Graduation Revisited: a Letter to 2013 Me

So I’m totally “Back to the Future”-ing this: I present to you the letter of advice I would give my past self upon my graduation from college one year ago today. Feel free to add in the comments the advice you would give your past self at graduation–because why not? 

Dear May 4, 2013 Kelsy,

First off, writing letters to yourself is super weird. Let’s power through this and never, ever do it again.

Here are things you should know a year after graduating college:

  • You are still kind of sad you never TRULY got to make a “May the 4th be with you joke” during graduation. Some wounds never heal.
  • Friendships, man. It’s so funny to see who sticks in your life and who doesn’t. Get ready to become really close to some friends who were just acquaintances before & be prepared for awkward bouts of silences that eventually fade into total white noise with other friends. Relationships are cyclical. Just love the best you can & don’t get offended at the drop of the hat when a friendship season ends. Sometimes it just does!
  • Get ready to find “post grad inspiration” from the weirdest sources…like “The Hobbit”? What?
  • Your self-worth is based on so much more than what people can see about you.
  • So, you know how you were so mad you weren’t asked to speak at graduation? It literally does not mean anything to you ever again past May 6, 2013. Like, I’m totally side-eyeing you right now for being so weirdly fixated on the stupidest stuff.

May 4, 2014 me judging you a little.

  • Also, literally EVERYTHING you said you “would never in a million years ever do” has happened to you. Yeah, you now live in Pennsylvania and work with your parents.
  • You break your foot. It kind of sucks/devastates your life for a really, really long time and in fact, current May 4, 2014 me is still not quite sure why it happened, but it weirdly becomes a very defining life event post-graduating. (Just be careful around stairs, okay?)
  • Real life is really, truly difficult. Those indie folk singers were right all along, as it turns out. But literally everyone is going through the same thing–you aren’t alone in the struggle. Community reveals itself in the most unusual ways.
  • Contrary to advice I was given by a professor.YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT IN THE NEXT 3 YEARS POST-GRADUATION. That is a big fat lie.There’s no timeline of “supposed to.” Give yourself grace.
  • Connections are awesome, but you don’t have to say yes to everything…or say yes in order to be nice.
  • Keep reading, keep searching, keep learning. As Walt Whitman wrote, “I tramp the perpetual journey.” (So do you!)

XOXO May 4, 2014 Kelsy

Graduation, as told by gifs

So, I’m officially done with all undergrad coursework. Which is…weird.


Four years of collegiate schooling…but yet, I still have to think of this gif when people ask me how I’m doing.


…You might say I thrived during college.


Preparation for graduation is almost as prominent as the act itself! It’s like a video game–each level must be defeated before moving forward. First, Financial Aid reminds you that now owe your soul (and wallet) to Sallie Mae. I love loans!


And then you have to deal with level 2: mutual melancholy from all other graduates. Because of the semester abroad, I “left” Lee all the way back in December and thus, “dealt” with all the sad feelings about leaving then. (Note: the quote marks signify ignorance). Me circa December 2012:

tumblr_lsrjmsrxb11qii6tmo1_500anigif_enhanced-buzz-28425-1366761432-8Me circa April 2013: 


But still. It’s hard to know what to say other than “It gets better?” (Because let’s be honest, I’m in the same boat, just living in blissful ignorance! What boat?)



Finally, level 3: ACTUAL GRADUATION



It might be boring. (High school graduation was! I was too busy mentally preparing myself for walking across the stage in sky-high heels.)


There will be overdressed people.


But whatever, let’s do this.


Finals Week, as told by gifs

I’m two papers away from total and complete freedom. Great news, right?


Totally great news, if you (like me) ignore the two papers part, which I have been successfully doing for the past two weeks.

tumblr_m3aqfioqv01qe9eo3 apathy

Until…I realized that my papers were indeed due…THIS WEEK.


How can this be?!


I know, I know. Complaining about two tiny papers after living in Europe for 3 months?


All of y’all dealing with “real finals” probably feel this way right now:

maddogOne paper won’t be a problem at all. The other though…


On the other hand, who needs to graduate anyways?


