To The Girl Feeling Stuck In The Middle of High School

*inspired by (ok, yes, taken straight from) a recent conversation with one of the precious souls I am lucky enough to mentor*

To the girl feeling stuck in the middle of high school:

Breathe. It gets easier.

(And that’s coming from someone who felt very stuck in the middle of high school, so I know exactly how you feel).

But let me start by telling you something: you are more than enough. 

Go ahead and re-read that statement two or three times before continuing. I’ll wait.

Okay, cool, moving on.

You are a bright, bold, capable, and captivating young lady, and you deserve the absolute best… literally… all of the time… every day.

I remember days where I felt like no one was honest, no one was trustworthy, and no one had my back — days when my heart was breaking, but I couldn’t even find the words to describe why. So for the days you feel that — I am truly sorry. The hard part is that friends and boys will disappoint you, and with an open and forgiving spirit like yours, they might disappoint you a lot. (Helpful tip for growing up: your family/MOMMA will always have your back, and that’s just the truth). But all you can do is keep going — keep walking — because this stage is so fleeting.

I like to picture my life like this giant painting, but only God can see the whole thing. I can only see the tiny spot where I am, all zoomed in, and sometimes everything around me is pretty dark. But think about it: you need different colors/shades to make a masterpiece — even the really dark colors. So when things around you feel like they’re falling apart, they probably are, but remember that you are just in one of those darker spots on the painting. God’s not even close to done with the work-of-art He named after you.

On top of all of that, you are worthy and deserving of SUCH greatness. It’s really easy to get caught up in the culture of high school: wanting a boyfriend, needing more likes on that insta-pic, or showing up to all the right parties with all the right people.

Something I can promise you: none of it really counts in the grand scheme of your life.

However, things that do matter: studying, prayer, your family, being a loyal friend, treating people with respect, and making everybody feel like a somebody. You are at a place in your life where you can set such a solid foundation for your future, and it is so important to focus on things that will better your character.

Read good books, sing good songs, be good to people, focus more on making the memory and less on posing for the picture. Smile at everyone, laugh a ton, and enjoy these precious years you have left at home with your parents and family. I promise it’s worth it!

My most important piece of advice though: respect yourself so much that you demand respect from others (especially high school boys). Walk with such grace and sweetness that the wrong ones don’t even want to test you because they know that they can’t. Something I’ve learned (through experience, unfortunately) is that sometimes the worst boy for you is disguised as the most handsome, charming, and intelligent one you’ve ever seen. Walking away from something — something you might really want — so that you can walk toward something you really deserve takes serious faith. I hope you never find yourself in that situation, but in the event that you do: remember how uniquely exquisite you are and (please) keep walking.

You are worthy of someone/people in your life who know how to love you like Christ loves. It took me 19 years, but I found them. And you will, too. So if you’re stuck in a place right now — be it high school, college, post-grad, or any time at all — where you don’t feel fulfilled, trust me when I tell you that your time is coming.

I love you,

Michaela

Advertisements

I’d Like My Goggles Back

I think my best day ever — if I had to choose — was a summer day in 2005.

I was nine, and the day went something like this: I woke up, ate breakfast, and put my bathing suit on. My dad was putting our turkey-and-cheese sandwiches in a cooler, and my mom was packing up some goldfish and pretzels into Ziploc bags.

We got to the pool early enough that it wasn’t crowded, but late enough that all my best friends in the neighborhood had arrived, too.

I swam all afternoon (with my goggles on of course), forcing my parents to watch me flip and dive and splash around. I was with my favorite friends — my summer friends — and we stared all dreamy-eyed up at the most handsome lifeguard we’d ever seen.

This might seem like a really boring “best day ever,” but for me it was not.

I was still young enough to play with reckless abandon in that present moment, but I was old enough to dream about the incredible possibilities that the future could hold. I didn’t yet care about big worldly problems, and societal norms and pressures were not yet weighing down on me. Maybe I didn’t have freedom yet from my parents’ rules, but I had freedom from more important things (like worry and stress and anxiety). Nine is such a great age — so underrated.

