Senior Year: The year of “The Lasts”

I am a week away from going back up on “The Hill” for the year, but this year is a bit different than the last three, as this will be the last time I’m entering another school year at good old GAC. Everyone talks about senior year being the year of doing everything they love for the last time; their last sports season, last big concert, last St. Patty’s day weekend…but what about the lasts that we can’t wait to do for the last time? Just like at every school, once you step foot off campus, there are probably some things that you won’t do again because it is exclusive to college life, more specifically for me, Gustavus life. Here are some of “the lasts” that I will, and will not miss, after my senior year!


7 Lasts I WILL miss:

Friends a walk away

This one is a pretty obvious one, and definitely something taken for granted. I will miss the fact that my friends won’t be down the hall or a couple feet away at all times. Sometimes I forget that all students at Gustavus aren’t from MN, and don’t in fact live at Gustavus all the time because they have lives elsewhere just like I do. 90% of the friends I have made are from out of state, or a year above/below me, so I like to joke that I wish I was better at choosing friends that weren’t going to leave me once school is done. It will feel weird not being able to say “I can’t wait to do this next year”, because there is no next year! Being surrounded by peers 24/7 has become such a norm for me to the point where I don’t remember what it was like before that, so that will take some getting used to. I can’t even imagine what it will be like waking up next year without my roommates, my Little not working out with me in Lund at 6 AM, not waving every five seconds to friends I see around campus, the lack of Sunday night sorority meetings, or my friends being states away (shoutout to my Big, Perry, in West Virginia, Gustavus ain’t the same without you and the year hasn’t even started yet).

Class commute

I find it funny how during the year, we complain so much about walking outside to class on a D3 campus where it is .25 of a mile from one side of campus to the other. While it does seem terrible on those gusty days that we jokingly say gives us the “Gustavus Gusties” nickname (although I am starting to think it isn’t a joke), my perspective has changed since I’ve dabbled in adulthood this summer. Compared to my hour drive to my internship this summer due to 494 traffic that I am pretty sure I could have walked home faster than sitting bumper to bumper, it makes that one minute walk from campus center to the psychology building seem like luxury. We have it so easy at Gustavus; not having to drive to campus everyday, not having to spend money on gas, not having to walk miles, getting to walk campus on a beautiful day, passing by friends, and not wasting an hour of precious time in traffic listening to overplayed songs on the radio. I don’t know where my future workplace will be, but I don’t think the commute will beat what I have on The Hill.

Freebies

I don’t think there has been one day at Gustavus that I haven’t gotten something or been to something free (or “free” shall I say). Gustavus is great at hosting events for students during the week and on weekends whether that be Hunter Hayes in concert, midnight bingo, movies, Midnight Express buffets for finals, sorority events, great speakers, dances, panels, talent shows, drag shows, sporting events, etc. Furthermore, at these events there is always free frost your own cookies, Dunkin Donuts, Dominos, Chipotle, ..you get it, college kids love free food. There was even a time where there were free pot brownies sitting in the middle of campus center for anyone to take (brownies in a flower pot, let’s make that clear). It is such a common thing at Gustavus to just show up and have everything planned for you. I know it will be an adjustment for me having to find my own ways to entertain myself wherever I am living, but at the same time, pay for it! Yeah, I could go to the store and buy a sugar cookie and some frosting, but I am 100% sure it won’t be as good as free tastes.

St. Peter

When it comes to saying I will miss the tiny town of St. Peter, I am such a hypocrite. I can’t even count how many times I have been itching to get back to Eagan where the nearest Target, Chipotle, and Chick Fil A are all within five minutes of me. But at the same time, there are just some things in St. Peter that you can’t get, or see, anywhere else. 3rd Street Tavern is one of my favorite places to go with friends and family, which is why we already made a reservation a for graduation (early is on time am I right?). Thinking about the fact that I can’t easily go after school is done because it is an hour away actually makes me sad. There is also no other place like Patty’s, where trivia nights and professors grading at the bar are the norm. Gusties all know that. St. Peter is home to many other things that I can’t see anywhere else such as the curb lady, the house with green carpet as grass, Nicollet Cafe, all the shops in town, the jeep parked on the street with the weird face tire cover, and all the townies that we have come to recognize over the years. Something about St. Peter is special, and I definitely will miss turning onto College Ave (but not off, that intersection is impossible) for the last time as a student.

College schedule

Transitioning from a high school schedule to a college schedule was an absolute breeze, and felt too good to be true. Now that I’ve thought about it, the high school schedule and “adulting” work schedule are quite similar. The college schedule truly was too good to be true. The hardest part of my internship this summer was squeezing in a 5 AM workout beforehand, sitting in traffic, working from 8:30 to 5:00, sitting in an hour of traffic on the way home, having to remember to feed myself when I just want to take a nap, and then going to bed and doing it all over again the next day. To those who are out of school and are reading this thinking how spoiled I sound, I am! This entire school year I am taking two classes, and with years under my belt of having several hours of time in between classes to do whatever, it is a hard adjustment to switch back to high school life. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully capable of adjusting to a schedule outside of college, but I definitely will miss the flexibility, and having more than 30 minutes to eat my pb and j brought from home just like I used to in high school. History repeats itself!

Gustavus Life

I will miss Gustavus for the reason that I chose the school in the first place; the homey feel on campus, sunrises, sunsets, having all doors be held for me at all times, flowers lining the hill during the spring, the arb, and the beautiful campus that made me realize what love at first sight feels like. The first day I saw Gustavus was a gross rainy day in 7th grade, but I instantly fell in love with it. There is nothing like a nice sunny day at Gustavus while enjoying sitting out in the courtyard patio with coffee, and good company. Even on the most stressful days, the environment there always finds a way to calm my mind and just enjoy where I am at in the moment. Gustavus is like a little bubble, a little utopia up on the hill where nothing really goes wrong (or at least it seems like it because I never know what is going on in the world until I come off the hill). I’ll miss being in the bubble, as life off the hill doesn’t typically involve hammocks every ten feet, chalk drawings on the sidewalks, and guys out playing spikeball or sand volleyball every night. I don’t really remember what life off the hill was like, but what I do know is that there is a reason that I still get chills every time I drive onto campus from a weekend at home and get that feeling I felt when I stepped onto campus in 7th grade.

Staff of Gustavus

Leaving Gustavus also means leaving our beloved Becky Bergman, and all the faculty and staff that we have come to know so well. It will be so weird not walking into the caf and hearing Vicki yell across the room that the chicken is “Lauren proof” for the day, as well as all the caf staff that brighten my day by complimenting my healthy food choices, fascination with my reusable glass containers, and telling me I look great after a sweaty workout. As much as I despise how much they charge me for my carrots and chicken (@Deb), Gustavus wouldn’t be the same without them and the many times they ask if I’m hiding anything else under my lettuce. I will miss my daily morning chats with Brenda Haugen while I get my usual short cold brew as she has come to know. I will miss my psychology professors that fuel my love for psychology and make me psychoanalyze anything that breathes. I will miss Kathi Tunheim’s energy as she can brighten anyone’s day just by walking in the room, usually late 🙂 She is the best mentor, boss, and professor I have ever known. I will miss watching Mark Krueger, Jeff Owen, and his basketball crew tearing up the court every Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon. And yes, I will miss the custodian that I accidentally flashed sophomore year (maybe he will miss me too). They say you make so many meaningful connections and friends at college; but they never set an age limit on that statement. The Gustavus staff are what have made me love it there so much, Charlie Pott’s tweets being a small sliver of that, and I have made some real meaningful friendships that I hope to keep. To all those reading this who have no clue who these people are, I wish you could meet them.

7 Lasts I will NOT miss:

Freeze and fall phenomenon

With the whole campus being up on a hill, you’d think that there would be no problem with pooling water, and icy sidewalks. Think again. Only Gustavus students known how treacherous it is trying to walk from Complex and Uhler to the campus center. If you can make it that whole stretch without slipping, or wiping out, consider that your biggest accomplishment of the day- despite just acing a giant exam. This past year was absolutely ridiculous with the bipolar weather not making up its mind if it wanted to get warm. It was a constant cycle of melting, freezing, and falling. I remember one day this past year that I had a terribly tough exam, and just wanted to go back to my room and relax. I got to the stretch of sidewalk of pure ice, took one step, absolutely ate it, and the waterworks flowed just like the water did when that ice I slipped on melted a day later. For the record, it was a Terrible Tuesday. If you ever drive up to campus during the winter and see students all walking like penguins, that is why.

Dorm survival

I don’t think there is anything I am more ready to get away from than the dorms. For those who don’t know, Gustavus students are required to live on campus all four years. Each place I lived served their purpose, but some days, saying that is questionable. I understand that dorms aren’t meant to be luxury, but after three years in them, I have definitely learned what I need in a future home. I’ve had some honorable mentions over the years. In complex, the washers and dryers never failed to fail when I have needed them the most. The heat went out in my freshman dorm room, yet I didn’t know it until winter was over. No AC on 90 degree days led to sweating my makeup off at the same rate I was putting it on. Clogged drains in the bathroom and kitchen my junior year, leaving me to take a bath and a shower at the same time. A bonehead spraying the fire extinguisher all over the hall to make it look like the first snow of the year as I stepped out of my room. Let’s not forget the fact that I lived in an office (a nice office, but you can only live in a cube for so long). Tiptoeing around bodily fluids because someone JUST missed the porcelain throne. The fire alarm being pulled four times in one night. Lastly, the faulty shower rod..you know the story by this point. I can’t wait to live in a place of my own where I will not be flashing custodians, freezing to death at night, living in a geometry term, evacuating on the daily, avoiding upchuck, or having to choose if I want to wash the dishes or brush my teeth because the drains are too clogged to do both.

Gustavus Wi-Fi

Gustavus wi-fi cannot be depended on at all. Every time it goes out, it of course is at a time where I NEED to get on the internet, literally no other time. The wi-fi connection is as weak as diluted iced coffee, me trying to bench anything more than ten lb plates, one ply toilet paper, the feeling you get after climbing to the 3rd floor of any academic building, the taste of La Croix, my math skills, and my willpower when it comes to a fresh bag of kettle corn. WEAK.

Papers, tests,GPA, and letter grades

I understand that in the working world, this doesn’t totally go away, but instead is more paralleled to performance reviews, projects, and presentations. What I will not miss about this, is having to become a hermit in the library trying to cram for finals, endless flashcards, APA citations, peer reviewing, the anticipation of waiting for a test grade, seeing the result of that test grade (econ and I had a love hate relationship), and researching “scholarly sources.” Heck, I can’t wait to not hear the words scholarly source for a long time. I admit, I will kind of miss “biking my way to an A” as those of you who see that tradition on my snap story every time I prepare for a test (stationary bike and flashcards the night before a test- it has never failed me!) .Something I look forward to regarding life after college, is that I won’t be told how successful I am by a GPA or a letter grade. It is amazing how much I have let a number on a transcript, or letters, dictate my mood! I actually look forward to being evaluated in the workforce because I can focus on bettering myself for my job, the team I’m on, and myself, rather than the main motive being to get a GPA higher in order to look more impressive to help me reach the next step in life. I’m excited to see myself grow and be evaluated based on experience, not numbers on paper.

