I write for the little girl who sat inside her kindergarten classroom during recess.
Across the room, she could see her classmates playing dress up and fiddling with plastic bananas in the miniature kitchen set. Others pushed Hot Wheels cars across a plush carpet of roads. Some watched an episode of “Between the Lions” on the fuzzy and clunky television set of the early 2000s.
She pressed on a heavy, inky blue marker and wrote.
Her command of English was not quite there. She wrote her R’s backwards. She spelled “and” as “nd.”
But still she wrote.
She wrote all sorts of stories — things about gymnastics classes, seeing butterflies on the way to school, how water moves through the water cycle.
She wrote about the stories around her.
As the years went on, she realized that writing gave her a voice. She was always smaller than her classmates, and her words often got swallowed up by the noise of the room around her.
In the classroom, she shrunk.
On the paper, she commanded.
She sat in theaters and watched people leaping, singing and crying. She loved those stories, but she wanted more.
She wanted to write them.
So now, I write for that little girl who sat in her kindergarten class during recess, her head buzzing with ideas. Putting marker to card stock, she recorded the world around her.
And now, with that little girl going into her senior year at the School of Media and Journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill, she has a voice. She no longer shrinks. She gets to write and tell stories every single day.
Now, I put fingers to keys. I record the world around me.
Now, I command.
I’ve had a lot of joy lately.
It seems like everything has been going my way. I have an awesome summer situation — an internship I love, a great part-time job that’s letting me save some extra cash, plenty of time to love on my friends, and the ability to go for a run and drink tea every day.
So in my mind, it makes sense that I would have a lot of joy. Everything is going well, so why wouldn’t I be waking up every morning excited to take on the day?
But this morning, as I was brushing my teeth, I came to a startling realization.
I was humming, playing music from my phone, and just enjoying a quiet moment alone before going to the gym. And I realized in that moment, I wasn’t doing a single thing that would innately make a person happy. I realized that my joy was coming from a place deep down, a place of more permanence.
In that moment, I simply thought, “Joy isn’t circumstantial.”
I immediately grabbed my phone and wrote it down in a note, because it was too good to ignore. I wasn’t planning on doing anything else with the phrase, I just wanted to remember it.
But as I was running on the treadmill, I decided to acknowledge it again (let’s be honest, fighting it out on the treadmill is the best place to debate an existential phrase with yourself).
I thought about the distinction between joy and happiness and how I often get the two confused. Happiness IS circumstantial. Happiness is getting a puppy for Christmas — you weren’t in a bad mood before you got the puppy, but now that you have the puppy, you feel a sense of excitement and happy anticipation for your life with the puppy. And if someone were to suddenly take him away, you would be upset, probably at that person and the general situation.
That is not joy.
You feel happy for things that happen in the moment, but it can be fleeting and difficult to grasp. It can keep you on edge if you think about it too hard. For the most part, it is based on circumstance.
Joy, by contrast, is something inside of us. Joy is permanent.
In times of mourning, we feel sorrow and grief. We feel the absence of happiness. But the Bible promises that in those times, joy can still be present. Joy is something that prevails because of Jesus’ redemption on the cross. Though the context of mourning is often a dire circumstance, because joy is not circumstantial, it can coexist with the sorrow.
Even though the bad news is bad, the good news — what God promises — is so much better. And permanent. And THAT is where our joy comes from. Not whether or not we got to eat our favorite food today or whether or not we got a puppy for Christmas.
It seems like lately, everything has been going my way. Being able to acknowledge that I have an awesome summer situation is the product of joy, not the cause.
I could just as easily shift my focus to the not-so-great aspects of this summer — my sweet boyfriend is across the country, I’m not necessarily living where I would ultimately like to be, I’m far away from some of my best friends. But because I have unconditional joy, the unhappiness of those situations easily melts away and allows me to pan the focus to the positives of those situations.
I’ve had a lot of joy recently.
And that joy is not circumstantial — it’s here to stay!
As I write this, I sit in the arboretum on Chapel Hill’s campus. It’s an insanely hot July morning – 10:15 and already 86 degrees. I love coming here every once in awhile to be alone and relax with my own thoughts.
I don’t know why, but I’ve been thinking about relationships a lot lately. Specifically weddings. It’s most likely because I’m addicted to Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings on TLC and we have either one of those shows on at any given time in our apartment (we’re garbage, I know).
