So I’m going back to school tomorrow (shhhh I know most of you are already back and I’m a little late to the ballgame, but Christian liberal arts colleges and their lateness, man). Crazy, right? I swear yesterday was June 7th and I’d just gotten back from Ireland and was dreading the ridiculously long summer looming over me. And now it’s gone, just like that.
I feel like I didn’t really do much this summer since I was at both jobs pretty much every day, but somehow I also feel like I did a ton. A lot was accomplished...whether it was just in my head or through actual experiences. Sitting at the library and driving from place to place alone gave me a lot of time to think, and whether through those times of personal contemplation, or just through experiences I had, I learned some stuff this summer. I’m a firm believer that learning doesn’t stop with school, but that our entire lives we are (and should be) learning and growing. So with that, here are the top seven things I learned this summer (cause who could narrow it down to five?).
7. Coffee is literally the 15-hour-workday’s best friend.
Now, unhealthy as it may sound (and let’s be realistic, is), I was on a steady diet of 5 cups of coffee per 15-hour work day. Hear me out: two at the first job, one on the way from the first to the second job, and two at the second job. It’s just logical (especially when a Starbucks opens right across the street from the second job….AND you get free coffee at both jobs). I don’t know about you, but I am NOT a morning person...and the only reason I have enough energy to write this blog at the moment is because I raided the fridge this morning and drank two frappuccinos before the sun was even up. Hey, whatever can get you through the day, right?
6. Long car rides with ridiculously loud music have magical healing powers.
Seriously, try it. No matter how foul the mood, no matter what kind of phone call you just got, no matter how stupid work or your boyfriend is, I’m telling you, this will make it all better. Make a playlist of jams and go on a long drive by yourself with the windows down, sunglasses on (‘cause they seriously make the world look so much sunnier...ironic, right?), and bass up. Sometimes I force myself to listen to “Shake it Off” in the morning on the way to work because even though it annoys me 50% of the time and the loud music seems 100% louder when I woke up at 6am, I’m always just a little more cheerful by the time I get to work. #lifehacks
5. Your family is much cooler when you haven’t seen them in 9 months.
Not that my family wasn’t cool before, but it’s kinda that you-don’t-realize-what-you-have-til-it’s-gone kinda thing. Also goes along with the need for space thing (see lesson learned #2). But seriously, you get back and realize how much you’ve missed in all of their lives (especially when your siblings are younger), and suddenly notice all these cool traits about them, like one brother is a ridiculously amazing artist at age eleven. Or like the one brother who plays soccer is strangely artistic too...and dyed his hair blue and wants tattoos and piercings and is super into hardcore stuff, and you think to yourself man, he’s actually really cool. Or like, you find out that one brother is actually super super smart (and you’re like YES another one who cares about school) and has a really good heart. Or you notice how popular one of your brothers is and how he’s suddenly a senior and is about to become legal and you’re like, wow I missed a huge year of his life. Or you notice things that haven’t changed at all that you strangely missed, like how there are still over one hundred mis-matched socks strewn about your laundry room. Or how everyone hasn’t begun to pile into the car for an 11am church service until 10:58. Or how your siblings argue about whose turn it is next on the xbox and try to convince your parents to give them extra video game time for off-the-wall reasons like “my birthday is in 5 and a half months, come on!” Seriously, appreciate the weird stuff when you get back. You’re missing out.
4. Writing a little bit each day actually does alleviate stress.
Back when I met Jason Gray, he told me that to be a great songwriter (or any kind of writer, really), I needed to write every day, no matter how awful the stuff I came up with was. With the library job I had this summer, that’s pretty convenient, so I’ve tried to write down at least ideas and thoughts, if not poems and songs, every morning. Not only does it make me feel super accomplished, but it releases all this pent-up stress and all these emotions that I didn’t even know I had. Writing is seriously therapy. And forcing yourself to get into a habit like that makes your even more creative. Creativity is not just inspiration; it’s hard work and discipline as well.
3. The best friendships last even after 9 months of talking. And you’ll find joy in people you never realized you missed.
Let’s be honest, I did a horrible job about keeping up with people from back home while I was at school. College is just so all-consuming and you live in world where anyone outside of that world gets temporarily forgotten about (well, except your very best friends). But somehow when I came back for the summer, I still had some great people in my life. There were not only friends from high school, but friends from my old youth group and my old job that made an effort to hang out with me, and because of that, I had a very full, long, companion-filled summer (when I thought I was going to be all alone and miss all my GC friends terribly). It’s really a test of who matters and who doesn’t...to see who comes through for you the summer after your freshman year. So you all, thanks for taking me downtown and adventuring with me, and going to art exhibits with me and doing photoshoots with me (and being my models so I could practice), and building fires with me, and swimming with me, and working out with me, and playing music with me, and hanging out with me at all hours of the night and early morning since I didn’t have any other time. You all rock.
2. Space is a beautiful thing. Just because you need a break from someone doesn’t mean you don’t love them.
Near the end of the year, I was getting pretty fed up with everyone and everything. When you practically live with someone for nine months, you’re bound to get annoyed with each other and sometimes dig yourself into a hole that your relationship somehow just can’t climb back out of. I always used to think that space was a negative word, a horrible concept that basically just meant “I can’t stand you anymore so I’m pushing you out of my life”, but now I’m understanding a new meaning of the word. It just means giving each other (and primarily, yourself) the opportunity to process and step back for a minute. It just means, “hey, I care enough about you and this relationship to step back for a minute before it all blows up in our faces.” I know a lot of people were dreading the summer because it meant not seeing all of their best college friends for 3 months, but personally I found peace and a revival that I needed to go back and be around everyone again. Because I love them all, but I needed some space so that I could continue loving them properly. And this summer handed me the space I needed on a silver platter, so that worked out well.
1. Even when you hate your job(s) and your daily routine, God finds a way to give you joy every day.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t always hate my jobs. In fact, they’re pretty good jobs. But on a Thursday or Friday when I’d already worked 3 or 4 15-hour days in a row, and I had to wake up at 6am to go start another one, I would sometimes not be in the greatest mood. It was so frustrating some days to know that some friends were at the lake and others were at Holiday World and my family was in Florida and I was stuck in Louisville, Kentucky working 7:30am-10:30pm. But somehow, though my schedule was crazy busy this summer, I felt closer to God than ever. You know how? Not through some crazy miracle or awesome way He came through for me, but in the tiny little things he blessed me with on every mundane day. He blessed me with AMAZING coworkers who would buy me food or chocolate or ice cream or just give me a big hug when they could tell I was frustrated. He blessed me with a passion for poetry and writing and music that got me through every single day. He blessed me with that one customer who would smile and tell you you were doing a great job… and that suddenly made your whole day 100% better. He blessed me with great novels to keep me entertained and beautiful art to admire and appreciate, and awesome friends whose good morning texts would actually make my entire days. He blessed me with moments while I was driving from job to job where the sun would hit the window and my favorite song would be on the radio and I would just be like, “wow, I’m so thankful to be alive.”
I don’t know about you, but I’d take my summer over a summer of going to theme parks or vacationing in Florida. (okay, maybe not quite)
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