“Everything is interim…”

IMG_7566The dog days of summer are upon us, and I’ve definitely reached that point of the season when I’m so looking forward to the next that I can honestly admit that I’m just about ready to fast forward to August and a new semester. I am in fact a nerd and do actually enjoy school and busy schedules. This summer has been one of mental, spiritual, and physical recharging (i.e. sleeping incredibly more than I do Aug-May), trying to save up some funds, falling back in love with making music, diving into new and unexpected friendships that have marked my life forever (needing an entire post of their own), and of course tackling dental school applications and soon interviews (more exciting news on that to come!). Today I was trying to finish up my last Shauna Niequist read (if you’ve missed my past posts over the last year you should know that she is my soul sister and basically me in twenty years – I dream of having dinner at her table one day), Cold Tangerines – with a side of cold brew coffee -and the chapter titled “Writing in Pencil” resonated so deeply with me.  She basically highlights the [not always sunshine-and-roses] adventure that is discovering the difference between our seemingly immovable plans and God’s always-surprising yet perfect paths we end up on. IMG_7570 This summer is definitely one of those interim times of future-oriented thinking as I try to wrap my brain around how different my life (and bank account) could look the next four to ten years based on where I end up getting accepted and attending school after college. This road is ever-changing and every day I feel like God has something new to reveal to me about where He’s leading. I had a friend a few weeks ago put it in a new light, though, that really changed my previous view of “I just want to go where God wants me to go.” He said that God only wants to give us the deepest desires of our heart (Psalms 37:4-5 happens to be one of my favorite verses in the Bible) and that He is not only walking in front of us “leading us”, but right beside us and also behind us, nudging us to take the path we really want to (if it is a desire He has placed on our heart). He gives us new dreams for our lives and wants nothing for us but to thrive along the way of seeing those dreams become a reality. We are truly IN Christ and Christ is IN us, so can we ever really lose? Nope. I realized that no matter where I ultimately decide to go, I can’t really make the “wrong” decision. The point is not if I end up in Texas, Colorado, or the East Coast, it’s that anywhere I am, God will be there with me, molding and shaping me into who He has created me to be in THIS season and each season to follow. So I can sit here and think my life will look like ______ in five years (think something like starting an OMFS residency, most certainly not married yet, living in a “cozy” city apartment with a dog), but more than likely I could be beyond surprised by the goodness of God to make it look entirely different from my stubborn plans. I’m so thankful that “life with God is a daring dream, full of flashes and last-minute exits and generally all the things we’ve said we’ll never do,” and that “with the surprises comes great hope.” Here’s to putting down the permanent marker and picking up a pencil, open to erasures and edits from an Author writing the best version of our lives we never saw coming.

the 254 and why it feels like home

wacotown-mar14People too often like to talk indifferently about this little city in the “Heart of TX” along I-35 between Dallas and Austin, but after living here for three years, I can’t help but speak up on behalf of my lovely home away from home in Wacky Waco.

I’m not claiming it’s some new bustling metropolis, but it’s so much more than just a place for a pit stop for a Cowboy Coffee (granted, that’s a pretty good reason) during a long Texas roadtrip.

These are just some little treasures I’ve discovered (or have been dying to) that help make the 254 what it is (and I’d add photos but there are too many to choose from of my 3 years of living here!):