There’s been a few guys in the picture, but every time it came time to decide what we were, it never felt right. I’ve been thinking about why I can’t get excited about a relationship right now, especially when I have an extensive wedding board on Pinterest that I’ve kept up with since 8th grade. After months of frustration and impatience, I think I’ve finally found the beginnings of an answer.
I’m a fairly introverted person. If you know me, you know this – especially my amazing friends here at UNC who often embrace the idea of group naps. Because I like being alone and/or being quiet, I’ve spent a lot of time in my own head. I mean, I left my apartment this morning simply so I could sit in the arboretum and just drink tea and listen to music. I think so much time with my thoughts has given a full vision of what I want in a boyfriend – and, consequently, a future husband (despite how it may come off, I am not trying to rush this step).
I’ve also been praying a lot about it. I’ve prayed that my future husband is doing well and acing all his finals so we can buy 15 dogs – adoption is also an option, but we need to have a nice double income to afford a large enough space for all those dogs (DISCLAIMER: If Future Husband is reading right now, I’m willing to compromise a little on this. But we need at least one. Breed is negotiable).
On the real though, I’ve prayed that God can bring a peace in his life and that he is a reflection of God’s love for others. I’ve prayed that he has strong role models and mentors who he can turn to in times of need to nurture his kindness, his compassion, and his empathy. I’ve prayed that he has a vision of his goals. Most of all, I’ve prayed that he’s happy. I want him to be content in his current season of life and for him to be praying for guidance in his future. And if he isn’t content right now, I pray that he’s able to find the resources that he needs to reach his fullest, because there’s nothing wrong with seeking help. Also I really hope he likes animals.
So for now, I’m going to trust the present and enjoy where I am. I’m going to nurture my friendships, relish every moment of my sophomore year of college (WHAAAAAT), and work on growing my confidence. I know that whatever is meant to happen will, so I’ll take a deep breath and live in every moment.
And maybe one day, he’ll enjoy coming to the arboretum with me at 10:15 on a hot July morning to relax and be alone with our thoughts. Or play fetch with our dog. I’m content with either one.
I have some free time right now before I have to go work at the Daily Tar Heel (working from 10 p.m. until deadline tonight, which is ~ 12:30 a.m. — gotta sneak in some time to myself before that). I figured I could give a little life update of all the crazy, amazing things going on.
First things first: I just ate 18 pieces of sushi in a large spinning top.
Second things second: While walking to another large spinning top to write in just now, I passed Luke Maye riding his bike. He was wearing a helmet. Basketball star AND dedicated to his safety. Whatta guy.
Also, if you’re confused by the phrase “large spinning top,” here’s the link to an article I wrote about the large spinning tops on campus. Just to clear up any confusion, because I realize it’s not a totally conventional thing to mention.
Okay, now for fun updates.
I’m staying in Chapel Hill for the summer! In case you didn’t see my Facebook post, I got a summer position at the Daily Tar Heel as the summer copy editor. I’m extremely excited about this opportunity, I love the DTH and I can’t wait to be in a newsroom for the summer. Plus, I have a really great living arrangement with some friends close to campus (and really close to sushi — the main reason I’m excited).
That being said, I’m in the process of searching for a second job to take on for the summer. Right now the top of my list is scooping ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s. Thoughts? Suggestions? Connections to people who want to pay me $250/hour? Lemme know, I’m open to anything!
Classes are going pretty well. I think I’ll come out of the semester alive and with a decent GPA, but you never know. Spanish is testing me.
Next week is the last week of classes for spring semester, which means MY FRESHMAN YEAR IS ALMOST OVER. I’m freaking out just a little bit, it feels like I’ve only been here for five minutes. Also, I still have no idea where Phillips Hall is. Actually, I still have no idea where pretty much anything is. The one thing I do know is that Kurama, my favorite sushi place, is amazing and cheap and is on Franklin Street and closes at 9 p.m. Also, if they decide to take it out over the summer and replace it with yet another pizza place, I will SCREAM. WE DON’T NEED ANY MORE PIZZA PLACES ON FRANKLIN, UNC-CHAPEL HILL.
