Knowing Yourself College Edition

What I know now is no where what I knew in college about myself. In college is where you begin to take the veil off of your eyes to what you learned all your life to what you want to be in life. It’s a line that crosses to merge the two and the journey is a battle!

I left high school and entered Penn State university and this was what I knew at the time: I was a straight A student since 2nd grade, I was a daughter of ministers, and I was goal oriented. That was my identity. I didn’t know I could be Toi and have my past be my identity while learning who I wanted to be. I could date if I wanted to and define what dating meant to me. I could party and still be an amazing student. I could be goal oriented and want to find joy in all things and I didn’t have to choose.

Growing up in a strict household and having everything be about church wasn’t the issue. The issue is my church in particular only preached Hell and marriage as the basis of life. Everything was Hell and being married because marriage was great was the focus. I watched couples who shouldn’t have been married run and get married just cause they wanted to date and dating wasn’t allowed unless it was for the purpose of marriage. Most of those marriages didn’t make it! Truth hurts! You wasn’t allowed to date just because two people had an interest in one another! You couldn’t see where things went. Every date doesn’t end in a proposal! It actually breeds unhealthy dating relationships in other areas!

As a college student my focus was going to college, completing a degree and finding a husband. The reality is I could form my life on my terms and college is where SOME find husbands but the reality is getting my degree was key, finding myself, and enjoying the experience should have been the focus. Now that also means learning how to incorporate my love of God into a balanced life. No one not one preacher at my church taught it. So many of us went to college and struggled. Some dropped out! Some completed and got shunned for breaking away from what we were taught! Some still have resentment for that period of their life.

I struggled without support. I should have been supported into being able to be an adult and make healthy choices instead of thinking even healthy choices were dooming me to Hell. I should have also been encouraged to just be free instead of this pressure of if you are dating and it’s not for marriage than I was doomed. Great respect to those who married young but as an 18 year old passport stamps, girl trips, and fun while maintaining my grades should have been the focus! I choose to try to please everyone and in the end I wasn’t happy!

So freshman year I meet this amazing guy. Rewind, I met amazing guys. I literally messed up relationships because the thought that I could multi date was foreign. Men do it and are applauded. Women do it and they are a hoe. You do know women can date multiple folks and not have sex with them if she doesn’t want to? It exist! Women do it all the time. I lied to my parents about my relationship with my then boyfriend who is now my husband and then covered it and that was one is the most horrible experiences I went through! Shout out to the folks around me who called me out! Grateful for getting through! Grateful for even the friends lost during that heavy transition if I’m honest!!

Why am I talking about this for college students?! Take your time to enjoy your time on campus. Even if you find an amazing person you don’t have to commit to them right off the bat. I love my husband now and then as a boyfriend but I should have allowed myself the opportunity to do whatever I wanted. Our love was intense. College years are different than normal dating time. The connection for me was intense. We were in classes together, we were in the same scholarship program, so we were together alllll the time! When we loved hard it was great and we fought hard too! Instead of being sneaky just be an adult! It’s understandable that you are going to find yourself in situations that your parents aren’t going to approve of. I would be lying if I pretended that wouldn’t happen. No matter what you get into I know you will be okay. You will find a way out! Don’t do anything you as an individual aren’t proud of. Do what you can stand on. If you can’t be proud of a decision don’t do it! Don’t do anything to make someone prouder than you feel looking in a mirror-EVER!

Make every decision on what makes you happy, safe, and fulfilled! Stay on top of your studies! You are there to learn. Don’t start the journey by going into a field that someone else has for you. The biggest lie you can tell is the one that has you lying to yourself! You can’t keep up a lifestyle that only honors those around you! Trust me the heartaches, lost friends and friendships, broken promises, and general dishonor to yourself isn’t worth it. When I think about those beginning years of how in the end I dishonored myself saving my reputation from folks I later found out was doing the same makes me parent my kids differently, live with purpose and makes me grateful I figured it out!! FYI this isn’t about my parents doing something wrong this is about a I needed to do right by me!

