Thursday, April 23, 2015

Relationships and Faith

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Okay, I know that I have been silent here for the past week, and I know that my last post was quite similar to this one, but this topic has been on my heart for a while now, and I just really wanted to discuss it some more. 
My faith is a very big part of my life. In fact, I'd say my relationship with God colors everything about the way I am, who I am, and how I do everything I do - especially who I do it with. I want that to be present here too, because I love writing tips for graduating seniors or world travelers or just clothing posts, or whatever, but I also want Sarah Smile to be more than that...I want you to know me better than that, and because this has been coming up a lot lately, and we had a really good discussion about it at my Bible Study last night, I wanted to talk through it again, but this time, in reference to my faith. 
When I was younger, I was really thrown off when people would say "my relationship with God." I didn't understand how you could have a relationship with someone you couldn't talk to and it all seemed very cheesy.  Now that I am older and I spend a lot of time growing my faith and learning about God to build that relationship, I understand more what they mean, and what that means for my life. 
In high school, I had no clue what it meant to have a Godly relationship. Not with myself, not with my family, not with friends, and certainly not with guys. I didn't really know there was such a thing outside of the obvious 'no sex before marriage' rule. For the past few weeks in Bible Study though, we've been learning about each of those, and last night was all about romantic relationships. 
We talked first about God's love for us and how we should both acknowledge that and mold our relationships off of that. It was so nice to hear those things and really listen, because I feel like so many times I hear those verses and those words, but I don't really soak it in and feel the love in them, I glaze over it and continue with my day, but I think the real first step in any relationship, platonic or romantic, is first loving yourself that way.  I know it sounds cheesy, but you really do have to love yourself and who you are and be in a healthy relationship with yourself before you can be with anyone else, because self-deprecation and self-loathing will always seep into your relationships with others. 
We also then talked about what Godly qualities were needed in a relationship, like honesty and courage and patience and trust. And those are heavy things. It was interesting to see the guys talk about their struggles and insecurities the same way girls did and hear their side a little more, because really we all feel the same way inside and we all want those quality relationships that make us feel like we're amazing and wonderful and loved, it's not just a girl thing.
But I'd say the main point that we hit was each person's role in the relationship. We talked a lot about how it is and it should be the man's place (and I do say man because if you're going to be in a relationship you need to be a man about it) to step up and make the first move. I know not everyone will agree, but I really think God meant for it to be that way, and I think men were wired to lead the relationship, whereas women are wired to respond. And I think they should, in an honest, graceful way. 
It's a concept I very much struggle with because when I like someone, I just want to shout it at them and control everything myself, and it sucks being able to do nothing but wait and see what they'll do, but as much as it sucks, I think it really is for the best. Girls, don't you want someone who thinks you're worth pursuing, no matter what? Don't you want the man that risks being embarrassed or having his ego bruised to step up and ask you out on a date and tell you, with both his words and actions, that he likes you? And guys, don't you want that girl who will respond kindly and gracefully whether she feels the same or not, and praises you for stepping up either way? I really think that those people are out there for all of us, and they're so worth waiting for.
I think God made us to be different. And I think that makes it hard, whether you think of it in a 'turn the other cheek' sense, or a 'wait until marriage' sense, or any other sense that God calls us to, but I trust that he knows what's best, and as hard as it is to have faith that when it's meant to work out, it will, I think the plan he has for me, and each and every one of you, is greater than we could ever imagine. 
Best advice we got all night? 
Girls - Don't assume he likes you until he verbally says it. Don't assume because he likes your instagram, or he texts you good morning - show him you are worth more and you deserve more, and then when he does step up, be that girl he deserves. 
Guys - be honest and courageous. I cannot stress enough how much in this crazy world of mixed messages and hurt how much girls just want to know what you're thinking so they can quit worrying over it. Also, know that the girl you want will react so kindly and thankfully to that, and if she doesn't, that's a really good indication that she isn't what you want at all. Lead with your words and actions, and 9 times out of 10, it will go very swimmingly for you. 
So often I try to rush things, or force situations that I want instead of trusting God's plan, but it honestly never works out. I don't want to trust because I just want what I want and I think I know who is best for me and I'm so afraid to let things go because it's hard and frustrating to let go of what you think looks and seems so great for something that you don't even know is coming. However, I cannot count the times in my life God has shown me that there was something better just right around the corner, once I let go of the old stuff. And so, even while I wish I could be shouting at the boy that I currently like all the things I feel, I won't. Because he knows where to find me if he should so choose, and until then, I'm just going to go on trusting and knowing that good things are coming, with or without him. 
I don't want this to be a 'dating advice' post, I just want it to be thought provoking and encouraging I guess. I think, especially for those of us in college, we meet tons of people all the time, some we like and some we don't, and it is hard to have Godly relationships with both of those people, but I really think we're called to strive for that, and sometimes it helps to talk through what that looks like, so that's what I'm trying to do. Be the person you'd want to be in a relationship with, and strive to love people the way God loves you...end of story.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gifts for Grads

