The Friend in Your Head.

Since a young age, I have been able to make a friend in just about anyone. My parents wasted no time worrying about my social skills developing, and instead spent a great deal of my childhood coordinating play-dates and sleepovers. Fostering friendships came effortlessly; the company of and my engagement with others fulfilled me well into the beginning of adulthood.

My early years of college were abundant in new friendships that navigated the over-stimulating independence of college. It didn’t take long, however, before I realized that the company of my new friends was sustained through the convenience of sorority events, social gatherings, or the comfort of just having someone to call ‘friend’. The shininess wore off. I looked for friendships in forced places, and because of that, was getting no return on the investment of relationships that I cherished making. The cycle of fast friendships eventually withering repeated itself until I finally gave up. I was confused at how one can lose an innate quality, such as my being able to make friends with a stranger at the crack of a smile.  Maybe I wasn’t too good at making friends after all. I continued to grow in my relationships back home and found contentment in my mutual, fruit-bearing relationships at college.

At the beginning of junior year, studying abroad presented an opportunity to escape the inconsistency of friendships at college and explore a world outside of Cal Poly. Although I was fortunate to make life-long friends along the way, I was also the most independent I had been my entire life. As I discovered more of the world, I discovered more of myself. I didn’t have the withering relationships I made at college to fall back on when I was lonely. Instead, I listened to, and eventually, befriended the voice inside my head; I became my own best friend. Meanwhile, I grew grateful for the authentic, enduring friendships I would return to at Cal Poly.

I have since then continued on the journey of understanding myself, my relationship with Christ, my dreams, my likes and dislikes, and what feeds my soul. The path of self-discovery equally allows us to become a better friend to both ourselves and to others.

We spend our entire lives, just ourselves, hanging out inside our own heads. I admit how crazy this sounds. But do you know the friend in your own head? Do you like her? Is she someone you would go out of your way to spend time with? The more outlandish this sounds, the more important it is to find that friend. For me, it was the struggle to immediately make lasting friendships in college that taught me how to make a lasting friend in myself – with the friend in my head.

It is a small world after all.

Before I left to study abroad in Paris, one of my dearest friends, Kortnie, gave me a poem to take with me on my journey. I hung the poem on the wall of my room and before I knew it, my roommate, Saibra, and I began trying to recite it from memory just for fun. My time abroad was incredible and wonderful, and equally challenging, stretching, and eye-opening. I chose to study abroad to find the better parts of myself, to become a better person…and when the difficulties of living in Paris brought out the weaker and less-liked parts of myself, I resorted to this poem on attitude by Charles S. Swindoll. Each person in this video I made has influenced my life tremendously and deserves every happiness this world has to offer. I resolve to never think of our world as ‘too big’, exclusive, or discriminating to the young, and I challenge you to do the same. Enjoy!

Dear Lauren,

Dear Lauren,

As I write this letter, you are flying directly into the future (literally) that you will soon make your own. Though you may feel small now, squished into the confinement of an economy airplane seat for the next ten hours, the hopes I have for you are immense in size. If the men hogging both of your armrests knew that, maybe they would give you more space. Anyways, below is my combination of excitement and advice:

We spend a quarter of our lives in desks learning about the world and its history, which I worry makes you fear that there is just too much knowledge to possibly consume. This is a wonderful thing to overwhelm you. With that, take each educational opportunity in stride, with patience and full of excitement. Focus on the quality of how you receive information, and more importantly—how you experience it.

Age may be a number, but it is also the culmination of a lot of important events in a single lifetime. Presently, you are 20 years old, and by the end of this adventure you will be 21 years young. I hope all that you experience over the next five months restores your innate wonders of the world. They are always within you, even when they may not feel so accessible.

You are no stranger to getting excited and tripping over your own feet, so do your best to slow down and enjoy the moment. If you take a little doozy, have a good laugh at yourself and then jump back up. Double-knot next time.

Ah, pictures. Try to remember that no lens is clearer than the one you already look through. Only you can internalize this experience. This is your own.

And most of all, when it is time to retreat to the States in late December, my hope for you is that the world won’t feel as big and you won’t feel as small. Be brave and take up space. This world has plenty of room for you.

A bientot,

Lo

Now is your time.

“This is the thing: when you start to hit your 20’s, everything starts to divide, and you can see very clearly two kinds of people: on one side, people who have used their 20s to learn and grow, to find God and themselves and their deep dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults.

Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. Walk away, try something new. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal. Ask yourself some good questions like: “Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? What have I learned about God this year? What parts of my childhood faith am I leaving behind, and what parts am I choosing to keep with me for this leg of the journey? Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that’s keeping me from moving forward?”

Now is your time. Become, believe, try. Walk closely with people you love, and with other people who believe that God is very good and life is a grand adventure. Don’t spend time with people who make you feel like less than you are. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.” – Shaina Nequist

Moments in life that remind me how temporary our time is on Earth – but all the while how much space there is just waiting for us to take up. It’s incredible reflecting on what was important to me just a few years ago, and what now matters – more importantly, who.