For every decision right or wrong I fully own! As a college student I learned how to break out and be okay being who I wanted to be. I learned that I like what I like and daily instead of packaging myself to make others happy I make sure I can live daily with myself! College is more about getting to that aha moment than what your GPA is! But don’t sleep on your studies! The best opportunities come for those who do the work. So do your work literally. Don’t skip a bunch of classes-at least not all the time. You get out what you put into it in every aspect!

If you’re returning to campus return and start the process of what makes you-you! Don’t show up on campus for your parents, your church, your community more than you show up for yourself! Not one person is getting your grades and they definitely won’t help wipe shame off your soul when you live on their terms. Not one!

To my parents who send your kids with the do as I say do cause I’m paying for it: you will get a better child, a better person; when you support your child where they are. If you want to not “waste” your money invest in your adult child where they feel like they will thrive. Support them in mistakes. If your child has to lie to you it isn’t just because they are a liar it too may mean you aren’t fostering an environment conducive to having an open engaged communication!

To my husband who at the time was my boyfriend-you stuck by my side and didn’t hold it against me when I couldn’t be authentic! You loved me during that time and hadn’t we not married now I would have still had nothing but the most upmost love and respect for you!

To my parents: the life you gave me protected me for a point of life. As much as I could easily blame you for my inauthentic ways life showed me that I would be faced with more inauthentic areas that belonged to me and only me. I would love to go back and stand up for myself. The only thing I regret was not doing it sooner. I love that you gave me a great foundation and for that I will always honor that!

To my Penn State friends who stood by my side you are amazing! I definitely know we have made each other life friends! The love we experienced life together! If it hadn’t pressed through together we wouldn’t be as close as we are now!

My parents birthed me and gave me the foundation I still have in many ways. Penn State refined me. Life polished me and now as a parent I get to redo little mes!!

Go back to college or step into college and take the journey for what it is. You will fail in many ways and you will succeed in a lot of them. As you continue the journey get grounded. Make new friends. Find ways to travel. Take that internship! Study Abroad! Go to that party! Date that guy/girl just because! Smile and take the lumps because it all will mold you into a dynamic person!

Advertisements

For the Love of Friends

I am blessed in friendship. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you can be authentic and secure all while having amazing people behind you who support you and love you and love on you.

Friends who are family

It’s true that you can’t pick your family. With friends, you are in charge of who you allow in your life. With that being said I have an amazing pool of friends. From childhood to college and beyond, friends are the fuel of life. This weekend I was able to spend time with my college loves. In August of 1999 I entered into Penn State super unsure of myself. I had gotten my college roommate assignment and on it was a name super similar to mine. Her name is Toi. I had never seen anyone with that spelling outside of me. I initially thought I had scored a single room. On move in day I saw a girl who looked similar to me and was warm and inviting. We met and were inseparable.

A few days later I met Krystle and Marques. They were apart of my scholarship program. Krystle came off super shy. We know now that’s just her secret weapon. Once friends with Krystle you realize how much of a gem she is. She graced us with her love. Krystle is one of the most level-headed women I’ve met to date. I’m still trying to get her to adopt me (inside joke). Marques was funny. He came up to me and Toi once he heard our names was similar and made a joke about it. His wit got him in but his loyalty kept him in even when he and I who dated in college would break up each week! Over the course of time we quickly formed a group and over the course of 4 or a little over some for others in the group we were a mini family. We dined together, traveled together, got in “trouble” with another and went through hard times together. Although a beautiful fellowship of individuals, we had growing pains together. We were there for each other and still continue to be there during the rough times. And almost 20 years from meeting, we found ourselves back together.