  • It happens to be the home of Baylor University, a.k.a. the best college ever. Duh.
  • Sunsets that can’t be beat over the Brazos and now the brand-spanking new McClane Stadium awaiting its debut.
  • The wackiest and most perfect little coffee shop, Common Grounds. So many things make it the Waco treasure that it has come to be: the lived-in couches, cleverly-named and highly-caffeinated beverages that I partly owe my high GPA streak to, and the coziest backyard which has hosted musical guests like Jon Foreman, Phil Wickham, Needtobreathe, All Sons and Daughters, Ben Rector, and Gungor (all of which I’ve seen and/or MET).
  • That same shop’s competition and the newly named #2 on the top 20 hottest coffee shops in the nation, Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits. Seriously, why have espresso and alcohol never really been friends before this? We all know avid coffee lovers usually are the same people who appreciate a good cocktail. This place is a young-urban-hipster-craft-drink-connoisseur’s paradise. The rooftop view of the courthouse and the highly photographed Alico building’s red letters is the icing on this espresso cake.
  • Stand-up-paddleboarding on the river or “mountain” biking through trails on a sunny spring day, courtesy of rentals from locally-owned Outdoor Waco.
  • A city of passionate believers on a mission to set the world on fire, starting with McLennan County and reaching to Southeast Asia. There are an indefinite number of students and adults in Waco that I meet day in and day out that live to dream big with God and want to see the nations set free. My church, Antioch Community Church, is also the host of World Mandate, an incredible annual Christian conference.
  • Lake Waco Dam. Again with the sunsets…
  • This is Dr. Pepper country. So much so that Dr. Pepper [Float] Hour is every Tuesday at 3:00 in Barfield Drawing Room on Baylor’s campus. I’ve only been about twice in my college career due to a little thing called being a science major and living in labs at all hours.
  • The newest and biggest HEB in Texas. If you don’t happen to live in central/south TX or Mexico, man am I sorry for you. HEB is the gloriousness that is the best grocery store ever that makes even uttering the word “Walmart” downright absurd. Fresh, hot, scratch-made tortillas daily (these are not the kind to be used for tortilla tossing off the suspension bridge, another Baylor tradition), free samples and cooking demos, ample produce and specialty ingredients that meet the needs of most foodies, and two whole aisles of an extensive and quality beer and wine collection.
  • Cameron Park is one of the largest and most beautiful municipal parks in Texas. I’ve spent countless hours on the trails (and gotten lost a time or two), worshipped with friends on the grassy fields, ran two Bearathons (Baylor’s half-marathon) through the dreaded hills, and enjoyed some quality quiet times reading and journaling from Lover’s Leap overlooking the Brazos. Apparently it’s also something like the best disc golf course ever if you’re into that, but I can’t attest to it since I don’t have oodles of free time to throw a frisbee to some targets.
  • An on-the-rise downtown with new restaurants, bars (my favorite is easily Muddle – a classy cocktail lounge where the best Saturday nights are spent at the weekly piano bar or on the back deck with a taco and a live band), food trucks, and shops opening up all the time as well as the weekly Farmer’s Market. It’s so refreshing after growing up in a small town with about 70% of downtown vacant and rundown.

This collection is no where near all-inclusive, but at least you can see what it is I love about this place that I’ve come to call my home and can’t imagine having to leave in less than a year.

#Iheartthe254 #Wacotown #Wacoisawonderland #KeepWacoWacko #HeartofTX

Meat and other ‘Merica things


10367736_737019966349243_6995694065233738491_nWell I’d say I’ve officially crossed the bridge to being a real live American woman by cooking my first successful big roast of meat. Sure, I cook all the time, but rub down and roast a four pound pork butt for seven hours in my oven, I had not.

I had my friends over for a pre-July 4th celebration last night since all of us actually have to work today (what is that? that is not exactly freedom, my friends). I don’t even know why I automatically jumped to pulled pork sandwiches, but once I did I had the whole menu played out in my mind. I did some researching and landed upon this fabulous recipe for more of a Texas style pulled pork that wasn’t drowning in crockpot liquid (pulled pork is really not a TX thing, but I might like it better than fatty brisket, shhhhh).

http://thegoudalife.tumblr.com/post/26502809520/slow-down-eat-pork-coffee-chipotle-pulled-pork

A coffee chipotle rub and dry low and slow heat give you that beautiful charred bark on the outside and fall apart moist and slightly sweet meat on the inside. If that’s not American, then I don’t know what is. I let DJ contribute by having the all too important task of shredding the pork, even though I knew he was bound to (and did) “taste-test” about a half pound of it before bringing to the table. Boys…

I tossed the pork with about a cup of Stubb’s original BBQ sauce (again with the accidental TX theme) and paired it with the slaw from the same site (with the addition of carrots): red cabbage, julienned jals, cilantro, and a great tangy lime dressing (I subbed Greek yogurt for the mayo). Spicy, limey, and crunchy perfection to contrast the smoky sweet pork. I toasted up a combination of honey wheat Hawaiian rolls for sliders and onion rolls for regular sized sandwiches.

For an easy side, I roasted a few ears of corn (in their husks and directly on the oven rack at 350 for about 30 min) and served them with a chili lime honey butter that really complimented the pork sandwiches. I just eyeballed amounts of chili powder, lime juice, and honey and stirred into room temp butter.

