I eat eggs every morning at 8:30am. I used to hate breakfast, but I’ve found that if I put aside some time to get ready in the morning, a routine can and will start to form. My day starts with eggs because without it, my morning would be a mess. I eat my eggs, get changed and then I drive to work. Having a routine in the morning makes me feel like I know exactly what is going to happen—there’s no room for the unknown. And it’s that fact that makes routines such a comfort zone. Continue reading “Routines Are a Comfort Zone.”
Sometimes doubts and lies cloud my thoughts.
“Sometimes” recently has been every day. For a few months now, people have been encouraging me to speak truth into my life. It seemed like a very arbitrary thing and I wasn’t convinced it would even work. I put off giving it an effort for a long time. But then I noticed that these doubts and lies in my mind were causing me to be overly anxious. I was getting more anxiety attacks than I normally do, and I was confused—I’m on medications that are supposed to prevent these, why does it keep happening? It was then that someone revealed to me something that answered all my questions: Spiritual Warfare.
There is victory in Christ, and we are affirmed of this especially now as Easter just happened. However, we still live in a fallen and broken world and that gives Satan the opportunity to get us where we are most vulnerable. For me that is in my mind with lies and doubts that he seeds in deep. He can wound you deep in your sins and in your struggles. Continue reading “Speak Truth into Your Life.”
It took me two months, but I’ve found my place. This transition into college was not extremely easy for me. I came in with confidence but found it slowly dwindling as I dealt with a living situation I was not prepared for: sharing a small space. I found that with one part of my life struggling—my living arrangement—all the other parts of my life started to struggle too, like my grades, attendance, and studying.
I found it hard to find a place that I could call my own; I felt like I had no personal space in the dorms. I tried finding a place somewhere else on campus: the library, a sitting area in an academic building, the arboretum. However, I always came up short. There was no place for me to claim as mine and that was the worst for me at night. Continue reading “I Moved…Again.”
It’s that time of year again. You went shopping for school supplies, picked out the best backpack, had an alarm set, and woke up for your first day of school. It can be intimidating, boring, exciting, and even annoying. But hey, school is school. As someone who survived and made it to college, I want to give you all a piece of encouragement.
To my elementary students:
You guys rock! Enjoy recess while it lasts; those times will be full of making great friendships, expanding your imagination, and just having fun. I know sometimes it can seem hard to make friends, especially if you’re new to the school—as a kindergarten or as someone who transferred to a different school—but once you find those friends you click with, it’ll make everything feel better!
Make sure you are friendly with your teacher! They love to hear about things that you’ve done or things that you’re proud of. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help; teachers are there to teach! It would be a shame if we didn’t let them do their jobs, right? Elementary school is a great time to work on your listening skills. Because for the rest of your life you’re going to have to listen to people and when it’s appropriate, reply back to them. The earlier you understand this concept, the better off you’ll be! Trust me, I was always the kid whose report card said, “Emma is a blast to have in class, but she sometimes has troubles with talking too much.” I eventually buckled down, but I know your teachers and even parents would absolutely love it if you learned to be a great listener! Practice makes perfect! Just know that I’m living vicariously through you and some days I really do wish I could go back to elementary school. You’ll have a blast if you go in to school expecting it to be great!
To my middle schoolers:
Welcome to the most awkward stage of your life. Nah, I’m just kidding! (…mostly). Middle school is a great time not only to learn new things but also to learn more about yourself. You can really start to pursue things that you love in middle school. You like music? Join band or choir. You like to act? Do the musical or plays. You get to meet different teachers, all who are passionate about something. Find someone that you identify with. If you like science, have conversations with your science teacher about it! I know it sounds boring and maybe some of you may even say it’s dumb, but any chance to learn more, take it! I’m serious! Yes, teachers will give you information you need for tests to pass the class, but don’t be afraid to ask deeper questions. Middle school is a great time to start asking the question, “Why?”
Have friends who support you. No one will ever be happy with a friend that tears them down. It’s just not worth it to have negative influences in your life at such an integral part of your growing up. Have friends you can laugh with. Ones you can talk about life with. Ones you can study with. And it’s more than okay if those aren’t all the same people! Don’t always stick to the confines of group. Open your eyes to all the other people who are searching for friendship too! Sometimes they can be the best of friends.