Freezing my booty off

All those D1 schoolers out there, don’t start scoffing at me yet for having to walk .25 miles in the cold. Unlike state schools, Gustavus prides themselves in NEVER canceling class no matter how unbearably freezing it gets, or the fact that the snow is as tall as I am (yeah, I’m short, but 5 ft is still a lot of snow). It is not uncommon to see students snowshoeing to class, wearing multiple pairs of pants, or bundling up to the point where we are no longer recognizable. Yes, we do have tunnels. No, we are not allowed to use them. There have been some days where the weather conditions are so ridiculous that there is nothing else to do but laugh, and bond over the fact that we are still chugging along while Mankato, and St. Peter schools already canceled for the day. Walking across campus in those conditions can be compared to making a trek across the Arctic while dramatic violin music plays, or at least that’s what I picture in my head as I try to make it to class. One morning, I woke up to a campus text saying that classes were starting two hours later due to two feet of snow the night before, and that brought happy tears to my eyes because it is just that rare to have any sort of schedule change. If you are a future Gustavus student, I highly recommend investing in some good snow boots, heavy coat, maybe some cross country skis, snowmobile, or snowshoes, flares in case you get stuck in a snow pile walking from Arbor View and need rescuing, hand warmers, and anything else you would need to survive multiple days outdoors in the middle of winter.

Room draw and registration

Registration and room draw at Gustavus is basically the same thing as Black Friday. It involves nervously awaiting students, game plans, backup plans, lots of screaming, races to get a room or class, lashing out at one another, crying, cheering, and a big sigh of relief once it is all over. There really is nothing better I can compare it to, especially as underclassmen. It is a very normal thing to see students with their laptops out in the middle of important meetings or speakers because that’s when their registration time is, and it is just that crucial to not miss your window. Not many people say that they are glad they have medical accommodations and require a different living situation, but my movement disorder has blessed me with the ability to not go through room draw any years at Gustavus because I need my own room. That may sound like a terrible thing to say, but that is just how stressful room draw is and the whole lottery process. Life after college means no more registering for classes, which means my computer will not have to experience me screaming at it from barely getting into Yoga at 12:30. Registration and room draw show people’s true colors.

Being away from my family

The last thing I without a doubt will not miss at all, is being an hour away from my family. While it is only a whopping 60 minutes away, it definitely could be a lot worse, sometimes it feels like they are an eternity away in the times I need them. I find it ironic how being away from my family-literally, has brought me closer to them-figuratively. They know me the best, and there is no shame in needing your family no matter how old you get. My mom will send me text updates about how they are meeting up with my brother for dinner in cities, and I can’t help but feel pangs of jealousy like I used to growing up when Christopher got to do something but I didn’t. It also is painful to receive snapchats of my dog at home, when all I want to do is reach into the phone and grab her. My family is everything to me, and it is hard wanting to be with my Gustavus family, and my real family, at the same time. Leaving The Hill means I will get to do all those things with my family that I love doing so much while at home such as dinners out, lake walks, weekend movies, hockey games, late night grocery runs, and just being able to drop in when I want. I can’t wait for them to be a short drive away rather than a phone call away at best.

I’m not one to get very emotional about “partings” but due to the fact that I got a little teary writing about driving off the hill for the LAST TIME is not a good sign for my stoic reputation. In all honesty, I will miss everything about Gustavus, even the bad things, because they are “just Gustavus things.” Sure, maybe my dryer in the future will fail on me, but the fact that it isn’t at Gustavus makes it 10 times worse. Slipping on ice won’t be as forgiving, I won’t have yoga at 12:30 scheduled into my calendar, freezing my butt off won’t include any Gustie bonding, and I will miss my Gustavus family just as much as I miss my own when I am away. Sitting here at Starbucks, a week before my senior year writing this, feels so weird because I have no clue what this year holds…and I can’t wait to find out. Thinking about all the changes this year is hard to even comprehend at this moment, but it will become more real as the year goes on. This year entails graduating, getting a job, moving out (maybe), and saying more goodbyes to people and things than I ever have had to. This moment right now is the calm before the storm that I can’t wait to chase.

Happy last week of summer (or first week of classes for some). Don’t take any experience for granted!

~Lauren

21 Things I Wish I Knew Before 21

About a week ago, my mom asked me what I wanted to do for my 21st birthday. When I responded with “not much, it is just another birthday and work day for me,” she seemed somewhat sad/disappointed and replied saying that 21 is different than other years because it is when someone truly becomes an adult. I agreed to disagree with her until I sat on this thought for a while, because in my mind, 21 is the age people can legally get hammered, but that’s about it. After a while, I realized 21 is the threshold into the next stages of life; not having to leave a restaurant on a date because the only open spots are at the bar (that was awkward), graduating college, moving out, getting a job, getting married etc, and because of that, I thought I would share the 21 things, big and small, that I wish I knew that would have made these pre 21 stages of life a bit easier.


Spend money on practical things

College turned me into a minimalist. I like when things are usable, and I don’t have too many of the same thing because why would I need ten plates at college when I have just one that works like a charm? Before college, I didn’t really think about spending money on things that I could continue to use in the future; expensive practice leotards, CDs that I haven’t touched in YEARS, clothes in style that are now out of style, and my personal favorite: my high school themed black and blue custom Nikes with “East” on one tongue and “View” on the other. Granted, these things served their purpose in the moment, as Spotify didn’t exist back in the CD era, my Nikes looked great with my warm ups, and I needed leotards to practice. Now that I am almost a good four years out of high school, no longer train, and don’t listen to JB on CD, I can’t help but cringe when I walk by the Nikes sitting on a shelf in the garage, see the dust on my CD box, and look at my old leotards staring at me in the bottom of my drawer. The hundreds of dollars in things I don’t use anymore could have been invested into something better. Looking back, I would have limited the amount of leotards I got because I only wore my four favorite ones anyways (I had over 30 at the end of my career), would have not gotten the idea in my head that Kidz Bop was fire, and stopped to consider if I was actually going to use things in the future. Yes, I could wear the Nikes still, and as much as I like Eastview, I don’t think anyone has THAT much school pride for their high school.

Don’t try to fit in

Yeah this sounds cliche, but back in high school, I wish I internalized this. I obeyed the social hierarchy, which led me wanting to look my best every day, and try to figure out what the “populars” had that I didn’t. We all remember the “Miss Me” jeans with the white thread and glam on the butt? Got those. Vera Bradley lunch box and lanyard? You bet I had to get that. Everything Lululemon? Always. And if that weren’t enough, you HAD to be tan for prom, so yes, I did drive to Wisconsin once a week to go to the tanning bed since I wasn’t 18 yet and allowed to sit in a human toaster in MN. Nowadays I like to steer away from looking exactly like the other girls who all wear denim skirts, crop tops, and Birks on campus. It is exhausting trying to be someone you are not, or feel like you have to impress everyone everyday. Looking back on it, I would tell myself to just be me, because people like me even without sparkly butt jeans.

Don’t settle

I used to settle for “good enough” regarding relationships with guys, roles at jobs, friends, and gymnastics. In these times, if I had a little bit more faith and confidence in myself, I could have had more and done more. It is so important to speak up, but I never did because I thought it wouldn’t change anything, so I talked myself into being ok with settling with where I was at. This often happened at gymnastics when my coaches didn’t have as much faith in me than I did, friendships were one-sided, guys didn’t understand the true meaning of courting a girl, or bosses that didn’t see my potential. It isn’t the fact that I could have been a few levels higher in gymnastics, or been on a fewer dates with dudes that were not my type that I wish I could change, but it really is more about knowing my worth and abilities. Not settling for less than what you deserve shows that you know what you can do, and what you are worth. Now that I have learned to speak up and not settle, I have met the guy that checks all my boxes, am out of toxic environments and friendships, speak up for when my grade is 92.97% and want an A, act on my ambitions, and don’t put up with anything unfair.

Lunch meat and eggs are nothing to be afraid of

This one is more on the lighthearted side, but when I was younger there were certain foods I would not eat out of irrational fear. I did not eat eggs until my freshman year of college (new year, new me stage) because my brother once told me eggs were dead baby chicks, so I went 18 years of my life without due to being gullible. I also did not touch lunch meat (literally and figuratively), which is why I brought pb&j every day for lunch from 7th grade to senior year. Little Lauren was perfectly content rotating between chicken fingers, mac and cheese, or pizza off the kids menu every time we went out to dinner. When I graduated from the kids menu, I would find the closest thing to those three things. I wish I knew earlier that there was a better world outside of pizza, and that grilled chicken or turkey wasn’t any more alive than chicken tenders like I thought it to be. I wouldn’t eat hot dogs at baseball games because the hot dog scared me, wouldn’t eat the meat that hung over the sides of my burger/didn’t have cheese on it, or a turkey sandwich without piling chips on it so I couldn’t taste the turkey. Now that I think about it, I was pretty much vegetarian without trying to be due to the fact that I was scared to eat meat where I could see it without breading on it or wasn’t totally out of sight…I thank the Lord I got over that phase, and it truly ended in college, because everything I didn’t eat back then is now pretty much all I eat.

Haste makes waste

I’m one to solve problems as quickly and effectively as possible. Over the years, I’ve had occurrences of trying to get something done fast, not doing it as well as I could have, and it backfired which led to more work than I would have had to do if I just took my time initially. Long story short, don’t rush! This phrase applies to so many things. We’ve all been there; switching lanes to get around a slow car, but in the end they pass you as they smirk at you in the rearview, trying to rush a homework assignment but end up doing it wrong and having to start over, trying to rush a relationship and it ends up crashing and burning, or in my case, trying to take the short cut at Minnehaha Creek and ending up taking an unexpected dip and having wet jorts for the rest of the day. Quantity over quality most of the time is not a good thing, and if I knew this years back, I would have stayed patient and actually saved the time that I thought I was going to save by doing it hastily.

Learn to cook

I wish I knew that what I have pinned on Pinterest in my “Eats” board isn’t just for looks like it has been since middle school. Growing up, I never had time to learn because I was training 20 hours a week. When I did have time to learn, my family was always at baseball tournaments, which led to many dinners anywhere other than home. Being at Gustavus, the trend has continued, as students are most of the time on a meal plan all four years. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried to learn over the years, but the only thing I’ve learned is that I can’t be trusted around sharp or hot objects. I am completely calm about graduating this next year and starting a new job and routine- but what terrifies me is that I will actually have to trust that what I made myself is not going to get me sick. Stay tuned for a future blog post about my first meal that I tried to make and ended up having to call the fire department..seriously, mark my words.

I am not immune to caffeine

I’ve always been one to believe that robust phenomenons don’t apply to me; caffeine leading to feeling more awake is one of them. I have never been a coffee drinker, I actually hate the taste of it (probably because I only get black since adding anything to make it taste better makes me feel weak). I never got it before college because I didn’t think caffeine had any effect on me, so what’s the point. I now realize that caffeine addiction is real because I still hate the taste of coffee, yet I find myself getting my cold brew every single morning despite the fact that it makes me gag. Starting college, I made a vow to myself that I would not turn into a coffee dependent college student, and that vow remained unbroken until this summer when I discovered one day without coffee at my internship led to wondering how I got to work alive since I didn’t remember driving there, and falling asleep at my desk on my break (and I’m not talking dozing off in the chair, I am talking full on head down on the keyboard). As much as I wish I could have warned myself, there is no going back a this point.

What a balanced diet actually means

Throughout my gymnastics years, coaches would send mixed signals regarding diet. I would hear “balanced diet,” from some, and “no carbs” from others. In younger years, anything diet related went in one ear and out the other as it should for any kid, plus my parents were in charge of meals. What I ate as a kid wasn’t a problem for me because I was so active, could eat anything I wanted, and didn’t need to consider carbs, proteins, and fats. If I could do it over again, I would have learned the importance of balancing macros because I didn’t notice the impact it had on my body. My senior year of high school I was plagued with injury and couldn’t train. Because I was so used to eating whatever I wanted (ALL the pasta, chicken tenders, and DQ), I didn’t accommodate for the fact that I wasn’t training 20 hours a week, or at all, and ended up unwinding all the effort I put in to get in shape for season. Just like I didn’t believe caffeine affected me, I didn’t believe that calories or too many chicken tenders affected me either. On the flip side, transitioning to college, I learned eating too little of one of the macros leads to feeling low energy, and is just as bad as eating too many of one. If I could have it my way, instead of trying to teach my elementary and middle school self the importance of the food pyramid and portion plate (you all remember this, don’t deny it), I would teach my high school and college self when it could be absorbed and comprehended more. In my opinion, it makes more sense at this age, as we have more independence, hence the freshmen 15. Now that I have learned the hard way what balance is, I definitely wish I didn’t reach extremes on both sides and put my health through some rough waters to finally get it right and be at optimal health.