Jenna brought over the cutest little watermelon, and dinner was served. Of course some cold, classic Shiner was the perfect beverage for this Texas, I mean American, celebration. After another dinner of hilarious conversations, we played a round of Apples to Apples and concluded that none of us have low self esteem or confidence issues; it gets pretty heated and competitive with our four fiery personalities, the only way games should be in my opinion.

What other way to finish off a Fourth of July dinner party than with Bluebell berry sundaes and watching one of the greatest American works of the 20th century, The Great Gatsby?

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Happy Independence Day to all you lovely Americans. Rep those Stars and Stripes proudly wherever you may be today, and never take our freedom for granted!10151998_737240736327166_9154440737824637170_n

The gift of waiting

jessie:

A fellow Waco blogger (that apparently goes to the same church as me) whose words are what so many young women my age and in this season need to read. Thank you for this difficult but beautiful reminder.

Originally posted on Wonder & Wandering:

Six years ago I met a boy. I had zero romantic interest in him, but we became the best of friends. We loved all the same things… soccer, live music, pizza + beer… the list could go on but these ones carry most of my memories of friendship with him.

We spent more afternoons at my favorite coffee shop in Jonesboro, Arkansas than I can remember between 2008-2010, sometimes talking and sometimes just sharing a table while I studied and he planned worship sets. We took as many trips to Memphis as we could to see our favorite bands play together. We talked sports and there was never anything more than a high five going on between us every time we left hanging out.

Then 2011 rolled around. He had a girlfriend at the time, and I remember beginning to think that I missed my best friend. Somewhere over those…

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(Part 2) So you’re done with high school: A college senior’s thoughts to new grads

Well I promised a continuation of my rambling advice about entering college, so here it is (even though it’s really only one more huge point I wanted to talk about). If you missed part 1 – check it out here:

http://eatpraylearnblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/so-youre-done-with-high-school-a-college-seniors-thoughts-to-new-grads/

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shout out to all my tri delt friends ;)

6. Do not feel like you need to rush Greek life to make friends or fit in. This is in no way meant to take a stab at all my incredible friends that do happen to be in a sorority/fraternity. They know I like to give them a hard time sometimes, but I’m sure all of them could convince you to rush after telling you that Greek life has done all these great things for them. I’m just speaking from personal experience, the decision I made that was best for me, and wanting to give you the other side of the story that too often gets no attention. Even though it feels like Greeks sometimes run the campus or are everywhere, in reality, it’s often the considerable minority (Baylor’s is surprisingly only around 25% I think). From the second you step on campus, you will get asked a very typical slew of questions from everyone you meet: where you’re from, what are you majoring in, which dorm you’re in, and lastly ARE YOU GOING TO RUSH? I hate this question just because it automatically places you in one of two categories. Well I’m telling you that if you answer no and your peers no longer want to pursue that friendship with you (aka potential sister/brotherhood), then they never really were going to be your close friends. Some people think that if they don’t join a frat/srat it will be impossible to make a lot of friends in college, network for business (oh how I get that answer every single time and why our business building – nicknamed Hankamer High – easily has the highest percentage of Greeks), or that they’ll miss out on something that apparently is advertised as a crucial part of normal college life. Here’s my opinion on it, and why I chose to answer no every single time I got that question.

