Dear Freshman Juanita (A Reflection)

Dear College Freshmen Juanita,

You are so anxious about this new part of life, even though you are commuting to a school less than 20 miles from home. But I get it, because I am still you, and transitions are hard. If it makes you feel better you’re 5 years older and you still can’t handle transitions without a healthy amount of stress, lots of hugs, and an embarrassing amount of crying. I get it.

Why are you crying? You go to such a beautiful school!

But you really didn’t have anything to be anxious about. Sure you make friends who don’t stick around for long (don’t worry, you make friends much more easily than you realize, it’s a gift), but you’ll also make friends with people who are in it for the long haul.

Summer 2011

Summer 2011

That professor you got intimidated by when you sampled her course, turns out that’s mandatory for everyone in the English department to take, plus you end up loving her and taking a class with her almost every semester up until graduation.

Oh yeah, and you know how you’re thinking this will finally be your chance to date around and have some fun. Ha! Think again. People don’t do that at this school. They date forever and then they break up or get married. Or they’re just perpetually single. There is no in between. And despite all your protests and attitudes and trying to be SO independent, you end up falling in love and marrying your first boyfriend, but don’t worry you are still sassy and independent. It’s part of why he loves you.

You will get so close to Jesus in this time. You will also seriously question, your church, God, and the state of the world. It will strengthen you. You will have so many intense moments with God, and you will also find you feel connected to God even without the intensity. You will pray constantly. You will have many conversations about God with people of varying levels of faith and it will all be incredible.

You will meet your best friend in the world (literally this friendship will cross the world, and gosh you will just miss her, but you will care for and cherish this relationship SO much). You will make a number of amazing friends, but it will shock you how much this relationship grows and develops and stretches across state lines and time zones. You will call her your sister, and it’s true.

The best friend and I <3

The best friend and I ❤

So don’t worry you will have your ups and downs, and the best year of college is coming up (Sophomore year, dude you even live on campus), and you’ll have fights and scares, and you’ll cry a lot. And I’m just as confused about life as you are now, trust me I did not expect that at 23 I would be taking care of a woman with dementia, watching all of my friends go off on adventures, while I get married,and oh yeah, my husband and I, we share a home with 3 other women. Life is weird. But you know you’re going to grow so much in your time there. You’re going to have so many adventures, laughs, and you’re going to learn. You’ll learn so much in and out of the classroom. And I still treasure everything I learned even the hard stuff. You might be anxious right now, but trust me these are going to be some super amazing years so enjoy them, cause soon enough you’ll be married and have debt to deal with and all the responsibility.

But yeah little college girl, things are going to be okay, because God’s got this, and even though you get the plans less and less, you let go of control more and more. So kiss and dream (and yes those stupid 3 AM adventures were SO worth it) and live, cause you’re going to college and it’s one of the best decisions you’ve ever made, trust me, I’ve been in your shoes.

All my love and glitter,

Future Mrs. Juanita

We got Married!

I am waiting up for my husband to come home.

Typing those words feels like a dream within a dream. I’m married. I have a husband. It’s still sinking in.

I don’t really have a lot of insight to add. Everything is the same and yet wildly different. We still don’t communicate perfectly, but he’ll come home to me every night. I’m still mildly messy when it comes to my room, but now I have someone to share my room and bed with.

It was so weird the wedding day. I arrived on time things were going fine, his sister (our wedding day manager) was reassuring me that we would start photos soon (we opted to do a first look and formal photos before the wedding to optimize reception time), then I was waiting. And waiting. And waiting. While also being told tidbits. “They’re trying to find all the groomsmen, they’re wandering.” “The food still hasn’t come yet.” “I don’t know, we’re still waiting.” “He doesn’t know what a first look is.” Finally 30 mins off schedule we start the first look photos.

Somehow despite a delay, some of my extended family being late, people not just getting into the darn photos, and almost losing my cool, we finish everything and I hide out in my back room and breathe in the 12 spare minutes we have left.

My nerves heighten, I walk down the aisle, but everything washes away in the joy of my almost husband’s smile.

