Monday, September 29, 2014

Letters From A College Freshman: The Sky Is My Limit

The question “who am I?” is a difficult one to answer because as a human being, and more, as a young woman, I am still unsure of exactly who I am. 

I am a daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, cousin and niece. I am a friend, student and mentor. I am a blogger, a photographer and a writer. All of these things define me and help to answer the question, but I’m not sure if I know who I am entirely yet. I’ve had quite the adventure in my twenty years on this earth. 

When I was three years old until the age of five, I attended a Montessori school, where I learned to paint and build things, and how to make egg sandwiches. My mother then homeschooled me until ninth grade. When I was a freshman, I attended a Catholic online school, where I connected with students from across the country, but lacked motivation and interest in my studies. I took two classes at the local high school while returning to homeschooling myself as a sophomore, and as a junior, I was fully immersed in the public school system. That is when my life started to go downhill. I got involved in the wrong ground, atheism and lack of morals were pushed at me, and I was too naïve and fascinated to realize that I was getting hurt, both emotionally and spiritually. At the end of my Junior year, my family moved back to California, from Wisconsin where we had lived for nine years. My siblings and I were enrolled in a liberal arts, extremely Catholic, K-12 school where I repeated my junior year and eventually received my diploma. There was a period of time where I thought I wouldn’t graduate, and definitely wouldn’t attend college because I struggle with image and self-worth and I didn’t think I was smart or good enough to be successful and attain great opportunities. However, my teachers during my second junior year and senior year were part of the reason why I am here in University today. To them, my classmates and I were more than a number, more than a student, more than a paycheck. They instilled in us a love for our faith and a fire for working hard and well. They taught us the importance of friendship and respect, and never let us forget that life can be tough but we are tougher. My family also helped me be who I am today, because they never gave up on me, even when times were difficult. I believe that they always knew I was better than I gave myself credit for, and through their hopes and prayers, I am finally able to realize it myself. My family’s strength and patience has inspired me to accomplish great things with my life, even when hardships arise and things don’t go as planned. 

Why am I here at the University of Mary? I am here because I never gave up; because even when I thought I had hit rock bottom, there were people who believed in me and supported me and reminded me that there were better days ahead. I am here because I worked hard (and when I didn’t, I suffered the consequences) with the goal in front of me: I wanted to be a college student. I wanted to be able to say I did it. I wanted to receive my diploma and prove that all the odds against me were wrong. I wanted to be one of the survivors, the fighters and I wanted to make not only my friends and family proud, but I wanted to finally be proud of the person I had become and I wanted to love myself for me. I’ve always loved to travel and experience new things. 

My parents instilled in me, at an early age, a love for adventure and acceptance of different cultures. At the age of three I was trying caviar in the Ritz Carlton and attending the Nutcracker Ballet at the San Francisco Opera House. When I was seven, we traveled to Italy, where I was fascinated by the gondolas in Venice and played with the pigeons in a Plaza in Florence. Wearing dresses my mother sewed for me and with a bow in my blonde curls, I was living life to the fullest. I was content, happy and safe. I was want for nothing. I had the love and support of people who cared for me. Oh yeah, and I was in Europe. At ten, we returned to Europe and spent a week in Spain, from where my family hails. Though I was young, I will never forget the tapas at midnight, hot chocolate and croissants in the city square at 2 AM, the ravish red sheets in our hotel room, and the adrenaline rush of the flamenco dancers as they danced the night away. I remember my father telling me about the bullfighting in Toledo, but how I preferred to play at the park and drink (even more) hot chocolate with my mother and our friend who had arrived from Germany. 

I have never forgotten these experiences because I know that I am meant to experience them again. You see, I don’t want to just be an average student. I don’t want to dwindle away my college experience. This is the best time of my life, and I don’t want to waste it. I want to be able to look back and sincerely say that my college years were the best of my life. Travel is important to me not because I can’t wait to get out of here, but because I can’t wait to live. I once again have the opportunities to see the world and make new memories with the people who have become my new family. I’m ready. 

My decision to attend the University of Mary was based on the fact that I wanted to start living my own life. I wanted to make my own decisions, learn from my own mistakes, and be my own person. I wanted to wow people when I said “I live in North Dakota.” Seriously though, North Dakota? Yes! As much as I miss my family and friends back home, this is also my home, and I am loving every minute of it. Every day is a new experience, and I am welcoming it with open arms. 

The University for me, is not just a school. It’s not an escape from what I have grown up knowing. No, it is a fulfillment of what I have grown up knowing! I have been taught to jump at chances and to love my faith, I’ve been taught to trust others and make lasting friendships, I’ve been taught to stay true to myself but not to limit myself. And I am able to do all of these and more here at the University of Mary, which I am proud to call my home. 

So how do I live a balanced life? Well, let’s see. I know what my values are. I strive to live a life staying true to my faith and to myself. I value friendships and family and God above all else. I value the arts, music, writing and literature. I value travel and working hard and acting on every opportunity that presents itself. As clichë as it is, I do believe in YOLO; you only live once, so why not make the most of it? Why not take risks and do things that scare you and act on the fact that maybe something bad will happen, but more, maybe something amazing will happen. As Socrates wisely said, “the unexamined life is not worth living ” My upbringing has formed me into the woman I am today and I am confident that I can further discover who I am through the lessons of my past and the experiences of my future. Being at the University of Mary is enabling me to live my dream of being bilingual. I have the chance to go to Costa Rica next summer and fully immerse myself in the language that I so greatly love because I have chosen to double major in Spanish.  Walking in the footsteps of my mother, I am studying business in the hopes that I can be as successful as she and love what I do at the same time. With a business degree and a second language under my belt, the sky is my limit so that is exactly what I plan to do. 

The life I have already lived, though not always easy, has definitely helped shape me into the person I am today. I’m not trying to sound proud, but I am truly impressed with who I have become despite everything I have been through and still go through every day. It really is incredible. I am able to honestly say I finally love myself and am proud of myself. I know that this is only the beginning and I am oh so eager for what is to come next.

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  1. Greta a pleasure to read! Well written and so glad your Dad posted the link on FB. I hope you don't mind a stranger reading this awesome statement of evolution that brings truth, discovery and reckoning to the forefront. Bravo for you for having the courage to share your truth and experiences! Carpe Diem! And yes, always live your best life forward! Learning from our history is how we grow in reflection into a deeper understanding to our faith and personal growth. Blessings to you.

    1. Thank you so much, I am so glad you enjoyed it. God Bless.