  • Money. We’re already attending a very expensive private university, and several hundred to even a couple thousand more a semester would never fly with my parents. I’d rather any little extra bit be going to my future schooling/wedding fund personally.
  • Constant forced socializing. I am exactly down the middle of extravert and introvert. I really do love meeting new people and would consider myself a pretty outgoing, confident, and friendly person. I do not consider myself as someone who enjoys surface level small talk or having to attend meetings, mixers, socials, and several other events every week because I need “points.” Also, who actually has time to get ready and dress up that much? Between full course-loads and working multiple jobs I barely have time to sit down and eat dinner or even shower every single night.
  • Girls and way too many of them. Hello, estrogen overload. I love my good girl friends, I really do. But expecting to be like “sisters” with over 100 girls and never getting tired of hanging out with any of them? I’ve actually always considered myself as a girl that would almost rather have more guy friends than girls. I love hanging out with guys because, generally, there is no fake facade, catty gossip, diet talk, judging each other all the time, or emotional roller coasters complaining about being single or asking for advice about their breakups.
  •  Limited opportunities for non-Greek things. This was probably my biggest deciding factor. I am someone that loves to be involved in several different spheres and could never narrow myself to being in just one or two things and have the SAME friends that do everything together (aka srats/frats). It always seemed to me that girls in the same sororities were such tight friends (think, “On Wednesdays we wear pink”), but those sisters were the only kind of people they interacted with consistently. The main answer I give is usually something like, “I didn’t want to be in a sorority, because I didn’t want to JUST be in a sorority.” With all the crazy time commitments they have and events planned all the time, it didn’t seem like something I would want to sacrifice so much for in order to commit to only that one thing. I’m highly involved in ASDA, All-University Sing, the fitness department, academic jobs (SI, TA), Antioch Church, previously the choral department, and oh yeah – I’m a biology major with double minors applying to school to become a doctor (my grades kind of matter). I love having so many countless friends ALL over campus and from all kinds of backgrounds with such varying personalities, passions, things in common with me, etc. Variety really is the spice of life, and I just didn’t want to be so into sorority life that that’s all I really got to do in college. Finally, there was no way I wanted it to take time away from studying and succeeding in school which was in fact the reason I came to college: furthering my education.

Again, please don’t read this as me thinking I’m so above Greek life, and I completely realize that it is absolutely the best decision to rush for some people. Just don’t believe the lie that it also has to be for you.

Hot pizza, cool people

Few things make me happier than to have a great group of folks gather in my small college apartment, let them help with the prep work (grating the cheese is in fact a crucial task), sit around the table, and enjoy delicious grub in between fits of laughter, friendly arguments, and story-telling. Last night was the first summer dinner party to be hosted at what the boys lovingly named “The Shack,” and if it was any indication of the nights to come, I’d say it’s going to be a pretty eventful season.

Of course my default for any good dinner party is my artisan pizza from scratch: whole wheat thin crust, specialty cheeses, and creative toppings I’d say are restaurant menu-worthy but so much more fun since my friends and I get to dirty the kitchen (what else is it good for?) and throw around ingredients to each other to taste-test along the way.

For my basic, go-to pizza tips and other topping ideas check out my original pizza post here (http://eatpraylearnblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/becoming-a-pizza-pro/). For this get-together, I decided on prosciutto, arugula, and truffled cheese, BBQ chicken, and pesto margherita pies.

ImageFor the arugula pizza, I only added an extra-aged asiago, truffle English cheddar, and slices of fresh mozz before putting in the scalding hot oven (as hot as it will go). The last minute of cooking I topped with slices of proscuitto, and then when it finished I covered with roughly chopped arugula, shavings of parmigianno reggiano, and a drizzle of EVOO.

For pizza number two I pre-baked two chicken breasts in BBQ sauce, and other toppings included caramelized onions and green bell peppers. I went for a combo of mozz and pepper jack for the cheese on this one. This one is really all about the kind of sauce you use ranging from sweet and tangy to smoky and spicy.

The margherita pie was simply that (thanks to my sis for the fresh Romas from her garden), with the addition of my homemade basil pesto. Thick slices of fresh mozz and a couple handfuls of asiago and parm, and you’re literally in Tuscany.

We headed to my place after summer LifeGroup at Cameron Park learning how to play spikeball, showing the guys my secret tomboy football skills, frisbee, slack-lining, and hammocking (we do claim to be the #sportysection). This newly formed summer hangout group of Jenna, one of my best friends throughout college, Matthew who has been in our Lifegroup but left Waco last year to attend Bethel School (yes, THE Bethel in California), and his Waco BFF, Daniel (who happens to be a sophomore at a little place down the road where they bleed maroon).

