More than “Enough”

Friends and acquaintances alike have reached out over various mediums (email, Facebook, warm mugs of tea, emojis…) to tell me how much they can relate to my experience expressed in my latest post, “Enough.” The post was mainly my way of sharing my thoughts on my personal journey through self-awareness and seeking to better understand my own identity and authenticity. It turns out a lot of my peers are deep in the trenches of this process. Many of us are asking these questions of ourselves. The matter of identity is a timely one.

I was a little nervous to share that post. Much of it is verbatim from my personal journal (with slightly better comma usage), which I usually keep securely to myself for fear of judgement and overexposure. But what is the point of pursuing authenticity without seeking your own truth, whatever it may be. Exposing who you are – the parts you would gladly share and the bits and pieces you’d rather keep hidden – is the essence of finding contentment and gratitude within your own identity. Whether that process is through journaling, running, reading, or blogging, discovering and exposing the inner workings of oneself is grounding and inspiring.

It appears that many of us, my collegiate peers in particular, are yearning for this exposure. For something raw, unfiltered, and real. I’m thrilled to help start this conversation.

 

Finding faith

Finding faith

And with that we are halfway through my undergraduate career.

I am stuck somewhere between exhilaration at the opportunities ahead and sheer terror at the prospect of being one year closer to reality. Over the course of the last year, I have emerged from my dimly lit freshman dorm room open to growth, discovery and relentless epiphanies. I have learned the value of trust. I have learned how to be independent without being isolated. I have learned that seeking guidance is not a sign of weakness. I have learned that I am not alone.

Freshman year, I carried a blank compass, certain it would lead me to success. I blindly and impulsively followed a sporadic arrow, never settling into one place, fearful of the consequences of becoming too comfortable. I shied from commitment, struggled with independent decisions and sought validation. White knuckled from clutching this compass, I lacked direction. I lacked awareness. I lacked purpose. I was lost.

This year, I relinquished my fear of failure and embraced the unknown. I asked questions. I wandered. I lost my compass and instead stumbled into a house near the edge of campus. Initially fearful and timid, I hid in its shadows. I was quiet. I was attentive. I was curious. I kept coming back. Gradually, armed with a nametag and sparked curiosity, I entered this house alone, without a shadow to hide behind. I was greeted with smiles. With assurance. With grace. Strangers became friends, and friends became confidants. I found myself longing for this house, craving the abundance of laughter, warmth and faith it fostered. I was no longer scared. This house became a home. I stopped looking for my compass. I have been found.

Rarely, if ever, do I share my thoughts on faith. Until last January, I had none. When asked about my religious views, I described myself as a “blank page.” Occasionally I would write in pencil on this page, perhaps to please someone or to fill a temporary void, but it would always be erased and quickly forgotten. I find comfort in being knowledgeable and aware, in being the teacher and not the student. I relish control. It wasn’t until I realized that this scope of control is so small, so minute, that I discovered I actually have none. I stumbled and struggled at the onset of this realization freshman year. I masked it and clutched whatever remnants of control remained. This was unsustainable. I was unhappy. I lacked perspective. Every event was a tumultuous one. I was drowning, unaware that I was surrounded by air.

This home I stumbled into led to fantastic and growing friendships. They embraced my blank page. They handed me pencils, erasers, pens and permanent markers, allowing me to write, erase, scribble and doodle whatever felt right, free of judgment and free of fear. They accepted my limited knowledge and thought nothing of it. They embraced me, for me. They were patient. They answered my questions and weren’t afraid to admit when they too didn’t know the answer. This community helped me start a conversation with something far bigger than myself. From the first Thursday I stumbled into that house on the corner of campus, I realized that I am not alone. I was never alone.