I’m officially dairy-free! Call it lactose intolerance, call it Karen-is-trying-not-to-be-so-gassy-all-the-time. So far giving up dairy hasn’t been awful, and I actually have noticed that my stomach doesn’t constantly feel like it’s burning anymore. Send me all the dairy-free ice cream and almond milk I can handle. I promise I’ll appreciate it.
I’m really into Dear Evan Hansen right now. Also Big Fish. Those are pretty much the two cast albums I’ve been listening to on repeat the past few weeks. Also, my right earbud isn’t working very well anymore. That’s just kind of a daily annoyance I think you should know about.
We won the National Championship and rushing Franklin Street was one of the best experiences of my life. I thought I loved this school before, but I swear my heart could burst every time I think about how happy I am here. Seriously, what a #GDTBATH (I just want you to know it took me a good two minutes to type those letters. I had to think about it just a little bit too hard).
Also, I have the best friends in the world. I can’t even explain how much the people in my life have given me. Sitting in the quad with my friends is one of my favorite memories of freshman year. Also going to Lenoir on the Thursday nights when they replace the salad bar with a candy bar. We’re talking sour gummy worms, chocolate-covered pretzels, M&M’s, the whole nine-yards. It’s legit and I love it. And I love eating meals with all of my friends squished around a little table (but really Lenoir — why do we have so many tables? Can’t we have fewer tables and just make them a little bigger? Why do I feel like a hamster in a maze sometimes?)
I think that’s it for now. I’m going to be vlogging during the last week of classes next week, culminating in a crazy LDOC video. So stay tuned for that, it’ll be exciting. For those of you who will understand this reference: Think SallyCam College Edition. And also with Karen instead of Sally. If you have any catchy title ideas, I’d love to hear them.
Also, I’m going to include some ~raw~ photos that I’ve saved from Snapchat, just to give you a candid look at my past few weeks.
Thanks for reading, and if you want to know more about anything, call me, text me, Facebook message me, hit me up on LinkedIn, slide into my DMs. I love talking about the amazing things going on!
HAPPY ALMOST FINALS!
It’s time I speak out about something that for far too long I have remained silent.
For most of my teenage years, I struggled with an eating disorder.
The obvious question is, “Do you still?”
And the simple answer is, “No.”
But it’s far more nuanced than that.
I first realized I didn’t like the way I looked in eighth grade. Honestly, it wasn’t a societal thing. I didn’t see a magazine cover of a trim model and think, “Oh, I want to be just like her.” My feelings were more guttural. It was an internal hatred. I saw myself in the mirror and thought, “Oh, I want to be nothing like the person I see right now.”
So I decided to take matters into my own fragile, young hands.
It started with just eating less. I started eating smaller portions, pushing food around on my plate to make it seem like I ate more than I did. I had a reputation with my friends’ parents for not eating a lot.
“Karen eats like a little bird!” is what they’d always say.
Except birds eat their entire body weight at meals.
When I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, I realized I had to start eating even less. Luckily (?) for me, Lent was right around the corner, so I could easily “sacrifice” in the name of Catholicism.
I gave up meat and became a full vegetarian. It allowed me to eat nearly nothing and mask it under my newfound facade.
Now, let me preface this next part by saying I’ve always loved running. Even in elementary school, I ran all the time and it’s always been something I’ve really enjoyed for clearing my head.
Friends and family knew I loved running, so I decided to join the track team.
But my objective wasn’t to play a sport that I loved.
By this point, I was coasting through my entire day on about 250 calories. I knew this because I carefully tracked every single thing I put in my body. I would go to practice, run until I couldn’t feel my body because of dizziness, then collapse. There are too many practices to count that I threw up behind the track.
But I loved it. I got a rush from it. I became addicted to the cruel pangs of hunger. I wanted to be hungrier, to get sick more often, because I could see the weight falling off. It became a vicious cycle and I got swept away.
Of course, I never told anybody. None of my friends knew, and I definitely didn’t tell any of my family. I’ve always been known in my family for being the health nut, so I’m sure they just thought this was part of that. I don’t blame anybody for anything, it’s not anybody’s fault. If you knew me or were close to me during this time, I promise it’s not your fault. I should’ve reached out.
But addictions are hard to break.
Fast forward to high school. I couldn’t take the migraines anymore. Hunger had become a part of me, but sometimes I just had to eat pretzels or a cracker to make the migraines go away.
And one day, it clicked.