One of the things I love about Waco summers is that you can become tight friends with people that you might not have the chance to during the school year. I’ve known Matt for over a year, but obviously since moving to California we haven’t really stayed in touch. I literally just met Daniel last week, and I feel like we’ve known each other forever. Bonding over pizza and frantically trying to shut off smoke alarms will do that sometimes (the best pizza calls for way-too-hot-ovens and that’s just that). Also, the fact that we all are united through living our life in Christ makes a big difference in these kinds of friendships that are based on so much more than surface-level small talk. These folks are seriously passionate, powerful, God-seeking, kingdom-minded, and wise well beyond their years. Every time I’m around them, just the way they simply walk out their life in the pure JOY of the Lord and speak revelation over others reveals more of God’s character to me than they know. Just last week, I asked if the guys could pray over me and Jenna during this time of applications, MCATs, interviews, and just overwhelming decision-making, and after that night I left with such a new sense of excitement and hope in the Lord from what they said and the pictures that God gave them about us. Long story short, this is an awesome group of the most genuine, encouraging, and hilarious people I could be friends with this summer and ultimately for eternity. I can’t wait for weekly shenanigans with these world-changers.

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Another box checked

It feels incredible to cross off one more major milestone on the long road to becoming “Dr.” – actually submitting both my TMDSAS and AADSAS applications! Even though my original goal of submitting by July was still a few weeks away, my overachiever tendencies took hold once again and once I started, I wanted to knock them out for good. Speaking of type-A-perfectionist “gunners” (a term I’ve already been called by the doctor I shadow), if you need a laugh look no further than the ADEA AADSAS Facebook page and the string of freakout comments about the site crashing from server overload the first morning. I couldn’t help but comment and speak some sense to my fellow applicants that might be a little too stressed about all this.

“I love all these fellow type-A overachievers already freaking out about the website the first morning it’s opened… it will still be there tomorrow, friends :)”

I’m so relieved that I will never again have to sit for hours and enter in every single course I’ve taken, activity participated in, or come up with yet another convincing essay topic of why they should accept me over the other thousands of applicants (or so I thought). It turns out the secondary applications of a few schools I’m applying to (ahem, PENN) require additional essays – four to be exact. It looks like I’m not quite done with this whole thing after all. Honestly though, these will probably get put on the back burner for about a week so I can actually finish setting up my new apartment since applications and working have taken all my time since I’ve moved a couple weeks ago. Also, the pressing task of re-learning acoustic guitar (yeah, I’m picking the instrument back up just for fun after a ten year hiatus), celebrating friends’ 21st birthdays, cooking real dinners, and enjoying lovely brunches have been sources of some welcomed distraction.

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hello again, calloused hands – the plus side? Another activity to add to the manual dexterity section of dental school apps :)

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my fellow future dentist/roomie and I celebrating our whole house now being legal and both being done with apps!

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first night wining and dining in my new place – bruschetta and arugula pesto shrimp pasta

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I’m pretty sure heaven will feel a little like Sunday brunch

I’ve spent a couple mornings back up at my mentor/oral surgeon’s office to shadow and volunteer if I didn’t have work during the day or if he had a particularly interesting case – for example, the other day I saw the full process of “Teeth in a day/All-on-4,” and it was incredible to see such an immediate gratification in just one visit after extractions, multiple implant placements, and having the permanent replacement arches fitted and secured. Seeing procedures like this while shadowing never fails to bring my focus back to why I’m doing all this in the first place. Also, I still can’t help but think about wanting to specialize in OMFS. I have a pre-med friend doing an internship at the TX Medical Center all summer, and she’s getting to scrub in on all kinds of surgical specialties and get shadowing experience in several different hospital rotations. Obviously my first passion is dentistry, but I’ve always been interested in medicine and surgery in general (in high school I did think about neuro or cardio – I blame Grey’s). If I did end up pursuing OMFS, I would want go the crazy long (and awesome) M.D. route and have a surgical residency that would expose me to so much more than working on teeth. I know for now, though, I need to focus on the dream at hand – getting accepted to the best dental school for me. Applications are in, so now we wait…

Good luck to any other pre-dent/pre-med readers out there applying this cycle! I’d love to know where you are applying! Just as I was perusing the AADSAS Facebook page comments, I couldn’t help but think these could be my classmates next year – so cool. Also, any current students feel free to share some interview words of wisdom since that’ll be the next hurdle in the near future.

P.S. for anyone interested I do have a SDN account if you ever want to connect on there, too! – iheartteeth7 is me :) Or you can always find me on Twitter, but be warned, I think I’m wittier than I actually am.

