Work Week! I Moved! A New Chapter!

Every year, Panhellenic hosts a big event for all of the chapters to come out and show “Pan love.” Each chapter dresses up in their theme / colors.

After returning from Mexico, it was time to start the next chapter in my life. 10 days after returning to the USA, I moved in to my sorority house to prepare for recruitment. I was / am so excited to have the opportunity to live in the house with all of my great pals!

My roomie Sarah and I in our new room!

After we moved in, we immediately started preparation for recruitment. This process was rather overwhelming, to be honest. We learned door songs, watched talented sisters practice their speaking / special singing parts, and decorated various rooms in our house. Of course, we also had lots of fun too: snow cones on our big lawn, a carnival-themed dinner, late night Sonic runs. This all took place over the course of the week. Tomorrow, recruitment starts and I am both nervous and excited. It should be interesting, that’s for sure!

It was my friend Katie’s birthday the other day. We surprised her by blindfolding her and taking her to some of her favorite places around Norman and decorating her room.
We had “Alumni Night” where the alumni come and watch some of the productions / songs that we have prepared for recruitment week.
Katie girl!! <3

As I said, recruitment starts tomorrow. Wish us luck and sanity, please!

Leaving Security, Choosing Joy

Wow. I don’t even know where to start this post, honestly.

Maybe with Proverbs 16:9. “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” How true this is. And how good this is.

Since I was 16, my plans were to graduate with a nursing degree and come out of college with a solid career that would give me good pay, good hours, and a good job security. As a nurse, I would make a lot of money and not really have to worry about the future. It was my security blanket.

So I ignored the still, small voice that reminded me that I hate the smell of hospitals. Ignored the quiver in my stomach every time someone talked about blood. Struggled and cried my way through the science classes that I knew deep down were not my passion. Put on a brave smiling face and told everyone that nursing was my passion because I was afraid to admit that I was only choosing this path out of a fear of the unknown. Submitted my application to nursing school and rejoiced over my acceptance letter because it was my ticket to a life of comfort and security. Or so I thought.

It’s funny how your decisions will eventually catch up with you.

As I was driving around the campus of the OKC Health Sciences center after meeting with my enrollment advisor, I had the moment. You know, the moment when everything catches up with you and you realize you’ve made a ginormous mistake? The moment when the tears come faster than your brain realizes what’s happening and you spend 45 minutes driving the same loop because your heart and your brain and your spirit are all saying something different? The moment when the truth shines through and you stop and wonder why you’ve been lying to yourself for the past five years? Yep, it was that moment.

I realized that the passions that the Lord had placed in my heart were not for nursing. It was my own fleshly passions for comfort, security, and a clear life path that had driven me to pursue this path. I hate blood. I hate hospitals. I hate vomit. I hate needles. I’m not good at comforting sick and hurting people. I have no desire to spend two years studying pharmacology and how to give an IV or a shot. (It honestly feels good to confess this after years and years of pretending that I liked it.) It’s crazy how a desire for pleasure and comfort can be used by the enemy to bring so many lies and so much deception until it’s hard to distinguish what is true and what is not.

But the light has finally come on. The truth has finally come out. I’ve talked with my parents and with other people whose judgement I trust who have helped me to see truth and to pursue it in my life. I’m still working on letting go of the pride that has kept me wrapped up in the identity of a nursing student for so long. I’m still working on facing the fear of an uncertain future that comes with changing a plan I’ve held onto for five years. But I know that no matter what happens, the Lord will determine my steps.

So I’m majoring in Spanish. Basically the opposite of nursing, there’s no real secure or certain path that follows graduating with a degree in Spanish. What I do know, though, is that the Lord has given me a desire to communicate with people, a desire to make them feel comfortable and safe and loved. He has given me the ability to learn languages and to use them. He has been so gracious in tenderly guiding me towards the path that will give me joy rather than security, because in the end, He, not my career or my major, is my only security. I don’t have to know what I’m doing after graduation (or even what I’m doing tomorrow) because He already knows. And his plan is infinitely more beautiful and unique and glorifying than my plan could ever be.

So I’m trusting. I’m letting go of pride. I’m letting go of my identity. I’m pursuing the passions that He’s placed inside of me because they are there for a reason. I’m letting go of fear of the future, of the fear of other people’s judgement, and of a fear of failure and instead believing that He will make my life beautiful and pleasing to Him.

Praise the Lord for freedom. Praise Him for truth. Don’t allow a desire for comfort or security to smother the truth about who you are and what you were made to do. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Live the life He made you to live, because that life is the only life that can truly satisfy.