Middle school may be more of a challenge than elementary but I have no doubt that if you really concentrate and believe, you can do it!
To my high schoolers:
Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back—regardless of whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior—give yourself a pat on the back. While I am very proud of my elementary students and middle schoolers, I am incredibly proud of you.
All of you got up and went into your high school today. Some of you were really dreading it, trust me, I know. Some of you were really excited, again trust me, I know. But some of you thought you couldn’t. You didn’t think you could do it today. This is why I’m asking you to give yourself a pat on the back. Because you did it. This is a huge accomplishment and most of you probably don’t even realize why. Think of all the years you’ve made it through. Think of how over the years your enthusiasm for school has decreased. Yet you are here today, a high schooler. You are an example—a role model—for all the younger students. They want to be you when they get older. Just remember that. When times get tough, classes get hard, friends get mad, there’s a little kid out there who sees you and aspires to be you. And at one moment in time, you were that little kid.
Life it too short to waste it on friends who don’t believe in you or support you. When I was in high school, I changed the friends I hung out with probably 10 times, and you know what? That’s okay! Because in the end, I found an amazing friend who stuck by me through everything, the thick and the thin. If you’re not a huge social person, then don’t focus on that. You don’t have to party or spend all your time outside of school with people. I personally never went to parties, but that’s mostly because I heard they were lame and they got busted a lot. If you only have one friend, don’t look at the people with 20 and ask yourself what you did wrong. You didn’t do anything wrong! You are just doing what’s best for you. You do you.
If academics is all you think about, let me offer this piece of advice to you. Try breathing every once and a while. Come up for air, relax, and breathe. Don’t work yourself to death, you’ve got a whole lifetime ahead of you to do that. Befriend a teacher or two. Someone who can keep you accountable, who can encourage you, talk to you. It’s the best decision I ever made. Those teachers know who they are, and they know the impact they’ve left on my life. They want to run this race called life with you—at least for the four years you’re with them. They want to see you succeed, to push you, to expand your knowledge. Don’t lose the imagination that you used when you had recess in elementary school. Tap into that little kid you were and use it as motivation and inspiration for the future. More than anything, stay true to yourself.
So students, here’s to a new year. To friends, to homework, and to your amazing teachers. May you go forth and conquer! I’ll be praying for you all, if you need the encouragement, I’m here, and please come back to these words when you feel discouraged. People do care. I, your teachers, and your parents/family want the absolute best for you. Go make this school year great!
Your college friend, Emma.
I live in a predominately white—no—an extremely white community, where most belong to the middle or upper-class. I grew up with friends who lived off of Lake Michigan, whose mothers didn’t have to work, and whose fathers were always traveling for business. I grew up with friends whose parents were the sheriff, city council members, local business owners.
Now, while there are some exceptions—like for example, people who don’t live quite as well off, meaning instead of their parents making over $100,000, they make $75,000; or people who don’t live on the lake, but rather the neighborhood right next to it. And as the same time, perhaps there is a poor family who has been struggling, but I’ve never heard of it or seen it. In all my years of living here, people seem to be happy and well off.
But then I went to New York this past weekend, and for once, I understood what they meant when they taught us in elementary and middle school that America is the “melting pot of the world”. Growing up, the melting pot phrase meant to include those kids who were adopted from places like South Korea or China; it meant including the one or two black kids, and knowing their family can live the American Dream, too; it meant even if there are a few people who aren’t white in our community, we should let them live here and do what we do, too. Just because they only have one parent who is white, doesn’t mean they aren’t special, like you and me.
In NYC, for the first time in my life, I felt like a minority. But more than feeling like it, I was the minority. My taxi driver was Middle Eastern, the receptionist at the hotel was black, the street venders were Hispanic, Arabic, Asian—any nationality and race except white. I heard languages that I couldn’t understand. I was surrounded by crowds of people and I couldn’t see very many white people in the mix. I remember at one point on the trip thinking to myself, “Where are all the white people?”
And then I looked up.
