Dear Haley of December 3, 2013

Dear Haley of December 3, 2013,

This is as bad as it gets.

Today, you are hurting. You are in the darkest darkness you have known. You are wondering why you cannot give up.

You don’t know right now, sobbing your eyes out on your bedroom floor, but this is as bad as it gets. Tomorrow will be a little bit better, and the day after that will be a little bit better. It’ll get rough again, and then it will get smoother. It’ll get worse again, and then it will get better. It’ll get darker again, and then it will get lighter. But in this season, your lowest point, this is as painful as it gets. I cannot promise you that will be the case for the rest of your life, even though I have yet to reach a point lower than where you’re at today. But I can tell you that this is the day you’ll later claim as the worst of them all. Sweet, sweet girl, this is as bad as it gets.

There is a voice you’re hearing right now, telling you that you will not give up. It will grow louder. It will win this fight. The self-loathing, the darkness, the lies of your greatest Enemy – they do not win. The One who wins this fight for you is Jesus. He has hope, joy, life, light, love, grace that will find you. The darkness does not win, but you don’t, either. God does. You will dance in a victory you did not win yourself.

Keep going. Hold on. This is as bad as it gets. This is your right now, not your forever. It sucks, and I’m sorry. But hope, because your story does not end here. The Author has not forgotten you. This is as bad as it gets. Do not give up.


Spoiler alert: stop saying “Go Dawgs” all the time, because you go to Auburn. War Eagle, baby.

Unfortunately, your adjustment to college isn’t the easiest thing in the world. (I don’t think anyone’s adjustment to college is easy; tuck that away for those days early in the semester when you think everybody’s got it pulled together but you.) On November 30, 2016, you will have another bad day. You will go to the student counseling center, but your appointment will not go as hoped. You will try not to cry in the counselor’s office and then cry in the bathroom back at your dorm instead.

But then, you will get up.

You will walk out of the bathroom.

You will journal, and this is what you will end up writing:

“God loves me so much that He sent Jesus to make me worthy of love. He did not create me for anxiety, fear, and pride, but confidence, kindness, love. Nothing is impossible with Him, so He is making me who He made me to be. We will get there. My God and I, we will get there together.”

You will believe it is true. You will eat some peanut butter M&M’s, watch a movie, and ignore the 10 page paper due in two days that you haven’t even started. You will tell a few friends about the kind of day you had. The next morning, you will wake up and remember the truth you heard. Honestly, it’s the same truth you’re hearing right now as you cry out, but clearer. You will be growing into who God made you to be, getting to know Him more, pursuing the life He made you to live, letting yourself be loved. You will mess up, but also get up. You will be in grace.

And that, my dear, is called getting there.


I celebrate this day you are suffering through right now. You don’t see that coming, but three years later, December 3 is a chance to celebrate and share God’s faithfulness. It is an opportunity for me to say to the world: “We are getting there. My God and I, we are getting there together.”

That’s true of you right now, too, you know. Sobbing on your bedroom floor is a moment that will be so redeemed. It is a piece that God in His glory will use to get you there. You don’t see it or believe it right now, and that’s okay. You’re human, and you’re broken. God knows better right now than to send you this letter I am writing. He keeps it simple: Do not give up. You know, deep within you, that you will get there. You don’t think you know, but you do. It’s why you don’t give up now: You hope that God will give you the grace to get there.

Three years later, He definitely is, babe. He is. There is so much joy in getting there with Him, because it’s not even about you in the first place. The story and the glory are His.

I’ve gotta go live in victory now. You are more than you know, and He is better than you know. You will get there. Your God and you, you will get there together.

Love,

Haley of December 3, 2016

(To read more of my story of December 3, read my post from last year here. Happy December 3, everyone.)

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The Freshman Fifteen, Part VIII

November 29, 2016: What Was I Thinking Promising to Post Every Fifteen Days

It’s hard to believe that I have less than two weeks until first semester comes to a close. Honestly, it’s still hard to believe that I’m actually in college, doing the college things, attending college classes, working on college homework, living with my college roommate. Basically, existing, but college edition.

