Wow. It's difficult to believe that in less than three weeks, I and my best friends will be graduating. As I look through Facebook pictures posted since coming to UCA, I'm blown away by how much I have grown.
When I started at UCA, I was a bit of an awkward girl who was uncomfortable with her weight and who wanted desperately to belong. Though I was in band, the band community in university turned out to be more focused on marching band, something I was no longer part of beyond high school... and since I didn't want to join a sorority (even the band sorority), I was left to find another community to support me.
It was my great luck that I started in the Honors College as a freshman. Living in New Hall, I lived right across from someone who would become a very dear friend-- Joe Birdsong. We fought amiably, and we soon formed close friendships with three other girls: Julie Storing, Laina Gaddis, and Alycia Seefeld. Before the semester's end, we had dubbed ourselves the BFFS4E (BFFs forever). Aside from a fight or two, we were inseparable.
I made some stupid dating mistakes over the years... dated the wrong people, held on to the wrong guys, and broke a few hearts. Joe summed it up in our sophomore year in a comment that had hurt me at the time, but now I agree with: "You're pickier about your cheese dip than you are about who you date."
My first two years here at UCA, I guess I would consider myself as rather mediocre. I was good at many things, but never great. I was never the BEST at oboe, as I had been in high school. I got good grades, but I didn't love my major.
After a break-up in my sophomore year, I decided to go on a strict diet. I WeightWatchers-ed myself down 40 pounds, skinnier than I had been since junior high school. Suddenly my wardrobe of t-shirts and jeans expanded to blouses, skirts, and better-fitting clothes. I took more interest in my appearance.
That summer I traveled to Ireland, a trip that ended up being life-altering in many ways. I met two of my best friends on that trip, Flora Bailey and Laura Berbusse. Laura and I had made plans, before we even knew each other very well, to go alone to a Leonard Cohen/Damien Rice concert in Dublin. We faced adversity from the teacher sponsoring the trip, but we ended up flying together in a rickety plane to Dublin, navigating our own way through the crowded streets to a quaint bed and breakfast, getting lost once or twice and running all the way to the concert across town. We ate and drank at our leisure and spent those few glorious days as girls in magical Ireland with hardly a care in the world.
Flora, Laura, and I bashed around Ireland like sisters, and now they are both bridesmaids in my wedding. <3.
That year, I also found my true calling-- as a make-up artist. I'd finally found something I could be great at, and I even started to get paid for it.
My junior year was very momentous. I briefly dated a guy, thought I loved him, and got my heart broken when I belated realized he wasn't really that into me. Even after I broke up with him, I mourned him for months. He was someone that I thought I wanted. I made the mistake having a short rebound that only seemed to make me feel worse... until I met Ben.
Benjamin Howard and I started talking on OkCupid as friends, sparked by his amusement at my use of the word "snarky" in my profile. We had a lot in common, and so we became fast friends. We had both been hurt in the past, and at that point I found myself unwilling to look for anything more than friendship. I had had my fill of Arkansas boys who couldn't look past themselves. Besides, I wanted to get out of the state. Whether to make-up school, the Peace Corps, or getting a government job overseas, I knew that I wanted to get out, and making promises to someone here would be a mistake.
He told me he would follow me anywhere. Even Africa, if that's where I ended up.
Slowly, he wore me down with charming persistence, as I like to call it. :) He treated me kindly and was honest with me, and he accepted me as I was. We started dating, and soon we both knew that we didn't want anyone else. We were content.
Senior year. A lot has happened this year, too. I started work on my gore make-up thesis. I booked several jobs working on movie sets. I've begun to make a name for myself here. Now, I go into other classes on campus, mention my thesis, and people know my name and my work. People I've never met in Little Rock know of me and my projects.
Last semester was rough. I started working at Starbucks over the summer, and didn't quit when school started up again. My schedule was insane, and I hardly had time for anything outside of school and work. I had to schedule time with Ben and my friends.
My friends had a falling out. Living in an apartment this year has had many good points, but Laina and Ashley (who had been living with us since our junior year) couldn't get along as roommates, and Laina kind of pushed Ashley out. Circumstances being what they were, Julie and I maintained our friendship with Ashley, but our relationship with Laina suffered seriously. Our former best friend hardly speaks to us anymore. That's just the state of things...
Ben proposed to me on my birthday at Something Brewing. What a special night! (And quite a shock to everyone, especially my family). They've been coming around, if slowly, and once school is out I can't wait to continue the wedding planning. The wedding is in August.
This semester has been much better. My schedule is not as hectic, but still full. I got to work on a great movie in Little Rock with some people from UCLA, Seattle, and Arkansas. I've had four photoshoots for my gore thesis.
I have grown into myself.
So despite the many huge and at times excruciating changes... I think it's all been for the best. I like who I am now. I no longer feel mediocre... I have a dream to pursue, a fiancé who loves me and supports my dreams, and good, good friends.
This summer, I am renting my oboe professor's house while she is traveling out of state. I am going to continue working at Starbucks and doing make-up on the side, hopefully branching out into fashion and beauty make-up on top of the SFX and gore. And after the wedding in August, well... we're just going to keep living, working, and striving toward our dreams.