Favorite Excerpts from “Body of Work” – Part 1

BOOK REVIEW  BODY OF WORKI recently just finished book one of my ambitious summer reading list, Body of Work, by Christine Montross. It is a memoir written about the first year of medical school and “meditations on mortality from the human anatomy lab.” She specifically reflects on the entire process that all doctors must complete that is dissecting a human body, and how that necessary, fascinating, and obviously difficult process affects one emotionally, mentally, and physically. She also is a former poet and English teacher, so it’s actually a beautifully written book and not at all dense scientific journal style.

As a recent student of gross anatomy (in undergrad at least) and future lab assistant for that same class next year I knew this book would be right up my alley. Granted, in college we only dissect cats, but it was so neat to know exactly every anatomical detail that the author writes about because it was so fresh on my mind. People are often surprised that dental students also take part in this task just like medical students. Also, as I’m considering a career in oral and maxillofacial surgery that might lead me to completing an M.D. degree including different surgical rotations as well, I’m deeply intrigued by how anatomy and first learning through dissection is the absolute foundation to studying surgery.

Seriously, any and all future doctors out there need to read this book because it brings to light a lot of things that most people shy away from actually talking about. Christine discusses the history of cadaveric dissection, the fine balance between extreme detachment and engaging compassion required of physicians, the ethical questions of how students go about their first clinical experiences, and how other cultures of the world view dissection in much different ways. Here’s part one of some of the quotable passages that really resonated with me. Don’t worry, I tried to leave out some of the explicit and graphic imagery for any non-medical type readers, but the way she writes about anatomy makes it sound more like fine literature or art.

I have learned that the body and mind are not as easily separable as I had once imagined and that the treatment of one nearly always demands an understanding of the other.

My medical training thus far has put me in positions of both omnipotence and powerlessness, has revealed stark clarity and confounding darkness, has made me a vehicle of hope one day and of despair the next.

Of everything beside me, the teeth are what make the body seem the most real. 

The most alarming moments of anatomy are not the bizarre, the unknown. They are the familiar. 

The hands, feet, and heads are parts of the body that are instilled with character.

The emergence of the muscles is an introduction to the promise of discovery, of clarity beneath disorder. 

One of the strangest things about dissecting a human body is the difference between a human body and a human being – in some ways readily identifiable and in others barely perceptible. 

In order to dissect, we detach from what we are doing, and that detachment is easier to accomplish in a crowd.

You come to medical school like anyone else and then within the first week three things happen that differentiate you from everyone else you know. You touch and cut dead bodies. You are able to ask private and socially inappropriate questions of people, and they answer you. And you can suddenly walk into a hospital room, ask someone to take off his clothes, and he will do it.

With only a few days of medical school knowledge, I am suddenly fielding phone calls about hysterectomy options and back pain and ear infections. Unless any of my loved ones has a pressing question about how to find their angle of Louis or how to histologically differentiate the upper and lower layers of the skin, I’m of no help whatsoever.

Medicine relies upon a balance that is hushed and ill-defined.

The distribution of responsibility – often heavily weighted toward trainees – is rarely made overtly clear to patients, for the precise reason that so few would agree to that arrangement if it was.

All surgical procedures seem barbaric to an extent. I quickly would become able to accept even the most horrible-appearing surgical procedure once I could rationalize that the procedure was, in the long run, beneficial.

There will be more to come from the second part of the book soon.

So you’re done with high school: A college senior’s thoughts to new grads


2003d52d4a3d26c5b571be9aca7df730We all know what time of year it is: the season for graduations. I wanted to write tonight addressing new high school grads bound for the next big step as a senior who’s now had enough time to gather up little bits here and there of advice on how to navigate this whole thing called college. f41544ab177000e17f3874cba3896da7

Think of this as simply my words of wisdom to a younger me, and take them for what you will and even call it cliche. I am not at all trying to convince you that I have everything figured out, because that is far from the truth. I do believe that I am a credible source of how to at least succeed academically, and hopefully along the way you’ll also thrive socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically in these glorious four years of your life. The real world will be here far sooner than you would like, I can promise you that.