Retiring at 21.

I am competitive. All. The. Time. It’s rather exhausting (but only when I’m losing.)

My four years in college have been riddled with this spirit of competition, although I viewed it as proving I was better than everyone else. I mean, I already knew I was in the top 5%, but I wanted to make sure I still went above and beyond even further. Healthy, I know. I even had created a plan to becoming the best Communications student Lee has ever known.

Lately though, God has been reminding how life really actually isn’t a big race for 1st place. There are several personalities in my life who constantly try to one-up and accelerate their stories above others and gosh, it’s annoying. It’s been a great reminder how I don’t need to be the best, just be available for God to use. A person is constantly competing and comparing is not usable by God because they’re too busy trying to self-promote. As Bob Goff writes in “Love Does,” secretly incredible people don’t have to talk about what they’re doing…they just do it.

And besides, God’s plans for us are tailored, not mass produced. I’m so glad my life plan is not like Forever 21.

So at the young age of almost 22, I’m retiring from the competition of working to be the best. I want to be used by God, not lonely at the top of a pointless ladder.

Telling Stories About Loss

Grief has a way of truly addling your senses. It can have such a powerful grip your emotions and yet, also be an awakening to elements of life you have continuously overlooked. 

The passing of my grandma this past November was the first time I had to deal with loss as an adult. My grandma and I were not that close personally, but she was always a colorful presence in my life and quick to help support my dreams. It’s been four months and I still am hit by the fact that she isn’t around anymore to tell stories, buy new cars, wear animal print, or praise Elvis, God’s gift to womankind according to Harriet Black. Just the other day, thousands of miles away from West Virginia in a tiny English church during an Ash Wednesday service, I sat on the pew and remembered the fact that the larger-than-life presence that was my grandmother no longer exists here. Grief comes and goes at the most inconvenient times and in little ways, like souvenir shopping for family back home and realizing there’s one less to buy. 

Storytelling has been a major theme in my life this past year, as I’ve realized I want to live better stories than I have been. Some people are born just fantastic storytellers, like my grandma. They can mesmerize you with their words, connect you to their stories, and make the time fly by. Several of my friends here in England have realized what a terribly literal storyteller I am (an example of an actual story: I went to London, saw a ton of cool things, the end.) and are “helping” me get better. 
In this, I’m realizing that life, much like with telling stories, is about the little moments and details. It’s okay to “waste time” telling a longer story with lots of details than getting right to the quick of the it with two sentences. What I’m trying to say is, I’m learning it’s okay if there are rough patches and parts that just don’t make sense, but ultimately add the to story. When I graduate this May, there’s going to be a weird transition period where I’m probably not doing anything…and that’s okay. The dark, confusing times always end. 

Ending Words.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Do you remember reading your absolute favorite book? The one you waited months to get and then there it was, in your hands, ready to proverbially change your life.By the last chapter, you were thoroughly committed to the characters, plot lines, locations–the entire essence of the novel.

…And then, it’s over. You turn the last page and find yourself at those expendable blank pages towards the back.

That feeling is always so bittersweet. I remember finishing the Harry Potter series for the first time (aka last Christmas) and felt like important people in my life were suddenly gone forever!

Lately, I have found that several important chapters in my life are drawing to a close, most recently my time at Lee University. While I don’t graduate until May and will technically still be a Lee student, I’m not even going to be in the country in 50-something days, let alone walking down Bowman Avenue or haunting the Walker Memorial Building. It’s bittersweet, but I’m ready to go.

There can be such a peace about leaving and closing doors. I may be totally stretching the analogy, but it’s like with a beloved book. You can either look at the blank pages in the back as  the proverbial nails in the coffin of the story or as an invitation for a handwritten epilogue. Hellen Keller once said “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”: who says the conclusion of a chapter in life means the absolute end?

These are the good old days. 

To quote Helen Keller ( that girl gets it) once more,

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

So if, like me, you currently find yourself on the last page of a chapter with several blank pages following, don’t despair. Grab a pen and start something new!