Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The 6 things you absolutely must do before you even think about studying for finals, writing papers or turning in projects.

It's that time of the year again.that time. That point where dropping out and becoming a stripper suddenly isn't the worst idea in the world. The best math you have ever done is right now, calculating the lowest possible grade you can get and still meet your personal minimum grade requirement. You actively avoid your calendar and eye contact with your professors so they do not sense the brewing mental breakdown. I know you're dreading the studying and writing and researching that will consume these next few weeks. Well, before you strap in and get to work there are 6 things you absolutely have to do before you start.

//Make a to-do list// 
Then rewrite the to do list. And then do it in a pretty color. Maybe you should color code it by class. Or by least favorite assignment to most favorite? Or hardest to easiest? Or maybe in alphabetical order? Taking a foreign language? Try writing it in that language. Maybe you should make copies just in case. And copy the important tasks onto post its and post them around. Oh while you're doing post its, you should write motivational things on the post its and put those around too. Oh while you're making a to do list for schoolwork you should make a list for nonacademic tasks that need done like laundry and groceries. You know what, just go ahead and do your laundry, you shouldn't procrastinate that too long or your dorm will smell. Also, just go ahead to the grocery store. You need proper nutrients before you can study. Okay, now make sure your list is finalized and you didn't miss anything. Whew. That was a lot of work, you deserve a break. Watch a show on netflix. or 15. You deserve it.
//Make a snack//
I mean, since you went grocery shopping already you might as well make a snack. You cannot study on an empty stomach, that would be the worst. But you do not want just any snack. Nothing processed or microwaved. Guess that means you need to cook. If you're going to cook you might as well go all out. Look on Pinterest for the perfect recipe. Go ahead and pin a bunch. If you start planning your wedding, that's fine. You're probably going to meet the man of your dreams before graduation anyway- so why do you need to study? Okay, once you find the perfect recipe and realize you don't have any of the ingredients or the culinary ability to master it, grab yourself a poptart and give up.

//Reorganize your room//
Girl, you absolutely cannot study for psychology if your sock drawer is not in proper order. How can you expect to work under those conditions?! Organize your sock drawer, fold your underwear. It's also almost spring so make sure all of your winter clothes are out of your closet and folded away. Is your bookshelf in alphabetical order? Then you must attend to that too. Go organize your spice cabinet. Don't have spices? Go get some! Then you can make the recipe you didn't have the ingredients for in number 2!

//Take instagram pics of your study space//
What is the point of studying if no one is going to know about it? Set up your notes, textbooks and the miscellaneous office supplies you aren't even using in an artsy, well lit manner. Bonus points if you have coffee. Bonus, bonus points if the mug has an inspirational or snarky message. Bonus points x3 if it's starbucks. Allow at least 20 minutes to find the perfect angle, lighting and arrangement of materials. Spend 15 minutes picking a filter and at least 10 more deciding on a caption/hashtags. 

//Make sure all of social media knows you're studying//
Again, WHAT is the point of studying if nobody knows about it? Update your facebook talking about all of the things you have to do, but aren't doing. Carefully craft these messages so they are not overly dramatic, unless you want to take the dramatic route. In which case make sure it's loaded with hyperbole's and exaggerated language so others can sense the sarcasm. Try to find a funny meme or picture to share your struggle. If you're having trouble finding inspiration, try looking in your time hop at last years finals week complaints. You could also try live tweeting your death by studying. Make sure all of Twitter knows about the kid asleep on the floor of the library and the girls that won't stop talking. 

//Maybe you should actually study now// 
Honestly even I am running out of unimportant urgent, must do tasks to divert your attention from the inevitable, impossible, infinite to do list. You should probably get off of the internet and just start typing stuff and writing things on note cards. Maybe just look like you're actually doing something? I hear the 'fake it till you make it' thing actually kind of is well, a thing. So I don't know, I'm in the same sinking boat as you but I guess we should actually like, do something. 

