I’m 20 and Perfectly Happy with Being Single

By Beth Winze

The first time I told someone, I had no intention or future thought of getting married or having kids I got a blank stare.  Like I had tripped over a plug in their mind that disconnected them from what I had just said.  I shuffled my feet around for a second feeling uncomfortable waves roll between us.  “Okay then.” was all they said back.

At the age of sixteen I wanted nothing more than to plan my future wedding.  What flowers I would choose, the color of the bridesmaid dresses, the songs to dance to, the venue to have it at – all I needed was _________ (insert husband’s name here).  I grew up around girls who pinned our weddings away on Pinterest when we got together and dreamt about wife and motherhood.

Somewhere along the way I fell in love with the idea of marriage and motherhood and fell out of love with myself.  I was massively unhappy when my friend got a new boyfriend and yes (even at seventeen) started seeing my friends settle down with their future spouses.  All throughout high school I struggled with being single to the point where I thought something was seriously wrong with me.  I was told repeatedly that the right guy was out there for me, and God was preparing him, but it felt more like a pat on the head to an upset child, a band-aid covering a bullet hole.  It hurt and I allowed my obsession to find someone control the majority of my high school life.  I became terrified of being the single girl who would eventually become the dateless woman.  And in my mind, at that point, there was something horrific with that.

Now I’m in college.  The prime time for the dating pool to be jumped right into.  Males are more mature, and you refer to them more as men than boys.  Along with college comes the engagement posts you see on Facebook (or pregnancy) if they’re starting early.  I see something like this at least once a month through mutual friends and the surprising thing is, my mentality has taken a complete change.

I’ve had several opportunities to mix and mingle with men my age and learn more about them.  Interests are different and often times I find them asking me what I want in my future.  I tell them that after graduation I have plans to move to NYC and climb the job ladder quickly.  I have an idea of what I want for my life and for some reason that doesn’t have a wedding ring or a wedding planner in it.

Society pushes marriage and family into the face of most people.  There is nothing wrong with either of these things at all.  I think marriage and starting families are beautiful things, but I also believe that I’m not ready for that.  As much as my sixteen-year-old self craved that future, the now twenty-year-old me is busy falling in love with myself, my major and my friends to be worried about finding someone to settle down with permanently.

I have set massive goals for myself that I want to be able to accomplish on my own – traveling more, moving to a massive city, holding a job in the career path that I am happy with.  I guess some people could see this as selfish or the lonely life, but honestly, I am 100% happy about it.  Learning to love myself and everything that comes with being a college student is an amazing experience that I don’t want to cut short.  I want to be able to complete the goals I set and not have to worry about making sure that someone else is okay with it.

No, I’m not swearing off marriage or motherhood by any means, but for now, I am okay without a ring on my left hand or a wedding planner in my purse.  For some reason, when people hear this from me it comes as a shock and they tell me that the perfect guy is out there.  If he is, that’s fantastic, but if he’s not, I refuse to lay my hopes in another person to bring me happiness.  I don’t need another person to complete me, I need to complete myself.

…..now that I’m at the end of my post I feel like I had a massive purpose for writing this.  But as most of my posts, my train of thoughts derailed awhile ago.  I guess if there’s one takeaway, it’s this.  Don’t force yourself to believe that to be complete you have to get married and have a family at a young age.  Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself and get to know and fall in love with you.  I’m sure getting to fall asleep next to someone you love every night is a beautiful thing, but ultimately you have to love going to bed every night with the person you are individually.

Mutually Understood Situations in College

By Beth Winze

Regardless of what university you may attend, college students relate to each other across different campuses.  Whether it’s an Ivy League school or a community college, all of us are in the similar boat that seems to be caught between the waves of sleep deprivation and planning your schedule for the next semester.  Mutually understood situations are what brings us together and unites us as a collegiate front.  It’s the common thread that ties us together, and in recent weeks, I recognize more and more of my habits are not as uncommon as one would think.  It’s moments at the dinner table where “You do that too?!” bring us together.  So here are situations that I have run into over my experience in college and how not so uncommon they really are.

