“I watched Superman fly away”

I have always been the strong one. I’m always the one who keeps everything in; the one who tries not to let anything get to her.

I can remember May 4th, 2013 like it was yesterday. I remember sitting in my bedroom floor crying, yelling, and trying to process what was happening to my life. You were in the hospital. Our parents were there, but we weren’t allowed to come see you. I’m never the person that says “I love you” first, but I still thank God everyday that the last time I saw you, I said it.

We knew you’d come out of it. You’d get better like you always did.

But you didn’t.

I woke up the next morning and mom was home. In a split second I knew that my world had changed forever. You wouldn’t be there anymore, not physically. I wouldn’t get to see you sitting in your chair in the living room again. I wouldn’t get birthday cards with your signature anymore. You wouldn’t get to see me go to my senior prom, or graduate high school, or go to college, or get married. I wouldn’t get to admire the way that you looked at Nana anymore. I wouldn’t get to hear you pray, or laugh anymore. I wouldn’t be able to hug you. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how much you meant to me because I assumed that I would have more time.

In that split second, I made a pact with myself that I would be the strong one for everyone else. I wouldn’t let them see me cry. I wouldn’t let them see me upset, because I knew you were in a better place. You weren’t sick anymore. You could do whatever you wanted without physical limitations. You were now walking streets of gold and hanging out with angels. But that didn’t make this process any easier.

It’s been three years and three days, but I still think about you during every single day. Sometimes I can even feel you watching over me.

You were the type of person that I can only aspire to be. You were intelligent, hard-working, and compassionate. You were always honest. You loved God and you loved people the way that God loves them. You had a laugh that could light up a room. You loved life. You never gave up. You were also stubborn and persistent, maybe that’s where I get it from.

I’ve been hoping that you’ve been watching me. I hope that you’re proud of me. I’m trying to be the kind of person that you were. I will never forget what Bro. Darvie said about you at your funeral. He said, “Willard was the kind of man that didn’t talk much. But when he did, everyone stopped to listen.” That’s the kind of person that I want to be. Thank you for inspiring me to use my voice.

I hope Jesus let you watch “American Cheerleader” in Heaven. I hope he let you peek through the clouds to see me get my acceptance letter to GSP. I hope you were at my NHS induction. I hope that you weren’t looking when I first started driving… We’re still working on that one. I hope that you were there when I was elected senior class Vice President, and when I was on the homecoming court, and when I won Prom Queen. I hope you got to sit next to Nana at my baccalaureate. I hope you were next to my parents at my high school graduation. I hope that you smiled when you found out that I got into The Leadership Development Program at UK, and that I started an organization on campus. I hope that you’re proud of me for not giving up when things get hard at school. I love coffee now, I know that’s new. When I get to heaven we’ll definitely stop at a coffee shop at least once a day.

I hope you’re proud of the strong, opinionated, independent person that I’ve become. I hope you’re proud of the woman that I am still becoming. Everything I’ve done and accomplished has been in the hopes that I would become more like you.

It’s been three years and three days, and I still think about you every day.

I wish I would have said “I love you” more. I wish I would have come over more. I wish I would have asked you to tell more stories. I wish we would have taken more pictures. I wish I could have one more day with you.

I know you’re having a blast in Heaven. I just wanted to let you know that nothing has changed, and that you’re still one of my heroes. I love you, and I’m going to keep trying to make you proud.

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Here’s To The Crazy Ones

August 21, 2015

I set foot on the University of Kentucky campus for the first time as a student. I forced myself to be calm, cool, and collected while my head and heart were both thumping, crying, and having a textbook panic attack. My major was Accounting. I would graduate, start my own firm, and life would be simple and easy.

February 22, 2016

I woke up at 8 A.M., I ate my strawberry yogurt, and went to my only class on this chilly Monday. The class was MAT 114: Intro to Merchandising. Today’s lecture was on business ethics. The practices that companies employ behind the closed doors of conference rooms; and the things that companies try to keep us, the customer, from knowing. These are practices that make it possible for us to buy Iphones, $4 tshirts, and all of the other products that make our lives comfortable and easy.