{warning} These are the worst possible study tips, time management guide and general life advice you could ever receive. E for Emily takes no legal, moral or ethical responsibility for your poor academic achievement as a result of following the above advice. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What they didn't tell me about picking a major

What they didn't tell me is a new series I am kicking off as a result of realizing how clueless I was about this college/adulthood/real life gig I was recently thrown into. It started unintentionally with my post What they didn't tell me about attending a Christian College.. This post was inspired by conversations with students who would soon be attending a college similar to my own. It was from these same conversations that the inspiration for this series was sparked. There are so many lesson I learned the hard way, so many things I stressed about and a whole lost of questions I had with no one to direct them too. Out of that, What they didn't tell me was born!

What they didn't tell me #2: What they didn't tell me about picking a major

There is a short list of decisions I made at 17 which 21 year old me would concur with. The first major I declared would be among those decisions I am no longer on board with. As a senior in high school picking a major seemed so imperative to college success.  Feeling pressure to decide, I picked the first one that remotely had anything to do with my calling. It felt set in stone. Permanent. When my vision for life began to change, I felt trapped and anxious.  As a result my decision to change my major caused so much more stress than it should have. And to think it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever could have made!

Here is what I wish I had known about the scary thing known as "your college major"

#1 Going in undeclared is not going to set you up for failure. 
If you truly have no idea what you want to do but you are sure you want a degree- don't decide! Knock your gen eds out. It's okay not to know. 

#2 Changing your mind is perfectly okay.
We change and develop in every way through our college and young adult years- how can we expect our visions and dreams not morph with us? What we wanted to do as incoming freshman should not be the end all be all to our future. I reserve the right to change my mind as much as necessary, each so called 'wrong choice' in the moment, could end up being a very necessary lesson in hindsight. 

#3 It's a trial and error process.
You may go in hell bent on being a teacher, only to realize after your first field experience that you would rather swallow nails than mold young minds everyday. THATS OKAY. Sometimes people pick a major only to realize they'd rather do ANYTHING else. Better you find out now. 

#4 There's more than one way to skin a cat.
Meaning... There is more than one way to reach your ultimate goal. Children. That's all I knew I wanted to do and that's all I was good at. So I figured teaching, right? Wrong. I don't want to teach but I had no idea what my options were. I did research and found a plethora of options to meet my talents. Don't limit yourself to the obvious, do your homework (literally and figuratively) and take the road less traveled

#4 You are not required to justify your major or career path to anyone (except for maybe you're parents if they're the ones footing the bill)
If you have a less popular, obscure, controversial or difficult major everyone will have an opinion. You will get, "sooooo what can you even do with that?" or "That field is not hiring at all right now." so many times you will want to drop out. It is not your job to make others feel comfortable with your decision. If you are happy and confident that you are in the right place, it does not matter what others think.

What advice would you give to someone deciding on a major? What made you pick your area of study? 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

God redeems everything.

'Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

Who I have been and who I am now. I have always wrestled with how my mistakes fit into the person I am today. They are not who I am today but I cannot deny that they have molded my character and decisions. In my lowest moments I find myself identifying with the most unforgivable parts of myself. Deciding that because I have done bad, I am bad. In these moments, I beg God to fill me with the truth that reminds me I am redeemed because I am his. I find comfort in the Word that tells me there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.

How beautiful is that? You cannot undo what has already been done but you are free from it. You cannot rewrite the past, nor should you want to. Grace does not erase the past, it erases the shame. You can no longer be condemned and you can no longer condemn yourself. Recently, I lost sight of this beautiful fact and allowed myself to identify with the past and condemn what has already been forgiven. In a simple exchange with a friend I found a powerful reminder.

"I suck at relationships." I stated clearly and concisely with as much fact as the grass is green. 2+2=4 and Emily sucks at relationships. Those are the facts of life. I went on, "I suck at relationships. I am just bad at commitment and the work that goes into relationships. It has always been this way." My friend did not for one minute allow me to send out the invitations to that pity party. Instead she dropped truth in the form of a text message:

"God redeems everything. Even your past. Nothing remains untouched."

A simple declaration of God's redeeming power. Those words struck me right in my little heart. It spoke to me in more ways than the sender knows. She thought she was speaking into the current thoughts I was wrestling with regarding dating. It was more than that. 