  1. Falling asleep on the school’s transit system, because you have the chance to sit still and not do anything for the next fifteen minutes back to your dorm
  2. Skipping a class so you can work on homework for that said class
  3. Ordering a double shot from Starbucks with an extra shot of espresso
  4. Adjusting your internal clock so that 9pm is actually only 4pm in the afternoon
  5. Walking out of a test, having tears in your eyes, and someone just silently passes you a tissue
  6. Reading an email addressed to your professor to your roommate because you want to make sure you don’t sound 100% desperate for extra credit
  7. Calculating the minimum grade you have to get on your exams to pass the rest of the class
  8. Getting frustrated when someone tells you that your schedule isn’t miserable at all and you should “see theirs”.
  9. Counting the amount of outfits you have left in your wardrobe and figuring how many more days you can avoid doing laundry
  10. Closing your eyes when you sneeze and accidentally falling asleep
  11. Getting excited to go to Goodwill, because you’re freezing cold for proper clothing and a trip home is several weeks away
  12. Avoiding people who you know will question what your future goals are after graduation
  13. Dividing the time you have left in a class into small chunks to make it more manageable
  14. Feeling behind when the friends that didn’t go to college are getting married and having babies and the only thing you are worried about raising is your GPA
  15. Praying at the dinner table for your GPA to pull through, your professors to cancel class tomorrow, and your mind to calm down enough for at least six hours of sleep
  16. Finishing your homework but still feeling as if there is a massive pile lurking somewhere
  17. Setting life goals for yourself that consist of a job someday that at least pays you $300 a month, because that’s rich compared to you now
  18. Desiring to be 21 so you can go out with your older friends, but also desperately wanting to be 6 again
  19. Stressing about the stress you will get in the near future
  20. Counting how many hours of sleep you will get before setting your alarm
  21. Questioning your life decisions at least 3x a day
  22. Constantly worrying about something being due that you may have forgotten about
  23. Writing an essay so last minute that if it was sent to a 3D printer, it would come out a piece of crap
  24. Feeling rich if more than $5 is in your bank account
  25. Ignoring the fact that you are taking out thousands of dollars in loans every year in hopes that they will go away
  26. Walking into class with sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt and feeling like you tried
  27. Feeling extremely sleep deprived when you don’t get in your daily nap
  28. The feeling that Tuesday is just a second Monday
  29. Justifying your procrastination

Because in the end, majority of us make it through.  But at least these situations allow us to bond and connect in a way most adults can’t.

100% Certain that I am 100% Uncertain

By Beth Winze

I have never been the type of person who is comfortable with a “fly by the seat of your pants” attitude.  I would like to think I am easy going and okay with anything that pops up unexpectedly, but my innate nature is to lean towards schedules, structure and rules.  College hardly fits my mentality though.  The only thing structured currently is classes and the consistent homework load I somehow keep up with, and that makes me completely uncomfortable. But more so this year than last I am slowly working on allowing myself to be okay with unplanned events.

I plan.  Take a look at my Lilly Pulitzer planner and you would find color coded scheduling…..

Yellow for my sorority events

Orange for my homework assignments

Pink for meetings with professors

And blue for random things…….

And those are just the highlights.  There is also post-it lists, pen marks that indicate side notes, and lists of emails and phone numbers of contacts for internships and scholarships.  Then there is the entire page of workout routines and time I carve out for an hour-a-day gym sessions.  I manage myself better when I have a schedule to follow.  I am a creature of habit if it’s not already obvious.  If the smallest thing slips into the schedule, I feel as if my entire day has gone to scrap.  I am the prime lab rat for an OCD experiment.  Take my planner away and I wander campus like a lost puppy.

