Anything worth doing will have struggles. But anything worth the struggle is worth doing ~ Megan Finsel

Friday, September 11, 2015

Ten Truths About the Last Year at College

    For those of you, like myself, who are entering their final year of college and preparing to graduate, these are hectic times. Between paperwork for transferring and for graduation, entrance exams for universities, or job hunting for after you receive your diploma, there is so much to think about!

     But even though I've had three previous years at this school, and I have a pretty consistent routine, I've noticed some minor things are starting to change. Here are some of the things I have noticed about this year that has been different so far from past years: 

We Stress (a little) Less About Being on Time:

    Not a whole lot, but now that we've got the school memorized and we know we can get from the Library to the Science building in three minutes, we don't have to stress. Of course this frees our minds up to stress about other things, but hey, at least we don't stress about time anymore!

We Start Putting Our Health before Grades:

    When at first we needed to keep our GPA up and our classes in order, now that we have all our ducks in a row and our graduation is more or less guaranteed, our health can be taken into account. Now we can make up for all those late nights, followed by early morning classes, and we can choose water over Starbucks. We have time to cook our own healthier food, instead of deep-fried fast food between lectures. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this is what we should be doing from the beginning (but I'll explore that in another series). 

We Value Sleep:

    When we were once willing to sacrifice our sleep for a test, now we find we can hit the snooze button once or twice before having to get up. Naps (beautiful naps) come back into the picture. Hallelujah! Even though falling asleep on our textbooks doesn't count as osmosis, we can always keep trying. 

We Drink Less Coffee:

     This may just be me but I've noticed I'm drinking less coffee this semester. Perhaps because I'm valuing my sleep and health more, I'm not certain. But when I used to drink two or three cups of java a day, now I'm getting by on just one. Don't get me wrong, I still love coffee, but my reasons for drinking it seem to have changed this year. 

We Pray More:

    Between meeting transfer requirements, completing all our courses before graduation, and passing entrance exams, we need a little more Divine intervention. Prayer should be integrated into our routine anyways, but I've found that I've been praying even more, as I'm rushing to complete everything on time. Interestingly enough, it works! Just saying ;) 

We Make More Time for Friends:

    Friends on campus, friends outside of school, friends in general; when that final semester comes rolling around we find ourselves climbing out of that hole we'd been studying in and seeking companionship. Now, although our schedule is crazy, we take a minute to take that phone call from our bestie, or meet for coffee, and talk about things other than school. Life no longer revolves around classes and homework; it's a liberating realization!

We Don't Worry about Time Management (We've got that Down Pat Now):

    Homework assignments, classes, work schedules all of it has become second nature, and we don't have to make a note or set a reminder for everything anymore. Whether we stay organized with online tools (thank you Evernote and Google!) or with an old-fashioned, spiral-bound daily planner, what was once a hectic adjustment is now relatively easy. 

We Have More Fun:

    Whether it's video games, sports, or some other extra curricular activity, we tend to have the chance to have more fun (or even make time for it). Fun should be a priority, but in this final year we have the opportunity to have more of it, seeing as, hey, we're almost to the finish line!    

We Start Thinking about Graduation:

    This is probably the biggest one seeing as our final year is geared towards the main goal of walking across the stage and accepting that diploma. But of course it's never that simple, as we have paperwork to fill out, caps and gowns to buy, and classes to complete. All the while keeping that final goal in mind, while we trudge through the required courses.   

We Begin Planning for the Future:

    Although, this has been something we've probably already been thinking about, now it's more of a reality than ever. The future is looming, and graduation draws closer and closer. We start to put that five year plan into motion and we're seeing the fruits of our labors. It's an exciting (albeit nerve wracking) time. It can also lead to stress, anxiety, insomnia or other more serious emotional struggles. This is why our health becomes important and those prayers need to be as frequent as possible.

    Nonetheless, These are just my observations from personal experience, this list may or may not apply to everybody. Are you in your final year and you can relate? Can you think of something to add to the list? If so, feel free to comment below! And as always, good luck with your studies and God bless!

Monday, September 7, 2015

5 Reasons to Stop Stressing

    With everyone going back to school now and classes starting I thought I would dedicate this post to all the students out there. No matter what grade you're in, or how old you are, if you're in school right now, then there is one thing that most likely can connect all of us.


     I'm not sure why, but for some reason school can be really stressful! Am I right? Between homework, assignment deadlines, tests, and grade point averages, it can be really overwhelming. On top of all that, it seems we constantly have someplace we have to go or something we have to do. Then life quickly becomes hectic, and we can tend to find ourselves burning out, and stress can come into our lives. When we're under pressure or overwhelmed, and it all just seems like too much.