I am more than “Lauren the gymnast”

I lived and breathed gymnastics for 16 years. At school I was known as “Lauren the gymnast,” was asked to do handstands down the hallways, backhandsprings at recess, and recognized in the school news for my performance at the meet the night before. Teachers would ask me how meets went, how the team was looking, or what skills I was working on. My friends knew I never had time to hang out due to my practice schedule, but would come to cheer me on at meets so they could see me, and I was constantly thinking about practice or visualizing my routines when I wasn’t crying over AP Calculus. For all of my school years, that was my identity, so the day I retired and I no longer could call myself a gymnast, I was absolutely lost. 3rd-12th grade I believed my biggest strength was gymnastics, and I never gave my time and effort to anything else other than school. If I could go back, I would tell myself to recognize the other great things I did, and not hold on so tight to the fact that I was a gymnast. Back then, I was also a great writer, coach, friend, and student, but I didn’t highlight those strengths or use them to define myself. How I was doing as a gymnast dictated my mood 97% of the time. Now that I am in college, and am three years retired, I no longer define myself as “Lauren the gymnast,” and it is such a relief because I now realize my life is so much more than leotards, scores, and chalk.

Prepare for interviews

This one also falls in the category of me not believing it applied to me just like caffeine and chicken tenders. I thought I was invincible and didn’t need to prepare for interviews at all. As much as I dig the confidence I had as a sophomore in college trying to interview for internships, boy was I wrong. I have always been one to panic when put on the spot, so the fact that I thought I could answer behavioral questions right then and there was a bold move. Now that I have experienced more challenges and have more “go to” stories to tell for interviews, it has become easier. But even then, I still didn’t truly prepare for interviews, or know how to effectively communicate my experiences, until I learned how to in my HR class this past year. Doing my research on the company, and STAR (situation, task, action, result) have been lifesavers, and make interviews so much easier, perhaps a bit fun too! I don’t know why I never did prepare, because it would have made me much less stressed while interviewing.

Do what scares you

I never really was one to branch out or try something due to my tunnel vision on college gymnastics, and being reserved in general. My whole life growing up was a routine, and I rarely strayed from it. I had many things I wanted to try back in high school, even my freshman year of college, but was too scared to try. I am so glad I got over that. If I didn’t, I would have a huge gap in my life where gymnastics once was. I wouldn’t have this blog, wouldn’t see my face on the front page of the Gustavian Weekly for the articles I’ve written, wouldn’t know how much I’ve helped others get healthy by creating my fitness account on Instagram, wouldn’t have internships or studied abroad, wouldn’t have performed flips in the Nutcracker ballet in front of thousands of people, ride a mechanical bull at the county fair, I’d still have bangs (good move), wouldn’t have eaten scrambled eggs, wouldn’t have shared my FND story with all my friends and family to create more awareness, and wouldn’t have gone on a date with the guy that I now can’t imagine going a day without talking to. Whatever it is that scares you right now, it may just lead to something life changing.

Focus on strengths, not weaknesses

It’s a common mistake to believe that in order to succeed, we must fix our weaknesses. Think about it, if you were given two tasks to choose from; one you were good at, and one you were bad at, why would you choose the one you were bad at? Senior year I was taking AP calculus, and knew I was going to major in psychology. Math is a weakness for me, and every night I would come home near tears. My parents then said “psychology doesn’t use calculus, why don’t you drop the class and do something else that will help you in the future?” That is exactly what I did, and not putting energy into a weakness of mine was the best decision. Putting energy into a weakness is like trying to fill a bucket with a small hole in it, it may fill up some, but ultimately it’s just going to keep draining and needing more to keep it half full. Another example is when I decided to give up competing all-around because every time I vaulted I would wreck myself, so I devoted more time to the events I was good at, and progressed more than I would have if I stayed in the all-around. Once I got to college and spent my time doing what I was good at- psychology – life became more enjoyable. I also found that I was great at HR and spent more time in that. I know my strengths, and my weaknesses, and being able to choose my classes, internships, and hopefully a future job that plays to my strengths is something I am looking forward to because I know I will do a good job.

Don’t put your faith life on the back burner

Before college, I only thought about my faith life when I needed it, and when it was convenient as bad as that sounds. I prayed when I had a problem or wanted something, and that’s about it. I wish I focused more on my faith life and devoted myself earlier because I can’t go a day without it now, and it makes me more grateful and appreciate the good things in my day. I look forward to my daily devotional, time for prayer and reflection, and just knowing that I am a part of something greater. I dealt with some hard times in high school, and I wish I could go tell myself to depend on the Lord for comfort and guidance instead of trying to deal with everything on my own. I love being in my Christian organizations and bible study on campus, they are highlights of my week, and such a positive influence. Life seems so much less-heavy ever since I have been more dependent and devoted to my faith. Philippians 4:13, baby, could’ve used that for many terrible Tuesdays back in the day.

You are not going to marry your middle school crush

Sometimes I wonder if I had a different brain back in middle school because my thoughts then do not resemble any of the logic I use now. I can still remember the day I was walking back from lunch, and passed who I believed to be my soul mate. To 7th grade Lauren, I thought it was love as first sight, it seemed like time stopped when I saw him. I would plan my routes from class just so I could pass by him in the hallway. The day he texted me and dropped a 🙂 at the end of the text, you would have thought I had just won the lottery. While we did go to freshman year homecoming and senior year prom together, there is no end to the middle school one-sided love story, except the friend zone. I wish I could go back and tell myself to just chill. Seriously, do you know anyone who married their middle school crush?

Do your future self a favor

I have always been one that likes to see instant results from what I put my effort into, so when my brother and dad told me to make a LinkedIn and a resume in 9th grade, I thought they were nuts. At that time, I had no desire to get an internship, didn’t see why networking was important, and didn’t think of how it could potentially help me down the road. If I could go back to myself and say “I promise you, this is not a waste of time, don’t half-_____ it” I would have appreciated that, because I like knowing what I’m doing will make things easier eventually. Being that future self now, I am so thankful I started the process years ago when the only thing I could put on my resume was the “most dedicated” award for gymnastics. Other examples have been investing my money in stock, doing more of my homework now instead of putting it off for a time I know I will not have the time to do it, or doing little things that I know will help my future self whether that be minutes, months, or years away. As much as I don’t want to do it in the moment, it does help, and I wish my past self would have done more to help me now!

Everything happens for a reason

I heard this so many times growing up, but I never believed it. I had heard of God’s plan, and that everything works out in the end, but I only liked to look at the good things that happened, and didn’t see bad things as a part of a bigger plan. High school wasn’t easy for me, but if I had not experienced some of the things I did back then, I wouldn’t be where I am now, wouldn’t have met some of my best friends, or had the opportunities I’ve had. FND is my biggest example of this, yeah it has dragged me through the mud, but I wouldn’t be as active and driven without it. This really is a hindsight thing, and it is cool to see how things have worked out looking back. When something bad happens now, I keep this in mind and know something better is ahead. I wish I could go back and tell myself to not get down over the middle school heartbreak, the terrible Tuesday, the missed internship, or failed plans, because God has something so much greater ahead!

Keep Mom and Dad close

I had my terrible teen years where I wanted to get out of the house and go to college. If I would have told myself that I would become really close with the ‘rents once going to college, I would not have believed it. If I could, I would go back a whack some sense into my younger self for all the times I was just not pleasant to be around, or where I thought I was right and they were the enemy, but really, they knew what was best. I would tell myself to appreciate all they do, and actually spend time with them! I cherish my times coming home from college and being able to go to dinners, movies, and just talk with them. Looking back, I see those years as years wasted that could have been so much better.

Don’t wish time away

This is one of my biggest regrets. I spent high school wishing I could go to college. And I’ve spent college wishing I could just be done because I’ve faced so much adversity. It is easy to spend time wishing something bad away, but in the process, that time does truly fly by. Being an incoming college senior, I can’t help but wish I could be a kid again having slumber parties and spending time with all my friends, or be in high school again because my friends were so close, and I actually loved high school as much as I believed I didn’t sometimes. Even now, I wish I could go back and repeat my last three years at Gustavus because I spent so much time focusing on what was going wrong, and I didn’t take advantage of the college experience as much as I should have. It is the worst feeling knowing you could have done something better, but have no way of changing it. I’m glad I know this now, because I am going to try to make up for the three years of college that I wished away all in my last year at Gustavus! Never will I ever wish more time away as much as I look forward to what is ahead.

Change your flight on beam

This one is directed at my 8th grade self only, and would have saved me three months in a back brace if I decided to do what scared me instead of take the easy way out. Flight on beam is the tumbling series performed during the routine. I was too scared to do back walkover back handspring, so I did back walkover-back walkover. If I would have known that doing too many back bends would have given me a stress fracture, I would have stopped right then and there. Because I was a wimp back then, I now deal with lingering back pain like I am already 90 years old.

No experience is a waste of time

Just like everything happens for a reason seems to be a hindsight type deal, so does this one. I have had some experiences and been with people that make some situations seem unbearable in the moment, and ultimately feel like a waste of time. As cliche as it sounds, you do learn from every experience, both good and bad. Back then I never saw a tough time as learning what not to do, or what I don’t like, I just thought I was unlucky and life was tough. Every hardcore social-loafing project group I have been stuck with has shown me what kind of people I want/don’t want to work with. Every summer job or internship that didn’t quite enjoy has gotten me one step closer to finding my dream job, one terrible date showed me what kind of guy not to date, and one broken arm taught me not to go on a trampoline with eight people. If anything, it is the failed and miserable experiences that I’ve learned the most from, and in return won’t waste any time doing more of what I don’t like. I wish I knew back then that all the bad times were endured for a good reason.

You are your own person

I can’t remember a time growing up when I wasn’t wanting to make others happy, and would strive to be perfect by doing what I thought was expected of me. Over the years I have created expectations/ rules in my head that I thought would make my family or friends happy; including what career path to take, what kind of guy I could date, unofficial rules that my family grew up doing, what I was allowed to do on the weekends etc. This often led to me being more reserved, scared to try new things, afraid to do what was “out of character”, and ultimately not happy. It only took me 21 years to figure out that what I do, and who I am, is enough, and perfectly ok! I don’t need to follow exactly in my brother’s footsteps to make my family happy, because my successes are just as great even though they are different. Just because I choose not to drink, even on my 21st, doesn’t make me lame or naive. Just because I am a psychology major rather than into some form of business like the rest of my family doesn’t make me any less valuable. Just because I don’t eat dessert after dinner doesn’t make me rude. While none of these “rules” were ever said, that is what my mind thought through observation growing up. It is definitely a relief knowing I can make my own decisions, as a 21 year old should be able to, and know that I have no unrealistic expectations or guidelines I have to follow.

I don’t know what my life would be like now if I knew some of these tidbits earlier. Maybe I would be the same, or maybe I would be in a completely different spot. It’s interesting to think about how every action I have taken has, or maybe hasn’t, gotten me to where I am now. Every year on my birthday, I wake up expecting to feel completely different. And every single year is so anti climactic; I get out of bed, still short, still blonde, still bad at math…but this year, I actually do feel different. I may have woken up one year older today , still short, still blonde, still bad at math, but I am so much wiser, happier, and feel like I am in complete control of the years that are ahead of me.