But college does not allow for a 100% guaranteed schedule.  Things change on the whim, classes are cancelled, homework due dates are shortened or extended, and coffee spills on the fresh white pages you just spent $3.55 printing.  College causes a lot of uncertainty, and for someone who lives for certainty, you can see where there might be a problem.

I have now changed my major three times, joined a sorority after saying I would never be a sorority girl, fallen in love with a new passion, started my own research project without a professor requiring me to do it, and taking complete ownership of my future.  That was totally not in my plan. I was supposed to come to college, graduate with the major I came in with, and sprint into the future I had in mind for myself.

I’m going to take a pause here to let myself laugh hysterically…….

……

……

……

The fact that I even thought that would happen without anything changing is ridiculous.  But I am also learning that it is okay to be uncertain.  I used to see it as a sort of weakness, but when you start to talk to others going through the same “crisis” as you, you realize that maybe it’s not as horrible as you thought it might be.  That it’s natural to be unsure about things.  That no one looks at you as scrutinizingly as you thought they might.  And the more you talk to others, the more you realize they have gone/are going through the same thing you are.

So I “plan” on going through my college career 100% certain that I am 100% uncertain and being 100% okay with that.

The Harm In Blaming Our Generation

By Beth Winze

If you haven’t done it yourself, you’ve heard someone do it.  It’s an easy phrase that passes blame off onto the sole shoulders of a generation.

“It’s your generation’s fault that we are in the mess we are today.”

If you haven’t said, thought, or heard this, then you’re lying to yourself.  Unfortunately, this is one of the largest cop-out phrases that could be said – denying responsibility for previous generations’ actions.

I am a nearly twenty year old female living in the nicknamed “Generation Me” era which people view as self-centered, wasteful, rude and thoughtless towards others.  Even though the statement has yet to be directed to me as a person, I have been told over and over again that our easy acceptance and tolerance of things is killing our nation day by day.

It hurts to be told that something that massive is our fault.  And I have to speak up about it.

I wanted to create a list (love ‘em) about the things our generation does right.  I hope that this list will find people respecting and viewing our generation as more than just the scape goat for a buildup of errors, because after all, speaking up about issues is one our generation’s strong points.

  • We are a fighting generation. We are determined, expansively creative, tolerant, and resourceful in many ways. We are not afraid to go after what we want out of life and this gives us a leg up in a massive amount of things.
  • We have pioneered global frontiers. We aren’t afraid to get out into the world and see it with open eyes.
  • We are tolerant and acceptant of things. We see the world differently and racism and sexism are for years passed. We view people as more than the color of their skin or gender. They are individuals living alongside us.
  • We are snoopy and refuse to take no for an answer. Some might view this as selfish and taken to unhealthy extremes, it may be, but more times than not, it induces change in a much quicker flow than previously. The more we ask “why” or “why not” the more things are re-evaluated and standards are changed.
  • We own our education. College used to be more of an option, but with the job industry requiring or preferentially hiring people educated past high school, we are adapting and pursuing higher forms of education on our own terms and succeeding with degrees in mass quantities.
  • We’re experimental which means we look for new ways to do things. We also aren’t afraid to break boundaries and stereotypes to produce streamlined results.
  • We pursue our passions. We’ve seen and grown up with knowing what “going through the motions” looks like and we don’t want that for ourselves. We seek out bigger and better opportunities and unabashedly petition for improved prospects for ourselves.
  • We speak up. This post along with thousands of other blog posts, tweets, posts, and articles discuss the hard matter of what we deal with and see in the day-to-day grind. If something bothers us, we aren’t afraid to address it or pursue a solution to a problem.
  • We’re resilient. Even though I haven’t been personally affected by divorce, I’ve seen my friends go through it. We are out of control when it comes to what our parents decide, but so many of my friends who have gone through divorce and custody battles with their parents have been built from the fire. The increasing divorce rates are not our generation yet, but the deeply affect us, but we learn to bounce back from hard times into positive advancements.  But that’s just one example of our resiliency.
  • Making a difference in the world is a like-minded target for us. We see the world and are unafraid of diving into it, but we also realize the amount of impact that we have the opportunity to make in it as well. Volunteerism is increasing because of our desire to see things change.
  • We don’t like normal and mundane. We see what happens when trends become permanent lifestyles and as annoying as the “hipsters” can be at times, they also create a curiosity for individualism.

