17 of the Biggest Lessons I Learned In College

Yesterday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, I graduated from William Paterson University with a Bachelor’s in Communication/Public Relations. I can’t believe I can FINALLY say that! Nothing I’ve ever experienced has topped what I felt hearing my name called and walking across the stage. 

This achievement is not one that came easily. It took six years of praying, hard work, risks and blind faith to get to this day, as I chose to take a road less traveled. I used to be painfully insecure that I didn’t finish in four years, but now I’d rather thank God for every second of the last six years. If I had been in a rush to graduate in four years I wouldn’t have the right degree, I wouldn’t have had my dream internship with the Walt Disney World Resort (twice!) or the people I’ve met throughout my time with the company, and most importantly I wouldn’t be this version of me.

William Paterson University
Karlee will forever be my exit buddy! Credit: WPUNJ

Along with this exciting / nerve wracking / rewarding season of my life has come a load of reflecting. There’s a plethora of lessons I’ve learned over the last six years, but I couldn’t pass up jotting down 17 of them in honor of being part of the class of 2017:

  1. Life isn’t a straight line.
  2. I’m capable of more than I know.
  3. My past doesn’t define who I am or where I’m going.
  4. Maybe don’t procrastinate that much.
  5. BUT some of my best work came out of procrastinating, so…
  6. Not all family is biological.
  7. Wherever / Whatever your bubble is…leave it.
  8. It’s okay to change my mind and not know what I’m doing.
  9. Sometimes getting where you’re going means leaving people you love behind, but it doesn’t mean erasing them.
  10. Things will get worse before they get better.
  11. The big moments are incredible, but it’s the small ones that make up life. Don’t miss out on them because you’re too focused on the big one.
  12. Nothing is permanent, holding on to that when I didn’t think I’d make it was exactly how I got through.
  13. My journey is incredibly unique and I shouldn’t have wasted time yearning for it to match the journey’s of others and be convenient for everyone else
  14. Find whatever it is you love to do and run with it.
  15. If you can dream it, you can do it (Stole this one from Mr. Walt Disney himself, sorry!).
  16. Nothing inside the college bubble will beat the experiences that are outside of it. Thank you Disney for teaching me that.
  17. I still have a LOT of learning to do!
i-hFPF4vg-L
My cap was crooked for the entire ceremony, but do I look like I care? Credit: WPUNJ

I guess what I’m saying is that the best parts of life are the ones where you take risks. There’s never a right moment and there’s never a guarantee, so you just have to set a goal and chase it one step at a time just like running.

Take the trip. Open the book. Leave the comfort of that relationship. Make the move.

Whatever it is you’re thinking about doing…do it.

The finish line is everything more than you’ll ever imagine.

signature

Medal Monday: Iron Girl Half Marathon

Woo-hoo, another Medal Monday! This one’s going to be a good one because we’re getting into the half marathon medals, which are usually bigger and cooler.

My first half marathon was the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater, Florida. there were palm trees everywhere and everything was pink. I was thriving.

The story behind this one is really personal and one that I’m really proud to tell. I went from having the best year of my life in 2014 because of my Disney College Program and getting one semester closer to graduating college to…kind of nothing.

IMG_2354
The perks of being a Disney Cast Member! You get to hang out with your bosses girlfriend and accidentally match outfits.

My internship ended and I couldn’t afford to go back to school for another semester all while my friends were graduating college, getting their first “big kid” jobs and moving in with their significant others. I was, of course, filled with joy for them but I was also avoiding everyone out of embarrassment.

Transitioning from everyone watching me live the “coolest” life on Instagram while working in Magic Kingdom to trading in that Disney name tag for a full-time spot as a hostess at a sports grill…well, it was less than magical.

I was bored and mortified that everything in my life was at a standstill. I was in search of some kind of accomplishment to work towards to make up for the nothingness that my life seemed to have reverted to. And that is how I decided I was going to train for a half marathon.

I spent hours on google trying to learn everything I needed to know to make this happen, looked at 100 different training plans before picking the perfect one, registered for the Iron Girl Half Marathon and the rest is history!

img_2120.jpg
I told you…everything was covered in palm trees and pink!

I dedicated myself and my time to running 5 days a week for 12 weeks straight and I felt myself growing stronger physically and mentally week by week. While I was still embarrassed that I wasn’t in school, my mind-set was beginning to change and my confidence decided to make an appearance in my life again.

Training for a half marathon for the first time is no joke. It takes a serious amount of determination and pushing your limits even when you’re uncomfortable and feel like giving up. Despite that, my training was one of the only things that kept me going in that season of my life. I loved talking about it and it gave me the confidence to face people again.

IMG_2144
Sun rise on mile three? Sure!

Okay, back to everything being pink! Everyone at the starting line was so excited and pumped to be there, and to my surprise so many of them were running their first half marathon too. The weather was perfect, the course was beautiful and the energy was insane. So much so that I didn’t start to feel tired until mile 12. That was by FAR the toughest mile I’ve ever run in my life but it was the most rewarding. It led me to that finish line and got me the prettiest medal I’ve ever seen (besides the Disney Princess Half Marathon medals, sorry Iron Girl).

I couldn’t bend or lift my legs for at least two days but it was all worth it. This medal reminds me that sometimes our plans aren’t the best plans for us and they don’t happen the way we want them to because something greater needs to enter our lives.

IMG_2151
They really should have been giving out sweat towels with those medals, just saying.

It also reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Lysa Terkeurst and biggest lesson I took away from this entire experience. “External achievement never equals internal acceptance.”