    This is rather sad, because life is so very short. In hindsight, that assignment we're stressing over now might not be a big deal in a week or two, but still we let it steal our joy. It's the trivial things in this world that tend to do that to us. Now, I'm not, in any way, saying that schoolwork is trivial, or that getting a degree isn't important (after all, I'm going to be a teacher myself, so I value schoolwork very highly). But, I'm saying that nothing is going to stick with us, and we cannot learn, if we are too stressed.

     The above verse tells us we need to cast all our anxiety (stress) on him (God). Now, sometimes that is definitely easier said than done. But God never tells us to do anything without fully equipping us to do so in the first place. This has been a personal struggle of mine (I do tend to worry more than I should), so I decided to write up a list of five reasons to stop stressing, and decided to share them with you today! Here we go...

The Top 5 Reasons to Stop Stressing:

God has everything under control!

    This is important to remember that even when we feel like everything in our lives is falling out of place, God still has the power to make everything alright. He is the Alpha and Omega, and He is the One who can change things for the better. So when life seems unbearably chaotic, remember the One who truly is in control!

You are strong and capable!

    It says in Joshua 9:1 that you are strong and 2 Timothy 1:7 that you are capable and of a sound mind. This is scriptural proof that you can handle this! God promises never to give us more than what we can handle, and that we already have the strength to endure. So whatever is coming against you in your day-to-day life, remember these verses and know that you will survive this.

Tomorrow is a new day!

    Even if you got a bad grade on a test or assignment, or you made a mistake in class, or said something to someone you shouldn't have, take heart! Remember that tomorrow is always a new day and that God's unending Grace is renewed each and every morning. That means He will give you new opportunities to learn from mistakes, or improve on your previous actions. Things can always be put right.

If it's meant to be, it will be! 

    If you're waiting on something to happen in your life (a relationship, a test score, an acceptance letter or scholarship, ect.) know that if it's meant to be, it will be. No amount of stressing or worrying can speed up or change anything. So rest in the fact that God already knows the outcome of your situation, and that whatever happens is happening according to His will for you.

You have blessings in store for you! 

    There are blessings, vast amounts of them, just waiting in store for you. God says in 2 Corinthians 8:9 that He wants to bless you and that He plans on blessing you. So when times seem hard (whether financially or with personal or familial issues, ect.) you can go to Him and say: "Lord, I could really use one of those blessings about now!" because He is just waiting for you to do so.


     And of course, if all else fails, I invite you to refer back to some important advice from my  favorite Disney animated fish:


     So, in the coming weeks, as we settle into the new school year and begin working, as we go to proms and homecoming, extra curricular activities, and standardized tests, think about this list. And when you find those moments of peace, hold onto them and breathe easily. For anyone who may need it, I'll put some resources below for managing stress. Finally, to everyone out there who are studying hard; God bless your efforts!


Friday, September 4, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; the Standards are Evolving

    The standard for what is considered "beautiful" have evolved over the years (and by "beautiful", I don't necessarily mean our appearance). But with this gradual evolution of what is accepted and what isn't, there has been an increase in
hypocritical thinking. Like what? The following image really outlines my point:

     See what I mean? The world can be harsh but to put it plainly, this is ridiculous. Even though this problem isn't necessarily gender specific, women in particular seem to struggle the most. I'm trying to make a point that women today (and I'm especially thinking of the young teen girls out there) are still being manipulated by what society deems 'acceptable'. 

    Say I'm in school, and it's hot outside, I'm in a tank top and I'm told to cover up because what I'm wearing is 'distracting' to other (oftentimes male) students [to read an actual story like this, click here]. What am I really being told here? That I should be ashamed because of what I am wearing? Or that my looks and/or body is viewed as a problem to others? If I'm removed from the classroom or the school, does that mean I am less important than everyone else? This type of mentality can be damaging, especially to a young girl or lady already fighting her own self-esteem problems. Because, frankly, we have too much pressure already without having to worry if our shoulders are being a "distraction".

    I find the evolution of these standards really interesting. It amazes me how much things have changed; that we can go out to the beach in bikinis when it was once unacceptable, or walk around with cut-off jean, and crop-tops when it once wasn't right to show our ankles. Yet, even though society's standards have come far, we're still being told what is and isn't acceptable. Why is this? 

    The point is, no one (regardless of gender) should be told what they can and cannot wear. Likewise, these 'standards' should continue to evolve in a way that will better society. First impressions should be based on inward qualities, instead of outward appearance. After all, our looks are not what God is assessing when it comes to our Salvation or our livelihoods. It says so in 1 Samuel:

"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." ~ 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV  

    Over the last month, we've examining these standards and what society deems as 'appropriate'. This is a subject I'll probably return to time and again, because as long as these beauty standards are in place, there will be people who do not fit into the predetermined categories. There will be those who are outcast for their appearance, because they are not cast from the same mold everyone has deemed 'worthy'. This breaks my heart. 