Cheers to 21 years! ^^^^(Wine tasting in France doesn’t make wine taste any better)

~Lauren

10 Things Moms Should Get Awarded for

In honor of Mother’s Day this year, I am dedicating this post to all the moms that do so much for their families, tasks both big and small, and often times are under appreciated, or go unnoticed. My mom has done, still does, and probably will do so much for me. Between driving to Gustavus because I forgot a folder at home, making meals for me after late night practices, being the glue of the family, and always having answers to the “how do I do this?” questions; it amazes me how she does it all without complaining. Moms get stuck with the dirty work most of the time, one honorable mention for me was leaving her to deal with the neighbor’s mailbox after my hit and run (sorry, Mom). I fall victim to not giving my mom enough recognition for what she does, and as much as I’d like to blame it on change blindness (psychological phenomenon where one cannot detect changes between familiar images or settings), I simply just have gotten used to the fact that she does so much for me to the point I never notice just how much that is. With that, here are 10 things moms do that they should get more recognition for.

1. Best “Momager”

This one starts the day we are born, and just gets worse as we get older. A family’s schedule can be absolutely insane, yet moms find a way to organize it all, be there for everything, and rarely mix anything up. In my household growing up, my brother and I played pretty much every sport. Between six days a week a gymnastics practice, weekend basketball tournaments, Tuesday night meets, Friday night baseball games, track meets, softball practices, hockey tournaments, out of town championships…you get it, busy, my mom still managed to somehow be at all of our events. Sometimes I wonder if she had a stand in twin that I didn’t know about. The sporting events were only a small percentage of all my mom, and many other moms, have to schedule. There also are the doctors appointments, yearly dentist appointments that was like pulling teeth trying to get us to (pun intended), orthodontist appointments, eye doctor appointments, and of course the bonehead moves we did that ended in a trip to the ER with broken bones. Momagers are flexible, yet organized at the same time, especially with all the play dates we insisted having while growing up. I truly don’t know how my mom did it all, and still fit her own schedule, as well as my dad’s schedule, inside of mine and my brother’s schedules. Even to this day my mom schedules my appointments because she knows I wouldn’t otherwise. Think back on all you did as a kid, yet you didn’t have to think about planning any of it, it just happened. Even with all the chaos, my mom always makes sure there’s time for a family selfie to document every moment, consistency is key!

2. Five Star Chaeuffer

In addition to being a Momager, we all had to get to our scheduled activities somehow. Because my Razor scooter could only take me so far, this left it up to Mom to get me where I needed to be, which 90% of the time was to TAGS gymnastics. I never thought about it back then, but making a 15 minute drive every single day at 4:15, then having to remember to get me at 8:30, would be really annoying! That time really adds up. Not to mention, when I had morning practice, technically my mom did too, leaving her to never be able to sleep in on a Saturday. In addition to all the driving that Moms do, they also have to put up with a lot in the car. I haven’t always been the most fun person to drive around. I remember my early days of having the AUX cord and my playlist consisted of Justin Bieber, Hannah Montana, and other songs I would rather not admit I listened to. Even with a terrible playlist, my mom never asked me to change it, yet every time I let her listen to her 80s station, I would make a big fuss about it and complain the whole way. Moms have to endure the sibling fights in the backseat that happened every once in a while, random batch of stomach flu on the way back from Kentucky, as well as all the “are we there yets?”, “you’re making me car sicks,” and complaints about their driving when all they’re trying to do is get you where you want to go. Feel guilty yet? I know I do.

3. Best Doctor Without a Doctorate

My mom is the best caretaker I know. I will not go into detail about all the nasty and weird things I’ve left her to help me with, but we all have had those moments where it is left to mom to get us through the day. Moms magically know all the remedies to make us better (2 Sudafed + caffeine=headaches gone), and my mom is no exception. Every time I have been sick, my mom has always been there for me to the point where I don’t have to do anything on my own but breathe. Even in college this remains true. Don’t deny it, when we are sick, we all turn into helpless humans and feel like our only calling in life at the moment is the couch. Moms are the ones who know what medicines to use, how to use them, and will make us use them because they know what is best for us even when it seems ridiculous to do. This is what led to my mom chasing me around a table with a syringe of Augmentin when I was little. (I didn’t like the taste, do you blame me for fleeing?) But what about when moms get sick? We don’t even notice; because they keep driving us around, doing laundry, and helping us, instead of helping themselves. There is no one to tell moms when to take their Sudafed, get them chicken noodle soup, or chase them around the house to take their Robitussin. Just like a doctor has to be selfless, our moms seem to be no different. Next time your mom makes you a big bowl of chicken and stars, or runs to Target to get you cough drops, take a moment to realize that she really didn’t have to.

4. Best Volunteer

I may not be able to speak for everyone, but my mom has done so much work for others just because she wants to. If I had the chance to do all the tasks she has taken on, I would turn them all down as bad as that sounds. Moms seem to be attracted to volunteering, but that’s because they are JUST that good at helping others, not complaining, and love their kids enough to do things I’d rather take a Razor scooter to the ankle for than do. I remember the year when my mom decided to be the head coordinator of concessions for a basketball tournament. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mini van filled with so many soda bottles before, and I don’t think I ever will again. That was the one moment where food objects took priority over me getting a seat in the car. I don’t even remember whose car I ended up riding around to each venue in, but all I know is that I had giant bags of M&Ms to comfort me from stranger danger. My mom has also taken on other big roles such as being on the board for the gymnastics booster club for many years, coordinating elementary school carnivals, helping with many class holiday parties, organizing fundraisers and contacting restaurants/setting up promotions for Eastview Baseball, and many other things that I can’t remember because they all run together as much as my mom ran around getting stuff done. Most of our childhood experiences that we loved so much wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the mom community.

5. Terrible Two and Terrible Teen Survivor

I would be very surprised if you are telling yourself that you were the perfect child growing up. I never hear the end of the time when I was two, and threw a tantrum at the mall by crawling under a table display while kicking and screaming just because. I also can’t forget the time I crawled under the table at the doctors office because I didn’t want a shot, and wouldn’t come out. There have been many more little Lauren honorable mentions that include drawing on things I shouldn’t, having a fit in the middle of Wendy’s, stealing my brother’s toys, and being stubborn in many situations. Even though the terrible twos were bad, that can be attributed to being young, whereas terrible teens is just downright difficult. While child psychology argues that there is developmental evidence for why teens act the way they do, we call this the “exploratory phase” in the psych world, there is no reason why teens have to talk back to a simple question, act like their mom is the enemy, or do the opposite of what they are told. I hate to admit it, but I had my moments, and I can’t believe how patient my mom was with me. If I were in her shoes, I would not have put up with any of that. Teens are a hard age to deal with because they still need their mom, but they don’t know it, or don’t want to admit it. So for you moms with teens, give it time and they will come back crawling to you asking for help and forgiveness for the sassy attitude like I did. Moms are more than moms, they are survivors.

6. Best Cook

We all say that our moms are the best cooks in the world, and even though we all say it (which makes for a lot of best cooks in the world), I don’t doubt any of you are wrong because moms know us best. Anything made by mom is better than anything you could buy except Chipotle. Growing up, I was super picky, and I wish I wasn’t because I missed out on a lot of good stuff. I also spent a lot of time whining about what my mom made for dinner, rather than thanking her for taking the time to make sure I don’t starve. She would make steaks or fancy chicken for dinner and I would be insistent on Wendy’s chicken nuggets. I remember sitting at the dinner table most nights, my mom would cut up my pork chop or chicken for me (you can see above in the picture, I’m not exaggerating), and I wouldn’t eat it. I always went for the bread (that’s why I’m smiling above) and mashed potatoes, really enforcing that carb loading diet back then as you can see. Instead of my mom getting mad for neglecting protein, she would say all I had to do was eat those four bites, and then she would be happy. My mom has made so many meals over the years, yet I never took into account just how much time it took her, and I never thanked her for making the meal during prayer (had to sing the Johnny Appleseed song every time). I’m sure I’m not the only one who has started to stuff their face, or pick apart a meal our moms made without being grateful. I didn’t turn my nose up at every single meal though; I loved (and still love) my mom’s chicken pot pie, chicken tetrazzini, spaghetti pie, and KY BBQ pork chops (yes, I did like those four bites she made me eat I just didn’t admit it). I’m so glad that growing up has made me become more aware that food doesn’t just magically appear on the table on its own.

7. Best Teacher

Moms are great teachers. My mom was the one who taught me to do a lot of things some being how to ride a bike, play basketball, and drive. She is the person that has instilled the “I can do all things” attitude in me. I can remember these teaching moments with my mom like they were yesterday. In basketball, I dribble with my left and shoot with my right just like my mom, and I never let the fact that I was a midget in the basketball world get to me because she didn’t let it get to her. When it came to riding a bike, my mom told me to ride to her, (I hate when people tell me what to do), so I challenged that and rode right past her ignoring what she said. But still, I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it weren’t for the many times she picked me up after I crashed and told me what to fix. If it weren’t for that “I’ll show you” moment of riding right past her, I probably wouldn’t have been as confident when learning to drive. I think a majority of us had to take some type of driver’s ed during high school. You were lucky if you were paired with someone you knew; my brother and I weren’t that lucky. Those long, conversationless, driving sessions with Jim were not my favorite. So when my mom finally took me out to drive her fancy car, it made me realize I wouldn’t want anyone other than my mom to teach me how to drive. Learning to drive in the middle of a Minnesota January is not ideal at all, yet with every sheet of black ice I hit, sharp turn, slam of the breaks, and 5 MPH traffic jam I was causing, she stayed calm throughout it all. My mom is good at making me less stressed in situations, and learning parallel parking was one of the most stressful moments for me which is why I have vowed to never parallel park since I passed my drivers test (vow has not been broken). I can’t say I would have been that calm if we switched places, as I wouldn’t want to put my life, or my nice car’s life, in the hands of a 15 year old in the middle of winter who barely could reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel. Moms will literally risk their lives for us.

8. Best Stylist

Again, I can’t speak for everyone, but I think for most of us, our moms were the ones who used to dress us. She was good at making me look good, even during my phase where I lost all my teeth except for my one front tooth (we call it the snaggletooth era). My mom and I had the same routine every morning up until third grade. She would come in my room and wake me up, open the blinds, open my closet, and then ask me what I wanted to wear. “I don’t know” was always my answer, and my indecisiveness has persisted even to this day which is why I still can’t figure out what to wear and ask my mom to help, as well as my brother still asking for her two sense. She would then pair one of my tops with a pair of jeans, and put it with a matching scrunchie. This is where my obsession with matching my colors started, because that’s what I grew up observing. My brother and I always put on what she paired without questioning it because we have always trusted that she won’t let us leave the house looking like fools. This was proven when I started to dress myself and paired a striped shirt with plaid shorts. My mom was also the one who convinced me to grow my bangs out in 4th grade (thank you), and taught me how to put my hair in a pony tail and braids. Lastly, my mom has been my secret weapon for picking out homecoming and prom dresses. I always go in with one image in my head, ignoring her suggestions saying its ugly, end up agreeing to try it on “just for looks”, and EVERY TIME, her pick is the one I choose. That is why my senior year prom I went in thinking pink sweetheart and came out with a backless black little number that she found. Needless to say, she’s coming with me to find my wedding dress.

9. Best Advice-Giver

They say that Mom is always right, and as much as we hate to admit that statement is true when we are trying to prove a point, it never fails. But in cases where we truly want to know what to do, or what to say, Mom is the place to go. When it comes to my mom and I, I never ask for advice because I’m not the type who does that typically. I hate asking for help. Instead, she knows that when I start to talk about something either in the car, or while we are ellipticalling next to each other, that is me asking for advice. I am not one to willingly talk about problems, unless it is in either of those two places. I think a lot of us believe that moms will never understand some situations we are in, but I have come to find that my mom has been in the same, and even more situations than I have been in (that’s the moment I realized my mom was way more cool at my age than I am). I’ve come to my mom for advice about many things; what classes sound good to take, planning my future path, what road to take to get somewhere, fashion advice, relationship advice, sorority advice, health advice, cooking advice, laundry…you see where I’m going with this. Whether it is something as simple as what shirt goes in what laundry load, or something big like “how do I know if he is the one?” Mom knows best, and her words have never failed me.