I was choking down a pretzel, and I realized that I shouldn’t be hurting myself like this. I looked at my close friends, and they made me want to be better. I saw their genuine happiness and I wanted that.
So I tried eating more. Of course, this made me sick too. I remember crying over my toilet at 2 a.m., trying not to wake up my brother (his room is right next to the bathroom), because I just wanted to eat again and my body wouldn’t let me. The lack of food was hurting me and the presence of food was hurting me. I couldn’t win.
Slowly, I began integrating calories back into my diet, which is a weird statement. You shouldn’t have to integrate calories into your diet, because calories are what help keep you functioning. The process spans years, but I slowly started recovering.
Earlier, I said the simple answer to if I still suffer from it is, “No.”
I say “started recovering” because I’m still recovering, years later. It’s such a difficult process, and because an eating disorder is a biologically based mental illness, it’s a part of me I can’t shake. But, in short, I don’t take the extreme measures that I once did.
I’m still learning how to love my body and take care of myself properly. Sometimes I feel pangs of hunger and I remember a time when that was my drug. I remember how it used to make me feel, and I’m tempted to give in to the hunger, just to let myself feel it.
But I make myself eat anyway. Ultimately, my desire to never return to that part of my life prevails over the hunger.
I still run pretty much every single day. It’s something I love and I can’t give it up. Senior year of high school, I started going to the gym regularly. I took the time to learn how to nourish myself by balancing food and exercise.
I’m becoming who I want to be the healthy way.
This is the first time I’m publicly addressing my disorder. In October 2015, I actually wrote my college application essay to Carolina about it. My mom proofread it, and that was the first time I explicitly revealed that part of me.
I felt that I needed to come out and write because it’s an issue that affects so many people. Especially with spring break season, college-aged males and females are bombarded with expectations to look skinny. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard around campus within the past few weeks sentiments along the lines of, “Yeah, I’m just not eating today. Gotta fit in that bikini!”
So, even if you’ve mildly identified with my story, quietly reach out to me. Though you might not be throwing up or fasting, you could be trying to eat less. You could be slowly deteriorating because you don’t like how you look.
If you need to talk, everything is 100% confidential.
Also, I will gladly go on a run with you. I will encourage you to love your body the healthy way. I will be your biggest cheerleader. Please reach out, because I know firsthand how damaging it is to not acknowledge how you’re feeling.
This has been really hard to write. I’ve been sitting in the dining hall for an hour now, trying to figure out how to organize my words.
But I think the most telling thing is that while I was writing this, I munched on an omelette with spinach, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes. I didn’t feel guilty. I didn’t feel like I was hurting myself. My stomach wasn’t in pain.
It gets better.
For most of my teenage years, I struggled with an eating disorder.
And I’m no longer staying silent.
2016 was a whirlwind of a year.
I first came across the From Where I Stand Project a few years ago on Instagram. My 13-year old mind was blown, I thought it was the coolest thing to tell the story of your life through just your feet. I loved the idea of an unconventional self-documentary, but after looking through some photos, I put my phone down and forgot about it. Until the beginning of 2016.
I’ve always wanted to work on a year-long photo project, but I could never decide on what I wanted to do, nor could I stick with it (I tried to do a photo-a-day kind of thing in 8th grade, but I stopped by July because I kept trying to make my life seem interesting every single day and it got draining).
Then came 2016. I didn’t start the project on the first of January, because I still wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to do. However, mid-January is when I took the first picture, and I realized that this was a low-stress, subtle thing that I could quietly work on in order to achieve an attainable goal.
I just want to mention that all photos were taken with my iPhone 6s, I didn’t use my actual camera for anything. I wanted a more candid representation of the year, rather than staged depictions.
So, I am proud to present 61 photos that show my 2016. Please enjoy, and here’s to an amazing 2017!
January 10th, 2016 The first picture to document 2016! My dad recently bought a 1984 Corvette, so we went out to a family lunch at Longhorn Steakhouse to celebrate the new year.
January 12th, 2016 The day my brother and I began our love of hiking together. This was the first hiking trip with just the two of us. We went to Stone Mountain and spent the day freezing and snacking on trail mix. Both of us realized that hiking was an escape and we vowed to do it together more often to bond.
January 23rd, 2016 The first (and only) snow of 2016! I got a week off of school and spent the entire break lying on the couch watching “Impractical Jokers” while wearing my cow onesie. I know this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, and I’m sorry.
