You Belong Here

Once upon a time, like many other freshmen in college, balance was something I really struggled with. I had no idea what I was doing or really who I was as a person. I was learning how to manage difficult classes, relearning how to pitch and figuring out how to take care of myself.

That first semester of college, I identified as just a softball player and I didn’t feel like a very good one, at that. I was a late recruit who went from the best player on every team I had ever been on to the bottom of the bullpen totem pole. There were so many activities I could get involved in at the University of Kansas but I was just another athlete struggling at practice and wheezing my way through weights and trying to please everyone I encountered.

At KU, freshmen athletes meet with mentors in the leadership branch of the athletic department on a weekly basis. I usually filled my full hour with tears. I was so unhappy during the fall of my freshman year and I internalized that sadness to an extreme in order to put on a facade of positivity. I’d talk to my mentor about whatever topic was assigned for our meeting, but I could barely get through the meetings without breaking down when we’d talk about my goals, my friends, and my family. My sadness wasn’t because I didn’t love my school or my teammates or the game of softball; it was the opposite actually. I just purely didn’t feel like I belonged.

One week, I explained to my mentor the feelings I had about not being at the right school or doing the right thing and she was horrified that I felt that way. We talked in depth about all the things I could accomplish at Kansas if I put my mind to them and determined some achievable goals. She was the first person that helped me understand just how wonderful the athletics support system could be and she suggested that I write something encouraging to myself in plain view to remind me that Kansas is exactly where I belong. With that advice in mind, I went back to my dorm and wrote in a small purple marker on a sticky note in the corner of my white board above my desk, “You belong here.”

Fast forward 3.5 years, and here we are. Playing softball for Kansas with a few accolades under my belt, graduating the Journalism school in May with honors, a member of Student Senate, in a sorority, and no longer unhappy with the person I am. Recently however, I’ve been stressing about a lot of things that are genuinely uncontrollable. As of a few days ago, it’s officially April. April means that I only have a month and a half left to walk down Jayhawk Boulevard as an undergrad, play in a jersey with ‘Kansas’ across my chest, and be only a short walk or drive away from all my friends and family. April also means, “Shit, it’s April and in a month and a half I could be moving to a TBD location for a TBD job for a TBD salary with TBD roommates at a TBD apartment, etc.”

Last week, however, our Sunday game against OSU was rained out and I was able to go to church with some of my good friends in Lawrence on Sunday morning. It had been a stressful weekend so far with softball, classwork, and my job hunt. Seeing as we typically play on Sundays, I realized this may be the last time I’d have the opportunity to get to go to church for the rest of the school year. I thought about using our off day to get caught up on school, sleep in and run errands instead of attending church, but I went and I am SO glad I listened to the still small voice that convinced me to go.

The message this week was centered around Ephesians 2:19: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” (NIV).

Through this passage, the pastor translated the content of the verse to, “You belong here.” When those three words appeared on the projector screen in front of me, I almost started crying because, with three words, my college experience had come to a full circle.

No matter what my life will look like in a month and a half, I still will belong wherever I am, I just need to trust God’s plan for me. God will love me as much on my bad days as my good days and it’s important to not fester on the uncontrollable and temporary. It doesn’t matter where I’ll be in a month and a half because no matter where that will be, it’ll be exactly where I need to be, and I needed someone to remind me of that. 

After church, just like freshman year, I took out a small purple marker once I got home and wrote, “You belong here,” on a sticky note and placed it above my desk.

22 more weeks

I have another 22 weeks to put off becoming adult. Another 22 to live less than 2 streets away from my friends. Another 22 filled with making plans 5 seconds in advance. Another 22 left to play college softball. Another 22 to live in the wonderful, crazy world that is college. Another 22 to get randomly sentimental with all my friends.

Growing up is hard and I have a feeling that growing apart will be even harder. But, I am so thankful for the friends and memories I’ve made at KU. My life wouldn’t have been the same without these people, the happy times and the not-so-happy times. Soon enough we’re going to start our big kid jobs and get engaged and having babies on purpose. Graduating college in 2017 doesn’t seem so silly and far off in the future anymore; it’ll be 2017 in just a couple weeks and in 22, I’ll be the one steaming my graduation robes and adjusting my tassel.

So, here’s to the next 22. The last hoorah before fairytale world comes to an end and reality hits me like a brick.

Congratulations to all the December grads, but, for now, I’m glad I’m not you.

The Park

I’m not sure there’s anything as magical as a summer day in Central Park.

Thousands of people walk the intertwining sidewalks without purpose just enjoying a beautiful, sunny day. It’s hot and sticky outside, but the trees provide that perfect amount of shade and the breeze flows throughout the park in a way it doesn’t when you’re surrounded by skyscraper buildings.