Training for a half marathon will make you confident and change your life, BUT it won’t magically fix what you’re running from.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram to follow my crazy running shenanigans!

signature

The Secret to Getting Started

When people think about running, or just exercising in general, they think there’s some crazy and complicated formula behind getting started (myself included), mostly because they don’t know how to begin. They don’t want to start until they feel like they know what they’re doing. More often than not, that’s the reason why people quit before they even get started.

But guess what? That magical and complicated formula doesn’t actually exist. If you want to start something, it comes down to two things. It’s simple and I’m not trying to trick you.

How Badly Do You Want It?

Life is busy and it’s hard. Good, but hard. There are so many different responsibilities that need our time and attention and I totally understand why people have a hard time exercising consistently and make it part of their routine. I’ve been there, I get it.

But I also firmly believe that if you want something badly enough, you’ll do what have to do to make it work. So maybe the reason you haven’t been able to get started, or the reason why you fall off track so quickly is because you just don’t desperately want to become a runner. Speaking from personal experience, it took me 21 years until I got to the point where I wanted it bad enough. Let me tell you, it was NOT going to happen before then.

Can You Take It One Mile At A Time?

Now the one I’m particularly awful at is taking it one mile at a time. Since I was eight or nine years old I’ve struggled on and off with anxiety, so I can get overwhelmed easily sometimes.

Like right now, for instance. All within the next three weeks I’ll be finishing my classes, fixing up my resume and portfolio, starting my job hunt, taking my drivers test, graduating college, running my sixth half marathon, moving from New Jersey to Florida AND start shopping for my first car.giphy

While these are all incredibly great things that I’ve been waiting for and dreaming of for years, it’s still making my head spin when I look at all of it at once. But this is exactly like a race. You can’t think about mile 10 when you’re on mile three. You throw yourself off balance and you never make it. What we can do though is worry about one thing at a time. First I’ll finish my classes, check that off and start polishing up my resume to send out. Then I’ll move on to the next thing.

You don’t need to know what you’re doing to start running. That’s the best part! I mean, you COULD read all my blog posts and I’ll definitely have you prepared, but when it comes down to it no one ever knows what they’re doing.

IMG_0139
If you wait until you know what you’re doing to start, you could miss out on experiences like this one!

I had no idea what the heck I was doing when I decided to sign up for a half marathon. And that’s kind of relevant to everything I’ve ever done in my life. One fall morning in 2013 I woke up and my first conscious thought was “Okay, right now is when I need to apply for the Disney College Program,” after not giving the program a single thought since the past summer. I found my acceptance e-mail a week later and I had to tell everyone in my life I was moving 17 hours away for an internship they didn’t even know I applied to.

Running was kind of like that too. I woke up one morning and made choice and I stuck to it. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I figured it out along the way.

Deciding to run was the best decision I’ve ever made. In this moment, I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing. In fact, the one thing I DO know is that I will never know what I’m doing

But that’s when the magic happens and lives change. We challenge ourselves and try to accomplish something and that’s when we grow.

When you decide you want to be a runner badly enough, you’ll make time for it. And then, you’ll take it one mile at a time.

You can’t worry about week 12 of the training plan when you’re on week one. Start small, and start now. There’s never going to be “the right moment”.

signature

 

5 Life Changing Lessons Running Teaches Us

When I started running two years ago, I thought I was just going to literally put one foot in front of the other until I finished my run and that would be it. I wasn’t in any way prepared for the lessons I would learn through all of those miles.

Running has been an incredible teacher to me. I’ve learned so much about myself and about life in general because of it, but here are the five most important that I think we all come across as runners:

5. You Are Your Only Competition

I’m not a very competitive person, but when I hear other runners talking about PRs or what pace they hold on a “comfortable” run, I can get really hard on myself for not matching their standards. Think about that objectively for a minute. That is SO stupid! Their standards are exactly that…THEIRS, not mine! When you focus on your own goals and time and being a better runner than you were yesterday, that is when you’re going to thrive.

4. The First Step is the Hardest

This is a lesson you’ll learn very quickly when you start running. It also applies to anything in life. Deciding you’re going to do something that scares you and taking that first step is so difficult in the beginning. But after the first step comes the second, and so on. With that comes a higher threshold of uncertainty.

3. Consistency is Key

If you kind of want something, you’ll only kind of get the results you want. With running, and most things in life, you need to be consistent to see results. Sure, you can probably get through a half marathon if you run here or there a couple of times a week, but without consistency you will NEVER get better, faster or stronger.

2. Anything Worthwhile in Life Requires the Extra Mile

We’re all humans. We get tired and we feel defeated at times. I’m more familiar with this feeling than you could possibly understand, but running has taught me better than anything that if I can talk myself through running just one more mile, I can talk myself through running another. That slowly spilled over into other areas of my life like school, work and relationships and I’ve accomplished more than I thought I could. If you want something great, you have to be willing to go farther than you dreamed of for it.

1. You Are Stronger Than You Know

Never in my entire life would I have guessed that I would be able to run even one mile, forget a half marathon! But here I am, training for my sixth half marathon. I didn’t acknowledge my strength in any areas of my life until after I had been running for a year, which was only last winter when I was 23. How insane is it that it took 23 years for me to allow myself to acknowledge my strength? Test your limits and let your physical strength empower your emotional strength. You have no idea what you’re capable of.

137251-108-033h (2)
Forever one of my favorite pictures! The happiest faces after the hardest race of our lives!