I may be speaking from a deep passion that I alone may have, but I’m tired of being blamed for how things have turned out.  Blaming our generation does nothing for productivity and only discourages us from fully extending ourselves to the 100%.  When someone tells me my generation is at fault, I take personal ownership to that statement, and while it may not be directed at me, it wounds deeply.

I crave nothing more than for previous generations to look at us with respect and admiration for all we have and are accomplishing.  For the naysayers and glass half empty people, each generation has delivered us to the point we are at today.  Not one generation shoulders more of that burden than the next; each generation should be viewed equally responsible for advancements and fall backs that we experience.  There is a massive amount of harm that happens when our generation is blamed.  A bunch of twenty year olds being told that we are the most destructive things to walk the earth does nothing to help us in future pursuits.  We are resilient but we want recognition for that, not the negatives that have chased EVERY generation to where we are today.

 

The 8 – 10 Time Period

By Beth Winze

A tad bit of a prelude:

I hate complaining about things because its negative and does not add any quality to my blogging, but I do have one massive pet peeve, Achilles Heel, kryptonite, undoing (pick your own verbiage) that will drive me to insanity quicker than anything else.  So in my thinking, if I make it fun and comedic, is it really complaining?_________________________________________________________________

The eight to ten o’clock hours are always the worse.  They’re insignificant on a clock, if you ask me.  Filler hours.  Numbers on a rotating wand letting you know you have entered a time trap.  They carry different implication in the morning and in the night, but both still remain highly unnecessary.

Eight in the morning means I’ve clocked in already and have taken my first swig (out of dozens) of coffee.  I sit at my desk, not fully awake, yet not sleepy enough to doze off – the horrible medium of glazed over in which your eyes represent those of a Krispy Kreme donut.  My head’s still thick from last night’s dreams and my body moves sluggishly waiting for the coffee to do its job.  When a noise is made, it sounds louder than normal and I keep my eyes squinted against the off white glare of office fluorescents.  My eyes can’t focus on the screen full of millions of pixels.  I cross them and uncross them in an attempt to sharpen my vision.  I’m waiting for nine. 

Nine rolls through on its own timing, making it feel like it’s been more than an hour since I’ve started and I’m already anxiously looking forward to five in the evening.  The first cup of coffee has sludge piled in the bottom and I try to mix it with the tiny amount gathered at the bottom.  It’s cold.  Great.  While I am more alert, I am still too lazy to go fill it back up.  I look at my watch more times than I should, daring time to move faster.  But nine keeps steady…..click, click, click, mocking me with every twitch of a second it moves.  I wait until nine thirty to fill my cup again, spacing my activities out so that I feel like time is passing quicker than it is in reality.  Come on ten.

Finally, ten rolls around and time picks up its dragging skirts and steps a little more lively – as if it has taken two hours for a steam powered train to get enough chug behind it to see results.  The coffee has run its course and the second cup is not far behind moving my body into hyper drive.  I’m alert and productive and the overhead lighting is less annoying now.  I see a little hope in the knowledge that I’m almost through the hardest part of the morning.  Eleven, come to Mama. 

Eight in the evening is correspondingly ill-fated, but only on the weekdays.  Eight means that dinner is over and the darkness outside is blanketing the grass too quickly, tucking the world in for the night.  Now the mosquitos are out.  Even though there is still time to accomplish things, I feel like Time is coming for me and in only an hour or so, I will be placed in its handcuffs.  Why at the opposite end of the day does eight pass by ridiculously fast?  Nine, stay away. 