10. Best Hype Woman

No one makes you feel good about yourself quite like a mom does. I don’t know about your moms, but moms and Facebook go together like PB and J. My self-esteem probably would not be at the level it’s at if my mom didn’t get a Facebook. Between her postings about my life updates and successes, and her like-minded friends that never fail to add a comment, I feel like I am a celebrity. Going off the “mom is always right” idea, it is in these situations where we say we look terrible in a photo, but Mom denies it, that we embrace the concept rather than hate it in every other situation. My mom knows me in and out, which is why she is such a good cheerleader whether that be tanking my beam routine, taking a terrible school picture, getting a bad test grade..the list goes on. She knows what can build me back up again after I’ve had a day that knocked me down. I remember the days back in middle school or high school where I would be having the worst day ever, and of course when she picked me up later that day she would have a chocolate shake with a cherry on top waiting for me, as if she magically knew that I was having a Terrible Tuesday. That always cheered me up! Nowadays being an hour away, my mom has found other ways to hype me up such as midday texts with excessive emojis just to check in, snapchats, and care packages full of my favorite things. Moms know us to the core, which is why I can always depend on mine to make me feel like I didn’t just get hit by a pile of bricks, and to persist day in and day out.

I could say so many more things about my mom that are unique to us, such as that we get told we look the same about three times a week. I am sure that you all can say the same about you and your moms having your own “things”, too. When writing this, I was thinking about the fact that a majority moms do all of these things without being asked, and while these are just common things moms do, each mom does them differently which makes each relationship different. I know that without my mom, my days would have been a lot less bright without a few kind Facebook comments, my prom pictures would have been a lot different, I would still be on a carb loading diet, I would still be pondering if my 7th grade boyfriend was the one, I wouldn’t have passed my drivers test, would not have been the gymnast I was, and I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I would be lucky to be half the woman my mom is. It’s the little things moms do without being asked that make them so special, so on this day, and from now on, recognize those little things, and maybe start returning the favor.

To all you moms out there, I hope your Mother’s Day kicks butt like my mom does!

~Lauren

Life with FND

In honor of Functional Neurological Disorder Awareness week, https://fndhope.org/ has asked those who live with this disorder to share their experience, and what their life is like with FND. Last year, I shared my FND story and how it all came to be, you can check that post out through the link at the bottom of this blog post.

This year, I am going to share what it is like to live with FND. Just to recap, FND is a problem with the functioning of the nervous system, causing the brain to send incorrect signals to the body. FND is as debilitating as other movement disorder conditions, such as Parkinson’s, stroke, and Epilepsy. For me, it happens in cycles throughout the night, and presents itself as non-epileptic seizures on the left side of my body. They will occur during the day if I am stressed, sick, eat gluten/dairy, have not exercised for the day, or have any added physical stress to my body (sunburn, digestion issues, sore muscles, hormone fluctuations). I have had this condition for ten years, but was misdiagnosed for eight of them.

I want to share my story to spread awareness because this can apply to people with FND, but also those with other conditions that are afraid or embarrassed to speak out. While I can work out, go to class, and live my life just like everyone else can; having FND adds other dimensions to my life that others don’t have to worry about. This post is not meant to focus on what FND has taken from me, because there are just as many positive aspects FND has contributed to my life as there are negative.

1. FND moves me

Having a condition that moves my limbs for me is just plain annoying! It makes everyday things hard to do, but the biggest one for me: sleeping. There’s no way to describe the helpless feeling I have when it keeps me frozen in a certain twisted position during the night, or in public, not knowing when it’s going to let me go. I refer to it as an “it” because even though it’s my body doing this to me, it feels like something else moving me. Spells are not a feeling I can replicate voluntarily, it is like a whole other force. When people ask me to show them what it looks like, it’s like trying to make a horse into a unicorn, it may look somewhat close, but it isn’t a real representation. The best way I can explain it is to imagine flexing a straight arm and leg, but multiply that muscle tension by about ten. Then, twist your arm and leg into unnatural positions, add some shock feelings in your brain, and hold it still like that until it releases from the death grip just to jerk your arm until it feels like it has ripped your rotator cuff. I’ve learned that most can’t fathom losing control of half their body, and this is because they think I’m moving my own limbs when I have a spell in front of them, or tell me to “just stop doing that.” As frustrating as it is for people to think I am doing this to myself, I can’t expect them to understand because our bodies were made to work in harmony. Many ask if spells scare me, and my answer is only during a “flare up.” My flare ups happen when I am sick, overly tired, don’t work out, or have any added physical stress. I have gotten used to the feeling of the everyday mild spells during the night, they have become my norm. But when I have a flare up; any sudden movement, bump in the car, loud noise, flashing light, poke, or startle will set it off, prohibiting me from being able to walk on my own, and will pull me to the ground no matter what time of day it is or where I am. It is terrifying times like these that have made my birthday cake wish every year since fifth grade to be a cure for FND.

2. FND makes me responsible

My FND keeps me on a consistent schedule of exercising, eating right, scheduling appointments, managing stress (trying to), and getting to bed at a decent time. Because of this, it has made me more responsible, makes me more efficient, spend time wisely, and makes me consider my actions a lot more. I’ve learned to gauge what I do in order to not exhaust myself, and that some situations aren’t good for me, or anyone for that matter, to be in. Is staying up an hour later to watch Shark Tank worth having a worse night? I know I will thank myself if I just go to bed (but I don’t, I haven’t fully grown up in that sense). Is procrastinating this homework in order to catch up on sleep from deciding to watch Shark Tank the night before going to reduce my stress levels? That one is always a toss up. Will skipping this workout since I was up all night with spells benefit me? Skipping makes it worse, so I don’t miss a day no matter how tired. Is this cookie full of gluten and dairy that takes me ten seconds to eat worth hours of spells tonight? Sadly, no. Is going to girl’s night out and staying up late worth a flare up? Absolutely! Gotta have a little fun. I have gotten good at choosing which battles are worth fighting, and because of this, I sometimes forget I’m not actually 25-30 since I weigh out the costs versus benefits more than the average 20 year old. College shenanigans like drinking or other unhealthy bonehead moves aren’t worth the effects that follow, which is why I don’t, won’t, and haven’t (I may act 21+, but I’m still 20, duh), participated. I’m glad that I am responsible in that sense, because walking up The Hill coming back from a sub par house party in the middle of winter at midnight without a coat because girls are “too cool” to carry them is not my ideal night. Wise beyond my years, and no record of hangovers, has never felt better, and for that, I thank FND.

3. FND is a leash

Because I have to consider the reaction that comes from every action, I have to turn down activities or events that I want to be a part of, but know will harm me more than help me. I’d love to go on a two AM Perkins pancake run with my sorority sisters, or a midnight movie showing, but I know it will screw up my sleep schedule and make me miserable the next couple days. There have been morning study sessions or breakfasts that I missed because of morning neurologist appointments, or have to get my workout in so I don’t flare up during the day. (Working out at night is not as effective as morning workouts). There are days when my energy is so low from being up the night before with my spells, that I simply can’t go out with friends that night, or do anything at all because pushing myself to do more than I should will make the vicious cycle worse. It is a vicious cycle of having a disorder that makes me tired, but is caused by being tired. FND is a leash in the sense where I can only venture out so far and explore a limited amount before having to stop. It gets frustrating having to consider every decision I make, or invitation I get, when all my friends can just say yes or no in that moment without thinking about how it could affect them in the following days. FND is also a leash in the way that it instilled a fear in me that if I do something outside of my routine, something bad will happen to me-like a shock collar. The fear keeps me from being able to venture out past my routine that more serves as a boundary. I have been trying to make the leash longer (like one of those retractable ones) by allowing myself to do more fun college things with friends, but it definitely takes patience trying to break something I have practiced for ten years. Lastly, I’ve been hooked up to many wires…can’t go very far when you are hooked up am I right?

4. FND reveals my support system

I am grateful for FND because it shows me who I can depend on. Psychology shows that we have negative implicit biases no matter how hard we try not to, that’s why there is stigma against abnormal in the first place. I have found it interesting how “normal” I am treated everyday because my FND can’t be seen, but once I have a spell in front of those same people, they treat me differently. I don’t want those people as my friends, so FND is a blessing in disguise because it reveals people’s true colors. Growing up, I have been called inappropriate names, mocked, excluded, pointed at, and even have been singled out during a college psych class for being “mentally handicapped” during a unit on people with psychopathic mental disorders that ended up in jail. As much as those comments and actions hurt in the moment, it wasn’t due to the cruelty of it, but more the frustration that they didn’t understand my brain is structured perfectly normal, just like theirs, and FND doesn’t change the way I think or act at all. I’ve come to realize that people don’t necessarily dislike those who are “different,” but rather, are scared of what is uncommon, and attacking them is easier to do than trying to learn what is actually going on. You know when you’re in a public bathroom and someone knocks to see if someone is in there? Yet every time, you are frozen and don’t ever know what to say without making it more awkward? This is how people react when they find out I have a disorder; hesitant, embarrassed, and temporary lack vocabulary. I’ve found that people feel more comfortable when I am comfortable with my disorder. It’s like when someone hurts themself, and you’re allowed to laugh once they laugh, because that means everything is ok. While my FND may look like I’m not ok, I truly am perfectly ok, and perfectly myself. It’s a very anti-climactic disorder because people envision non- epileptic seizures to change my personality and current state, but the only thing that changes is the fact that my left side is now moving on its own. Most don’t know it’s happening until I point it out because I’ve made times where it’s pulling me to the ground look like I’m picking up something I dropped, or “casually” leaning against a wall when it isn’t allowing me to stand on my own. My best friends to this day are the ones that have stuck with me through it all, didn’t exclude me from their games at recess (5th graders can be nasty), and are comfortable around me when having spells. It has also shown me how much I can depend on my parents from the effort put in trying to learn more. Having my support system is so beneficial because it is great to know that they see me as the same person I was before I was diagnosed with FND, aka the same.

5. FND keeps me paranoid

It’s frustrating having a disorder that doesn’t let me relax, both literally and figuratively. In the literal sense, when I sit or lie down too long, and no muscles are engaged on my left side, my brain thinks it has lost that half, which causes the random firings to make sure they are still there. The brain is often times compared to a computer, and this goes to show that even the smartest “computer” in the world can have glitches (just like smart phones aren’t all that smart, I’m looking at you, Siri). In the figurative sense, FND never leaves the back of my mind no matter how hard I try. People tell me to “just forget about it,” but that is like telling you to stop thinking about an assignment you have due. FND is like a never ending assignment without a due date. Since I was diagnosed, I remain paranoid that it will happen at times I don’t want it to. I can be out with friends, family, or on vacation, but can’t fully enjoy it like I should because there’s the thought my FND could show up to the party as the funky uncle that no one invited. I’m not saying it keeps me from having a good time and consumes my thoughts 24/7, but it would be nice to have a movie night with the girls, not having a single thought about sitting too long, or the possibility that I may have a spell. The biggest one for me, is that I never feel like I can fully relax at night because my spells happen once I fall asleep (this includes naps). Most people look forward to going to bed at night, but I dread it because I never know what the night has in store for me. I actually enjoy when my alarm goes off in the morning because that means I can finally be done sleeping, and can go work out to make it all stop. I can’t wait for the day I can wake up in the morning feeling like I didn’t just do a full workout on half of my body, paint a canvas at a sorority event without planning an escape route if I have a spell during it, or go to bed without being scared.