I don’t think I have ever been hit so hard emotionally in my life. While staring at the pictures and videos on the Smartboard screen I found myself getting a lump in my throat and tearing up. All I could think about was the overwhelming urge I had to fix this. To take away the suffering that these people felt. To make a change.

All my life, (Almost 19 years), I have never been able to nail down what exactly it is that I’m passionate about. For awhile it was music, then art, then forensic science, then medicine, then business, back to art, then mission work, then back to business (fashion), and the cycle continues every single day. There are people like my mom who knew exactly who and what they wanted to be their entire lives. I’ve never had that thing that makes me tick. That thing that sets a fire inside of my soul.

Until today.

Today I had a moment of simple clarity. That moment was in room 305 of Erikson Hall while Avery Malone was giving her usual Monday lecture. My moment was shared with forty other people who probably had no idea that one of their classmates’ mindset had just dramatically shifted. It was a moment where the world stood still, at least for me.

I realized that what I’m passionate about is fixing things that are broken. I love to help people. I want to help others to find their voice and use it to make positive differences in our society. I want to leave the world in better shape than what I found it in. I want to make a difference. I want to eliminate injustice and the status quo. Ultimately, I want to turn our culture upside down.

This life wasn’t created for us to live comfortably. We weren’t created to just make it day by day and go about our routine. I truly believe that God created each of us for a specific purpose. To me, that purpose is for us to walk with Him daily; but also, to find what makes our eyes light up and go after it without holding back. Whether that’s ending global poverty, attending to education reform or justice system reform, changing ethical business practices, encouraging others to save the environment, teaching others to be themselves and to use their voice, their talents, and their heart to change the world, or whatever else it might be, God created you for a reason. He gave you your specific passions for a reason.

Do not let someone else tell you that your passions are worthless because they might not make you six figures in this life. Money is a means for survival, not a source of power or influence. (Most people have this backwards, but don’t worry, we’ll fix that)

Finding your passion and living for God and that thing that makes you tick, or cry in the middle of class, is what gives you power, confidence, and influence. I truly believe that finding your passion is what makes life worth living. It’s what will make us happy and feel fulfilled on a daily basis.

As Alexis Jones said, “People will judge you and your dreams. They’ll tell you you’re crazy and try to convince you that mediocrity is the smarter choice.” This quote resonates with me personally because I’ve experienced this. People, even ones who are close to me, have told me my entire life that I should be a teacher. Or that I shouldn’t have changed my major to Finance and Management because “What kind of job can you get with that degree?” While nothing is wrong with teaching, or sitting at a desk all day, those aren’t the things that light a fire inside of me. These people were trying to put out my dreams by telling me that I wasn’t capable, or smart enough, or talented enough to be great. In all reality, God made me to be great. He created me to stand out and that’s exactly what I’ll do. I won’t be insecure. I won’t doubt myself. I won’t settle.

So here’s to the rule-breakers, the people that have no respect for the status quo. The people who are independence set on fire. The people who know who they are, and what they stand for. The people who are crazy enough to believe that they can change the world. Because the people that are crazy enough to believe that they can change the world, are the ones that do.

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-S

Turning The Tables

The world as we know it can be a scary, depressing, lonely, and downright ugly place. It seems that no matter where we are or what we’re doing we’re constantly surrounded by harsh words, violent actions, and mean people.

Our TVs show us horrible things from around the world. Our Facebooks, Instagrams, and Twitters are breeding grounds for complaints. Our friends (ourselves included) and acquaintances gossip about each other (and ourselves) constantly. Long story short, it seems that in this day and age you simply cannot get away from negativity no matter how hard you try.

What if the solution to stopping the negativity in your life was as easy as flipping a light switch?

It is.

An action as simple as choosing to smile can change your attitude for an entire day. Choosing to compliment someone’s strengths instead of focusing on weaknesses can change your point of view. Choosing to see the good in the world instead of the evil can literally change the face of the planet we walk on everyday.

Being a positive person isn’t an innate characteristic that some people are blessed with. Being positive is a mindset that we should all embrace. It’s easy to get down on ourselves and others; but what do we have to gain by being the Eeyore in the room? Being pessimistic and cynical isn’t going to get you anywhere in life. However, there are studies that have been done that prove that a simple smile can change a person’s entire life.