Nine rolls in like a speeding freight train threatening me with the approaching call to slumber that comes earlier than I would like.  Nine thirty means I start my monotonous routine of showering, brushing, flossing, picking out clothes and setting out coffee for the next morning.  Nine means I have to start thinking about the next day and the next set of eight and nine’s that won’t pass by as quickly as their evening sister does.  Sigh.  There’s no stopping Ten. 

Ten rides Nine like a tailgater on the highway, pushing it along at a clipped pace that finds me lying in bed staring at a dark ceiling.  I’ve set my alarms for six in the morning, but it’s not the early wake up I dread, but rather the imposing eight o’clock hour that looms on the two hour horizon from six.  I roll over and turn on Netflix for a while, hoping and praying that my show will take forever to finish before I have to turn it off and attempt sleep.  But the forty-five minute show rolls credits and as I close my eyes, the awareness of the following eight to ten o’clock hours chases me into my nightmares.

Monsters on Map Edges

By Beth Winze

I used to babysit a lot when I was a teenager.  I loved watching kids because it allowed me to stay connected with my childhood for much longer than normally allowed.  Kids don’t judge you if you’re nineteen and still making pillow forts.  Instead, they believe you are the most wonderful thing to walk this planet.  Inevitably, with babysitting, comes the responsibility of dealing with the weird quirks that kids have as well.  Pretending the floor is lava, reading them the same story three times in a row, and peeling their apple from bottom up because “that’s how Mommy does it.”  But I enjoyed babysitting so the weirdness that came with the kids was nothing.  But I never quite understood one oddity that ran consistent in the majority of the kids that I babysat, and it always reared its distorted head at bedtime.  Monsters in the closet.

So, I created a routine.  I would grab the nearest thing that could be a “weapon of monster destruction”, and I would hunch down, creeping along the wall until I got to the closet.  I would push the door back and go inside, and rustle around for a bit, only to appear a minute later at the Victorious Monster Slayer.  The kids found peace in the fact that I had eliminated the monsters for them and they slept soundly.

Throughout the Medieval Times, when the world was being discovered, maps were made that hosted grotesque looking monsters on their edges.  Ridiculous beasts were depicted biting ships in half and swallowing people whole.  The sea fiends were nothing like the reality of the ocean we know today.  The brutes were all painted and drawn onto the parts of the ocean that had not been voyaged yet.  These areas were completely unknown to sailors, so logically; they had to imagine the worst of what was out there, even though the oceans they had already navigated held nothing of the sorts.  They were just like the children that I was babysitting.  The kids had no difficulties entering their closets in the day, but come nightfall, they grew an extreme fright for the same thing that they weren’t afraid of only a few hours earlier.

The kids’ behavior and the medieval sailors inaccurate portrayal of the ocean is entertaining to us now, but I realized we are all like that.  We all have monsters on a map or in a closet that keep us from functioning at full potential.  Fear holds us back far too often.  We ask others to scare the monsters away for us, instead of conquering them ourselves.  I’ve also learned that 99.9% of the time, my fear is absurd and trivial.  I am putting too much time and thought into something that shouldn’t be feared.  In all actuality, I am permitting fear to door jamb any prospective chances that could walk through.  But holding onto fear seems, for some illogical reason, a million times easier than clearing it out of the way so that my life can ensue the way it should.

Every time I babysat kids, I routined myself into slaying their monsters, and providing them with a worry free sleep.  But in the end, I was dis-servicing them.  I was eliminating their fears for them, so while everything was fine for one night, their fears came back the next time.  I started encouraging them to go into the closet and kill the monsters themselves.  On one such occasion I persuaded a kid to take up arms and destroy his invisible adversary.  When he entered the closet, he looked around and then back at me.

“There’s no monster in here!” His face only had shock plastered on it.

“Well, he must have seen you and ran, I mean, he’s probably more scared of you then you are of him.” I replied.

