2018: a year in review

What a year.
2018 was, without a doubt, the most life-changing year so far. I finished my last semester of high school, graduated, spent the summer getting ready for college, moved out of the house I grew up in, and survived my first semester of college. Here’s a little monthly recap and then what I learned throughout this whirlwind of a year.

January: I went back to high school after winter break with senioritis at an all-time high, only hoping to get out of there as fast as possible. My home church also has their biggest retreat of the year in January, so I spent a weekend with my best Jesus pals, changed some lives, and shed some tears. I was also able to give a speech all about seeing ourselves through the eyes of God, and it was so amazing to see how the Holy Spirit can work through me.

February: After a trip to Arizona had to be cancelled, my mom and I spent a week exploring what the great state of Georgia has to offer including Stone Mountain and Tallulah Gorge. I went on my last church retreat with my home church which was bittersweet.

March: The highlight of March was definitely prom!!! I’m still obsessed with my dress, and going without a date was totally way more fun. I also had my first horse show in my last show season, moved up to the 1.0m jumpers, and even got a blue ribbon in one of our jump off rounds.

April: This is quite possibly one of my favorite months of the year. As classes wrapped up, teachers recognized our senioritis, and the final days of high school were drawing near. I also went on a cruise to the Bahamas with my besties!!! I seriously don’t think we ever stopped laughing for the entire 6 days we were with each other. The memories and inside jokes will live on until we have to speak at each other’s funerals. It also turns out that 2 of my college besties were on the same exact cruise as us, and we’re in the background of each other’s pictures. What a small world.

May: Graduation month had finally come, and not soon enough. May consisted of 6 AP exams, at least 400 grad partied, and the long-awaited graduation day. While I was so ready to graduate and go to college, I wish I could go back to May and tell myself not to wish all the moments away.

June: June was truly the month of no school-related obligations in between leaving high school and getting ready to leave for college. I finally got to go on the trip to Arizona which officially made Arizona the most beautiful state in my opinion. We saw Antelope Canyon, rode a pink jeep across the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and hiked the red rocks in Sedona. I got my wisdom teeth out, went to UGA orientation, and did my last horse show (possibly ever). If not tied with April, June is a close second for favorite month.

July: I started out the month with my family’s annual trip to the beach where I quickly turned into a lobster. The rest of the month was spent finding letters of recommendation for rush, dorm shopping, and spending my last few weeks at home.

August: The month had finally come & college move-in went without a hitch. Rush week happened (but it was by no means great), and I joined the best sorority. I started forming friendships, started classes, and finally got used to sleeping in a twin bed 5 feet in the air.

September: I think September may have been the most difficult month. I spent plenty of time crying to friends, on the phone to my mom, and in the shower. If I’m being 100% honest, I have so many regrets throughout this month. As much as I wish for a redo, I think I needed to hit such a low point to learn what I know now.

October: October was a month of doubt. I spent this month wondering if I should transfer schools, drop my sorority, change my major, or if I would even ever like college at all. It did start looking up, and my favorite memory from October was definitely frat beach where I had the most fun with the best people.

November: After October, November was a sprint to Thanksgiving. I went to my sorority’s semi-formal after finding a date 24 hours before, watched the dawgs beat Auburn, went home for a relaxing Thanksgiving break, and took all my high school besties to Athens for the Georgia Tech game.

December: I finished up classes, took my finals, and went home for a month-long break. I spent the first half painting canvases to raise money for my mission trip to Jamaica, and I spent Christmas at home with my family. I now know why we get a whole month off for winter break in college – because we need it.

Aside from the obvious changes, I’ve redefined myself as a person. While I may have been the happiest at the first half of the year, I wasn’t truly fulfilled by the Lord. Then, I was uprooted from everything I’d known, I was forced out of my comfort zone, and my heart felt lost, but that’s when I realized that that’s exactly what God had wanted. He knew I had grown comfortable and complacent, and I certainly was not actively seeking Him. I thought I could survive on my own. After all, I had thrived my senior year of high school, and I only had to think about God on Sundays. I needed to be picked up and shaken around to realize that I cannot lead a fulfilling life when I wasn’t asking the Lord to guide it.
I think the biggest lesson I learned is that college is hard, & I think I was a bit na├»ve going into it. I thought rush week was going to be great, I’d immediately be best friends with every girl in my pledge class, I’d find my people within the first week, I’d love all of my classes, I wouldn’t gain the Freshman 15, I’d immediately love college, and immediately live my best life. I wish that I could go back to January 1, 2018 & tell myself what I know now, but you live and you learn.
But college is hard, and it’s a time of learning and change, and Jesus showed me that I need Him. Nothing else in life is constant but Him. The friends you make in the first month maybe aren’t meant to be your forever friends. You may have to sit alone in the dining hall. You may not be asked back to your favorite houses during rush, and you may not meet your best friend on bid day. You may change your major 17 times. I think we should be real that college isn’t all sunshine and happiness because it’s crazy to pretend that the biggest life change we’ve made in all 18 years will run smoothly. Maybe your first semester of college was the best, but it’s okay if you don’t immediately love college. It was an absolute rollercoaster, but that was exactly where God wanted me to be. I needed to see that He is constant while the only constant thing about the world around me is that it’s constantly changing.

I am so happy with the knowledge I have going in to second semester, and I can’t wait to improve upon the mistakes I made first semester & continue doing the good things. I’m unbelievably grateful for the people that got me through the first semester (even if they don’t how grateful I am) including my parents, my high school best friends, my Alpha Phi ladies, my Freshley small group, & so many more such as the ladies who work at ECV who knew me by name, said hi to me, and asked me how I was every day when I came in for lunch. Some days I wish I was back in 3rd grade and still believed in Santa, and the biggest decision I had to make was who to play with on the playground. Some days I want to live my best college life. After all, everyone will tell you that “college is the best 4 years of your life.” And other days I want to be a mom who drives a mini van to church with a loving, Godly husband, and 3 children. But this is where I am now, and the only place to go is forward with the Lord by my side. Who knows what the future will hold, but I’m sure God knows it will end up perfectly.

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