The secret to staying positive isn’t being oblivious to the world around you; it’s choosing to see the good in every situation. Staying positive is more mind over matter. Whether it’s getting a bad grade, having a bad day at work, or losing someone that you care about. If you look for the bad things in this world; the heartache, the deceit, the evil, you will find those things. If you look for the good: the love, the generosity, the immensity and abundance of everything we’ve been given, you will begin to see those things.

For me, personally, staying positive can only happen because I have learned to trust God’s perfect timing. This timing is something my roommate and I have been talking a lot about over the past couple of months. Whether we’re dealing with a hard class or a breakup we have the ability to stay optimistic and stay smiling through anything we face.

For me, that can only happen through a faith in God and His plan that is stronger than anything this world can throw at me.

God will only toss things your way that He has prepared you to handle. He wouldn’t give you something to face that is too big for you to beat, at least with His help. If it seems that God is making everything go wrong in your life, then maybe you’re just one of His strongest soldiers.

Every experience in life, whether good or bad, forces us to learn lessons. I think that one of the first ones I had to learn was to trust in God.

I had to trust Him when I started this crazy thing called high school and couldn’t understand why parents would allow their kids to go and participate in a lesser version of “The Hunger Games” every single day. However, through those experiences, the good and the bad, I learned about who I was, what I stood for, the kind of person and Christian I wanted to be, and a million other things.

I had to trust Him on August 21, 2015 when I started a new chapter of my life as I moved in to college. In four months I think I’ve learned more about the world, other people, myself, and life than I ever thought possible.

Everyday I have to trust that God is doing everything in His infinite power to get me to where He wants me to be. It may not always seem fun. I may not always be happy. There will be struggles, but in the end, it will all be worth it. This is the attitude that I choose to have because faith, trust, and hope are some of the things that make this crazy life worth every single second.

Smiling isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. Being kind and compassionate isn’t always the fun thing to do, but it will change someone’s life. Trusting in God and His plan isn’t always what “all the cool kids are doing”, but it will change your perspective, and your entire existence. Being optimistic seems to be impossible, but with God all things are possible; and being happy and optimistic and positive become as easy as flipping that switch. So here’s to turning the tables and being a light in a very dark world.

-S

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P.S. Here are some of the things that help get me through a difficult day. I hope they do the same for you.

“You matter because you exist.” -Sophia Bush

“When you use God as an excuse to hate people, and you use God as an excuse to cut people down, first of all, I think it’s insulting to God.” -Sophia Bush

“You will never influence the world trying to be like it.”

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13 (NLT)

“And now brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” -Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

“Even when God seemed to have abandoned me, He was watching. Even when He seemed indifferent to my suffering, He was watching; and when I was beyond all hope of saving, He gave me rest and gave me a sign to continue my journey.” -The Life of Pi

Then and Now

Once upon a time there was a girl. She was beautiful, talented, driven, smart, and had the biggest heart. The only problem was that she didn’t see any of those things in herself. She struggled everyday trying to figure out who she was and who she wanted to be. In her fourteen years she didn’t have anything to complain about. She had a wonderful family, some great friends, and everything in the world made sense to her.

This is the girl we’re talking about… (While these are obviously embarrassing photos that are typically kept hidden in the depths of Facebook, I felt it was necessary to suffer a little bit of embarrassment in order to understand who this girl is.)

This is who I was when I was fourteen, and a freshman in high school.

When I look at these photos I don’t see the girl that was described in the very beginning of this post. I see a girl who deals with insecurity in almost all aspects of life. She doesn’t think that she’s good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough, or talented enough. Her biggest goal is to be on the homecoming court and to date a football player. She’s naive like all fourteen year olds are and she’s just waiting for the day when she turns sixteen so she can drive. She wanted the senior boys to notice her like in the Taylor Swift songs because she wanted her life to be like a Disney movie. She let other people define her and decide if she was worthy.

That was in 2011. This is me in 2015.

Not only am I thankful that I grew up a little bit *insert the “see no evil” monkey emoji here.* I’m thankful that I’ve changed on the inside as well.

Through the loss of two family members, cheerleading, the Governor’s Scholars Program, teaching and being a role model for nearly two hundred young girls in my time at Pep and Pizzazz, my sponsorship with Compassion International, graduation, my first semester of college and all the other things that have affected me over the last four years I have become a totally different person.