I have started writing onto this page, in ink. I have found a home in my faith. I have found direction, purpose and a greater sense of awareness. I can breathe again. God has graced me with perspective. He has shown me that no matter how difficult, daunting or dark my day may be, I am blessed. Through His grace and my constant pursuit of His truth, I have found hope. I have discovered that my God is your God, and your God is my God. That every prayer is heard. That I have a voice, but that I also have an ear to listen. Life’s mysteries persist, but they have a larger meaning, a meaning beyond comprehension. I make an effort to be still, to take notice of the subtleties of these mysteries and realize that my purpose is far greater than I could ever comprehend. Faith is powerful. The Spirit can thunderously echo throughout your life, and yet make itself appear so small and minute that you almost miss it. I’m keen to listen. I’m ready to learn. I’m open to His grace.

When I return to campus this fall, I get to come home. Still armed with my nametag and relentless curiosity, I get to embark on this journey with a listening ear, inquiring mind and open arms. Since realizing and accepting my faith, every action has become purposeful; every failure a masked opportunity, and every person a messenger of His grace. God is my compass. He will bring me home.

College: Round 2

College: Round 2

It’s good to be back.

After a year of constant transitions – including completing my freshman year of college, driving across the country for my dream internship, moving to a place where I knew all of two people (via Facebook – I never actually talked to them before arriving), driving back to Indiana only to completely change my training, mindset and perspective, to take on intense treatment for my tibial stress fracture and then to pack everything up once again to move down to Bloomington – it’s nice to finally settle in, if only for two semesters.

I’m out of the dorms this year, but am still living on campus, this time in an apartment. I’m living with my best friend, who’s also my role model and mentor. And it’s fantastic. We moved in less than a week ago, but I already feel at home.

Coming to Bloomington was a bit of a shock to the system at first – I spent the majority of my summer being a bit of a hermit, training, working and then religiously watching The Mindy Project alone in my apartment. I went to bed early, woke up with the sun and enjoyed following my own schedule with zero distractions from anyone other than my roommate and the bunny we pet-sat for a couple weeks. I was able to focus on placing myself first, something I neglected last year at IU, and I formed some great habits. I took care of my body, relished in simplicity and rekindled my love for cooking. What began as an eight-week internship with my dream publication became eight weeks of self-discovery, healing and prioritizing, with a nice internship on the side.

Now, it’s time to test these lessons I’ve learned, and the exam has already begun. With Welcome Week.

Welcome Week is known to be a bit boisterous, with a lot of activities, drinking and partying. Essentially the opposite of my summer. Needless to say, it has been and continues to be fantastic to catch up with friends, meet some new ones and be surrounded by tens of thousands of others my age, but it has also been overwhelming. Gone are the quiet streets of La Jolla. Instead, hoards of girls in high-waisted shorts and guys in bro tanks fill the scene. Beer cans, empty liquor bottles and red solo cups line some streets and yards, and as comical (or depressing – depending on how you look at it) the scene of a large public institution may be during a hot and humid week in August, it’s also reassuring. It reminds me that while, yes, the party culture is present and thriving – so is another culture, a culture of watching a documentary with my roommate; of going for a bike ride with friends, or catching up with those you’ve missed over pad thai and frozen yogurt. A culture of going to a party and encountering intellectually stimulating conversations, laughs and zero pressure to drink. This is the culture I have found and embraced at IU. This is why I am proud to call myself a Hoosier.

A large part of this week has been welcoming the freshman class of the scholarship program I’m a part of at IU. Thinking back to a year ago – the thoughts and anxieties that ran through my mind while moving in, the first party I went to, my first friendships, and the inevitable mistakes I made – has forced me to experience an upheaval of emotions this week. Some regret, some angst, some fear, but also plentiful happiness and a lot of gratitude. Gratitude for the patience of those around me and for my own patience. College is tough, but it is also magical time. If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that you cannot live with regret, with mistakes come knowledge, with knowledge comes preparation, and with preparation comes a brighter tomorrow. While there are some things from last year that result in me shaking my head, they also result in me stepping forward with greater confidence, experience and knowledge for the exciting road ahead.

