Things you can learn from 18+ year-olds

Our freshman class this year has caught me by surprise. These three girls have polar opposite personalities, and yet I somehow see so much of myself in each of them. It’s like looking through some crazy weird time-warp version of 18-year-old me. I have literally been in their shoes, had their same thoughts, felt the same things, just four years ago. I get so excited whenever I talk to any of them because I know what’s ahead of them – sure, there will be a lot of struggle, ups and downs, and shedding of unnecessary skin, BUT there will be EVEN MORE transformative experiences, life-long relationships made and crazy cool basketball memories.

I never even expected these three young-ins to be in my life – and yet, they have been a complete LIGHT this year to me. Above all, they are always always always making me laugh. As someone who is more on the serious side of things, I love that on any given day, I know I have some sort of belly-laugh waiting for me whenever I see them. Surprisingly, and thankfully, there are so many things I have learned from each of these girls. So Ellie, Maud and Joy, here is your appreciation post! (In the words of Joy, get ready to feel “squishy.”)

Ellie: is the definition of thoughtful. She thinks things through, almost painstakingly so. You can literally see the wheels turning in her brain whenever you ask her a question. And consequently, she asks THE best questions that absolutely fire me UP. She reminds me a lot of myself in that she isn’t easily persuaded by facts presented to her. She is a natural doubter (which is a good thing!) and isn’t afraid to confront the hard stuff or be the voice that speaks up amongst the crowd. She’s a quirky perfectionist who is authentically her own person. This girl has had a hard year (to say the least) but chooses to face every day with courage and conviction – and I don’t think I’ve given her enough credit for that.

Maud: finds joy in the little things. She really knows how to celebrate life – seriously guys, she gets excited over breakfast. She also enjoys videos of cats, makes me turn up the radio for her “favorite parts” of songs, and legit knows every lyric to every Eminem song ever. Anything and everything can make Maud’s day. She is also extremely intentional and considerate. She can tell instantly if I’m having an off day AND will make a point to ask me about it, even if it means that I might be annoyed with her. Who does that?! She remembers everything you tell her, and loves to engage in serious conversations. I love her tendency to be super serious one minute and super silly the next. She too has faced some pretty tough things in life, and YET she chooses to have a beautiful perspective on life. She could so easily play the victim, but instead I have seen nothing but resilience in the face of adversity, compassion for others, and an amazing self-awareness that I am completely envious of.

Joy: she cares. Like no one else I have ever met in my life. She genuinely puts others’ happiness before her own, and I can’t say that about many people. On any given day, you can find her laughing and making other people laugh around her. Goofball doesn’t even begin to cover it. I don’t think I’ve seen our head coach laugh as much as I have this year – and that’s all because of this girl. She is one of those people who light up a room with her energy. On a more serious note, even though very rarely is she ever serious, Joy has taught me how to love radically and unconditionally, never expecting anything in return. This is something I have always struggled with, and still do. She has gifted me with car rides, late night study sessions and coffee dates where she has been vulnerable with her struggles. I’ve seen moments of insane maturity from her, and each time I am floored. In an effort to spare her more squishiness that she hates, I simply want to say that I am the epitome of excited for this girl’s future.

So you three, I want to leave you with two things.

First, a big THANK YOU. Through our crazy late night antics in the gym, you’ve reminded me of my love for the game of basketball. In actuality, I never realized that I had lost it. I loved being a part of a team and working towards a goal that was bigger than ourselves, but basketball had become a job: one that I was good at, but that was devoid of real joy. This year alone, I’ve spent more nights just playing basketball (for the heck of it) than I ever did my entire college career – and I’ve loved every second of it! The gym has become a safe haven for me again because of you.

Second, I want to remind you that these next 3 years you have ahead of you will be HARD. But they will be SO worth it. I want to remind you to persevere even if everything is telling you to stop. I want to remind you that you will always have people in your corner that love you.

I’m looking forward to seeing how each of you grow! Love you ALL.

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