When I look at these pictures I still see a young girl; but this girl is comfortable in her own skin. She’s strong, courageous, and loves the life that God gave her. She’s fiercely independent. She’s stubborn, driven, passionate, and creative. Her ultimate goal now is to conquer the world, and then save the world. She believes in the good in people and she wants to make everyone feel loved. This girl is willing to work for everything that she wants. She’s sassy, opinionated, and isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in.

This is the girl that got everything that her fourteen year old self wanted; and then realized that those things were not good enough for her because she deserved more.

I know that a lot of those statements seem to be conceited or arrogant. But they come from a place that still feels the sting of insecurity everyday. They come from a place that hears that voice inside that says that she’s not good enough every single day. They come from a heart that’s been broken, more than once,  and is still trying to put itself back together. They come from a girl who has fought hard, and for a long time to become the person she is.

This girl chooses to overcome those insecurites daily. She chooses to believe that she’s good enough and ignore the negative, nagging voice inside her head. She stopped letting other people define her and started trying to only please her God. She knows who she is, what she wants, and understands what she deserves. She’s not conceited, or arrogant, or full of herself. She’s confident, comfortable in her own skin, and understands her own self-worth.

She’s not an expert on life. After all, she is only eighteen. She’s still naive when it comes to certain things. She still makes mistakes and struggles because she’s human. She’s still learning. But she also likes to see the bigger picture, and she hopes that one day all girls will stop letting labels, people, and the status quo define them. She wants people to understand that it’s okay to love yourself. She lives by quotes from the Bible and Sophia Bush and encourages everyone else to do the same.

“As a woman, I know you’re young, but you gotta hear it now: the most valuable part about you is your brain. Get an education; don’t let anybody tell you that your body or the size that you wear or any of that BS matters, because it doesn’t. Your brain matters, so be the smart girl in the room. Because, to be funny, you have to be smart, because you have to get the joke.” -Sophia Bush

“I live by two mottos: ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world,’ and ‘Make no small plans.'” -Sophia Bush

“To be happy, it first takes being comfortable in your own shoes. The rest can work up from there.” -Sophia Bush

“She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” -Proverbs 31:25

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Sophisticated and Chaos

One of my biggest issues with society today is the emphasis on labels and fitting in. As a freshman in college I’ve realized that I’ve spent the better part of my eighteen and a half years trying to fit into the mold of what society tells me that I should or shouldn’t be.

In middle school I turned to cheerleading because I thought it would make me popular like in the movies. In high school I stressed about grades and was adamant about joining every club because I thought that’s what would make me good enough in the world’s eyes.

Although I found people to hang out with, I never felt like I truly belonged. One day I would feel totally at ease with one group of friends, and the next day I’d feel like a fish out of water. Sometimes I would even swear that I was born into the wrong generation. Even now, there are days where I want to dye my hair, get a tattoo, and move to Africa; and then there are other days where I dream of being the CEO of my own company, with my colonial style mansion and hydrangea bushes in the front yard.

My issue with labels is that they confine us and define us. They make us all feel like we have to think, behave, and want certain things out of life depending on which “clique” we fit into. You’re either the prom queen or the loner; it seems that there’s no way that you could be both or the world would spontaneously combust.

My problem was, and still is, that I fit into multiple categories. I try my hardest to choose to embrace all aspects of my personality and who I am. I refuse to confine myself to one specific label so that the status quo can stay intact.

One thing I want to do with my life is be an activist. I want to be someone who stands up and speaks up for what she believes in. I want to be the girl that people can look up to and aspire to be like, and most of the time that requires me to bring out my inner Brooke Davis. Forcing societal labels to go extinct is just one of the many items on my to do list.

I chose the name Sophisticated Chaos because that’s what I am. I’m a ball of fire and blonde hair. I’m more than just one specific label. I’m more than what society tells me that I should be.

I’ve discovered that it’s not necessary to “fit in”. I’ve realized that God didn’t create me to “fit in”. I’m meant to be myself and to stand out. I’m a mixture of sophistication and chaos and that’s perfectly okay.

-S