As I think back to this day — and this time in my life as a whole — I am reminded that nothing really had to change. Sure, I had to grow up and stop wearing goggles. And it is probably a good thing that I no longer scream/splash around/force my parents to watch me do tricks in the pool.

But I didn’t have to give up that sense of freedom from worry. I didn’t have to let the pressures of society and the roller coaster of adolesence change my imagination into anxiety. I’m not a “child” anymore, no, but I am still a child to my Lord in heaven.

If you’re anything like me, uncertainty is incredibly unnerving. I always find myself praying for peace for my anxious heart or for confidence in God’s plan. This can make navigating adulthood pretty challenging, because I often feel very out of control. And the truth is that I am out of control — I should be. I am no where near qualified to be alone in the driver’s seat of my life. Sitting in the passenger seat, controlling the aux chord — that’s more my speed.

Don’t get me wrong, in the grand scheme of things I know I am in control of my decisions. I am indeed in the driver’s seat of my life, because no one else can sit there for me.

But I think somewhere along the way of growing up I forgot that God’s always in the passenger seat. He’s always got my back, co-piloting my life, making sure I don’t make a wrong turn.

And when I inevitably do go the wrong way, He’s there to keep me calm and collected, re-routing me to my destination.

Sometimes it’s nice to feel like an adult — like you have all this freedom from your parents or from rules — but I really need to remind myself that I am a child in God’s eyes. I am small in comparison to His greatness. He has me always in His sight, protecting me and walking with me through life.

When I was nine, and I was dreaming about those “incredible possibilities of the future,” I was not wrong. Life since then has indeed been incredible. But somewhere along the way I stopped dreaming about the possibilities and started stressing about them.

If you ever really want that free, nine-year-old feeling back, you can have it. All it takes is a little bit of faith in the Big Guy Upstairs who still has your back every step of the way. He’s still watching over the course of your life, re-routing you when necessary and giving you everything you need. He still wants you to throw your goggles on and dive into His love head first.

So go for it.

What I Didn’t Know I Needed

January 30th, 2015 — a day I didn’t know I needed.

Since we’ve reached the anniversary, I wanted to reflect on just how much it meant to me.

On this day, one whole year ago, the boy I’d been with for almost four years walked out of my life.

I was sad, of course. He had basically been my entire world for four years, and it was a pretty substantial change in my life to see him go.

I thought the first thing I should do was tell my parents, who were upstairs while my relationship was ending in the living room on the main floor.

I had my phone in one hand, and the other hand was wiping away a tear when I got a text message — one I didn’t know I needed.

“How did it go??”

“We ended things. You’re the first one to know lol, haven’t even gotten to my mom yet.”

“Call me as soon as you finish talking to your mom.”

It might not seem like a big deal, but that message from a friend meant more than any supportive words my family could tell me. It came from my roommate, Jamie, who knew I was going home to deal with my — for lack of a better word — “crumbling” relationship. I didn’t know it at the time, but this day would set the tone for the entire year of 2015. (Sure it came 29 days into the year, but what’s 29 days in the face of 336 more?)

I was set free that day — another thing I didn’t know I needed.

After four years of being someone else’s biggest cheerleader, I had forgotten how to be my own. Needless to say, that made the time period post-breakup pretty scary.

When you’re 19 years old and navigating all of the ups, downs, twists, and turns of life, you need to know how to be your own cheerleader.

Enter a best friend like Jamie.

When I came back to school after that weekend at home, Jamie had hidden every piece of evidence that my ex-boyfriend ever existed — something I definitely didn’t think about and didn’t know I would need.

She taught me how to focus on myself again. She reminded me that pursuing the Lord was more important than pursuing a boy, and she showed me how to give my energy to people and things that would fill me up. When I needed pity — a quick “woe is me” moment — she sympathized with me, but she quickly pointed me forward again.

Throughout the rest of 2015, I experienced more growth and self-discovery than ever before. I found pieces of my self and my spirit that I didn’t know existed, I loved more and laughed more and cried more than a few tears. Most nights turned into mornings with my friends who quickly turned into my family, most especially my roommate turned best friend turned actual sister and honorary Patafio.