January 28th, 2016 Truly me in my natural state. This was after my “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” audition. I finished my audition, went for a run, and immediately came home and threw on these pajamas. Pretty sure I was in bed by 9 p.m.
February 4th, 2016 Ah, the bliss of not having a fourth period your senior year of high school. This picture was taken after leaving school super early, and I just saw this little Batman keychain next to my car and thought it looked the coolest. Also, look how clean my Converse were at this time. I should get out more.
February 7th, 2016 A lazy Saturday morning with smiley faces.
February 17th, 2016 Deep in the throes of rehearsal and trying to find motivation to finish senior year of high school, so of course I was coloring at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday evening. One of my best friend’s mom gave me this coloring book to celebrate the decision to attend UNC Chapel Hill, and nothing feels better than getting to relax while coloring and watching “Friends.”
February 24th, 2016 I’ve always been a fan of running, but this year I made a commitment to really focus on it as a major stress-reliever. I tried (and still try) to hit the gym at least 4 times a week! I honestly think my mental state has improved significantly because of it.
March 19th, 2016 Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We take holidays very seriously in my family. Here’s my grandmother and I at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Charlotte. She is the most wonderful human.
March 20th, 2016 At my best friend’s house. This is a good time to make the introduction to the Belongia family, specifically Tessa Belongia. So within our two families, there are two older boys (my brother, James, and Tessa’s brother, Keegan, 6 days apart in age), Tessa and me (1 month and 8 days apart in age), and one younger boy (Elias, 5 years younger than Tessa and me). So James and Keegan turned 20 in 2016, Tessa and I turned 18, and Elias turned 13. Our moms met when the older boys were only 8 months old, and our families have been raised extremely close. Their family feels like a legitimate second family, we do vacations, major holidays, and life events together. Also, Tessa is my very best friend in the world. Anyway, this was during a sleepover at their house. They have three Xboxes and three TVs in their basement. They’re the coolest. We have marathon Minecraft sessions together.
March 29th, 2016 Introduction to my other best friend, Kaleb! We met in fourth grade and he lives just down the street from me. We’ve done countless shows together and have had to play everything, from love interests to brother and sister. This is a super spontaneous beach trip that we went on with Tessa, Kaleb, my mom, Tessa’s mom, and me. It was only like two days, but it was a blast.
April 15th, 2016 Terrible quality because this is a screenshot from a vlog (Shout out to SallyCam, all of them can be found in my “Videos” album on Facebook) I did while in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” This was the show of a lifetime, because I got to play Sally Brown, which has been a dream role of mine since I was three years old. It was the ideal show to close out my musical theatre career, the role was quirky and comical, which are the two qualities I love performing the most.
April 21st, 2016 You ever have those days where you just sit in your car outside of the gym and dream about having a huge bowl of ice cream instead of going for a run? Yeah, this was one of those days.
April 23rd, 2016 PROM! SENIOR PROM! My toenails pre-prom, looking all cute and fresh and new…
April 24th, 2016 …And post-prom. I look like I went through a war. Moral: dancing with your shoes off is so freeing, but watch out for boys who keep their shoes on and like to jump while dancing.
April 28th, 2016 My best guess for this photo is that I had a really hard run and all I wanted to do was lie on the floor. If you look closely, you can see I’m right next to my shower, but I just couldn’t quite make it all the way. It’s not super weird though, considering I lie on the floor like 75% of the time.
May 8th, 2016 My feet are under the blanket, so technically this photo still fits the criteria. Plus, how could I possibly resist sharing my favorite little pup in the whole world?! This is my only photo from May, but it was an amazing month. I got to perform on the Blumenthal stage in Charlotte and get critiqued by Robin De Jesus, a Broadway actor most notably known for originating the role of Sonny in “In The Heights.”
June 2nd, 2016 The first official day of summer break! This was taken in a Chic-Fil-A, because how else would you celebrate the first day of summer other than a free chicken sandwich? This was right after the debut of Chic-Fil-A’s new app, when they were running the promotion for one free chicken sandwich per download – brilliant.