I’ve definitely learned and grown a lot so far, but I don’t really have time to process it at the moment, because, well, finals are right around the corner.

So this latest addition to the Freshman Fifteen is going to be short and sweet, featuring some observations and updates:

  • College is a lot like magic in Harry Potter: it’s awesome, but it doesn’t make all of your problems go away.
  • Speaking of Harry Potter, I am still rereading Prisoner of Azkaban. I’m hoping to finish rereading the series over Christmas break.
  • I ran a half-marathon on Thanksgiving! That was fun and also long.
  • College fashion is wonderful in that it is not wonderful at all; the vast majority of people look like slobs the vast majority of the time, which makes everyone’s lives so much easier.
  • Detouring through Griffin to LaGrange, Georgia, makes the drive back to Auburn a heck of a lot longer but is pretty much worth it for some sweet backroads.
  • Country music is not nearly as abundant here as I expected, which is such a blessing.
  • Find friends who will cook according to your dietary restrictions when you get together. Thank Jesus for them often.

(“The Freshman Fifteen” is a year-long blogging project posting every fifteen days of my freshman year of college. Follow along for life updates, deep thoughts, and everything in between.)

The Freshman Fifteen, Part VII

November 14, 2016: Becoming Home

I went to Athens for the game this weekend, and even though our football team suffered a heartbreaking loss, I gained a personal victory in a bunch of revelations about this one little word: home.

I realized, sitting in the middle of a section of mostly Georgia fans, cheering with my dad and two friends, halfway participating in the songs we knew the band was playing but could barely hear, insisting on “War Eagle always” as our offense insisted on sucking… I missed Auburn. I missed the boisterous, infectiously energetic student section. I missed going to Waffle House with my friends after the game. I missed the atmosphere, the feeling of pride in my school, the possibility of Toomer’s at the end of the night. Heck, I even missed the mic man.

And when I discovered that I really, truly, deeply missed Auburn, it dawned on me: I think I can start calling Auburn my home.


Later Saturday night, after a tragic loss and a terrific veggie burger, my friend Ashley and I were in her dorm. We started watching 10 Things I Hate About You on Netflix and ordered cookies (to be delivered?! to her dorm?! Auburn, get on that.). We cuddled on her futon for twenty minutes. And another thought dawned on me: this girl feels like home, too. This exhale of relief finally being back by her side, this comfort that we have knowing each other and being known by each other, this friendship that stretches the long three-hour drive between Athens and Auburn. This is part of my home, too.


Saturday night, we drove back to Atlanta. I slept in my own bed and had way too many of my mom’s pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, the ones that signify fall to me.

Sunday morning, we drove back to Auburn. My friend Katelyn gave us the grand tour of Pine Mountain, where she’s from. My friend Sarah tried to convince us to visit her in Alaska this summer. We listened to Taylor Swift’s Fearless album in its entirety and cheered when we crossed the Alabama state line.


I do not have one home.

I have many.

Atlanta, born and raised; Buckhead Church, which gave me the family that comes second only to my biological one; my high school that shaped me into who I am today; Athens, because Athens has Ashley; Elon, because Elon has Brittany; Syracuse, because Syracuse has Elijah; my dad’s 2007 Honda Accord, blasting the Jonas Brothers with my baby sister; Athens again, because Athens has Katie; Germany, because Germany has German Julia; Hogwarts, because Harry Potter; the Dunwoody branch of the library, because let’s be honest with ourselves here.

All the people and places that I’ve mentioned and at least a thousand more are my home.

Now, I get to add Auburn, the Loveliest Village on the Plains, to the list.


I have one home.

That’s God.

When I’m feeling rootless, He roots me in the truth of my identity as His daughter and the security of my position in His family. When I’m worried that no one likes me, His love is constant and unfailing and never to be removed. When I’m panicking about friendships, He’s my best friend. And when I don’t know where my home is, He is always, always, always there. While the pieces of my earthly home shift and add and subtract, my heavenly home is my heavenly Father Himself.

And Auburn and Ashley and Atlanta and all the other people and places I don’t want to name again because they’ll screw up the alliteration are my home, because my heavenly Father is in them. And He is my one true Home after all.