I saw the skyscrapers that covered the entire city and I found my answer. The white people are working up there, away from the loud, dirty, crowded streets. I was overwhelmed because I realized I was living in the midst of white privilege.
While the white business men and women work in the tall buildings, the black men on the street have to deal with people clutching their bags close to their sides as they pass them. They have to deal with people who see a black man wearing a wife beater and wonder if they’ll attack them. They have to deal with the people who still call them “colored people” and who would prefer they not be around them on the subway, store, or sidewalk.
While the white business men and women work in the tall buildings, the Middle Eastern men and women have to deal with people looking in fear of them being terrorists. Middle Eastern women have to deal with people looking at their head coverings and thinking they are Muslim extremists. They have to deal with people who think that they only sell fake things on the street, like knock off bags, watches that don’t work, or things that aren’t truly worth the face value, in order to scam you.
While the white business men and women work in the tall buildings, the homeless men and women have to deal with people who think they’ll only bum their money on booze and cigarettes. They have to deal with people who won’t even look at them because they don’t treat them as equal human beings. They have to deal with people who see them as waste in the street.
While the white business men and women work in the tall buildings, young black teens try to fight their way through impoverished schools and a poorly structured education system. Teens who aren’t white are told to find jobs that aren’t ambitious or what “successful white people do”. They are treated like second class, unequal, different. While the white business men and women work in the tall buildings, the rest of the world tries to find their place. They try to break free from social preconceptions, racial stereotypes, and socioeconomic status.
As a white young adult, I find myself unknowingly experiencing white privilege.
I always expected to get the best education, with a national ranking. I always expected that I’d go to college. That my parents credit cards would always be accepted, that somehow money would always find its way to our hands. I always expected to be treated with respect and without any stereotypical views. I can travel without TSA doing a double check on me. People trust my cash isn’t counterfeit. I can walk down the street and people aren’t afraid of my next action. The list goes on and on of all the advantages I have by the color of my skin. But as I’m getting older, I’m realizing it is not only selfish but it is dehumanizing to accept my white privilege without caring about everyone else.
I believe in equality.
I believe that everyone should have the same opportunities. I don’t think being white should make an employer like you more than if you were black. I don’t think being white should guarantee you anything in life. As an American, I believe in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I believe that I should be able to pursue what I want and love in any way possible as long as it doesn’t sacrifice my inalienable rights or any other human’s inalienable rights. I believe that my fellow Americans of different races and nationalities should be guaranteed Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, too, because isn’t that what the United States of America is all about?
In school we daily pledged allegiance to the flag, we stated that there’s “Liberty and Justice for all.” But I look around, and I see so much injustice, I see the liberty of others being sacrificed. “For All” doesn’t mean all the whites; “For All” doesn’t mean the people with a clean background; “For All” doesn’t mean the people with money, or high paying jobs. “For All” means equality. It means everyone that is an American. It means the black single parents. It means the struggling Syrian immigrants. It means the adopted children who were taken out of poorly structured governments in impoverished nations. “For All” means every single person in the United States of America. The ones who all pledge allegiance to the flag. The ones who live to chase the American Dream.
I believe black men should be able to interact with white policemen without a fear of violence. I believe Middle Eastern Muslims should be able to interact with White Protestants without the fear of religious outrage. I believe we should all be able to interact with one another and see that we are all the same—human beings navigating through this thing we call life.
I want to talk with people and hear their experiences in life. I want to hear how a black, Hispanic, Asian, or any race lives life. I want to know about their struggles, their setbacks and limitations; I want to experience life with them; to show them that not every white person believes in white supremacy. Because beneath my skin I’m built the same as anyone else.
What is the point of life if we cannot connect with one another?
I’m not asking for us to be color blind, for that only adds to the problem. I’m asking that we, collectively as human beings, push aside stereotypes or prejudice and get to know each other as fellow Americans, fellow humans, and fellow friends. That we become people who are interested in learning about different cultures, who want to understand everyone else who resides on this earth.
I will not go another day knowing that I have it better off than someone solely based on something petty like my color. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew what he was saying in his “I Have A Dream” speech when he declares, “[I hope my children]…will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Life is about community, not segregation, supremacy, or hate. It’s about time we truly evaluate what we think we deserve in life and why.