I don’t even know where to begin because there is so much I wish I had time and space to tell you. ee89b68318b6ef81d797b76d9b81f911

1. Don’t stress if you don’t know what you want to major in. Ideally you can at least narrow it to a broad department such as humanities, science, business, etc., but even if you aren’t at that point, don’t fret. Yes, freshman class scheduling can be easier and more beneficial to you in the long run if you do have a general idea, but  whatever you do, don’t hesitate to switch departments the second you feel that it’s not right for you. If you don’t enjoy studying for your freshman biology class, you probably shouldn’t stay bio/pre-med (like the 70% of the incoming freshman class at Baylor, for example). You’re looking at at least twelve more years of that, so if you don’t love it now (when it’s beyond easier than anything in your future education), you never will. I don’t know exact statistics, but I’d say most students end up changing their major/career path at least two or three times before coming to a decision. For me, in high school I considered biomedical engineering. I entered college thinking I wanted to major in biochemistry, minor in nutrition, and was still back and forth between pre-med (surgery) and pre-dent (orthodontics). Well now I’m a biology major minoring in business and religion applying to dental school strongly considering oral and maxillofacial surgery. Life changes. Experiences affect you. God leads you down different paths. You change. It’s all OK and so worth it in the long run. So be flexible, moldable, and willing to give up what you think are your dreams so God can give even bigger and better ones for you.

214539a210d7628c3cfabca645a7c2262. Be yourself. College is awesome for endless reasons, but one of the ones I loved the most is that literally know one cares who or how you were in high school and back home. No one cares what you made on your ACT, what varsity teams you were on, or if you always (or never) had a boyfriend/girlfriend. For me, I had always thought my pre-college identity was tied up a lot in academics, sports, band, and just about every extracurricular activity there was. It was so refreshing to come to college and nobody had to know what all I did in high school, and they wanted to get to know me for ME, not what I do. The thousands of people you will be surrounded by are all on a new, crisp, unwritten page of their lives just like you. Want to join the crew team but have zero experience? Go for it. Inspired to step out on a limb, leave behind your introverted ways, and try out the salsa dancing club? There’s no better time. Adopt a completely different style of the way you dress just because you feel like it? Why not? While judgment by others is unfortunately inevitable in every stage of life, I feel like college is far less so than shallow small town high school where everyone knows everything from the last eighteen years about everyone. People are drawn to confident, unique, multifaceted, and fun people. So make a new name for yourself, be quirky, and not cookie-cutter.

IMG_40923. Figure out how to study, and figure it out fast. Sorry, whatever you did in high school is so far from this new way of living that I speak of. Experiment with lots of methods to find what works for you – type notes on your computer, record lectures, handwrite notes with room for drawing and categorizing, make flashcards, etc. Are you a better solo studier or do you benefit from a group setting? Whatever you do, please please please don’t start the never-ending snowball effect of procrastination. Would you rather have 4 weeks of hell during the semester come exam times, or just some slight discipline every week to keep life manageable? Look over your notes daily, rewrite them if needed, find online resources like quizzes and videos, find accountable and focused people to study with (some to challenge you and others that you can help explain material to), and my next point:

robin-williams-carpe-diem4. GO SEE YOUR PROFESSORS. Seriously I can’t stress this enough. They get paid to teach you, so if you’re not getting it in class, go to their office hours for one-on-one extra help as soon as you feel lost or behind. Not only that, but if you end up pursuing professional or grad school, you will need several letters of recommendation from professors that actually know you on a much higher level than just where you sit in their class. More than anything, a large portion of them can be extremely relatable, encouraging, and genuinely interested in your life and ambitions. They were once college students too! I’ve been so blessed at Baylor to be surrounded with sincere and caring professors and mentors, overwhelmed by how incredible they’ve made my undergraduate experience. I’ve been over to one of my professor’s house for dinner with classmates, exchanged personal blogs with another, had several long life chats leaving refreshed and uplifted, and even hope to workout sometimes with one of them next year. Don’t graduate college wishing you would’ve made a better effort.

6c10fa6751fe7166c18dec7b9a063a6c5. Get plugged into a spiritual community that fits for you wherever you might be in your faith journey. Finding a new church can be a really overwhelming thing to think about right now. You’ve probably grown up in the same church for most of your life and you’ve reached a level of comfortable and predictable that you are just fine with. Well, college is a time to figure out your own individuals beliefs, personal preferences for corporate worship and small groups, and discover where God would have you in this season to really stretch you and to thrive in your relationship with him and with those around you. Just because you went to a Baptist or Methodist church with your parents your whole life, does not at all mean that that’s where you’re expected to end up in your new home. I’m not saying it would be a bad thing, it just doesn’t have to be the only option. As someone who spent the majority of their life in a very conservative Southern Baptist church and is now attending a non-denomenational, mission-minded, and so-called “charismatic” community church, I can confidently say that I adore my church and church family, and I know that I’m where God knew I needed to be. Spend some time “church-hopping,” and if you really want to make the best choice for your faith, don’t only go where your new-found friends are visiting. Find your new home, and don’t wait too long to wish you would’ve sooner.