I finished my book today laying on a blanket in a shaded lawn and although the happy ending to my book put me in a pleasant mood, the sounds of the saxophone player in the distance and the children giggling through the fountains made me feel completely at peace.

Central Park truly is an oasis from the  city. The vendors hum to themselves, old men play pickup softball games, little kids are learn how to ride bicycles and do cartwheels. There are Popsicles and bubbles and birthday parties and picnics and people just asleep in the grass. There’s truly nothing like it. Days like today are the best days. 

I won’t just survive

The 2016 Summer Olympics has officially announced the #Rio2016 anthem as Katy Perry’s new song “Rise” and let me tell you, it’s perfect.

Being a competitive athlete is sometimes a very difficult thing to explain to someone but this video resonated with me in an amazing way. It gave me goosebumps, hurt my heart, and made my muscles twitch to compete, all at the same time. I’ve never seen something that so beautifully captured what it’s like to be an athlete.

Being an athlete requires absolute strength – and I’m not talking about muscle strength – I’m talking about the kind of strength it takes to clear your head after an error, to take hacks after striking out, to pitch to the best hitter after giving up a grand slam, to push yourself through an injury, to suffer an embarrassing loss, and to have all expectations absolutely knocked from under your feet.

Yes, it is hard.

Yes, it does suck sometimes.

Yes, there are moments when it doesn’t feel worth it.

But, when it pays off it’s unlike any other kind of victory. It’s relief. It’s amazement at your own ability. It’s pride and it’s pure.

I’m not an Olympic athlete and will never be one. But, this video isn’t just about Olympians. It’s relatable to college athletes, like myself. It’s relatable to high school athletes striving for the next level. And most importantly, it’s relatable to anyone who has ever had to stand up and fight for something. It’s overcoming adversity. It’s accomplishing something you never thought you could do. It’s proving the people who doubted your every move and it truly embodies what it means to be passionate.

It may be the new Olympic anthem, but I think I’ve decided it’s my new anthem, too.

See the lyrics below:

I won’t just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can’t write my story
I’m beyond the archetype
I won’t just conform
No matter how you shake my core
Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

Oh, ye of so little faith
Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in my veins
I know it, I know it
And I will not negotiate
I’ll fight it, I’ll fight it
I will transform

When, when the fire’s at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They’re whispering, “you’re out of time.”
But still, I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in; think again
Don’t be surprised, I will still rise

I must stay conscious
Through the menace and chaos
So I call on my angels
They say…

Oh, ye of so little faith
Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in your veins
You know it, you know it
And you will not negotiate
Just fight it, just fight it
And be transformed

Don’t be surprised, I will still rise

Grownup World

You always hear people (especially fresh college grads) saying, “Growing up sucks.” Being a junior, myself, I haven’t yet faced this reality– but I have caught a glimpse here and there.

The “grownup world” my peers are faced with is filled with big boy/girl things like getting a job and becoming financially independent. But, as my boyfriend -one of these fresh college grads I referred to earlier- embarks on this scary world only for grownups, I’m realizing the worst part of adulthood is leaving the people who love you.

Commencement ceremonies and graduation parties alike are filled with excitement and talk of the next chapters in life, however, what’s rarely spoken of is how hard it will be for you to move out of your home for the last time or saying goodbye to your friends for who knows how long. Tears aren’t shed for leaving college behind, tears are shed for leaving behind the people who made your college experience what it was. The people you once saw every day you may not see for years. The people who loved you and supported you the most can become hundreds of miles away with a blink of an eye. The unknown of embarking on a new adventure alone is what actually “sucks” about the grownup world, not actual adulthood.

And sure, I don’t know what’s in a college graduate’s head, but I’m currently one of the ones getting left. And that part sucks, too. Part of me aches because I’m excited for the new lives my friends are starting but the other half of me feels like pieces of me are being ripped apart. Maybe the beauty of this “grownup world” is realizing that you’re stronger because you lived the part that “sucks.”

It sucks because of the growing pains and the giant leaps you’re forced to make before you feel like you’re ready. It sucks because you don’t want to have to venture down an unknown path. It sucks because your loved ones may not be with you every step of the way anymore. But, I bet it stops sucking once you’ve found your way.

So good luck grads, the growing pains will subside and although I’ll miss you all dearly, I hope you realize that growing up may suck, but being grown doesn’t. We’re all in this together and although I’d love to climb into some of your suitcases and moving trucks, I’ll refrain. I have my own growing up to do– and yeah, before you ask, I’m sure it’ll “suck” too.