We were able to catch up, talk smack, remember the good and the bad times. It was everything and more that we needed. I know for a fact that they made my college experience that much better and I am super grateful for being able to be a call away from them. I know that as we continue on our journey of life that we remain as strong as ever. I’m super grateful for their loyalty as they have stuck by me when they shouldn’t have. I have nothing but love for our Pennypacker crew and honorary member! P Phi P forever! #peacoatmafia #Pennstatestrong #Weare

All Things Fall, My Favs…

So as we draw closer and closer to Thursday I just want to jump for joy.  I love this time of the year.  As discussed here are the list of my Fall favorites in no particular order:

Apple Cider

Hot or cold I am here for it.  To make it more adult like I would suggest the following recipe which I have had and it tastes great:

  • 4 mug’s worth of apple cider
  • 1 mug’s worth of caramel vodka (you can always use less (or more?) if you want, this makes it fairly strong)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (mostly for rimming your glasses, taste the cider before to see if it needs sugar or not)

1. Mix all of the ingredients above in a large pot. (Edit: Heating up the cider before adding the vodka ensures that the alcohol doesn’t burn off! Heat it up to your desired temperature and then add the vodka.)

2. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until liquid just begins to steam (don’t over heat or else the alcohol will burn off).

3. While cider is warming up, take your mugs or glasses and rim them with brown sugar.

Oh and throw in some apple cider cupcakes and man oh man you got a winner!!

Pumpkin

I am surprisingly not into pumpkin everything.  I am more of a sweet potato chick but I have an aunt that makes the BEST pumpkin roll.  Now I have had others, hers still stands tall but let me say if you can make an awesome pumpkin roll that is the one thing pumpkin I will super indulge in.

 

Starbucks Image result for starbucks

Me and Starbucks already have a love affair all year-long but when the Fall or Winter favorites come out that’s when my soul does a leap.  I’ve already had the pumpkin latte which again I’m not a super fan but when you are a member and you get a preview coupon, I hopped right on it.

Dunkin Donuts Image result for dunkin donuts gif

Now I can get a caramel hot chocolate anytime but I prefer to get one during the Fall. I also love the salted caramel hot chocolate too.  I will eat a pumpkin munchkin because it again is small and I can handle a little pumpkin flavor but not too much.

I also love the smells that Fall brings. I love the smell of leaves.  I really do.  I love the colors.  Red is one of my favorite colors and its one of the most vibrant of the Fall colors. So it’s another excuse to decorate on overload in my house.  My kids love it too.  We celebrate any and all holidays so that’s no surprise.  My kids had me decorating for the Fall 2 weeks ago.  So we are definitely ahead.

Clothing

Clothing becomes more of comfort. I can wear boots, sweaters, and long sleeve shirts and my absolute favorite is my scarves.  You can never have too many scarves.  It’s like the seasonal go to. You can dress up or dress down an outfit.. I think it allows for pops of color and spice up a mood. I could be the only one who thinks that but nevertheless I am here for it all!  Don’t forget a cute hoodie too.

Image result for fall sweaters gif

Makeup

Make goes to warmer and darker colors.  I love a nice purple lip.  I haven’t quite caught on to that vibrant I can see you across the street purple just yet but I love a deep purple or burgundy.  I also like to switch out my bb creams, and moisturizer at the change of Fall. What works in the Summer will not fully carry you over into the Fall.  It would be time for you to change eye liners, etc as well.  There are lots of high and low-end of makeup you can grab.  I tend to stick to more department stores or drug stores.  One they have convenient hours than some of the higher end stores for me.  Have you seen a mom towing 3 kids into MAC?  Not this mom.  If I can’t go on a solo trip even to Ulta or Sephora than CVS or Target here I come.  I’m always there anyway why not.