June 3rd, 2016 Summer is always when the photo shoots start picking up. I get way more messages, and I get hired much more than I do during the school year. I’m not complaining, I love the business (Shameless self-promotion: check out Karen Stahl Photography on Facebook and @karenstahlphotography on Instagram)! I also ate a ton of cookie dough right before this and then had to go shoot in the ninety degree heat for two hours. It was a rough day.
June 10th, 2016 Graduation day! This is Tessa’s graduation, just hours before mine. We went to hers in the morning, raced home after she crossed the stage (because her last name starts with a B, we didn’t have to wait too long), and got ready to head to my graduation about an hour later. What a whirlwind.
(Still) June 10th, 2016 A photo from my graduation, a few hours after the previous photo was taken! We both had shoe changes, but after this we got to go back to my house and eat cake, so the craziness of the day was worth it (also photo credit to Carla Belongia)!
June 14th, 2016 Cuddling with Maggie and procrastinating on going to work out. Typical.
June 20th, 2016 Oh man, if there’s one photo to sum up SMACK (Summer Music and Arts Camp for Kids), this is it. I’m a summer camp counselor for lots of crazy, sassy, insanely talented theatre kids, and this is an account of one of the rare times of rest. I wouldn’t want to spend my summer any other way.
June 24th, 2016 Spirit day at SMACK! So at SMACK, the kids are all divided onto different colored “teams,” based on the roles they play. On one Friday of camp, everyone dresses in their team color in the craziest way possible. This year I was a counselor for the purple team, so those are my feet in the middle. To my left is Kaleb, repping the green team, and to my right is my sweet friend Sarah Ann, another purple team leader with me.
June 27th, 2016 Hi, this picture was taken on a treadmill at 5:39 a.m. before camp one morning. I don’t know why I do these things.
July 3rd, 2016 If I haven’t made it super clear by now, Maggie is my heart and soul. We enjoyed a relaxing day at my grandparents’ house with all of my mom’s side of the family.
July 4th, 2016 The best way to spend one of the hottest days of the year is hiking with your brother. Although I love hiking, it was actually pretty miserable on the way up, just because of that insane heat. But the view is always so worth it.
(Another) July 4th, 2016 I like sitting on the edge of rocks to make James nervous!
July 8th, 2016 Ah, the fateful Ohio trip with the Jenkins family. I had so much fun with Kaleb and his entire family. We got to go to a beautiful vow renewal AND Cedar Point! Whatta crazy few days! I also just want everybody to know that this is the trip I discovered/downloaded PokemonGo, though I didn’t capture my first Eevee until a month later (I’m obsessed with Eevee, and I have been since I was seven).
July 17th, 2016 On our way to see Tessa in “Sister Act” at CPCC Summer Theatre! What an amazing show, I always love watching her perform. She KILLED that nun costume, even though she did look just a little bit like a toenail.
July 21st, 2016 Freshman year orientation for UNC Chapel Hill. This is the day after I met my current roommate and one of the loves of my life, Mabel D’Souza. Orientation wasn’t the best thing in the world, but I met a few new people and got to eat free Insomnia Cookies, so I would say it went okay.
July 22nd, 2016 My dad sold his old 1984 Corvette and bought a newer, bright yellow 2005 Corvette, which he lovingly dubbed Sunshine.
July 23rd, 2016 As a delayed graduation present, my brother surprised me by buying me a pair of Chacos, which I felt I really needed for school, considering the size of UNC. Also, I apologize for my toes being so gross. We had just finished swimming in the lake.
July 26th, 2016 The good old days before I lost that water bottle – it was my favorite and now it’s probably tucked far away in a lost and found somewhere at UNC. My dad and I decided to work out together (I think he just wanted an excuse to drive his car).
July 28th, 2016 My queen helping with some summer reading. I never actually finished that book, but I still went to a discussion about it and spoke like I had done thorough research.
August 4th, 2016 Another day, another shoot!
August 5th, 2016 Finally getting new glasses that won’t fall off my nose! Also, tea. Because tea is my life.
August 12th, 2016 What a great family beach trip. We went to Pawleys Island in South Carolina, and it was a fantastic way to relax before getting stressed about packing for college.
August 17th, 2016 Got some new sneakers for school, and I decided to break them in with a nice little late-night run. You’ll definitely be seeing these shoes again, considering they’re pretty much all I wear at school.
August 18th, 2016 Packing, packing, packing. My final night at home, and I couldn’t have been more excited. CAROLINA HERE I COME.