(“The Freshman Fifteen” is a year-long blogging project posting every fifteen days of my freshman year of college. Follow along for life updates, deep thoughts, and everything in between.)

The Freshman Fifteen, Part VI

October 30, 2016: I Ran Out of Things to Talk About So Let’s Talk About Music

One of my favorite things about getting to know my new college friends and them getting to know me is sharing music tastes. It’s a way to connect with people, to expand your musical horizons, and to brag about my seasonal playlists that I spend a lot of time and energy cultivating.

Since I lowkey ran out of things to talk about, this Freshman Fifteen is dedicated to sharing some of my fall 2016 playlist with y’all!

  • “Where You Wanna Go” (feat. Emily Hearn) by Graham Colton. I’ve been a huge Emily Hearn fan for a while (Remember that one time I met her?), so when my sister told me she was featured on this new song, I was pumped, and it did not disappoint. “Where You Wanna Go” is just the right mix of relaxed and driving, chill and upbeat. The male and female vocals blend together and complement one another really nicely. The lyrics are also really fun, two people sticking together and adventuring to new places. It’s a good song in general, but especially for a nice afternoon drive in the fall weather Auburn hasn’t gotten yet. *upside down smiley face* *how is Auburn so hot still*
  • “Monsters Talk” (feat. Bear Rinehart) by John Mark McMillan. Okay, this song is a JAM. The instrumentation, especially the intro, is really cool. Bear Rinehart, the lead singer of NEEDTOBREATHE, and John Mark McMillan’s vocals both fit the song and each other perfectly. I’m not surprised that I love this song so much, because John Mark McMillan is generally amazing, so if you like it, you should also check out “Visceral” and “Wilderlove,” my other faves of his.
  • Jon Foreman. Jon Foreman is the lead singer of Switchfoot, but he has a really different sound as a solo artist. This stuff has a much more chill, acoustic, singer-songwriter vibe, which makes him a great artist to unwind to at the end of a long day or study to when I need to avoid stress. His voice is unique, and his lyrics are solid. My faves are “You Alone,” “Inheritance,” and “Run Free.”
  • Jonathan David and Melissa Helser. As I wait not so patiently for their latest album to drop on Spotify, I’ve been listening to some of this married duo’s older stuff. Their worship is authentic, beautiful, and inspiring. Both of their voices slay, especially together, and the instrumentation really fits the purpose of each individual song. I recommend “On the Shores” and “Explode My Soul”; you can also check out the songs they have with Bethel Music.
  • Judah & the Lion. Judah & the Lion is the first college concert I went to, so they’ll always be a special band to me now. They were incredible and exciting live, and their studio stuff is awesome, too. Best of all, it takes me back to the first Friday of college, the first night I ate dinner here (lol I had been eating snacks in my dorm every night), and the first time I met two of my friends. After the concert, I was sure to add “Water,” “Mason-Dixon Line,” “Back’s Against the Wall,” and “Our Love” to my playlist.
  • “Come Thou Fount” by Kings Kaleidoscope. Growing up in a less traditional church, I wasn’t super familiar with this song, but coming to Auburn and checking out several churches and on-campus ministries, it started popping up everywhere. This version has a rockstar arrangement that’s really unique. The vocals are really consistent and pleasing, and it builds really nicely. Y’all know I love a good build.
  • Mat Kearney. Shoosh yeah, I’ve been listening to Mat Kearney a lot. (I also got my roommate started on him a couple days ago, so #win.) His newer stuff is catchy and vibrant, his older stuff is classic and comfortable, and all of it is fantastic. I love way too many of his songs to recommend them all, but if I had to pick, my favorites are “Billion,” “Ghost,” “The Conversation,” “Coming Home (Oregon),” and “Head or Your Heart.”
  • “Wild World” by Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors. Simple. Honest. Relevant. Beautiful. S’good.
  • Where the Light Shines Through by Switchfoot. This album is real nice. The lyrics are deep, meaningful, and inspirational. The rock vibe alternates between laid back and exciting. And of course, Jon Foreman’s voice adapts seamlessly from lots of acoustic guitar to lots of electric. My faves off this album are “Where the Light Shines Through,” “I Won’t Let You Go,” and “If the House Burns Down Tonight.”

