmed by the possibility of failing AP Biology, I cry. (A lot.)

It feels like things are being thrown at me which I am just not strong enough to handle. In my not finest moments, it’s also easy to ignore the voice of God that tries to calm me down. I get discouraged really fast. Through it all, the back of my mind attempts to infiltrate my positive attitude: “You can’t do this. You can’t do this. You can’t do this.”

This has been senior year. It’s been tough. But I am channeling my inner Octavia Blake, because when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I am holding onto the hope of a Creator who can make this absolute mess something beautiful, helpful, and useful for His glory and praise.

I am fighting my way through senior year so far, but I am hoping it will be worth it in the end. It usually is.