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future. – Fulton Oursler

The pangs of regret that we all inevitably experience at one, or several, points in our lives do little to promote our happiness. The fears we have of the future, its darkness and entrapping corners, do little to help us navigate it. While banishing regret is easier said than done, especially when triggers arouse emotional responses and memories, it’s a worthwhile effort. Living each day without fear, fear of consequences, the unknown, regret, is equally as challenging and rewarding. With a new school year comes new beginnings, and these beginnings start with me. I’m making the conscious decision to banish regret, live without fear and begin each day with a bold step forward. A step toward my dreams, toward the unknown.

Here’s to another year as a Hoosier. Another year of self-discovery, newfound passions and cream and crimson. Another year of hard bike rides, healthy runs and bigger dreams. Another year of friendship, learning and exploring. Raise your glass, whether it’s filled with cheap beer, water or a protein shake, to year No. 2 – the best year yet.

Habit forming role models

Habit forming role models

As promised, I’m back at the keyboard.

I wanted to avoid this and continue scrolling Instagram, but I thought better of it. I can watch 10 second videos of professional triathletes riding on the trainer some other time, for now I have a habit to form.

While this daily blogging habit idea has been a personal goal for quite some time, the extra push needed to make it a reality came from a role model of mine, Lauren Fleshman. Yes, I know – I said I wouldn’t base my personal “flashes of brilliance” on others’ own habits, but Lauren Fleshman is an exception. While I’ve only interacted with her via twitter (@laurenfleshman), I feel like I know her. She is a fantastic writer, writing about the true struggles a professional athlete, mom and entrepreneur endures with zero boundaries, making her blog incredibly relatable and inspiring. I hope to muster up the courage to bare all, the good and the bad, the successes and the pitfalls, with those around me. When I am unsure of what to do or where to go next, I find myself on her website, scouring the Ask Lauren Fleshman questions and answers, sure someone else has experienced this dilemma. More often than not they have, and Lauren further confirms that we are not alone. We are never alone.

Lauren Fleshman is real. She is brilliant, witty, passionate and genuine. She is an incredible athlete, but an even better person. Her stories serve as a reminder that no matter what happens down the road, it will all be okay. No matter how insurmountable today’s challenges may seem, nothing is impossible.

While, yes, this is essentially an elongated tweet expressing my admiration for an elite athlete I have never met – who happens to be married to another idol of mine, Jesse Thomas, but that’s only slightly relevant – it is also a sentiment toward the future and what I aspire to become. An individual as powerful, humble and determined as Lauren Fleshman. Someone with the courage to share my story with the world, because for all I know there may be another young girl, looking for a reason to keep dreaming, and maybe, just maybe, I can eventually be the one to help fuel that dream. By sharing my story. By helping others realize they are not alone. By shining light on the endless possibilities before us. Here’s to dreaming – and then writing about it. Thanks, Lauren.

 

The Intimidation Factor

The Intimidation Factor

Well, this is rather intimidating.

I’ve been staring at a blinking cursor for about an hour now, so we’re just going to dive in. Start writing things and cross our fingers they’re cohesive. Here goes…

I started this blog to get over the intimidation of sharing my writing, my thoughts and my passions. But I also started it to serve as a foundation for such passions; to become a place I can turn back to and remember my journey and the many tumbles, leaps and bounds within it. The journey is ever-lasting, but for now let’s start with a brief introduction.

I’m somewhat vertically challenged, have a slight obsession with music and a major obsession with triathlons. I enjoy going to bed early and getting up before the sun (at least that’s what I tell myself when I set my alarm each night). I am a firm believer in taking chances, but sometimes have trouble taking them myself. I binge on Honey-nut Chex and will never turn down a chunk of high-quality French cheese. I have attachment anxiety with my bike and waste as much time as possible on the pool deck before I start a swim workout. There is no better feeling than when everything clicks on a run. I’m gifted at the art of overanalyzing, and I love independent films.

I’m happiest when I’m training.

Okay. That wasn’t so bad. I might just keep writing.