Image result for purple makeup palette

I could go on and on especially since I haven’t even added my love for just apple anything. Also being an alumni of Penn State I absolutely loved when they brought back Banana foster icecream. That’s something you can throw right on top of a piece of apple pie. As you can see this is why my work outs mean so much.  I eat and/or drink what I like but I have learned to scale back and find ways to do better.  However if that means one more hour on the treadmill to get a piece of apple pie, than so be it.  Oh and my cookie game, well you can ask the 3 that call me mom.  I have many recipes even an apple tarte cookie I can’t wait to try this year as well.  They don’t care.  Anything that gets them to be my little helpers, they definitely love.  Fall equals comfort and with that in mind I have to stay on my gym regime so I can keep my fluffy a little tighter.  What are some of your Fall favorites?  Tell me on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/toitimeladies/

 

 

 

 

 

 

College Final Words

So when I graduated I was the happiest person in the world.  I thought about every stressful situation, every heartache, every defeat, every victory and it made me realize just how strong I was to get through it all.  I was happy to finally have my degree.  The very next semester I cried walking in a Walmart because there was no more school.  I know I am a rare person most folks would have rolled over and slept or even just went to work but I didn’t.  College had really been so much fun and a place for me to learn about myself.

I literally wouldn’t be the woman I am had I not gone through the experience.  It helped me to see others for who they really were too.  One of the biggest things I got from Penn State outside of the education was a lifetime supply of friends. College isn’t for everyone. I don’t look down on anyone who hasn’t gone. It seems like a party all the time but it’s not. It’s hard work.  There are many students who start out and don’t finish.  I would be lying if I told you that there were many days I wanted to quit.  I cried a lot.  I was stressed.  I had disappointing times.  End of the day it was something that I wanted so I fought and won.  If you want to take the journey into college whether that’s community classes, a big or small university or college it’s your choice to make.  Make sure to be clear what you want and if you decide to change your mind that’s fine too, but be sure and prepared to do the work to graduate.  To some college is just a piece of paper but I call it the proving grounds. If you are a graduate of higher education do NOT let anyone make you feel bad for attending.  You did the work and like me may even be a first generation college student. I had many people tell me how stuck up I was.  I had people say I thought I was too good.  I wasn’t.  I simply made my plan and with detours in the way made it happen.

To incoming freshman embrace this new life you are about to embark on.  It is the most challenging and most rewarding one yet.

My last key things to remember:

Breaks: It doesn’t matter if its Fall, Spring or Holiday breaks take them.  Try to spend time with family but also go on one trip with your new friends.  It is the time to have a blast so don’t waste it sitting on campus unless you are working getting your coins.

Meal Plans: I had one of the biggest meal plans but like most colleges they have places off campus where you can use them and of course they eat up your points.  Try to do this every now and again or prepare to eat Ramen noodles and spaghetti O’s.

Refunds: It seems like a big check in the beginning but once you account for all of your needs during the semester which will also include entertainment try to budget especially if you don’t have a job or work-study.

Image result for ramen noodle gif

Off Campus Apartments: Make sure you either have a reliable car or get familiar with the bus system in your town.  Make sure that you pick convenient living arrangements.

Roommates: Do not always choose your closest friends to live with.  I did and had no issues but just because you are friends does not mean you can live with one another. I have seen friendships end fast.  You do not know how another person lives.  I was a neat freak it drove my roommates crazy but we were able to live together.

Romance: If you read my college blogs you know that I ended up marrying my college sweetheart but not everyone ends up with that love story.  Make sure the one you decide to make public and date on campus is on the same page.  Dating should never interfere with your grades.  So if you are dating someone who is encouraging you to let your grades slack you already know what to do.  You both came to get an education so get it.  Be balanced.  Yo do not need  to be joined at the hip.  Separate us time, me time, friends time, school time, and maybe work time.  This is practice for when you get into the real world or get married its the same expectations.  If you were interested in certain activities continue them. Keep the campus folks out of your business.  Rumors spread faster on campuses so be aware of what you allow out.

Laundry: Many students do not take laundry into account. Most campuses have machines that take cards, points or some type of monetary exchange.  Please consider the options. Mom and dad love you but no wants to see a semester worth of clothes coming home.