I GRADUATED COLLEGE.
Yeah, I did that. Now, I was not late to announce that. I posted about it on social media and told everyone who wanted to know, but I am late to write this and post more pictures, which I have been meaning to do for the past two weeks. I didn't want to write this in a Facebook post because it would be too long and I didn't want to be that person... even though I am still being that person by writing a long post here, but I wanted to so I did. I just wanted to talk about how my last three years at BYU have shaped who I am right now and the things I have realized since I made the big move from NC to Utah.
One of the most important things I have realized is how stinking lucky I am to have the life I have. I mean, I had the opportunity to go to one of the best universities in the country where I received an excellent education that I will benefit from for the rest of my life. I get to live in a beautiful place where I get to see the mountains every single day. I have great friends who love me for who I really I am. Most of all, I have an incredibly loving and giving family. Honesty, I don't deserve them because they are too good to me. My parents have given and still continue to give me so much. My sisters are so generous to me and are always there to let me rant about my stupid problems. I try not to take them for granted and express my appreciation and love for them often. I just have a good life and even when things get hard, I can step back and just think about how good I have it.
With that, I have realized that I am so privileged. As a teenager, you think that your life is so incredibly tragic and difficult. I know I thought that sometimes. I just look back to then and laugh because my life was never that hard. I have had a pretty easy life. I mean, I have gone through a lot of difficult things, but for the most part I have it pretty easy. I never had to go without the things I needed and I still don't. It would be ridiculous of me to deny that this is true or for me to say that I have had an extremely rough life because I haven't and I am so thankful for that. Simple as that.
Something I have learned to do better is to own my mistakes. I used to think that I always needed to be striving to be perfect, but the thing is... perfection is absolutely unattainable in this life. It is so unhealthy, for me at least, to strive towards perfection because I will never get there on this earth. Why work towards something you can't attain?! I have so many weaknesses and I am not a perfect person and I will never claim to be. I am not ashamed to make mistakes and I will willingly admit when I do because that is how I grow and learn how to be my best. My best isn't perfect and that's ok because I have the Atonement of Christ. (We all do!!) Christ was perfect on this earth so we don't have to be. We can make mistakes and still be just fine because of Him, as long as we are willing to own those mistakes and repent. That is something that has helped me feel a lot better about myself in this place where everyone (seems) so "righteous."
Another thing that has changed about me is my confidence. To be honest, I have always been pretty confident in myself. I mean, I went through the middle school years where I wanted to be like everyone else, but I grew up and realized it was too exhausting to pretend to be someone I wasn't. That belief has just grown since moving out to Utah. I know my strengths and I am willing to show them. I have learned how to take compliments, which is something I used to be terrible at. I have grown so much as a person and I really like who I am. Now I'm not saying my confidence is perfect and unshakable. I mean, there are lots of things I don't like about myself, I am bad about comparing myself to others, and I still feel self-conscious, but I am still confident in the person I am. AND I have been able to build my self-image from what I think about myself and not what others think of me. Sure, I still care about what people think of me and I want people to like me, but I work to not let their opinions affect how I see myself because I know I am awesome. (And humble... I really do try to sit down and be humble, like Kendrick Lamar reminds me to do.)
One of the biggest things I have learned is that I don't have to be happy all the time. My life may seem like it's all rainbows and butterflies if you only know me on social media, but it's not. Don't get me wrong, my life is good, but it's not perfect and I am NOT always happy. I have had some pretty difficult experiences since I have been here. I have struggled... a lot. I have always been a happy, optimistic person, and I still feel like I am for the most part. BUT, I have taken my rose-colored glasses off and I see that I cannot be happy all the time. It's ok not to be okay. It's ok to sit in your car and cry when things don't go right. It's ok to be upset when someone does something really crappy to you. It's ok to be mad at yourself when you do something dumb (and it's ok to do dumb things.) I am not condoning being a terrible person, I'm simply saying it's ok to not be good all the time. And I have seen that it's important to let people know that you're not alright and that you struggle with real life issues. It humanizes us and allows us to connect better with each other, which is so important in the world today.
These last few months have allowed me to reflect on the last few years of my life and I am very thankful for that. College is said to be a transformative time in life and it really has been for me. I am still the Madeline I was five years ago, just with a few more upgrades and lots of tweaks. I am happy with who I am because I know I (slowly) becoming who I am supposed to be and who Heavenly Father and Christ want me to be. I have a long road ahead, but I am excited to start this new chapter of my life. I think it's going to be a pretty great one.
P.S. I also learned that laughter is the BEST solution to most of life's problems. It's good to laugh at yourself and allow others to laugh with you. And I am pretty hilarious, so laughter is a pretty constant thing in my life. ;)