Jamie, having a best friend like you is the most wonderful thing. Thank you for never judging me in the times when you easily could, for letting me sit on the edge of your bed to vent about life, and most especially for laughing with me at all hours of the day. I am constantly inspired by your fierce loyalty. Thanks for letting me FaceTime your family and all around just being my person.

You are the best friend I could have ever hoped to find in college — a best friend I didn’t know I needed, but literally could not live without.

Smart Investments (From Someone Who Knows Nothing About Money)

Change scares me.

I don’t like to update my phone, I don’t like when my family moves, and if you saw the software my Mac was running right now, you would laugh.

Uncertainty scares me, too.

When I watched the pilot episode of Gossip Girl on Netflix, I immediately watched the last episode so I would know how things turned out. I look up the ending of a book before I read it, I will look up the “spoilers” for a movie while I am sitting in the theater watching it, and I’ve never watched a season of The Bachelor without Googling who wins on the first night.

When I was thinking about why I do this to myself– why I ruin the ending of every show, book, and movie– I realized something. I don’t ever want to know what happens along the way. I just want to know the ending; I want to know that everything ends up okay. I love a good plot twist in a movie– something that I never saw coming. I love haunted houses, and those are literal hallways of uncertainty.

It’s not necessarily the possibility of change or the presence of uncertainty that frightens me.

I always want to know the ending because I am terrified of investing my heart in something unstable.

When I care about something or someone, I give it all I’ve got. And if you’re anything like me, you know how incredibly rewarding and devastating this can be — sometimes all at once. I invest my whole heart into every relationship, my entire budget into every project (sorry mom and dad), and all of my time/energy/resources into any task.

But I think somewhere along the way it started to scare me.

I think somewhere along the way I lost my faith in things — in situations — in people. I got tired of investing my heart in something that wouldn’t work out. I became fearful that giving every inch of myself would — just like the last time — make me look and feel foolish.

So I came up with my own mini-defense mechanism. I Googled the ending of Gossip Girl so that I could confidently invest my heart in my favorite characters’ relationship. I look up the ending of a book so that I can prepare myself for that great tragedy the main character faces.

But I can’t do that with life.

I can’t Google whether or not this boy will break my heart. I can’t look up what job I will get after college or what city I will live in. I, unfortunately, cannot prepare myself for the great tragedies that I will inevitably face along the way. But I don’t want to stop investing my heart in things. I don’t want to keep one foot out the door in my relationships or responsibilities.

So I’ve decided to start making smart investments.

I want to invest in my friendships — in my education — in myself. I want to throw my whole self into something that will make me better — invest my life in relationships and situations that I don’t have to question and stress over.

It’s a good thing to invest your heart. It shows passion; it helps you grow. Even the times when the situation doesn’t pan out, it teaches you adaptation and malleability.

But it is time for me to start being smart with my investments.

Maybe it’s time for you, too.

Im Patiently Waiting

If you read the above title as “I’m Patiently Waiting,” and you judged me for forgetting the apostrophe, go ahead and read it again the way it actually sounds.

I, much like the title, might look like “I’m” patiently waiting, but when you really look, I am not.

I am very impatiently waiting.

For a lot of things.

And for as long as I can remember, I’ve been fooling myself that my heart is patient and trusting in the Lord. I say things like “what’s meant to be will be,” and “let go and let God” all the time.

But in my heart?

I am frustrated.

{Luke 1: 45} says, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.”

For years I have read that verse and said, “Well I definitely believe it, so I’m good.”

But it is time to rethink that mindset.

If I am impatiently waiting for all of those wonderful promises to be fulfilled, am I really believing that He will deliver them?

Not really.

If I let this frustration in my heart continue, I am not headed toward a place of peace and grace, even though that’s exactly what God has promised me.

So in my effort to direct my own path, I am re-directing the plan God has in place for me.

If I would just trust and be patient, I might be able to see the fulfillment of the promises that I am so impatiently searching for. I know that my God will never fail me, and I need to stop trying to out-do what He is so actively doing in my life already.

So I will pray for peace for my impatient heart. And I will pray for confidence in my Lord’s faithfulness.