6. FND makes me strong

FND has made me strong in every way possible; solid in my values, mentally strong, spiritually strong and even physically strong as my left side is stronger than my right from years of spells. I have always told myself that while FND controls me physically, I don’t let it control me in any other way. I don’t ever want to be defined by my disorder or let it consume me. In order to do this, I have had to stay strong in some tough situations like scary procedures, terrible medications, being pulled underwater during a spell, long nights, and frustrating moments when it would have been easier to let them break me. I’m fully aware that I am not living the life of a typical college kid; as I explained in last year’s post, FND has caused me to have to live without a roommate, be on some wonky medications, depend on my parents more than the average 20 year old, and drive back and forth many times for doctors appointments. It has been hard to stay positive at times, but I have gained strength by giving my fears and hardships to God, and that is what motivates me to keep going. I look back at all I have gone through since fifth grade, and realize that all the times I felt I was struggling to stay above water, I actually was doggy paddling like a pro. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t become stronger in all areas, and used God as my crutch. Many of you know that Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is THE verse I live by. I internalized these words, and have seen how they have applied to my life by overcoming obstacles with the strength I have gained. FND has taught me how to dig deep for courage when I need it, and that I can do so much more than I ever thought I could.

7. FND is not relatable

FND is not well known, which makes it hard to explain to people in a way they will grasp it. Explaining what I feel is like trying to think of a word or name, and it is on the tip of your tongue, but you just can’t pinpoint it. I can explain it in the best way I can, and people understand the concept, but there is no way for them to experience or know what FND feels like. I wish there were some type of simulator so people could feel it like I do. It is frustrating having something out of the ordinary because I want to be able to talk about it with others when it is giving me a hard time, especially my parents. While they know me better than anyone else, FND will always be the one thing they truly don’t understand about me no matter how hard they try. Humans are great at bonding over tough times. We’ve all been there; getting stuck in a downpour halfway across campus, washing the dishes and touching a soggy piece of bread in the sink, stubbing your toe, the whole class bombing a test and joking about it together because it wasn’t just you, and my personal favorite; seeing my sorority sisters complain together over how sore they are from a sisterhood”Lauren workout.” It helps to talk about experiences we have all shared at some point, and eases stress knowing you aren’t alone. But with FND, it is hard to do because while people try to relate to me by saying their arm twitched randomly one time at night, or flop their arm around “pretending” to be like me, it just isn’t the same, and actually makes me very upset inside. In addition, FND looks different for those who have it. I am a part of an international FND group, and through this, people share their experiences, tips, and give/get support. While it’s nice to be in this group, I still haven’t encountered someone else who also has FND on only one side of their body, and only while sleeping. Tactics that help ease my symptoms don’t help others, and tactics others have found to help, don’t help me. Even those with FND can’t entirely relate to each other, and because of that, it feels like I am stranded on my own little FND island. It would be nice to have some visitors every once in a while.

8. FND gets me involved

So many people in the U.S. suffer from FND and they don’t even know it. Being someone who has had this since I was ten, but not knowing I had it until I was 18, I don’t want others to endure what I have if they don’t have to. While I made it my mission to stay strong, and stay myself through my journey, not all those with FND have been able to. In the FND group, I see countless negative posts about how down and hopeless they are feeling. These posts hurt to read, and while I personally understand how it is easier to adopt a negative mindset because FND does truly impact quality of life, I want to be proof for those people that it doesn’t have to be like that. You become what you believe, and I am LMC, not FND. While FND is not psychological, it definitely helps to maintain a positive headspace, and is a lot healthier. I have tested many theories like cutting gluten, dairy, soy, and egg out of my diet, not eating past a certain time, sleeping with sandpaper, rubbing ice on myself, brain exercises called BBQ rolls (not as yummy as they sound), sleeping sitting up, medication made for Parkinson’s, taking so many supplements to the point where I bought out all the pill boxes at Walgreens, weighted blankets, consuming “seratonin smoothies”, bananas and peanut butter at three AM, anti seizure meds, lasers, and some things that have come close to stripping my dignity away. But even then, all of that is worth just one improvement. I enjoy sharing my findings with the FND community because anything that helps take away a symptom is worth a shot! Knowing that I may have helped to ease someone’s spells is what motivates me to keep going through these weird treatments. My spells are mild compared to others who have it full-body and are wheelchair bound. I spread awareness for those people who have it worse than me because I’m grateful to live an active life and be able to be a voice. I’m passionate about spreading FND awareness because I believe that there can be a cure, it just hasn’t been studied much before. Ever since I have started to share my story, I feel like I can be myself, because I know that the more people know about FND, the less I have to hide it. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable with themselves, and this is why I spread awareness for those who struggle with anything “out of the ordinary.”

9. FND is daunting

Anyone that knows me, knows I’m future-oriented. I plan out my days, weeks, months, and even have a rough outline for my next ten years on Pinterest. FND doesn’t fit into any of my plans, and can’t be scheduled into my Google Calendar, because it has no forecast telling me that Tuesday will be partly cloudy with a chance of midday FND. There are days where I feel great, and don’t think about my disorder at all. But then there are the days where it occurs to me that there is no cure, and I’m stuck like this for who knows how long. It’s so easy to get down on those days, and let daunting thoughts enter my mind. What if I’m stuck in my rigid routine for the rest of my life; not being able to travel much, always being paranoid, having to work out every morning, not sleeping, etc? What if it affects my future in the workplace? I can’t just skip work if I am having a flare up like I can with college classes. And the biggest one for me, what if it spreads to the rest of my body? My FND started in my arm, but as time went on, it spread to my leg, and then my neck. Having it spread to my right side, or begin to happen during the day, would make me have to learn how to live my life in a new way all over again. As dramatic as that sounds, it is something I have to consider because everything about FND is unexplored territory; there is no way to predict what it will be like in the future because there is no way to study it yet. While I have been able to adapt to life changes so far, changes continue to increase their magnitude as I am getting older. For a disorder that hates when things change, this could be a problem! Trying to imagine what my next year, even month, will be like is like trying to see the other end of the ocean- impossible. As much as I like to plan, I get ahead of myself, which is why I try to adopt the “one day at a time” idea. For now, I just tell myself I’ll deal with it when I get there, and believe in God’s plan for me.

10. FND makes me confident

Having FND has, and continues, to teach me to be comfortable with who I am. It helps me to see myself how God sees me; fearfully and wonderfully made. Having a condition that forces me to be in touch with myself, and has been an actual problem in my life, has revealed that there are bigger problems than getting beat in a round of middle school Lightning, my position in the social hierarchy of high school, or getting turned down from one internship. I wish I knew back then that I should have been putting my effort into accepting myself instead of dwelling on negatives because my last couple years could have been a lot happier if I did. If I had not learned to laugh at some of the ridiculous adventures this disorder has taken me on, I wouldn’t be who I am to this day. I would be insecure, embarrassed, and live in a protective shell. I mean really, it is kind of funny to think back on the times I keeled over out of a chair, cartwheeled down hallways, had to be hooked up to a ceiling belt in order to use the bathroom in the epilepsy unit as protocol, made my parents leave a movie to help me walk during a spell later finding out they were glad to leave because it was terrible, scared my dog away, or got a spell to stop 30 seconds before I had to have full control of my limbs in order to compete flips on a four inch beam in front of hundreds of people. While it is still hard to feel comfortable with the disorder happening in the moment (seeing a dad help his 20 year old daughter walk without falling leads to stares), it has made me comfortable with all other aspects in my life. I feel no need to fit in or follow other’s leads. I am so solid in my values, who I am, and what I do, that I am unshakeable, and I love it. I am perfectly fine being a sweaty tomato at the gym, going to class without makeup, having toilet paper stuck to my shoe, violating social norms for class, and dancing down the aisles of Target with my sisters when none of them would dare to, because all of that doesn’t even compare to the embarrassment I’ve felt from my FND in the past. I will admit, I used to be concerned with how others thought of me because I thought of FND as extra “baggage,” so I thought I had to be perfect in every other way to compensate for my disorder in order to be accepted. I have now learned there is no need to do that because there is nothing wrong with following a routine, being solid in my beliefs, my faith, or doing things differently than others. Being confident in myself has made me confident in my abilities, the future I’m making for myself, and truly embraces the “I can do all things” mantra I live by. There is no better feeling than knowing who you are, what you are passionate about, and putting your whole heart and effort into it with no distractions or doubts that you will be shaken.

FND has taught me so many things about a wide range of topics like neuroscience, psychology, gastrointestinal functions, nutrition, movement, relaxation, how annoying soy is,…but the biggest thing, is that even the most terrible things can have silver linings. It has taught me to find the good in every situation, even if it took me ten years to find this one. The other day I was asked in class what one thing I would change about myself, and my FND didn’t come to mind. While there are some parts of my life I would go back and change, like flashing the custodian due to a faulty shower rod, I wouldn’t go back and change the fact that I was diagnosed with FND, because it made me into the woman that I have wanted to be since I was a little girl; strong, grateful, confident, successful, and a leader.

Thank you to all my friends and family who made it through another novel of my story, and continue to be my biggest cheerleaders-it doesn’t go unappreciated. I hope this post has helped to make you all more #FNDAware. Feel free to ask any lingering questions, or check out last year’s blog post below!

~Lauren

https://lcasey47.wixsite.com/lifeoflauren/single-post/2018/03/29/My-FND-Story?fbclid=IwAR31fw8Sdkt-fhdgxynbqAggdyWxYAmCNAcMuYeIu0QcQNrry7sFdsnATJ4

Q & A: What to do on the weekend

For this post, I reached out to my fellow Instagram followers, and asked them about what they wanted to know more about/what their ideas were for my next post. I think it is important to let my readers have a say, rather than me coming up with topics all the time that I may just be speaking aimlessly about. The question I selected for this post from a fellow Gustie, is “What are some activities to do on the weekends or in spare time?

We are at the time of the year where it is becoming hard to find different things to do because of the lingering snow, leaving us with options such as Netflix, going to Dunkin more times than an average person would, or drinking certain beverages that make you regret it in the morning. While all of that is great, it can get a little old. It also doesn’t help when St. Peter isn’t exactly a place known to travel to on the weekends, unless you’re dying for an Arby’s roast beef sandwich, or a Kwik Trip chicken sammie. With that being said, here are ten ways to switch up your weekends and venture out off campus.

1. Mall Of America

I’m just going to go ahead and get this obvious one out of the way. Being someone who lives 10 minutes away from MOA, I never realized how intriguing it was to people here at school, or anyone outside of the cities. But thinking on it more, the mall actually is a great place to go on the weekend because it has something for everyone. First, a little retail therapy is never bad, except when going into Lululemon, looking at a price tag, and realizing your dreams of new leggings will remain a dream. Second, the amusement park. Who ever put an age limit on rollercoasters? If you feel like you are hitting rock bottom this semester, Spongebob’s Rock Bottom Plunge is the ride for you. My brother and his college buds made a trip to ride some rides every year, and honestly, I think it’s more fun to do that as we get older just because it is something different. Third, the mirror maze. If you want to feel confusion like you never have before, and see yourself from angles you have never seen, and wished you’d never seen before, give this a go! Fourth, I love all the food choices. Cadillac Ranch is my favorite restaurant in the mall, not just because the food is top notch, but also because of the mechanical bull, and the photobombing staff. If none of this sounds appealing, the people watching opportunities are like no other.