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoy these snappy little tunes!

(“The Freshman Fifteen” is a year-long blogging project posting every fifteen days of my freshman year of college. Follow along for life updates, deep thoughts, and everything in between.)

The Freshman Fifteen, Part V

October 15, 2016: I’m on a Break!

This weekend is my fall break, and that means I’m spending some much-needed time home with family and friends. As I enjoy my first break since school started back in August, I’m reflecting on the first half of first semester. It’s certainly been a wild ride already. Since my brain is about 89% lists, I present to you…

9 things that helped get me through the first 9 weeks of college:
  1. FaceTime. I spend a lot of evenings on FaceTime with my family and friends from home. It picks me up when I’m down, and it’s refreshing to talk to people who’ve known you for longer than nine weeks, especially after a bad day.
  2. Our BRITA filter. I didn’t realize how much I relied on our BRITA filter pitcher, which is the perfect size for our mini-fridge, until I was an idiot and precariously perched it on the edge of the sink and it fell and the bottom of the pitcher cracked really badly. We were BRITA-less for a while, but fortunately, my aunt and uncle took me shopping when they were in town last weekend and bought me a new one. After a long, hot walk up The Hill, nothing’s quite as refreshing as a cold drink of water from our wonderful BRITA filter.
  3. Scheduled self-care time. In the past few weeks, I’ve started scheduling three half-hour chunks per week to read Harry Potter, and let me tell you, it is glorious. I wrote a little bit about this in one of my previous posts, but in college, I’m committed to not being “the busy friend” again. Part of that is learning to say no to good things that aren’t good for me, but another part is training myself to rest. I refuse to apologize for the thirty minutes at the end of the day that I spend reading Harry Potter, because it fuels me, giving me the energy and emotional capacity to invest in my new friendships and keep going strong with my schoolwork. I highly, highly recommend scheduled self-care time for every person (but especially introverts) in every season of life (but especially busy ones), because it is truly good for the soul.
  4. Friends with cars. I’m typing this on my couch at home because a sweet friend gave me a ride home to Atlanta yesterday. My suitemates and I hit up Walmart a few weeks ago to buy Fruit Loops and some veggies. My roommate, suitemates, and other friends often let me borrow their cars or offer to drive me when I really need a ride. Not having a car has certainly been difficult, but the kind, generous, vehicle-owning people around me really help.
  5. My color-coded, custom-made planner. I’m so picky about planners that I couldn’t find one I liked enough, so I straight up made my own. It’s helped me stayed organized with schoolwork and other time commitments (my color coding system works wonders), kept me reading (I have a section to write what book I’m reading each week), and encouraged me to think positive (I have a place to make a list of good things that happen every week).
  6. Quiet time. The adjustment to college has been difficult, but I’m learning and growing so much in my faith because of that. Quiet time sets me up for the rest of the day, teaches me God’s truth, helps me trust Him, and shapes me into who He made me to be.
  7. Football games. SEC football in the student section is a heck of a fun time. Auburn’s exciting victory over LSU was one of the highlights of my year so far for sure.
  8. Keeping my options open. I went into freshman year an English Literature major, but I knew that I wasn’t 100% set on it, and I didn’t know what minor I wanted to get. Nine weeks later, I still feel the same. Though the uncertainty is scary at times, it’s also exciting to have a world of opportunities right at my fingertips. I love looking at all the classes I’d get to take in the Professional and Public Writing major and thinking about how much I could help people with a minor in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies. Allowing myself to explore what’s out there has made freshman year both introspective and exciting.
  9. Not boys. The advice I received to not date in the first six months of college was some clutch advice. There’s so much going on, and it’s freeing to make new guy friends and know that they’re just new guy friends and nothing more. Football games are fun enough without dates, anyway.

That’s just a little recap of how I’ve been doing and what’s been on my mind lately! The first nine weeks of college have had ups and downs, but I really do believe in Auburn and love it. Thanks for reading with your two eyes these nine things in part five of the Freshman Fifteen!