And I will pray for all of you, and all of the challenges you face with impatient hearts like mine.

“It’s Finals Week”

As I sit here in my little shoebox of a room, I am pondering why exactly I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.

It’s finals week, and my life has never been quite this stressful. If you know me at all, you know that Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. I actually start feeling the Christmas spirit in July, and that’s not an exaggeration. But this year, I have been plagued with so much school that I’ve forgotten all about Christmas.

Mom, Dad, Alex, friends, boyfriend (if he existed), I apologize. I have no presents for you. I have no money to buy you presents, since all of my remaining funds have been spent on late-night coffee runs and Chickfila lunches to get through the studying. I promise to make up for it.

I remember my first final season in 8th grade. The school gave us half days, and while some of the younger kids would say, “they’re so lucky,” their wiser counterparts would say, “but they have final exams… nothing lucky about that.”

(I’d like to pause here for a moment and thank my elementary school for giving us half-days during final exams. Looking back, I easily could have taken my Algebra final and continued with a full day of classes, but I appreciate the consideration.)

Well, after another 4 years of finals in high school and two semester of college finals under my belt, I still do not feel like I have mastered the art of studying for a final exam. Instead, I feel the stress and anxiety of finals approaching and go into a panic. No matter how much I study or how prepared I feel as I walk through the doors, I always leave feeling discouraged and overwhelmed (and craving chocolate).

This year, as I enter my last three finals, I have decided to brush the stress off of me. This one Economics exam tomorrow afternoon does not define who I am as a person, right? Whether or not I pull out the A in Communications versus the A- (I hate UGA for that damn plus and minus system) does not change my character, my values, or my worth as a human being.

We are wonderfully made. We have a purpose on this earth. And I whole-heartedly believe that I can live out my purpose regardless of what my Italian final grade looks like.

If God brought you to it, He will bring you through it.

(Let’s just hope and pray He brings me through Econ with a passing grade).

Good luck this week, my loves!! We can do it.

20 Years of Nonsense. (And I’ve Decided It’s Okay).

Twenty. 

Two-Zero.

From my days as a toddler to my last 6 years as a teenager, the first two decades of my life have come and gone.

When I was little, I had this picture in my head of what life would look like when I turned 20 years old. In my mind, I would be half way done with college, I would know exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up (because, hello, I was grown up), and I’d have the perfect guy who would, in a few years, become my fiance.

LOL at eight-year-old me.

Let me give you a clearer picture of what 20 looks like: I might be half way done with school– who really knows? I definitely have no idea what I want to be when I grow up (because, hello, I am no where near grown up). And that “perfect guy”? He hasn’t exactly told me who he is yet, but I’m convinced he’s still out there.

I guess 20 isn’t as glamorous as I thought it would be, but you know what? It’s okay.

Actually, it’s more than okay. I freaking love it. The last twenty years have been some of the messiest years in history, I’m sure of it– but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

In these last 2 decades, I have learned how to breathe, walk, ride a bike, drive, cry, fall in love, cook, survive, adapt, grow, adjust, fall out-of-love, lead, laugh at myself, and so much more. I have fallen down more times than I can count, but I have also shared more laughs than my memory bank can hold.

I have lost loved ones, gained new ones, been in car accidents, failed tests, cheered at football games, fallen in love, burned toast, and watched Tangled about 200 times. I’ve had surgeries, learned to sing, been cheated on, and laughed until I cried on the living room floor.

Nothing about the last 20 years has gone according to plan. But when I look back at everything I have experienced, I am filled with nothing but gratitude and love.

I’m so thankful my life hasn’t ended up exactly how I thought it would. I no longer want that perfect, put-together, picturesque life I imagined as a kid.

I want the all-nighters with friends, the tear-stained sweaters, the heartbreak and laughter and everything in between.

Each quiet, undetected moment that has passed by in the last 2o years has left an imprint on me, and I have never been more grateful for each crack in my picture-perfect fantasy life.

“Did she just say she’s grateful for the cracks in her life?”

Yep, because someone once told me that’s how the light gets in.

Here’s to the next 20.