I thought it’d be appropriate for my first official Counting Down to 30 post to be a fun Throwback Thursday post, showing a few poignant stages in the last 29 years of my life. Take some time to get to know me a bit better, and if you already know me, maybe you’ll see and learn something new.
I was born and raised in Michigan, growing up on the east side near Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. I grew up in a small home on one side of the city with my parents and older brother, Nathan, until we moved to the other side when I was in elementary school. I remember playing outside, digging in a sandbox in the back yard, having two rabbits as pets, noisy trains on the tracks a block away and going to a nearby party store for hand-scooped ice cream cones. Blue Moon was my favorite. I couldn’t get enough of singing, talking and clomping around in my mom or dad’s shoes.
My K-8 education was spent at a Lutheran school and I spent most of those years with the same 24 (give or take) kids, a few of whom I still call friends. I was always writing and abhorred math, made best friends and was at odds with the “popular” girls, and, like everyone else, saw my most awkward years. I was even a band geek for a couple of them, picking up the trumpet — which I never liked. Sadly band was a positive aspect of music our instructor crushed for me with her unpleasantness. I also played basketball from 4th through 8th grade, volleyball from 5th-8th grade, and was a cheerleader for a couple of those middle school years. It was also the period of my life when eczema reared its ugly head for the first time, I had to wear a painful retainer to correct an overbite from sucking my thumb for too long as a younger child, and eventually suffered braces.
My school was an incredibly sheltered environment, and many times I resented being in such an atmosphere. To be honest, it made religion/Christianity a chore and bore (which, thankfully changed later), and once I stepped into the halls of high school I realized just how socially and academically unprepared I was because of that environment.
I’m actually one of those weirdos who mostly enjoyed high school while I was in it. I had a base group of friends, but got along with 90% of my class of 300. High school also provided some freedoms and opportunities which were completely new territories for me. I had some incredibly amazing teachers who not only encouraged me, but treated all of us with respect as teens reaching young adulthood and let us flourish on our own and discover our hidden skills and talents. I wasn’t in any of your stereotypical categories of students, but was happy being in the middle and not bringing too much attention to myself.
High school, as it often does, also brought along a lot of firsts. I fell in love for the first time and also had my first heartbreak, overcame fear and sang a duet and a solo in front of the entire student body, dove into journalism for the first time with the school’s newspaper, snuck out at 2am (first and only time!), and helped TP a house (I’m SO sorry!).
Freshman year also brought my first big experience with death, as the best friend of the guy in the photo above was killed. The case was never solved, and though the rumor was suicide, our close group knew better, especially with added information which came out later. It was a shock I will never forget, and I’m pretty sure it helped shaped the future for a few of us.
Choosing to attend Grand Valley State University is still probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I always wanted to go to college a good distance from home and after touring the campus I knew it was the place for me. My freshman year was tough, thanks to three roommates who were, to say politely, not the easiest to live with in a 20×16 room. However, I met one of my current best friends on the very first day in my very first class and met two other best friends the year after.
Attending football games and watching our team win consecutive Division 2 Championships, playing euchre until the early hours of the morning with the boys across the hall, being part of an awesome women’s choir and living with the three people who were closest to me than anyone else were only a few highlights. Although I had a number of classes I deemed a waste of time, there were a large amount of classes and professors who really stimulated learning, treated you like a responsible adult and opened my eyes to the world. They were so influential I still have the hand-written notes and reading materials [I’m looking at you, Facebook professor friends of mine]. I wasn’t the best student and didn’t graduate with honors, but I tried hard and cared about each grade. I met a diverse group of peers and experienced the scary reality of having no money to my name. I learned Italian, rode the “wrecking ball” before the idea was ruined by Miley Cyrus, napped on the fourth floor of the old library, pulled all-nighters writing papers, and watched as my campus changed and grew before my eyes. Now, large parts are almost unrecognizable.
I graduated in 2008 after four and a half years of pursuing a degree. In hindsight, I probably should have majored in public relations or marketing, but at least writing is a broad enough subject that it spills over into many professions — especially if you have journalism in your background. I loved my time at GVSU. I will always be a Laker at heart.
My 20s have felt like some of the longest, yet some of the shortest years, as time continues to increase in speed as I get older. Covering a decade full of life changes, events and challenges is a task, and instead of doing it in this post, I plan on tackling that in another post to come in this series. I have an idea for a more interesting format!
Keep an eye out next month for my next post in Counting Down to 30! Comments? Type them below. You do not have to have a WordPress account to leave one!
*Time clock graphic designed by Justin McKee