    Never let anyone tell you what you should look like, or who you should be. Never let them make you feel less than your true value. Never let them pigeonhole you into a category or try to confine you in a box of predetermined ideas. We are meant to be unique and different! It's okay to have flaws and imperfections. Remember:

Want to read the previous posts from this series? 

Here is the whole list:

  1. Introducing the Truth about Beauty
  2. The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us
  3. The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself
  4. The Truth about Beauty; Bullying
  5. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Pretty”
  6. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Handsome”
  7. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of "Beauty"

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; Photo Shopping

    We all do it. We wake a photo for social media, and then pick a filter and edit it before posting. Even though we tend to do this to our own photos, how often do we remember it can be done to the models in ads we see? As technology has advanced, the use of Photoshop on magazine images has increased in popularity among editors. Nowadays, the flawless faces on the covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair are not true representations of the models themselves. 

    Now, it's amazing what makeup and Photoshop can do. But as you can see in the following video, it could possibly be subconsciously hurting our self-esteem... 

    How much is too much? How often do we look at these magazine covers with headlines such as: "how to achieve your dream body", and want to emulate them? When, in reality, those models do not even look like their photographed selves! When we're snapping selfies for our profile pic on Facebook, and we use those $5 apps or free filters, what are we trying to achieve? As you can see in the following video, there is no substitute for being original...

    We are not flawed. The pimples, grey hair, the cellulite, are not things to be hidden or embarrassed about. I purpose that we should use unedited images of women in magazines, and we should showcase our individuality with untouched confidence. After all, we should be proud of the things that make us unique; they should not be edited away. I found the following video by American fashion model, Cameron Russell, very inspirational as she discusses her thoughts on this subject.

    So before I sum up this post I just want to say, for all the young teenage girls out there, you don't have to be afraid to go out in public without makeup, or to hide your real self in photographs. You are beautifully, fearfully, and wonderfully made! It even says in 1 Peter that it's your gentle qualities and that of your inner self which makes you the most beautiful, not your appearance. Don't let anyone make you think otherwise.

Want to read the previous posts from this series? 

Here is the list:

  1. Introducing the Truth about Beauty
  2. The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us
  3. The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself
  4. The Truth about Beauty; Bullying
  5. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Pretty”
  6. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Handsome”
  7. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of "Beauty"
  8. The Truth about Beauty; the Standards are Evolving

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Handsome”

    We have looked at what it means to be "pretty" and what it takes to be a "beauty", but what about "handsome"? Because societal standards for our appearance is neither gender specific, nor is it exclusively the struggle of women. So this post is dedicated to all the guys who struggle with their body image, too.

    According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word "handsome" can be defined as being skilled or clever, gracious, generous, and for being pleasing or dignified. Now, when we think of someone being handsome, do we usually envision a dapper young man in a tux? How about someone tall and dark? A distinguished, older gentleman? The term "handsome" is not common in today's compliment vocabulary; hot and sexy are usually used instead. But what does it take to be truly handsome?

Young men, just like young women, can be ridiculed if they are not muscular enough or if they don't look like Calvin Klein models. 

     Boys grow up playing with action figures like G.I. Joe, and they watch movies like Superman and Batman. They are surrounded by all these characters subconsciously telling them they have to be “tall, dark, and muscular” to be considered 'manly'. Similar to women, this can lead to conditions like social anxiety, eating disorders, even muscle dysmorphia or steroid abuse. All because of the preconceived notion that this is how they should look. 

    Earlier this month, the Huffingtonpost published an article on this subject [click here to read it], which highlights the struggles men can have concerning their body type and muscle dysmorphia. Interviewing 19 men with varying differences in body types, they discussed why men can tend to feel uncomfortable discussing their insecurities.

"Spoiler alert: Men have body insecurities, too, and that's nothing to be ashamed of." ~ HuffingtonPost
   Likewise, in April last year, published an article which focused on the fact men (just like women) can struggle with their weight and how they perceive themselves [click here to read it]. I found it very interesting to read, as it gave insight to a man's perspective on the struggles of weight gain and having a negative inner monologue.

"I've found myself hesitant even to consider, in my own mind, that disliking my body was worth sharing with anyone." ~ 

    Society tends to put the body image problems of women center stage, while men who struggle can be found standing on the wings. It has become almost shameful for them to talk about or discuss these problems publicly. I think this is sad, considering from a female perspective, I can relate and understand.

    If we demand equality for women, then we should also provide the same for men when it comes to social acceptance and theses preconceived standards. Young men should be accepted, and supported, despite their body type. The old, stereotypical ways of thinking needs to be discarded, and new ones need to be molded. 'Handsome' should become the new go-to look, encompassing each individual body type. So if you are a young man struggling with your own self-esteem or body image issues, please know that you are not alone, and it is not shameful to talk about.   

Want to read the previous posts from this series? 

Here is the list:
  1. Introducing the Truth about Beauty
  2. The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us
  3. The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself
  4. The Truth about Beauty; Bullying
  5. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Pretty”