(“The Freshman Fifteen” is a year-long blogging project posting every fifteen days of my freshman year of college. Follow along for life updates, deep thoughts, and everything in between.)

The Freshman Fifteen, Part IV

September 30, 2016: So Grateful It’s Cheesy

Yesterday, the temperature finally dropped. It felt like fall. I had been telling myself to just hold on until October in order to stop sweating every time I walked out the door, but the sweet, sacred blessing of autumn seemed to show up two days early. You could feel the difference on campus not just in the cooler temperature, but in the atmosphere: students could see the light at the end of the tunnel that is the miserably hot late summer in Auburn (which lasts through the beginning of what’s technically fall).

Basking in the glorious not-sweating-ness, I decided to eat lunch outside. I sat on the lawn in front of Cater Hall under a pretty tree. I was innocently eating my chicken salad and working on homework that was due just two short hours later (whoops), when I saw a tour go by. One of the student recruiter’s friends shouted “War Eagle” to the group, and she had the group shout it back.

And I teared up a little.

Last year, it was me on that tour. I was confused and perpetually stressed about the college decision. I visited Auburn and shouted “War Eagle,” too. I saw students sitting on the grass, reading books, and eating lunch. I dreamed of joining their family someday. Yesterday, I looked around and realized that somehow, I became one of the students sitting on the grass, reading books, and eating lunch. Somehow, I joined the family. Thinking about it made me all sorts of emotional.

Honestly, I’m just grateful. I’m grateful to my parents for the sacrifices, hard work, and personal support that got me to the Plains. I’m grateful to my college counselor for helping me find a college that just fits me to a tee. I’m grateful for all the opportunities ahead of me, whether it’s majors, minors, involvement opportunities, or relationships. I’m grateful for the people I’m growing friendships with. I’m grateful for our sweet victory over LSU last Saturday. I’m grateful for the chance to help out at the Homecoming concert tonight. I’m grateful that I didn’t sweat on the way to class yesterday. I’m grateful most of all to God, who has proved His goodness time and time again to me in the first little bit of my time at Auburn.

Adjustment to college certainly hasn’t been easy. There are days of homesickness, frustration, and loneliness still. I want to be transparent and honest about that. But there are also so many precious moments of light, just like the bright sun shining down on our glorious fall day yesterday. Like the band Cinders says in their song “Last Year’s Winter,” “On the road there are some things that will make it all worthwhile.” Today, I am grateful to God for the good things that are making my freshman year at Auburn more than worthwhile. War Eagle to that.

(“The Freshman Fifteen” is a year-long blogging project posting every fifteen days of my freshman year of college. Follow along for life updates, deep thoughts, and everything in between.)

The Freshman Fifteen, Part III

September 15, 2016: On Instagram

Social media.

Tiny little apps on your phone; a means of staying in touch with old friends or distant relatives; an evolving form of storytelling; arguably the most popular news outlet of this generation; a place to share cute pictures that you don’t want to keep to yourself; a source of community and encouragement through minuscule hashtags; a mask for bullies to hide behind; addictive, fast-paced, overwhelming; humorous, informative, comfortable; something that has become so deeply ingrained in our day-to-day lives that its merits and evils often go unexamined.

In the first month of college, I spent way too much time on Instagram.

I scrolled through picture after picture after picture, then I went to the Discover page to scroll through picture after picture after picture, then I checked my own profile to revel in my own cute pictures, then I refreshed the home page and scrolled through picture after picture after picture. Repeat a thousand times, and you’ve got Haley’s typical afternoon for the past month or so. I fell deep into the comparison trap, and most days, I would’ve sworn to you: everyone else is having more fun than me.

Look. Look at their new friends. Look at the party they went to. Look at the organization they got in that I didn’t even get to interview for. Look at their sorority sisters. Look at their boyfriend. Look at them having the perfect freshman year while I sit in my dorm and cry and eat a giant Costco bag of pita chips all by myself.

