Saturday, May 23, 2015

My Sister's Graduation + A Letter to Graduates

My baby sister graduated high school this week. I guess she's not much of a baby anymore. Well, she isn't really much of a baby compared to me anyways ~ she's nearly 6 inches taller than me (and has been for several years now). She's also only two years younger than me. Nonetheless, my big sister instinct kicks in a lot, and so I feel like she's my "baby" sister.

This baby sister of mine graduated high school on Wednesday, along with twenty or so other kids in her class, all of whom I know well and love dearly. I've known most of them, along with their families, for years now, and I consider several of them to be my honorary siblings. It was so exciting to see them graduate, yet so bittersweet. There were many smiles, many hugs, and many tears, both happy ones and sad ones.

As I watched them all don their red caps + gowns and receive their diplomas, I marveled at how it was possible that they were already graduating. At how crazy it is that they're going off to college in the fall. At how it could be that it's already been two years since I graduated. At how crazy it is that I'm already halfway through college, and how in two years I'll be graduating again ~ but this time from college.

In light of my sister's and her classmates' recent graduation, and as someone who can look back on high school graduation with two years of hindsight, I'd like to offer some thoughts to these precious graduates (and any others out there who might be reading). So my dear graduates, here I've written a letter for you...

~ ~ ~

Dear graduates,

First of all, congratulations! You finished high school! I'm sure there were times over the past four years when you thought you'd never make it, or when you couldn't wait to be done. But you did make it. All your hard work and effort from the past four years has paid off. So pat yourselves on the back and give yourselves a high-five ~ finishing high school is a great achievement! 

While I know you're excited, relieved, and proud to be done, I'm sure that at the same time, you're heartbroken. Graduating means that the life that you've known for so long now has come to an end. You'll never go back to your school. You and the friends you've been with for so long will soon have to go your separate ways, and you won't see each other for months. You'll soon have to pack up your belongings and go off to school, leaving your parents, your siblings, your pets, your house, your church, and everything about your home life behind. You'll soon find yourself in a completely new place with hundreds of people you've never even seen before, having to blaze a new trail and make a new life for yourself, completely on your own. Things will never be the same. 

I know it sounds scary and heartbreaking. And it is. I remember when I was going through all of these changes two years ago, I felt like it was the epitome of bittersweet. It was exciting on one hand, yet incredibly painful on the other. 

You might cry a lot, and you might ache a lot. You might wish things didn't have to change, and wonder why they have to. Your heart might break the first time you say goodbye to your friends, your family, your home.

It won't be easy. But that's okay. That's the way it's supposed to be. It's the nature of the transition from high school to college. It's the nature of growing up. Because you are growing up, and with growing comes growing pains.

But even though it's not easy, it's good. It's a good kind of pain. Not only because it's necessary ~ because everyone has to go through it. But also because it will help you mature and grow as a person. It will facilitate emotional, mental, and spiritual growth. It will cause you become more independent and more adult-like. 

What is more, it will cause you to realize and reflect on how much certain things or people in your life mean to you, and urge you to treasure them. It will make you appreciate everything about your childhood and your home life so much more. It will make those times during college when you get to come home so much more special.

Because even though it feels like you're being separated from everything you've ever known, and that your life is changing so radically... you will come back. You'll come home on your breaks and over the summer, and you'll get to sleep in your own bed again. You'll be reunited with your friends, because they'll be home on break too ~ and those reunions will be so sweet. You'll get to go to Mass at your home parish again. You'll get to have your mom's home-cooked dinners again (which you will be so thankful for after months of cafeteria food). You'll get to live your home life again, and while it will feel like things are so different, or as though it's been so long, at the same time it will feel as though nothing's changed and no time has gone by. 

And even though this phase of your life is coming to a close, you'll always have the memories. Never forget all the wonderful times you had in high school. Write them down. Reminisce about them. Hang pictures up in your dorm room. Do your part to maintain your close friendships, both long-distance when you all are off at school, and in person when you're all home. I know this sounds cheesy, but you will always have the people, places, and experiences that you've come to love so much in your heart.