Thoughts from Paris

This past week in Paris, I decided to venture on my own for a little bit. After leaving the Lourve, where I stayed for four hours with my parents, I decided to head to the Museum of Modern Art. It was about a 49 minute walk, or a 7 minute taxi ride. Being the fit & fun & frugal gal that I am (haha), I decided to walk it. The walk was long, but enjoyable. It went very quickly and I enjoyed having some time to myself. I walked along the Seine river and saw some amazing views of the city.

As I walked, I thought about how I would be the only one to ever have this memory. I would be the only one to remember both the disappointment of realizing that the MoMA was closed and the excitement when I stumbled along a cute bookstore. This, to me, is very special. I really like the idea of traveling alone. At some point in my life, I plan to travel alone. Where I’ll go? Who knows. Wherever I want!

New Year Resolutions Update

Guess who hardly held any of her New Years Resolutions??? THIS GIRL!!

I have been going to bed earlier…. as for the rest of them, however, it’s a little iffy. This semester was academically and personally challenging. Despite the fact that I did not uphold my resolutions, I am happy and feel that 2017 has been a great year. Throughout the rest of this year, I am going to try to “live out” the resolutions.

Better late than never, right?

Small

“List three words that you would use to describe yourself.”

This is a question that I have been asked hundreds of times between leadership camps and interviews. Despite all of this practice, I have always struggled to answer this question. Three words to describe me?

I am organized — no question about it. I’m funny — despite the fact that I laugh at my own jokes AND I’m probably the only person that would describe myself this way. I am decisive — unless it comes to ordering at restaurants.

However, right now, I have never been more sure of a word to describe myself: small.

Over the past 3 weeks, I have traveled through Italy with some of my closest friends. I have been to Rome, Vatican City (does that count???), Florence, Sienna, Arezzo, Pisa, Viareggio, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, and Positano.

These places have all contributed to making me feel small. Now, I don’t mean to say that I feel insignificant or weak. I simply feel that there is so much of this world that I haven’t explored. Sure, the world is big. But this is the first time in my life where I have truly acknowledged this.

I have just arrived in Paris, France. I’m going to spend about a week here before heading back to the states. Upon my arrival home, I’ll share some of my pictures and experiences.

Goodbye for now!

January 2017

BAM! Just like that and January is over! January threw a series of curveballs my way, yet somehow I came out happier and better than ever. As for my New Year’s (Month’s) Resolution? NAILED IT!

Have I gone to bed early for the past consecutive 31 nights? NOPE! Have I consistently tried to go to bed early, wake up with plenty of time to spare, and pay careful attention to the way my body and mind feel? YES! Do I consider this month’s resolution a success?? ABSOLUTELY!

I can’t wait to see what February holds. This month has been challenging, but I think that it was an encouraging and hopeful start to 2017.

I am beyond thankful for everything. The people in my life, the organizations in my life, the mere fact that I get the chance to be ALIVE. That’s incredible.

This is all.

Happy NYE!!

Me turning my head @ 2016. Bring it, 2017!!!

I think that I will start trying to write on this blog more. It seems like a good way to document my life and experiences and such.

This year, I decided to break up my resolutions and give myself one per month. This way, I’ll be able to focus on only one resolution, while continuously trying to achieve all of them. So in January, I will try to do all six of these resolutions, but I will only hold myself fully accountable for the one that I plan to focus on (to get more sleep). I have only created resolutions through May, so that I can adjust them in case this system does not work. I also want to choose words each month that will be my “motto” for the month. I’ll post updates about those words on here as well!

Wish me luck, here we go!! Also, if you know me personally, hold me accountable for all of these resolutions, hehe!!

January: Get more sleep and form healthy sleeping habits. This will help you stay alert in classes and have the energy to fully interact and experience all situations.

February: Work out 3 times a week, at least. You deserve to feel strong, healthy, and fabulous in your own body. So make it happen!!!!

March: Write in your journal or on your blog. You may want to reflect on these days later in the year or in life. Give yourself the opportunity to!

April: Find time to read for pleasure. This one may be tricky because it’s in such a busy time of the year. So perhaps the challenge for this month is to be gentle with yourself, and to not push yourself too unnecessarily hard. Find a good balance!

May: Take care of yourself. This month will hold finals and the beginning of your study abroad experiences. Make sure that you are fully experiencing all the opportunities that you are afforded, but do not run yourself down to the point that you are not able to enjoy them anymore. you can do this!!

Reflections on a Special Semester

This semester has been a whopper. I’ve learnt a lot – including the “proper” spellings of many words.

There’ve been quite a few listicles lately, so this will be more of a, let’s say… stream of consciousness post (throwback to our Faulkner unit, 11th grade English).