2. Brunch

A weekend must, is to brunch. If you love brunch as much as I do to the point where you also use it as a verb rather than a noun, then this one is for you. To my Gusties, the Nicollet Cafe does brunch well, but what if I told you it could get even better? The first place I highly recommend making the trip to for brunch is “The Mason Jar”, also for being conjoined to “Cupcake” in Eagan. This place has been featured many places because the owners originally opened “Cupcake” after winning the baking competition “Cupcake Wars.” I have the privilege of living in walking distance from this place, and have seen it grow from a tiny shop selling pretty cupcakes, to a restaurant that serves amazing brunch that includes any kind of trendy dish you can imagine. My favorites are their egg scrambles, as well as their breakfast quesadilla, but there are so many more unique creations such as a breakfast hot dish (not casserole) and breakfast pizza. Best part? Finish it off with literally any flavor of a cream filled award winning cupcake. The second place I recommend, is “The Hilltop” in Edina. While it is in the land of the cake eaters, I promise you it is worth entering that territory for their build your own omelettes, breakfast potatoes, anything from the griddle, and their interesting sandwich combinations. Those who brunch know when it is done well, and this is one of those places that NEVER screw it up. It is a tiny little building notched up on a hill, which makes for a cool little atmosphere. Lastly, Valley Diner in Apple Valley. When I say diner, it really is. What makes this place great is all the unique omelette combinations. Ever had a Gyro omelette, chili omelette, or chicken fajita omelette? Didn’t think so. They’ve also got all the flavors of pancakes (coconut, strawberry, blueberry, chocolate chip), french toast (raspberry fritter, Pb&J, cinnamon crunch), and waffles that you can imagine. Hungry yet?

3. Uptown

When I say go to Uptown, it is pretty broad, because there is lots to do and see there. Depending on the time of the year, the Chain of Lakes is always a big to do whether that be walking, biking, or just enjoying. My friends and I had a great time having a picnic by one of the lakes (picnic=pick up Punch Pizza). If watching a big body of water, or melting ice, isn’t for you, it is never too cold for window shopping while eating ice cream from Milkjam (home of the Jam Bun: ice cream in between two Glam Doll Donuts). You can even get adult (21+) ice cream, and in between donuts? Doesn’t get better than that. But really, Uptown is known for its night life, and the fact that it is mostly home to us younger folks which keeps the area “hip”. One of my most memorable experiences was going to Chino Latino and drinking out of a pineapple (it was THE “IN” THING during high school). Other popular places are their rooftop patios, Stellas, and of course the Pourhouse where a lot of music and events are held. There are lots of things to do in Uptown, you just have to find them.

4. Go to the Movies

I’m sure the person who asked this question was expecting more than me telling them to go to a movie theater. Before college, my family would go to the movies every week, but once I’m on the hill, I don’t even know what movies are playing. Sometimes, you never realize how much you enjoy a low key weekend, and that is totally ok! Going to the movies with friends is a happy medium between being social, and couch surfing while watching Netflix. One of the things my friends and I like to do to spice things up a bit is to see what ridiculous snacks we can sneak in without getting caught. So far, I have witnessed a whole pizza, Olive Garden, a DQ cake, and a family size bag of Sun Chips (the crinkly bag kind, that takes talent). You don’t have to make a whole day out of a weekend adventure because sometimes all you need is a solid two hours.

5. “Fancy” Night Out

This is one of those things that probably only needs to happen once. Have you ever gotten all fancy and went out to a really expensive restaurant, just to order something that doesn’t seem like it should cost $20 a plate? One thing I have come to find is that college students like cheap food, and feel a serious rush when defying social norms. I stole this idea from my brother and his friends because it looked too fun not to do on a weekend. Get a group of friends together, dress up all nice; suit and tie, or sexy dress, and go to your local McDonalds, Culvers, Taco Bell, Dominos, Jimmy Johns etc. While this may sounds insanely stupid, it is a great time with friends that doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet, and I promise you will never forget the stares you receive. There is power in numbers, so embrace the awkwardness, and the happy meal that you don’t want to actually admit is better than any $20 burger.

6. Campus Team Find

Don’t feel like going off campus this weekend, but also don’t feel like ending the night with the porcelain throne? Who said that night games aren’t for college students? For sorority, we participated in a team find. Being a group that is naturally overly competitive (we weren’t even competing for a prize, just bragging rights), this was one of the highlights of the year. The team find included running (literally, many miles) all over campus doing weird things, taking pictures of it, and of course, trying to keep teamwork in tact while yelling at each other to stop pulling up the rear. While it was kept PG ,as it should be for the most part, crab walking through the caf during the busy time of dinner was quite the experience. Other tasks we did were knock on a dorm room door of a stranger and ask if we could lay on their floor, try to make a half court shot, and take pictures with every statue on campus (there’s a lot at Gustavus). Just weird quirky things like that, as ridiculous as they may sound, are actually really fun. The best part was when time started to run out, we had to get creative and find loop holes. This included squeezing too many people into a car in order to get back to the starting point, which resulted in one of our sisters almost falling out as we took a very sharp (and fast) turn on ring road. Good thing campus safety wasn’t around! It is the most off the wall, downright weird, borderline unsafe college experiences that are the ones that we end up telling years from now.

7. Exercise Class

For those who know me and my passion for fitness, I can’t go a weekend without getting my workout in. A majority of people have the hardest time mustering up the motivation to work out on the weekend. That’s why you should try something new and out of the ordinary! Go to an actual yoga studio like Corepower in St. Paul, then follow it up with insta worthy overpriced smoothies. Yes, guys can do yoga, too, and I promise you will be knocked off your yoga pedestal by the end of a session. Part of the fun is knowing that you very well may make a fool out of yourself, and being totally ok with it. You know those Facebook events that pop up such as Yoga at Target Field, Goat Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Spin Classes, Color Runs, Bubble Runs, or even pole dancing exercise classes? We all know that they would be fun, but we never do them! I mean come on, who wouldn’t want a pygmy goat to jump on their back while doing downward dog? Get a group and do it!

8. Best *insert food here* Hunt

Don’t deny it, we all have a certain food or drink that we drive a lot longer than we should in order to get it. Make a day out of finding a place that makes the best version of you and your friends’ favorite apps or meals because chances are, it will bring you good food, and some pretty cool little places to see. One good one to start with is malts and shakes. Yes, Shamrock shakes are back at Micky D’s, but it will never compare to a true malt or shake (and if you think otherwise, you need to just step back and re evaluate your sense of taste). I’ve heard of people going on hunts for the best cheese curds, pizza, ice cream, or in my family’s case, fruit cake, but a malt hunt will take you to some great places. The first place I loved going to growing up was Annie’s Parlour on the U of M campus. It was tradition to go here after every gymnastics meet and order a chocolate shake. I always told myself I could finish it every time, and spilled it because the big ice cream clump at the bottom would make my glass overflow from coming out too fast as I poured. Annie’s is fun to go to not just because of the malt, but because it is located on the second floor of an old building, overlooking campus. Not to mention, the food is good too! Being in a college town can really make everything more interesting sometimes. The second place I recommend taking your malt hunt to, is The Malt Shop in Minneapolis. It is a very close call between the two, but I am still a shake fan while my family remains malt fans. The malt hunt isn’t even about the malts, it is about these two places that are like nothing anything you’ve probably been to before. Have you ever wondered what it was like to use the bathroom in the same room, and at the same time, as the opposite gender? Go to The Malt Shop to find out.

9. Gymnastics Open Gym

This one may be a bit biased, but I guarantee that at least once in every person’s life, they have wanted to run an jump into the foam cube pit, or feel what it is like to walk on a springy floor. Guys are usually the first to say no to open gym, but once they get into the open gym, they are the last to leave. I am always fascinated about how fearless these guys get as they literally hurl themselves with no idea what they are doing into the pit, off the beam, into walls, over things, in between things…I could go on. Open gyms are great for releasing energy, stress, being competitive with friends, learning something new, or going back to childhood memories by bouncing on the trampoline for hours. It is great to feel like you can fly, and are invincible for a couple hours.

10. Roomie Grocery Haul

As those who are dedicated readers know, I always say it is the little things that count! I know I can’t speak for everyone, but between me and my roommate’s schedules, it is hard to spend quality time with each other. Going grocery shopping and planning meals to make together for the week is a great way to catch up, relax, and try to be proactive to see each other. Nothing solidifies a future movie night like buying the jumbo size bag of Skinny Pop. Grocery hauls aren’t glamorous; they usually consist of sweatpants, questionable footwear, and basically screams “it’s been a long week.” I like going to the store with my roomies because it really is never a dull moment. Between leaping down the aisles, trying to pick the bottom apple without the whole display falling, and making fun of every product that has a questionable name such as “meat chunks,” it is a productive, yet great way to relieve Sunday scaries. Psychology tells us that food is social, and instantly makes us happy, therefore, it is impossible to not have a fun time together while pacing aisles of happy snacks. As a college student, I can affirm that fruit snacks, and goldfish crackers make us happier more than any five year old ever could be. Something about being with each other in a totally normal and casual setting, deciding what’s left to get on the list, and pretending things aren’t dairy free, can be just what you need and you didn’t know it.

Weekends at college don’t have to be always the two extremes; do nothing, or do everything. They don’t have to fit stereotypes, expectations, or age groups. Weekends are meant to catch up on rest, but find things to do that aren’t harmful to your health or keep you isolated. It’s good to switch things up every once in a while, and it’s little things that are new such as sipping a malt, dressing up for a $3 meal, running through flying colors, watching people at the mall, making fun of a can at a grocery store, flailing in foam cubes, drinking out of an expensive pineapple, and trying a fajita omelette that will spice up your life more than you think.

Thanks for the question, I will continue to do Q & A from time to time! For now, it’s time to plan your weekend!

~Lauren

Dear Ladies: This is what you deserve

Valentine’s Day. It is either one of the best, or worst days of the year depending on the person. For those who have a valentine, it is a day to spend with someone you care a lot about. On the other hand, it can be a day to highlight the fact that you are a single Pringle, and may feel really down about it. But why should you? Just because you aren’t posting a V-Day picture on Instagram with excessive hearts in the caption, is no reason to feel lonely, or rush to get into a relationship just to hop on the mushy bandwagon. Heck, those who are in a relationship shouldn’t need one day of the year to recognize how much they like the other person, that should be everyday.

Recently, I overheard a conversation at Starbucks between two women about their marriage problems, and how they weren’t being treated well since they tied the knot. They mentioned that dating when they were younger was so much easier than dating as they got older. It led me to wondering why they settled for that in the first place, but also sparked my psych brain and made me think more about why they said it was harder as we get older, because I have felt the same thing. The conclusion that came to me, was that as we get older, there is pressure added to find someone out of college because of the expectation to graduate with a degree, and a dude. Ironically, I just read an article for class that said the exact same thing as the conclusion I came to. There’s a running joke that says some girls go to college to find a husband, and as Shmuel Schulman (what a name) and Jennifer Connolly wrote in their 2013 article, it’s actually not a joke. They explained that this leads back to the evolutionary theory, as women tend to like to couple up in order to feel safe and secure. Because of this expectation to find someone by a certain time, and how we are wired, it can lead to settling for less than what we deserve. This post is to proclaim to all my ladies reading this (and even the gentleman, it goes for both) that there is NO RUSH because that person you’re picturing in your mind is out there. For the record, these may seem so cliche and predictable, but when that pressure of finding someone is added, some will talk themselves into believing that some of these aren’t important when they are! Ladies, you deserve someone who….


1. Is attractive: Both ways

I’m just going to start with the most obvious one here. The first step in finding someone that you truly and genuinely want to be with, is finding someone you are attracted to! My mom has always told me how important it is to be physically attracted to someone first. Yes, society tells us to not judge a book by its cover because it is what is inside that matters most. While that is true, people aren’t books! There is no faking physical attraction to someone when you are not, no matter how hard you try. It’s similar to opening a gift you truly like versus opening a gift that is so ugly, but you have to fake that you like it in front of Grandma. When you like the gift, the feelings and excitement come naturally, but on the other hand when the gift is “eh”, everything feels forced. There is a lot of negative stigma around “swiping” apps such as Tinder and Bumble, but psychology says that your gut feeling is usually correct according to the Implicit Personality Theory. This states that a first impression can be made quickly, and ACCURATELY, from very little information. If you aren’t attracted to them right away, you swipe left. Common sense, right? Looks are important, so follow your gut and don’t settle if you don’t like what you see! It doesn’t just apply to Tinder, it applies in all situations where you meet someone new whether that be at Starbucks, the bar, the library, the grocery store etc. That being said, it is also important to get to know someone beyond their looks, and see if their heart and personality are as attractive as their face and good biceps. Some guys can get away with their good looks, and put girls in a “spell” of infatuation, but in the long run, their perfect smile won’t make you happy when they aren’t genuine, or just tell you what you want to hear.