My answer was an artless explanation, but after that, I never had to slay monsters for him again.  He slept in peace knowing that the monster was scared of him.  He had nothing to worry himself over anymore.

I’ve learned to do that with my unknowns.  They will forever lurk in my closet, causing me to lose sleep and time unless I make them known.  The minute something is known, the majority of the fear that held me captive flees.  It’s more scared of me then I am of it.  So instead of saying “no” the minute I am uncomfortable with something, or hesitating when I have something come up that worries me, I wait it out, because mind over matter tells me that I’ll be just fine.

We all have our monsters drawn on the edges of our maps, but they can be erased by realizing they aren’t really there, or as toothy and menacing as they are in our heads.  Those toothy, menacing beasts exist because we haven’t taken the time or chance to explore the full reality of what lies out there.  I’ve learned to crack open that closet door at night and peer inside for myself because no amount of sitting on my bed covered in blankets was going to disprove their existence.

You owe it to yourself to not live in fear.

An Open Letter To People Who Don’t Understand Depression

By Beth Winze

Dear Person,

I deal with depression everyday.  I am sure that if you already know me or would meet me on the street, it would not be your first guess, that deep down inside I carry a rock of guilt and hopelessness like it’s an extra lung for oxygen.  I keep it buried inside and deal with it, silently frustrated with myself and dealing day-in and day-out with an imbalance of my emotions.  But here is what’s hardest.  When someone finally breaks through enough of the protective walls I’ve built around my disorder to discover my secret, they usually look at me funny and let me know that “It’s just a phase” or “You can’t be depressed.  Your life doesn’t qualify as depression-worthy.”  So I want to put a face on depression, because as much as I am the least likely candidate, I fight with it daily.

People like me who struggle with depression daily aren’t always the melancholy people you see quietly drinking tea in the corner with tears streaming down our cheeks.  I can be the most extroverted person, usually using my out-going nature to avoid the reality of my emotions.  In fact, I usually prefer that people don’t know.  It feels easier to deal with it on my own, and I usually learn that it’s impossible to work through entirely on my own.  Positivity does happen in my life, it comes and goes, but when I feel positive, I also am simultaneously anticipating the minute something negative will interfere with my temporary happiness.

When I find myself in a particularly deep depression the thought of doing anything more then what requires me to survive another day wears me out.  It can be as simple as not hanging out with friends or as massive as completely cutting people off.  And I usually can never explain the exact thing that’s causing so much disturbance in my brain.

I also try my hardest to make people realize that it’s an actual disorder.  When I do trust them to help me, I feel a great fear that I will get scoffed or shrugged off as just another “whiner” about my “dramatic” life.  Ergo, keeping it inside is easier then dealing with scorn.

But I can also tell you this.  There are some people, rare, but true friends out there, who want to know when you are going through depression.  They want to know what makes your heart hurt and talk with you about ways to distract you or encourage you to seek help.  Those are the people I need in my life.  They hold your hand when you are having a panic attack about a future fear and they hold you close when you need to stare silently and deal with your emotions internally.

Depression is a disorder that 16 million adults deal with every year.  It has a very real affect on how we work, sleep, live, eat, and think.  It is easiest to treat with medicine and counseling, but I don’t want to just be another medicated patient pacified by chemicals.  We need people who are willing to understand what depression really is.  People who won’t tell us that our lives aren’t “depression-worthy”, but rather someone who is there, even if they can’t relate.  Depression and other mental illness’s can be addressed and numbers can decline if people would understand the severity of depression.  Please don’t write us off as unnecessarily sad people.  See us as people struggling with a disorder and come along side us and help us with it.