August 21st, 2016 My first academic advising appointment, and thus began the stress of academics at Carolina.
August 27th, 2016 Classes had begun, and I was officially a Tarheel. This is actually the night I began making friends, and I cannot tell you how relieved I was to have people to hang out with (friends – thanks for still hanging out with me).
September 13th, 2016 The day I interviewed Charles, a homeless man living on Franklin Street. To this day, that article is one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written.
September 19th, 2016 My first run at school!
September 21st, 2016 Remember that one time there was a hurricane? This was the day my rented Psychology textbook got insanely water-damaged, but somehow I didn’t get fined for it when I returned it! Seriously, we’re talking crinkly pages, everything stuck together, and smeared text. It looked BAD.
September 25th, 2016 I finally got to work at school a little bit! I took headshots on Franklin Street, and it was so much fun.
September 26th, 2016 The best view.
October 2nd, 2016 My first-ever train ride! A quick weekend trip to Greensboro required figuring out public transit, and I feel like I grew up a little bit because of that.
October 16th, 2016 The day our scholarship pod took a trip to the Raleigh art museum and then for the best sushi ever. Mabel and I polished off 25 pieces of sushi together, and that’s when I knew we would be friends for a long, long time.
October 18th, 2016 Just a typical day at Chapel Hill, but I was taken by how beautiful everything was this day. The sun was shining, the campus was buzzing with conversation, and the weather was perfect. Nowhere I’d rather be.
November 5th, 2016 Right before a fun night with some Daily Tar Heel people!
November 8th, 2016 Well, this one pretty much speaks for itself. After months of following and checking polling websites, everything finally came to an end this night. I don’t want to get too political on this blog, but I’ll just say this night was not a highlight of my life. I also learned that people can be really mean on social media. This day and the days following were tough.
November 21st, 2016 I wanted to go for a run but it was too cold outside, so I put sweatpants over a pair of shorts and walked to the gym, then took the sweats off inside. I got some weird looks, but at least I’m staying healthy!
December 1st, 2016 I told myself I should get out more, so I did! This is immediately after I gave my final presentation for my English class, and I was feeling absolutely on top of the world. I went out for a walk and just listened to music and appreciated the beauty around me. I also got lunch with a friend and ate way too much pizza, but I’d rather not remember that part. It was bad.
December 12th, 2016 The morning of my first final. This was taken at 7:30 a.m., and if you need to know one thing about me, it’s that I am not a morning person. I walked with a friend to this final and apologized to him after because we ate breakfast together and I didn’t say a word the entire time. Actually, I will apologize to everyone now, just to cover my bases. If I encounter you in the morning, I promise I still love you, I’m just terrible at waking up.
December 15th, 2016 FINALLY WINTER BREAK! Finals are over, and this picture speaks for itself. Puppy adventures. Come on. Heaven.
December 18th, 2016 NYC trip! This is the day we saw “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Oh Hello” with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. I wish I could put into words how incredible each show was. “Dear Evan Hansen” made me cry harder than I’ve ever cried in a show before, and then meeting John Mulaney was an absolute dream that I never thought would come true. We also saw “Falsettos” and toured the New York Times building, another dream. What a crazy, amazing trip.
December 25th, 2016 Merry Christmas! I got a lot of great things for Christmas, my favorite gift being these Doc Martens. I ate way too many Reese’s Cups and slept most of the day, and it was amazing.
December 27th, 2016 Hiking with my brother and my dad! The day was chilly and foggy, but the top of a mountain is still one of my favorite places to be.
December 29th, 2016 If my winter break could be summed up in one word, it would be “Sore.” We went hiking twice in one week, and in between those days I went for runs, so my legs are kind of dead. But Kaleb joined James and me on this trip, and we spent four hours just climbing things like we were little kids. I think this is one of the happiest days of my 2016.
December 31st, 2016 And, just like that, 2016 comes to an end. This was taken at 11:57 p.m., right before it turned to the new year. We spent the night with the Belongia family, and it was a wonderful night of playing cards and games together. I couldn’t have asked to end 2016 in a better way.
If you’ve made it all the way to the end, thank you so much for taking the time to see my year. I am so proud of this photo project and I cannot wait to see what 2017 holds. My heart is full and reminiscing on 2016 through this project was such a fun way to close out the year. Prosperous new year to all!