So while you celebrate at grad parties, go dorm room shopping, and say goodbye to people this summer, make the most of all of it. Enjoy the time you have left at home this summer ~ these last precious days before things really change. Then embrace the changes as they come. Cry when the painful side of things hits you, but don't forget to smile at the exciting side of things. The changes you're going through this summer are bittersweet. But that's okay. Because they are good in so many ways.

I congratulate you all again, and I wish you the best of luck as you embark on your new paths! I know you all will do wonderfully. 

Love and prayers,
~Stephanie

Friday, May 15, 2015

Summer 2015 Bucket List


Now that I'm done with school and back home, I'm really excited get into the full swing of summer. In anticipation of the great summer ahead, I've compiled my Summer 2015 Bucket List. Nothing too crazy or exciting. Just some things, both general and specific, that I'd like to accomplish or work on...

Survive oral surgery.
Celebrate my sister's graduation.
Have an amazing trip to England.
Take a biology class at the local community college.
Take the college algebra CLEP exam.
Make smoothies.
Run / exercise regularly.
Play my guitar frequently.
Commit some songs on the guitar to memory.
Pick up my flute again.
Pray a 54-day rosary novena.
Continue going to daily Mass like I do at school (as often as possible).
Continue going to adoration as often as possible like I do at school.
Have a get-together with my high school class.
Read the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Read at least 2 more books. (TBD)
Read at least 3 spiritual books. (TBD)
Have coffee dates with my closest home friends.
Blog regularly.
Finish writing my screenplay (which has been in the works for way, way too long).
Try some natural acne + acne scar remedies.
Learn how to make homemade chai tea + earl gray tea lattes.
Get rid of all the clothes I never wear.
Practice photography.
Start knitting again.
Help my sister get ready for college.
Get in the habit of praying a daily rosary.
Keep in touch with my good college friends.
Take a road trip.

I may add to this as I go along and think of more ideas. But for now, that's the list. I plan to take it pretty easy, get a couple classes taken care of, spend time with my family and home friends, cultivate my hobbies and my spiritual life, and just breathe and live and grow.

Happy Friday, and happy summer!

God bless,
~Stephanie

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

{Midweek Musings} Catching Up

Hello, friends! Long time no talk!

I apologize for my month-long absence from the blogosphere. My last few weeks of school were pretty intense, and as such, I needed to put first things first... which unfortunately meant neglecting the blogging world, including both reading and writing, for a while.

In my last weeks of school, I wrote two research papers that were due the same day, took four final exams, pulled my first-ever all-nighter (my takeaway advice: do NOT pull all-nighters), read an insane amount of philosophy while taking extensive reading notes, packed up most of my belongings to put in storage, stayed up till 3am trying to pack the rest of my belongings to take home (only to get up at 5am to leave for the airport to catch my flight), among many other things like running end-of-the-year errands, going to the beach, and saying goodbye to friends. Those last weeks were crazy and stressful, but also fun.

Here are some pictures from a glorious afternoon at the beach with some great friends. We went there on a hot, sunny day once finals were over to soak up some last bits of Florida sunshine...
Now I'm home in Michigan for the summer, and I'm officially halfway through college! I can't believe it! Part of me is excited to be back home, but the other part of me definitely misses my school and my friends there. But I think it will be a fun summer spent with family and home friends, and come August, I can't wait to see what junior year has in store.

I started off my summer with a bang by having oral surgery less than 48 hours after arriving home to remove eight teeth. Yep, eight teeth ~ all four wisdom teeth plus four molars. Needless to say, my subsequent days have been spent at home, taking pain meds, wearing sweats, icing my swollen cheeks, and eating soft, easily chewable foods. My recovery has actually been quite smooth so far compared to stories I've heard, and I'm thankful for that!

Here are some pictures that document my recovery so far:
I get a little bit less swollen each day, as well as a little more able to do things like chew solid foods, close my lips all the way, and smile bigger. Hopefully within the week, I'll be fully recovered and back at it!

Well, there's my update for the week! I promise to get back in a regular blogging routine this summer, so I hope you'll keep reading :)

God bless,
~Stephanie
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