What It Means to be an English Major in Gifs

By Beth Winze

Someone told me the other day that they do not understand what it means to be an English major.  And this is honestly something I run across more often then not — that, or they automatically assume I am set out to be a grade school or high school teacher.  Wrong.  In fact, just the idea of teaching terrifies me…you see, I am not a public speaker and I never fit in as a high schooler so combining those two and dealing with them daily is worse then dreaming about going to class with no pants on in my mind.  Plus, I love reading and writing, so I prefer to dream about editing and publishing so I can be snoopy into other people’s writing works AND help them along with their dream to be a published author.  But that’s besides the point of this post.  I sat down and made a list of what it means to be an English major.  And quite frankly, it cracks me up.  So I invite you into my mind as an English major and hopefully the minds of most of us.  Or this post might be helpful in directing you if you are on the precipice of deciding to join the ravishing major that is us Englishers.

1.  Our romantic ideals make it nearly impossible for anyone to measure up.  Sorry, friend, but you are no Mr. Darcy, Augustus Waters, or  Edward Rochester.  

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2. We totally nerd out over new pens, journals, and stationery sets.  Seriously it’s a problem.  But we also tend to struggle writing in them because we might mess them up, or goodness forbid, have to rip a page out.

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3. We cannot and I mean CANNOT read books without seeing a deeper meaning.  A sentence like: “The cat jumped out of the bag and into his owner’s arms” is interpreted to life afflictions such as, “The cat removed itself from the safety of it’s known comfort and jumped into the foreboding arms of the unknown.”  And unfortunately, it’s not something we can turn off.

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4. Getting multiple bookshelves is not even a question.  It hurts to pack your beloved books in a box, ergo, they must be housed in multiple units.

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5. Correcting someone’s improper grammar often finds us deeply satisfied.  But we also hate being labeled Grammar Nazi’s.  I much prefer Grammar Police: To correct and serve.

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6. Book hangovers are a very real thing to us.  A character dies, a part of us dies along with them.

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7. We miss college because Socratic discussions gave you an excuse to ignore reality and to divulge in works of literature that spoke to our hearts.

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8. Then there is the very real annoyance when people try to “inform” you that English is a useless major in which you will eat ramen noodles the rest of your life because that’s all you will be able to afford.

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9. We narrate our own lives in our heads.  We are our own character in life’s novel.

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10. We are consistently told that we are irrationally emotional.

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11. We refuse the eBook culture and embrace the tree-destroying one, because nothing beats the feel of a book in your hands.

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12. The smell of books beats any blunt, joint, or cig one would ever smoke to get high.  This one is a natural high we live for.

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13. Maths and sciences are an actual fear.

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14. Writer’s block is an all too familiar friend.

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15. And finally.  The hardest one yet.  Trying to decide how honest you need to be when your non-English major friends ask you to proof their papers.  Save a friendship or save a teacher’s eyes….decisions, decisions.  

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And there you have it.  What it means to be an English major in gifs.  Come on, isn’t it at least a little funny?

Exicted Anxiety

By Beth Winze

It’s finally May, which means that I am creating this blog post in the midst of studying for my final exams and trying to keep myself calm.  It’s also move out week, which means I have a lot of good-byes coming up.  Hard.  But since it is finally May, I can also tell people that at the end of this month, I will be flying to Costa Rica to live.  Woah.  Since first deciding to go and making the first downpayment, it has been nothing but a roller coaster of strange emotions.  Some are irrational fears, and others are very rational bouts excitement.  I was talking to a dear friend of mine yesterday about my fears for the trip and he said the most precise thing that describes the emotion. “It’s (the trip) staring you right in the face and you are anxious enough that it gives you a sense of fear, but you are also excited enough that it gives you a sense of wild adventure.”  And that ladies and gents is where I am at.  Excited and anxious and while those two emotions don’t often go hand in hand, I have had to learn how to work through them when they hit me at the same time.