Gifts for Grads
I'm a really big fan of practical gifts in general, but especially for graduation. I remember when I was graduating and I didn't even know what to ask for because I wasn't sure what I'd need, but now that I've been in a while, I feel like I can vouch for the necessities.
Firstly, money is always great. Always. But falling in that category are gift cards and rolls of change for the pesky laundry machines in the dorms. I never had coins and always had to find random ways to make change at 8 o'clock on Sunday nights, so I would've appreciated being sent off with a cute change jar. Also, gift cards and a seriously big help. When I graduated, my boss and some of my coworkers put in for a bunch of gift cards for me and they were awesome! They just picked a few general places that they have everywhere (Subway, Walmart - great for when you're broke and need gas too!- Starbucks, Izzo's, Yogurtland, etc) and whenever I was hungry but also broke - everyday of my life -  they really came in handy!
If we're talking school supplies, the best splurge item is a good backpack. I am really in love with my North Face one (I have the Borealis style), but Patagonia and a few other companies also make them. They're water resistant, hold everything, and still feel comfortable, unlike the cutesy Vera Bradley one I started with that fell apart my sophomore year. To go in your back pack at all times, I'd suggest a good water bottle. I have a Camelbak and love it, but anything that's not disposable is good because you're not constantly buying bottles. I also have an LSU Tervis Tumbler and that's my favorite for coffee/hot chocolate because it's easy to wash. Another handy thing to have is a good rain coat. Again, I chose a North Face one because I'm familiar with them and they're really good quality, but really anything that is lightweight and can be folded up to keep in your backpack is a good'un.
In the dorm supplies category, if you want  full packing list, you can see my printable one here, but I'd say any easy dorm decorations are good idea. Cute cork boards, picture frames, wooden letters, etc are easy to transport into your dorm and move year to year, but they really take a boring dorm and make it feel a bit homier. For the coffee addicts out there, a Keurig is a seriously good gift. All of my friends had one freshman year and they're really convenient because they only make one cup, work super fast, and they're much better than having to drag yourself to the dining hall before breakfast. 
Lastly, in the miscellaneous category, something I'd wish I had before my first day were my college's spirit shirts. I know that sounds trivial, but really the majority of my causal tshirts were from high school and I was not going to wear that to class. I ended up buying a few throughout my first year, but I still don't have as many as I would like, and it does make you feel like you belong a bit more, so if you're stuck for what to give a recent grad, those are easy to get your hands on and relatively cheap! Anything in that family is actually really good, because I loved getting LSU keychains, tumbler cups, sweatshirts, etc when I graduated. Last but not least, a good duffle bag is a must. It can hold everything you need to bring home on a long weekend, but it can also hold your laundry for laundry runs and it's something that you don't think about until you need it. Again, I started out with my Vera Bradley matching set and soon found out that it's always better to invest in quality before cuteness, so I'd recommend a good grown up one that'll last throughout the years. (I love the J. McLaughlin ones, but Marley Lily has a few budget friendly options, and they can both be monogrammed).
Hope these ideas helped, and good luck to all those graduating really soon! Soak it all in and enjoy it!