The ceremony is beautiful, I don’t cry as much as I thought, but I can’t stop the tears when he begins to say those timeless vows

“to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish you always. According to God’s Holy Word I pledge you my faith and loyalty.”

And I do my best to say my own without too many tears or sniffles.

It was transcendent and yet when I walked off that stage I was still me, and 6 days in I know without a doubt we made the perfect decision, all the planning and work we put into our day was completely worth it. It was simple, it was meaningful, it was community focused, it was relaxed. I talked with so many people, laughed, took hundreds of pictures, and gave oodles of hugs.

I think what I know, what I learned through the whole process more than anything is that sometime we make decisions that look young or foolish or strange, but when you know that it’s true that you wouldn’t want to live life without that decision then you should go for it with everything you have.

Me, striking a "victory" pose after our Honeymoon kayaking trip down the Delaware River.  Six gorgeous miles!

Me, striking a “victory” pose after our Honeymoon kayaking trip down the Delaware River. Six gorgeous miles!

Go for the degree, the job, the adventure, the trip, the school, the boy, the girl, the marriage. I’m so glad everything came together. I’m so glad we got married. I’m so glad to be married, I’m looking forward now to all the adventures ahead that I can focus on with a husband by my side and no more wedding planning! Praise be to God!

Staying Firmly in the Present is Hard!

Remember as a kid you just couldn’t wait to be a grown up, when you’d have a job, money, family and everything you ever wanted, yeah I’m still waiting to be a grown up too.

One thing I have really noticed, is that it’s hard to stay in the moment as a 20 something college grad. We are constantly looking toward next.

It will be so amazing when I pay off my debt.

I can’t wait until this semester is over.

Can we just be married already?

When am I going to have my real job?

Hopefully, when I’ve paid my dues, I’ll have money.

Is it summer yet?

Of course as humans we constantly are looking to the future, and the worriers among us know the special agony of stressing about the future long before it’s here. I can tell you the biggest stress of my senior year, wasn’t comps, schoolwork, or my job, it was worrying about what life would be like post graduation. So much that in the last weeks of the semester I went to counseling.

Now with only 12 days until I get married, the present honestly feels agonizing. Don’t be fooled by my quiet demeanor and inability to express excitement obviously:

I am bubbling over with quiet anticipation, I’m grateful, I have chores, wedding projects, and of course my daily routines of work and commuting to keep me occupied. I really cannot wait for the gathering of my family and friends, the commitment S and I will make to each other and unto God, and the laughter, joy, tears, and fun I know that will accompany our day. Plus I’m looking forward to our honeymoon, our marriage, having a home together, you know life.

But for the past few weeks it’s been more rough being with Miss J, not because she’s become harder to handle (we’ve actually some pretty good days lately), but because I want to move forward into the life I’m anticipating. The life in which I’m a happy confident wife, who is paid for the stories she creates, who doesn’t go on long commutes, who can drive, who throws awesome parties, is heavily involved in her church, who has friends near and far (mostly near), who has money to travel and pay off debt, who is close to having (or maybe even has) kids, basically living what I have deemed my dream life. Of course this dream life doesn’t fully consider (or comprehend) what exactly God has in store for me.

But right now, I’m working part time for an elderly lady with dementia, and it’s just okay right now. I don’t hate it, I don’t love it. I do it to the best of my ability and try to get any enjoyment out of it, if I can. I am staying in my shared housing and S will be moving in with us making for a unique first year of marriage. And money, I mean we are saving money by this housing arrangement, but the end of our debt seems like a long way off, and it makes the issue of kids problematic, we want them, but when does it make even a tiny bit of sense to have them?

So dream life is very dreamy, and while I’m making small steps towards it (hello getting married in 12 days!!), I’m doing my best to really live in today. To move towards the future, but just focus on today’s joys and challenges: Communicating better with S (which apparently is a lifelong journey, Lord help us), getting my room in shape, caring for Miss J to the best of my ability, it’s really hard with all the anticipation. But you know I can do it. So whatever is looming ahead, grad school, marriage, moving, new jobs, remember to stay faithful in the transition, to not lose site of the present in light of the future. The good things will come, don’t miss out on the good things that are right in your face.

Keep glittering,

Juanita