A Packing List for a NYC Summer Intern

So you landed the internship of your dreams. Come May, you’ll be packing your things and moving to the big apple for the summer. You excited? You should be.

I can honestly say that this last summer was the best summer of my life. Sure, I worked consistently more than 40 hours a week, had to put make up on every day, and didn’t get a tan… but it was worth it.

I’m a Kansas girl so I get how hard packing your life for a summer working across the country can be. If I could explain to you the struggle of choosing to pack ONLY 10 pairs of shoes for 10 weeks, I would.

In order to make your life a little easier, I’ve tried to make you a list of keys to a successful summer:

  1. A Mary Poppins-size bag: you will need this, I promise. During the work week, you can pack your laptop, your wallet, your lunch, and your extra pair of shoes. During the weekends, your beach towel and your book. You name it, you’ll use it. I got mine at Target.
  2. Comfortable shoes: yeah, yeah.. trust me, I know it’s a cliche thing to tell you to pack but you will not regret investing in comfortable work flats. New York feet are a real thing, and they aren’t pretty.
  3. An umbrella: it rains, and it rains often. Pack this in your Mary Poppins bag every day. You never know when a rain cloud will pop up during your lunch hour.
  4. Headphones: your new best friend. Listen to music while you wait for your subway, walk to work, go on a run, lay awkwardly in a public park trying to get a tan, the options are limitless.
    1. Earbuds will do, you don’t want to be the asshole on the metro where everyone can hear your music
    2. Make sure you can listen to your music without wifi/service… you’re underground a lot
  5. Figure out transportation: Download Uber, I promise it’s better than falling asleep on a subway at 3 a.m. Know that taxis with their number light on mean they’re available: don’t try and flag down a taxi who has its light off. Get a Metro card and try your best not to get frustrated: you will figure it out.
    1. Learn uptown from downtown
    2. Familiarize yourself with the neighborhoods you frequent often (East Village, West Village, Soho, Meat Packing, Lower East, Upper East, Midtown, etc.). By the end of the summer, you’ll be a pro.
    3. Memorize your address.
  6. Make friends: the most important necessity. Find friends to take to bottomless brunch, night clubs, broadway musicals, comedy shows, tea rooms, the many parks, Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, flea markets, Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, random parades, etc. Make friends. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
  7. Make a bucket list: what do you want to do while your there? Depending on your internship, your weekends are free. I made a list of over 50 things I wanted to do while living in the city and amazingly was able to cross the majority of them off.

So, good luck! New York is my happy place and with these 7 things, I think you may feel the same. Take your Mary Poppins bag everywhere, wear comfortable shoes, pack an umbrella, utilize headphones, figure out transportation, and make friends. Realize New York isn’t for everyone, but by making your list, being spontaneous, and following my steps, I guarantee it’ll be a summer for the books.

Hi, remember me?

Well it’s my fourth week in the city and I love this place. Between my internship and exploring, blogging has been pretty low on my list of priorities so here’s a quick little update of everything I’ve done thus far:

My roommate is a coke addict, Kate Moss obsessed hostess at a burger joint across the street and only goes by the name ‘Kelsey’ when she’s drunk.

We also live with a British-American waterpolo player, a Japanese actress with very broken English, a girl on the NYU fencing team who rarely comes out of her room, and a very Catholic investment banking intern. It’s dysfunctional and ridiculous and it’s been pretty great.

I love my internship: it’s a very small (but growing) digital marketing agency with very large clients and I’ve gotten to do a lot of very cool (very real) assignments.

I saw American Pharaoh take the triple crown at Belmont Stake and I won $80 like a champ. Beginner’s luck? I think not…

I saw GiGi on Broadway and stalked all the people headed to the Tony Awards.

I am a frequent visitor at Central Park and you can often catch me eating lunch in Madison Square Park.

I have thoroughly enjoyed living near Union Square and all the people watching it provides.

I have developed a small addiction to rainbow sprinkle soft-serve ice cream cones from street vendors.

I turned 20 with sushi, prosecco, the philharmonic in the park, roses, and a fancy birthday cake from Magnolia Bakery.

I’ve learned to value Kansas prices and Boulevard beer and become accustomed to everyone here drinking $12 Heinekens. Why is that a thing??

I had a corn dog at Coney Island, got yelled at for taking pics at the Met, and went to a very seedy, very literally underground script reading of a very depressing but very good play.

I did the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island thing, I’ve become quite good at the metro system, and am frequently asked for directions.

I have explored the night life scene, done a lot of window shopping, and have learned to genuinely appreciate a quality bottomless brunch.

Long story short, I ❤️ NY. I should get a t-shirt.