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Monday, April 6, 2015

How to: Schedule College Classes in 5 Easy Steps

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Last week I met some adorable high school seniors in my local bookstore. We started talking about George Orwell and my love for 1984, and then an hour later we were discussing my college tips for them and I mentioned Sarah Smile. Of course, I got home with 101 ideas for blog posts because there is so much about college - especially freshman year - that no one tells you but you're too afraid to ask because you want to seem like you know it already. So, over the next few weeks, I'm going to be turning those questions and tips into blog posts, about anything from scheduling, to picking a major, to picking a back pack and school supplies.  If you're already in college or you've graduated but feel like you've got some tips to share too, add them in the comments below, because those are always helpful! Without further adieu, here's how to schedule classes minus all the stress and panic.
1 // Print out your Degree Path
 When I was a freshman, I had no idea what this was, but my mom helped me find it (just use google, then type in your major once it brings up your school's database) and OMG it's a huge help. It basically breaks down into 8 semesters what classes you need to take. As long as you follow it, you should be on track to graduate in 4 years. This will show you what classes are required in what years, how many electives in each subject you're allowed to take, and how many hours you need to be scheduled in each semester. I have about 6 copies all around my house all marked up with different classes. 
Print yours out and familiarize yourself with it. Know what classes are required and how many hours you need so that you'll be better prepared for step 2. 

2// Go through the Course Catalog
This can be found by googling your school's course catalog (ex: LSU Course Catalog 2017), and it gives you all of the courses that are possible to take in any field for that year. Of course, not all of those are offered every semester, so it's important to highlight/write down all of the classes that seem interesting to you because you may need them later. I then take all of those that I highlighted/wrote down and make two lists - ones that are required for my major and 'extra electives'. Both of those lists will come in handy in the future, but also for steps 4 and 5 every time you have to schedule. 

3// Plug those classes into your Degree Path 
Make sure that the classes that you've chosen fit with your degree. For my major (Political Science), I have tons of elective classes (or Gen Eds) so I can pretty much schedule whatever I want, besides a few required courses. However other majors, like sciences, don't have very much lee way at all, so make sure that you haven't picked 4 history electives when you're only allotted two, etc.
4// Check the current Course Offerings
This will tell you when the classes you want are actually offered for that semester. I usually plan out a few schedules that I'd like to have (ex: only Monday Wednesday Friday classes or all afternoons off, etc), but it also allows me to see which of my classes might be offered at only one time, which therefore gives it higher priority and dictates which planned schedule I can actually go with. This is the time to really think about when/if you're going to work, how early you want to wake up, when you concentrate best, etc. and plan a schedule according to those things.

5// Schedule your classes 
People often get very stressed about this one, but it's actually my favorite. I usually set an alarm on my phone for 30 minutes before my allotted time to schedule and then I grab my computer, my planned schedules, and the list of interesting classes that I wrote out earlier. That helps in case a class I planned is full and I need to switch it out for another one (usually an elective) without scrambling around last minute to find a class that fits my degree path. Each school's database will be different, but usually you type in the class like this POLI 2051 for political science, FREN for French, stuff like that, and it will bring up all the available sections (times, teachers, and buildings where it's offered). Then, you just pick one and click "add to schedule". It's that easy! If you've done the planning work ahead of time, then even if you end up not being able to get into a class because it's full, you should have a few others just waiting on your extras list! 
Hope this helps some of you who are scheduling right now, especially for the first time, but as always, you can shoot me an email (gold little mail icon at the top right) if you have any more questions!
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