Social media is a lot of things. It’s a way to publicize events, which I get to use for the PR Committee on the University Program Council. It’s a way to tell stories, which I get to do through webseries like Northbound and the upcoming Away from It All. But it is also a liar. Social media will tell you that everyone else is pulled together, picture perfect all the time. It will convince you that you are the only one feeling alone or struggling to make new friends. It will persuade you to close yourself off, to assume that everyone else is okay, to put on a mask that makes it seem like you’re okay even when you’re absolutely not. It’s part of the reason why, when my roommate came home one night and saw a massive pile of tissues on my bed because I had been crying, I lied to her and said I was fine when I was really far from it. Social media is a liar because it makes you feel less than.

So as I get into the swing of things, what I want to say to both myself and my readers is this: You are not less than. Everyone else does not feel happy and cute and put together all the time. We all have bad days. Freshmen: we are all struggling with at least one thing in the transition to college. Humankind: we are all struggling with at least one thing in life. We feel messy and broken and confused and sad and elated and determined and heartbroken and joyful and down in the dumps and frustrated and just okay and not okay at all. We call our parents crying or wish we could call our parents crying but want to act tough instead. We feel like life is a fight but on Instagram we treat it like a movie night. Red carpet outfits, filtered tan skin, only showing the edits. Glamorous.

My life isn’t glamorous right now. I called my parents crying two weeks ago and told them that I couldn’t handle it anymore and I wanted to drop out of Auburn and come home. I refused to pray and left my Bible unopened for several days. In the past week, I’ve been doing so much better; I’m back at it journaling to Jesus as He reminds me of the truth that He makes me able. I’ve found a women’s ministry where I really want to dig in and stay awhile. I am learning to choose faith over fear as I try to figure out this thing called college and this thing called life. But I am still working, still struggling, still experiencing the growing pains of a new season of life.

Instagram led me to believe that no one else felt the way I did during my first month of college. No one else ate snacks for every meal in their dorm room because they didn’t want to be in the dining hall alone. No one else looked at new sorority sisters and wished they had rushed so they could have an instant family at college. No one else spent nights scrolling and feeling more and more alone with every clever caption they read. No one else felt like the first month of freshman year was absolutely not what they signed up for. No one else felt less than.

Such were the lies of Instagram. So in the past week or so, I’ve leaned way back. I’ve tried to slow my roll and hold back my tendency to scroll. In doing so, I’ve realized for myself what many wiser people tried to tell me: Everyone else feels the same way I do; we all just hide it behind a filter. Everyone else feels alone sometimes. Everyone else feels less than sometimes. Everyone else is struggling with something, whether in the transition to college or in life in general. Instagram is not an accurate reflection of anyone’s life, because it only shows the best of the best. Our lives look a lot more like a collage of beautiful and broken moments. Our stories are not perfect. They are messy and marvelous intertwined, with a good ending.

Please, remember that social media is a liar. Remember that they aren’t having more fun than you just because their pictures of this weekend look like it. Remember to look for the miracles in it all. Remember that when you find them, they don’t have to be filtered into perfection in order for you to share them with the world. Remember that you don’t have to be edited to be enough. Please, remember that you are not less than. Really, you are more than. You are more wonderful and loved and worthy than Instagram will try to make you feel. Remember to slow your roll and stop your scroll every once in a while. Remember that who you are is thoughtful and important and flawed and needed and imperfect and angry and disappointed and joyous and smart and good enough. Remember, when social media lies to you, the truth that you are good enough.

(“The Freshman Fifteen” is a year-long blogging project posting every fifteen days of my freshman year of college. Follow along for life updates, deep thoughts, and everything in between.)

The Freshman Fifteen, Part II

August 31, 2016: Building an Uncrowded Life

At church last Sunday, the speaker gave a powerful, moving message about seeing God and hearing His voice through His Word. Even though it wasn’t the main takeaway of the talk, I walked away declaring this mantra from the rooftops: I am going to build an uncrowded life here.

I have never known an uncrowded life. I have been overcommitted since coming out of the womb. I have signed up for every club and then taken leadership positions in half of them. I have looked at my planner at times and not seen a free moment for a month. I have said yes when it wasn’t the best, wisest choice. I have been foolish with my time. I have been too busy. I have been anxious about my full schedule. I have let fear of missing out control my decision-making for so long that I have missed out on something that is far better than every concert, coffee date, or club I’ve ever donated my time to: an uncrowded life.