I probably will end up having a sequel to this post, just because I’m so passionate about telling younger people the truth about this thrilling, nerve-racking, harder than anything you’ve ever done but also so much better time of your life just around the corner. But it’s midnight, and because college is so notoriously sleep-depriving, I’m tired.

3ff4f9b4d4a4ab1e38ce11dfd5856582Congrats, class of 2014!

A school-free summer

I’ve been looking forward to this summer all year because I knew that it would be absolutely school-free (except for that little thing called dental school applications and interview prep). After last year’s scorching hot months spent in nine hours of annoying summer school and studying every spare second outside of normal homework on DAT prep, you could say this year is much sweeter. Now that I’m well into senior hours on my degree plan, there was nothing I really could take, and given the fact that it’s my last real college summer, I was totally fine with that. Since I’m not a business or design major looking to land swanky internships in uptown Dallas and downtown Houston like some of my closest friends, my choices were pretty standard for college part-time jobs.

I originally had extensively discussed with my favorite doc in town about working for him as a surgical assistant at his OMFS practice. This obviously would have been my summer dream job because not only would it be probably full-time with weekends and nights off, but I would have been getting even more up-close, first-hand experience with all the fascinating and intense blood and guts of my potential future career as a surgeon every single day. A few months ago though, the doc broke the news to me that he was actually already overstaffed and wouldn’t have enough work for me after a girl just came back from maternity leave and hiring a new full-time registered assistant. I was super bummed, but of course I understood the circumstances. As a pre-dental student that doesn’t have my RDA, it’s basically impossible to get hired for pay at any dental office that you haven’t shadowed or volunteered with extensively and doesn’t already know you personally.

I then went on to apply to over ten places in Waco, mostly in the food/drink business or retail. Most weren’t interested in hiring just for summer or simply never responded to the online applications. After some stressful weeks of waiting and hoping at least one or two would work out and getting a few interviews (all during the time of finals), I eventually got hired to be a sales associate at GAP and a server at Shorty’s Pizza Shack – my favorite pizza joint in town. I was so glad that I wouldn’t be jobless and then probably forced to go back home for the summer to be bored out of mind or work somewhere I would dread every day.

Now that I’ve had either training or a few shifts at each place, I’m starting to get in the swing of things. Here’s some initial thoughts on each…

GAP:photo

1. 50% off full price employee discount at Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic. Enough said.

2. Mostly independent work, and I enjoy being given little projects to check off each shift.

3. I really don’t like pushing the GAP card. I’m not a pro sales major, sorry.

4. “Recovery” doesn’t refer to exercise or post-op – it’s the lovely task of refolding and sorting sizes throughout the entire store before I can leave.

5. Really laid back people that are easy to work with.

6. I have some shifts that are “on-call.” Am I already a doctor?

7. An upbeat and interesting music playlist to sing along with when I’m in the back scanning for LRT.

8. Not too shabby pay for retail.

SHORTY’S:shortys

1. Pizza, Beer, Sports. College hangout paradise.

2. If I thought Gap was laid-back…

3. On night one (of ever being a waitress in my life), I pretty much was already waiting my own tables and felt like I had the hang of things. I knew I was always cut out for the restaurant business.

4. I can now successfully carry four pitchers at once and more than one large pizza.

5. After serving two 21st birthday guys, I realize the confidence boost they get when I ask for their ID and the flirty banter when I gladly bring them another to keep on celebrating. I turned 21 not too long ago, so I understand :)

6. Free snacks when it’s not as busy is always a plus.

7. The total in tips at the end of the night are actually going to be way more than I first thought.

Between these two gigs and still teaching cycle a couple times a week (talk about a funny dichotomy – serving pizza and beer one night and leading sweaty classes as a fitness role model the other), I think I’ll definitely keep busy. I’m excited to see what these jobs will bring in the next few months and the people I’ll get to come in contact with every day. If you’re in Waco, come see me in my element!