I allowed myself to soak in that message as truth about all areas of my life. God redeems everything. All of it. Nothing remains untouched. Honestly, I imagined God coming through with a broom sweeping up broken glass, calmly shaking hands with people I cut off in traffic, apologizing to that girl in 10th grade I called ugly and cleaning up every metaphorical mess I ever made. I was also slapped in the face with every single time I limited God's redeeming power by assuming it was not enough to cover my sin. Somehow God has a way of coming in and clearing up the mess we've been tirelessly trying clean up to ourselves. As I have been searching through my little soul lately to decide who I am and who I want to be and unrelenting thoughts of past events beg for me to stake my identity in them, God comes in to remind me that none of that matters. 

While I feel berated with all of the baggage;  I have ADHD. My parents are divorced. I am not a spectacular student. I had eating disorder. I've hurt people I love. I can be selfish. I speak before I think. I have compromised my integrity. The list could go on forever. I have past and present struggles in which I could and sometimes do place my identity. Occasionally, I fall into the trap of mistaking what I have done with who I am. But none of those things are me because God redeems everything. 

The kick ass thing about God and grace and Jesus is nothing holds any power in my life anymore besides the fact that I am His.That's the thing about identity, when yours is in him nothing else really matters. When we're talking about eternity, who you were on the 17th of April in 2015 is irrelevant. Events of your past only define your today if you allow them to. Only what you accept as your truth becomes your truth. The past only becomes part of your identity when you allow it to seep into your heart and take up home in your thoughts.

His freedom is your freedom. His Grace is your Grace. His redemption is yours. His truth is your truth. Regardless. Choosing to accept his freedom, Grace, redemption and truth allows you to walk in his light without shame or guilt. I have the ability to decide where my identity is and I pick Him. I pick the redeeming, renewing gift that was won on the cross. I pick to be forgiven and shame free. I pick to be new, everyday. Not because I deserve it but because he freely gives it to me. The most fantastic thing about Grace is that it's free and it's yours too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blogging Hiatus.

I've been in a rut. Not a blogging rut, a life rut. Between school work and work work, I am being sucked dry of any fun. For the last 4 weeks it has felt like I have been consistently just about to drown and it is everything in me not to just sink. Now before you go and call for help, I am not by any means saying I am depressed or really even anything besides dramatic. I am just chronically stretched too thin and it has gotten the best of me. It always does this time of year. Thankfully, the end is in sight. Unthankfully, there is a lot of crap that has to be done before I can drag myself across the finish line.

Due to this unexpected life rut, I have taken and unplanned blogging hiatus for the last 3 and a half weeks. I have actively avoided my blog and anything blog related and tried to pretend I wasn't losing the following I had worked hard to maintain. I did not fulfill promises I had made regarding blog post requests. I did not answer e-mails from followers and people requesting guest posts. It took everything in me to post a few instagram posts but I could not so much as even start a new post or even edit the ones I had already written. I was fresh out of inspiration. I am not sure that my inspiration is back but I have mustered up the energy to write this so that counts for something, right?!

I think I just needed some time with the people I love and a moment to not be behind on things. This week I came back from the weekend feeling better, less drained and less "oh my God I'm drowning." I also have not yet had the overwhelming desire to drop out of school, so that's a plus. However, I did have 3 chocolate chip cookies for breakfast and stared at my computer screen for 45 minutes before I so much as opened a word document. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

There is a lesson in here somewhere though. A lesson to not stretch yourself too thin, perhaps? Or maybe a lesson to take a break when you need it. Yeah, let's go with that. When you get in a life rut, or a blogging rut or a school rut. Any rut, really. They all suck. Take some time and do not apologize for it. Breath some air and drink some water. Put yourself to bed early. Hug people you love and take selfies with cute babies. Eat burritos. Step away from the crazy and do not for one second feel bad about it.Take care of yourself even if it sometimes means being a little selfish.

So here's to hoping I am back and ready to go. I have blog post ideas and a schedule I am ready to implement. I am hoping to find some time here soon to get ahead on blogging, so I do not fall behind when I hit a rut again!

What have I missed this month?!