I came into this semester running away from some things – responsibility, a familiar (and therefore slightly less magical) place, my own fears. I thought a new place would bring a miraculous awakening of purpose, which was flawed logic. But surprisingly, this hope came true anyway.

Let me clarify – it had nothing to do with my move of house, university, country, and continent. It had nothing to do with buying a plane ticket and running away.

It had everything to do with surrounding myself with an entirely new environment made up of new people, new challenges, and new responsibilities. This could’ve happened anywhere. It could’ve happened back in Oklahoma. It was inevitable, this thing called “growing up.”

I learned how to pay rent, how to set up a recurring phone bill, how to grocery shop and feed myself (that could do with some revision, but I’m not dead yet), how to navigate airports alone, how to budget feeling comfortable in my new home for a year against wasting money on unnecessary home goods. Still, these are lessons everyone needs to learn, and lessons we all eventually do learn.

My first year in university was in many ways just a beta version of real life. I lived on campus in dorms with lots of slightly frightened kids far from home, eating from a pretty comprehensive meal plan. There was absolutely no need to leave our beautiful campus if I didn’t wish to, which was great – albeit slightly problematic.

In the end, all it meant was I learned these lesson a little late. That’s ok – what’s important was learning them eventually.

I’ve realized it feels great to finally feel like an adult. This has probably been my best semester yet. Along with growing up a bit, I’ve made new friends, come to really miss and appreciate the friends I have in Texas and Oklahoma, gotten to know a new place like the back of my hand, and, probably most importantly, figured out an academic path that makes me really, really happy and excited for the future. I might even be looking into enrolling in a master’s degree in computer science (keep that one hush-hush; we’ve seen my plans change pretty radically over the past 19.425 years). For once, I not only feel optimistic about my numeric results but also about the semester as a whole and all that I’ve actually learned about myself and the world around me.

The future is exciting, and what makes it so is that it’s still almost entirely unknown and flexible. Anything could happen, so long as I set my mind to the path ahead and charge forward with curiosity and excitement.

I can’t wait to jump into next semester ready and eager to learn even more! But for now, I see nothing wrong with spending winter break avoiding responsibilities, curled up in my pajamas drinking hot chocolate and watching movies with my family…

Until next time,

family

Ellie x

Finals Week(s) Revelations

The past month has been stressful to say the least.

Enduring weeks of equal parts study and procrastination, tearing my hair out over trying to pass (and do well on) my exams, forgetting how to cook food properly because sometimes peanut butter sandwiches are just easier, listening to The Smiths’ complete collection on repeat to drown my sorrows…

Today I realized something pretty massive: I was stressing myself out, giving myself headaches just by excessive worrying and not taking proper care of myself during these intense weeks.

See, these study weeks have been wholly unique, even though this isn’t my first time to the rodeo (taking finals in university, that is).

Firstly, I’m studying in a different country, which inevitably brings a different educational system.

Final exams are weighted much more heavily – all of my finals account for somewhere between 70-80% of my final marking for the semester. Along with this extra pressure, though, comes the knowledge that to pass, I only need to score over 40% overall. Perfectionist me still aims for that golden 90% or higher, but there’s a reason for the lower threshold – exams are comprehensive and one 90-minute period could make or break your final grade.

Secondly, however, I’m in a completely different position since this is the first time I’m taking all of my finals in courses pertaining to my new major – computer science.

It sounds strange to say that describing the structure of a balanced binary tree, proving logical statements are tautologies, forming queries in SQL, and deriving circuits from truth tables are all tasks I thoroughly enjoy. I think I’ve finally found my niche, a subject that infinitely fascinates and constantly invigorates me. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and that totally changes my perspective on finals.

Here, I have just a few hours to sum up all the interesting bits and pieces I’ve learned over the past few months and weave them together to prove my knowledge to the very people who have passed the knowledge onto me. I prefer to think of finals as some sort of epic quest to prove my worth and myself – it sounds medieval, but more magical than torturous.

Yes, it’s unbelievably stressful, tiring, worrying. But the holidays are mere days away and I can get through it.

It just helps – a whole lot – to really love what you’re doing. Find that thing – find your nice. Explore until you’re nearly satisfied, so that every day you look forward to learning more about that thing. Never settle for less than a subject or a living that constantly pushes you to want more, to learn more, to do more with yourself.

I’m still on the way to finding that thing, but when I chose computer science in that fork in the road, the path ahead got a little less hazy. And that little bit of clarity is a truly great thing.

Wishing the best of luck with finals to all of my student readers.

And remember –

“Love what you do and do what you love.” — Ray Bradbury

Ellie x