2. Wants to see you

I bet you just read this and thought “well no duh, Lauren.” You’d be surprised at the number of times a guy has chosen sleeping, video games, the Casino, a night with the boys (it wasn’t even “Saturday for the boys”), and not wanting to drive because it wastes gas, over time with me. Ladies, getting a guy to spend time with you shouldn’t require begging, bribing, or feel harder than trying to catch your dog when they are running around with your socks. I’ve come to learn over the years just how frustrating, and unordinary, it is to continuously beg a guy to come watch me compete at my gymnastics meet, go out to dinner, walk Gracie with me, study together, or go do something fun! You deserve someone who will SHOW you, and not just tell you, that they want to see you. As I say, it is the little things, such as driving just to come sit with you in a coffee shop for an hour, make plans to see you for the week, agree to watch The Bachelor just because it is time with you, and take initiative to see you! It doesn’t take much, and it shouldn’t have to. Nothing should feel one sided when it comes to wanting to see each other. When you find that someone, they should want to be with you on the good and bad days, rain or shine, when you’re in sweats or looking your best, one mile or 1000000 miles away, and they won’t care what you do together as long as it means getting to be with you. Sound like #goals? That’s what reality should be.

3. Is easy to be with

Sure, first dates are always a little bit awkward, we try to impress the other person. That is a given. But if the next couple dates continue to be awkward where conversation doesn’t flow, you’re still ordering something “easy” to eat and not messy just to look better, and you’re still talking about how nice/not nice the weather is? That’s a red flag. You deserve to be with someone where you don’t feel like you are forcing yourself to laugh at what they say, smile, daintily eat a french fry, or do normal person things that really should come naturally. It can be hard to explain what “easy to be with” feels like, but if it doesn’t start to feel like you are hanging out with a close friend where you can talk for hours about literally anything, that’s not good! Easy to be with, for me, means I can’t stop smiling, laughing, can roast them and they will dish it right back, and I feel like I’ve known the person for years rather than almost an hour. If you are low key dreading doing something with them again because it’s difficult to have a conversation or act natural around them (I’ve felt this), don’t follow through with it (I did, bad move). Yeah, they may be a cute and kind person, but why settle for someone that you aren’t having fun with? My mom has told me to imagine what they would be like in the future. So in this case, imagine yourself sitting in a house with someone someday, maybe married for ten years; still talking about the weather, forcing laughs, and not eating pasta because it’s embarrassing to slurp a noodle. You then look out the window and see the couple next door is outside having a snowball fight and making fun of each other like best friends. I’d rather take 50 snowballs to the face from someone I love being with than feel like I’m walking around on pins and needles all the time.

4. Allows you to be yourself

What is the point of being with someone if you can’t be who you truly are? The relationships that thrive are the ones that are honest, and hiding who you are because you are afraid they won’t like the real you is a form of dishonesty. I will admit, I hold back a bit on the first date. I’m shy, girly, polite, all that good stuff…but that isn’t the real me as bad as that sounds. Often times, it turns out the guy likes it even more when I act more myself which is witty, smiley, sarcastic, randomly does handstands, makes bad puns, and is a little less girly (I’m still nice, no worries). Find someone that allows you to make a fool of yourself, accepts you on your bad days, and they can’t get enough of it. You should be able to show them all your personalities! We all act different depending on who we are with as much as we hate to admit it. I have a different personality for when I’m with my family, my best friend, my team, etc. But with that person, you should be able to show them all sides, including crabby. (Yes guys, it is a sign of progress when you see our crabby side). Find someone that lets you use your real laugh (ladies, you know what I am talking about). Be with someone that doesn’t care if you didn’t do your makeup, send an ugly snapchat, are wearing sweats, or send sweaty snapchats from the gym to them. If at any point they make you feel ashamed or embarrassed about your fear of fish, study habits, your values, your health, family traditions, weird quirks, goals, or anything else important to you, that is a HUGE red flag! The person that you are meant to be with, actually pulls the real you out of yourself, and it is a great feeling!

5. Puts you on a pedestal

I’m the type of person who doesn’t ask for this, or expect anything over the top, but they should want to make you feel beautiful, and show their appreciation for you without you asking for it. A relationship without any compliments on how you look, or excitement over an accomplishment, ultimately leads to no motivation to continue it, and makes you feel stuck. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, and honestly, if they don’t look at you the way they look at their Chipotle, they ain’t worth your time. When you find someone that shows you their appreciation, it means two things. The first, is that they pay attention to you. If they compliment you on your new haircut, your outfit, your green eyes, your sparkly eyeshadow, etc, it means they notice what you do, what you say, and remember the little things about you. Second, it truly means they are infatuated with you, and are genuinely interested! Their eyes should light up when you get out of your car, tell you that you’re gorgeous no matter what you are wearing, not be embarrassed to tell their parents about you, send you texts just to let you know how lucky they are to have you, and lastly, look at you first, and then proceed to eye the bag of Chipotle in hand! Those who don’t do this are either not as into you as you thought, or not respectful/mature enough to realize that this is a must. It’s not hard to do, and is one of those simple things that leads to so much growth. We all know our parents are great at putting us on a pedestal, but that is because they have to. Your person should want to.

6. Has goals

This one may not be on everyone’s list, but someone with ambition tells you several things about them. Just like someone’s Spotify playlists may not seem important, it can tell you a lot about someone! The first thing it tells you, is that they know how to care for something, and know what passion feels like. If someone doesn’t have any goals, it tends to mean that there is little to no caring about what happens, or they have no passion (but not always), which can easily transition over to a relationship. Second, goals mean that they have some type of game plan. Being someone who likes to plan, finding someone who also likes to have a plan of how to get from point A to point B is very attractive. One cannot make goals without at least thinking about how they will get there, otherwise they are just dreams. Third, goals mean that they have a purpose for what they do. Find someone who does things with intent, has a reason for what they do, and thinks about how their actions will help them in the long run, which in turn will help them get closer to their goals. Fourth, goals mean stability (depending on the goal). It shows that they will work for what they want, and us gals like to feel stable as I mentioned earlier. Lastly, if they have goals, and are truly interested in you, chances are, you are probably a part of their goals, and will care, make a plan, have purpose with you, and work to be with you. Goals aren’t just an end point. It is the process of getting there, and the skills needed, that are beneficial and can spill over into relationships. Find someone who has goals and a plan for their life, because chances are, they also have the rest of these elements.

7. Is honest

When I say honest, I mean in every way possible. There are so many forms of deception that can hurt relationships such as straight up lying, not revealing all of the story, lying to protect someone, little white lies, pointless lies, being fake etc. It is such a good habit to not lie about unnecessary things. I know I have done this before; I said I took one road to get somewhere when I actually took another. Why? I don’t know! Did it matter what road I took? Absolutely not. But we are so good at doing this, and do it a lot. I know I can generalize this phenomenon to the whole population. It may be harmless, but it can snowball into a habit of dishonesty that will bite you in the butt. I personally don’t like things sugar coated, so if I ask the guy I am with if I look bad, I want them to tell me I look bad if I actually do! Tell me my butt looks big in those jeans, tell me that I have spinach in my teeth, tell me if I have something on my face, and all the other embarrassing stuff. Lying to protect someone, is not protecting them at all. I don’t want the person I am with to lie about what they are doing just because it may not be something I am interested in, or they think I won’t like it. You deserve someone that is straightforward and tells you how they feel, because guessing or trying to read into one word texts can lead to more trouble. Find someone that isn’t afraid to own up to their past and the mistakes they have made. Seriously, if someone is afraid to tell you something, that is a huge red flag. It may sound bad now, but you deserve someone that tells you that your breath stinks.

8. Has the same interests as you

This one is also pretty straight forward, but so many people overlook this one and say it isn’t THAT important. Yes it is! Someone may be attractive, honest, treat you like a queen, have goals, and all the other criteria on here; but if their ideal day is to sit on the couch and do nothing, that is a huge red flag! Don’t ever settle for that unless that is also your ideal day, then you two are perfect for each other. A relationship can be so much fun, and have so much more passion, when the two of you do things you both enjoy. For me, finding out that they like sports, are into fitness like I am, will go skating or out to eat, but can also be down to have a relaxing movie night makes them so much more attractive to me. It can be so hard to be with someone who doesn’t understand why you do what you do, and doesn’t get excited over things like you do. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be with someone that doesn’t have the same interests as you, but in that case, they should give it a try, and try to appreciate it with you. A good example of this is my own parents. My dad is a big hockey guy, and with my mom being from Kentucky, she didn’t know much about it. Once she moved here she gave it a shot, and started to appreciate it because my dad loved it. Don’t settle for someone who refuses to go to a gymnastics meet, listen to country music, eat at your favorite restaurant, or forget your family member’s names. What is important to you, should be important to them, too.

9. Cheers you on

Someone that cheers you on, indicates that they know your goals, and have an interest in what you are doing. I know that when I have gotten an A on something, got a 9.3 on bars, landed my vault that I usually break my ankles on, or made it through a Terrible Tuesday, I can’t wait to tell someone that will actually be proud of me! Your special someone should be that person. You deserve someone who hypes you up, rather than is jealous of your success, or simply replies “cool.” There have been times where I have been with someone, and am so excited to tell them about an accomplishment, and they didn’t seem to care at all, which in turn totally sucked out all of my excitement. When you are with the right person, your goals will be just as important as theirs, and they will support you through it all. Don’t settle for someone who makes you feel like your goals are nothing, your successes aren’t worth anything, or you aren’t getting any support at all in tough times. Find someone who celebrates the little victories such as finally microwaving popcorn without burning it, but also the big victories like landing an internship for the summer. Everyone needs a cheerleader, and while you’ve always got your mom or your grandma on Facebook (nothing cheers you up like reading comments on a picture of you that your mom posted), it means so much more coming from that special someone.

10. Makes you excited for each day

Have you ever heard the saying “I don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than my dreams?” As cheesy as that sounds, it is true. There is no better feeling than waking up in the morning knowing that your day is going to be great, just because you get to spend time with someone. I’ve had many days where I have woken up with little motivation because there is nothing to be excited about that day (I know it sounds sad, for the record, it’s usually Tuesdays). It is just average. When you find the person that you truly deserve, you will feel excited to take on the day because you know you get to be with someone who is attractive both inside and out, wants to see you just as bad as you want to see them, is easy to be with, can tell them about wiping out in the caf and not be judged, makes you feel great about yourself, has goals to share with you, will always hear the truth, can do your favorite things together, and will support you. Your happiness will be as immense as the run on sentence I just wrote! Don’t settle until your life becomes that run on sentence.

We all deserve to find someone that checks off all the criteria on our list, and while that may require some patience, it is far better than settling for something that doesn’t make you feel like you are that “middle school crush” kind of giddy. Every single element on your list is important, and while it may seem selfish or impossible to have certain expectations, it is not! I truly believe God allows good things happen to those who wait, and all good things may come with patience. Once you let go of the notion that you must have that someone by a certain life milestone, everything becomes so much more clear.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope it is spent in a way that makes you as happy as when your jeans fit from last year, Deb in the caf doesn’t over charge you for your dinner (you know Gusties), you get the last table at Starbucks, the end spot on the street is open so you don’t have to parallel park, the Vikings finally win, or a home run in the bottom of the 9th with bases loaded!

~Lauren