I am living in Costa Rica for a month of my summer immersed in 24/7 Spanish culture in which I have minimal experience in.  That sentence alone is enough to freak me out.  But I am also in a country for one month of my summer depending on my ability to quickly adapt, learn, and cultivate an entirely new version of me.  And that sentence is enough to keep me determined.  Several doubts have found themselves weaving into my mind as time wears on, “Is it worth it?”, “What if I completely fail?”, “What if I’m miserable?”  And while it may seem like I’m playing a pity trip, I do have to come to terms with the enormity of the trip I am undertaking.  So last week, I made the decision to write out my fears and address them one by one.  Because if the trip is going to stare me in the face, I need to stare my fears in the face, because I don’t see them going away anyway else.

1. I am alone in a foreign country.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

– Zephaniah 3:17

2. I don’t speak the native language as well as I would like.

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall

– Ephesians 2:14

3. I don’t have any close friends going with me.

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

– John 15:15

4. I am away from everything familiar.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

– John 14:27

5.  I have to fly and navigate airports on my own.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 

– 2 Timothy 1:7

6. I am away from my family.  And not just three hours away.  I am 1773.2 miles away.  Across a gulf AND country borders. 

May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

– 2 Thessalonians 3:16

And that is how I am learning to deal with my fears if and when they arise.  There is no other method that casts out all anxiety like the Word of God.  And that’s how powerful His Word is.  Enough to take the bundle of nerves and anxiety that sit in my gut and completely dispel them when they try to take root.  This is a scary thing for me, but God has made it clear that this is what I need to be doing with part of my summer.  Learning to trust Him when all other familiarities are taken out of the equation.  I think that maybe that’s what His bigger lesson in all this is.  But we’ll just have to wait and see.

Chasing Sunsets

By Beth Winze

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Last weekend a few friends and I decided that we wanted to journey twenty minutes down the road to connect with the Blue Ridge Parkway and watch the sunset at the top.  As we were driving we noticed the sun sinking lower and lower in the sky and we felt our hopes waning with the last rays of sun.  We had timed it all wrong and there was no way we could make it through the winding height of the mountains to catch the view we so desperately wanted to see.  But we tenaciously pursued the sun until we found ourselves sitting at the top staring at the sun which was surprisingly still suspended high enough in the air for another thirty minutes of light.  We walked around together, taking pictures waiting for the sun to kiss the top of the distant mountains.  Finally, the long awaited minutes came and we watched as the sky faded from blue to pink to orange to a star covered twilight as the sun gave up it’s last rays of light.  We had caught that moment perfectly and the pictures we took will never truly describe all that laid out before us.  We were standing at the top of nature’s throne room gazing at the entire kingdom of mountains stretched out before us…

I was taken by bitter nostalgia today as I realize just how much closer my move out day is.  It seems like just yesterday I was moving into the small cinderblock room that I would find myself calling “home” for eight months.  It also seemed nearly impossible at that time that this room would become such a memory filled space like it is today.  But the time that once seemed interminably long is a mere sixteen days into my future, and now it’s moving way too fast.  My friends and I have been chasing this sunset, hoping for the right minute to watch as the sun sinks on our first year of college.  Feeling as if the timing is all wrong and it will never work. Yet it’s here, those long awaited thirty minutes spent taking pictures and hanging out while we wait for the sun to kiss the mountains in the distant.  And just like that, I felt as I did on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s sinking way too fast.  The more I clutch to it, the faster it slips out of my grasp.

Some of these friends are not returning next year because their lives are taking a different path.  It hurts to think of not watching the sunset next year with those same people.  As I am stuck here watching the last waning rays of our sun sink behind mountains.  The time we waited so long and impatiently for is here.  I want to be sad.  I want to be frustrated that I did not cherish more minutes while the sun was high in the sky, but it is pointless.  Because each new day brings a new sunset, some more brilliant then the previous.  And life carries on that way.  One sunset to the next.  With the hope of another sunset less then twenty-four hours away.  So as the sun burns low, I will get out my camera and pay more attention to those in the silhouette of the present sunset, but look forward to the next sunset just over those mountains.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Pratchett