My new goal for life at Auburn is not to participate in the most renowned involvement opportunities or leadership programs. It’s not to go to every Bible study on campus. It’s not to make as many friends as possible. My new goal for life at Auburn is this: to be stingy with my time. To prioritize rest. To say no to good things because they aren’t the best things for me. To get a lot of sleep. To not be ashamed when I can’t brag about busyness, but boast in a lazy Saturday afternoon. To be bored every once in a while. How would it feel to just be bored every once in a while? To find a sweetness in life that I have missed out on for years because I’ve been too concentrated on checking all the boxes and cramming my schedule full to feel worthy.

The lie that we are most valuable when we’re most busy is just that: a lie. It’s a lie that shames me for going to bed at 9:30 because I’ve finished every task on my to-do list. It’s a lie that makes me embarrassed of taking fourteen credit hours this semester instead of the maximum of eighteen. It’s a lie that results in nights of hyperventilating, mornings waking up to anxiety, afternoons of immobilizing stress. It’s a lie that I am now going to fight with every fiber of my being.

Busyness has become like a familiar sweatshirt to me. I wear it so often, let it become so comfortable, that I don’t realize it’s actually chains holding me back from my full potential. By the grace and power of God, I am going to walk in the freedom He has given me from those shackles. I am going to root my worth in who He says I am, rather than how many colors I can fit in my planner’s color-coding system. I am going to find what He has for me in the quiet and stillness and rest. I am going to refuse the busy to seek out the beautiful. By the grace and power of God, I am going to build an uncrowded life here. And I’m really, really excited about.

(“The Freshman Fifteen” is a year-long blogging project posting every fifteen days of my freshman year of college. Follow along for life updates, deep thoughts, and everything in between.)

The Freshman Fifteen, Part I

August 16, 2016: Let’s Start from the Very Beginning

(A very good place to start.)

This is it: day one of the next four years. Day one of new friends, of girls from down the hall becoming best buddies, of the relationships that everyone tells me will last a lifetime. Day one of Brit Lit, Public Speaking, and Honors Gender, Wealth, and Philanthropy. Day one of grabbing a granola bar on the way out of the dorm, dining hall lunches, and dinners with suitemates. Day one of getting involved for the sake of getting involved. Day one of late nights studying for finals and late nights laughing until my stomach hurts at Waffle House. Day one of football games in the student section, of screaming “War Eagle” at the top of my lungs, of an eternal sense of pride in the Auburn Tigers. Day one of living out the Creed: of work, hard work; of education; of honesty and truthfulness; of a sound mind, sound body, and spirit that is not afraid; of obedience to law and the human touch; of doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God; of becoming an Auburn woman. Day one of a long series of Instagram-worthy moments when I’m reminded why I made Auburn my home.

It’s day one of my freshman year, and it’s safe to say I’m excited.

Welcome to the Freshman Fifteen: Every fifteen days of my freshman year of college, I’m going to post about what’s new on the Plains. I’m looking forward to a season of creating memories, making friends, and going on lots of adventures, and I hope y’all enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoy living it. Thanks for reading, and War Eagle.

The 99 Day Bucket List Bunch

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Many of you may remember the 99 days before graduation bucket list I attempted this spring. My family, friends, and I had a blast visiting different spots in Atlanta, trying new things, and going on adventures together. My sister and I had so much fun that we wanted to expand it a little.

What if other people got to make their own “9 things in 99 days bucket lists” and experience their own fun? What if they strengthened relationships with their friends and family while doing things they had always wanted to do? What if they found bravery and community along the way?

That’s the heart behind the 99 Day Bucket List Bunch. If you want to join, just make a list of 9 things you want to do in 99 days, and then do them. Round 1 starts tomorrow! The 99 days will run from August 1 to November 7. If you want more info, check out our site or follow us on Instagram.

The end goal is that on November 7, you’ll be in a stronger community of braver people. Now doesn’t that sound exciting? I hope you’ll join us for an amazing adventure, starting tomorrow.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

-Jawaharlal Nehru