don’t be discouraged by a dark puzzle piece

And just like that freshman year of college has come to an end. I honestly cannot believe it. It feels like just yesterday I was throwing my cap up in the air in a room full of proud parents and hundreds of nervously excited high school grads.

I remember my first day of college so well, new shoes, new backpack, new emotions. I walked into my first class early, butterflies in my stomach as I chose a seat toward the right side of the room so I wasn’t smack in the center, afraid of being totally exposed. I was so very optimistic. So sure that all that was ahead of me was bright and magical and exciting. Oh how very naive I was!

College wasn’t as exciting as I thought it’d be. Not as fun as Hollywood portrays it to be. And definitely nothing like high school. It was different. A change. And one I wasn’t prepared for.

Have I mentioned how much I hate change?

Well, I do hate it. I really do despise change.

College is lonely. It’s a big place full of tired “kids” who don’t want to be there, don’t know where they want to be, and don’t really know where they’re going. In fact, they’re scared of where they’re going.

My shift from a perfect, fun, educational, adventurous high school to the monotonous college life was not one I was ready for.

Because of this, I definitely struggled throughout my freshman year. Academically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. On the outside, I looked like I had my stuff together! Assistant entertainment director for the school paper, on a full scholarship, always a smile on my face, and still making time to see old friends and serve in church! I was doing GREAT! Wrong. I was so far from great. So far from having “my stuff together.” So far from happiness.

But you know what? I wouldn’t change any of it for anything. Every single experience I had this past year was for a purpose. The good, the bad, the ugly. It has made me a much stronger person. I’m learning to rely on God, not just acknowledge him. To learn from things, not just accept that they happened. To appreciate people, not just exist with them. To find my purpose, not slave over finding success.

Life is so unexpected. Who you were a month ago is not who you are today. We are constantly learning from experiences, adapting to our circumstances, and absorbing everything around us. While it’s important to not be afraid of change, we have to remember to stay true to ourselves throughout it all. Be sure of who you are and who you want to be and trust God with the rest.

Trust God.

That’s a lot easier said than done, isn’t it? But how vital it is! When you finally learn to fully trust God with everything, life is so much smoother, so much more relaxed, and so much happier.

I’m not saying everything is roses and pansies with me now, but I’m definitely learning to be happy in all circumstances no matter where I am in life. How freeing it is! To be content is one of the greatest arts one can learn.

No matter where you are in life, know that you’re there for a reason. Even in a mundane life, you influence everyone around you constantly. And every part of your life is like a puzzle piece. It’s all working together to make up the masterpiece of your life. Some pieces are all black, some are hard to make out, and some may be brighter than the others, but when you put it all together, it’s beautiful! It’s complete.

Anyway, enough of the sappy rant. Life has been hard, but I’ve learned so much amidst the difficulties. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of good experiences too! New friendships, new interests, and some seriously great times!

And now on to the next year! May it be better than the last, but may I learn just as much as the last.

(Also I’m going to Italy next week and I’m so excited WOWOWOWOWOW and T R U S T me they’ll be a lot of pics!!!!)

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why i’m proud to be a woman.

So today I’ve noticed a lot of girls using International Women’s Day to be mad and angry with how women are treated. Yes, I get it and stand by you! But I think today isn’t for making war, but rather praising us awesome girls in the world! So instead of some feminist rant, I’d like to take this time to highlight all the amazing things about being a woman.

Reasons why I’m so extremely PROUD to be a woman (in no particular order):

Fashion.

Yes, superficial right? UHM how about no. I know guys can be fashionable and I’m ALL for it, but there’s something about women’s fashion. What we wear makes us feel powerful. It’s how we want the world to see us.

From professional, to edgy, to playful, to so so much more, women’s fashion has been studied and admired for literally centuries! I personally love researching history and seeing how women used to dress. It’s crazy how much has changed! It tells so much about society and I think it’s fascinating.

Anyway, it’s just purely enjoyable. From wild colors to subtle patterns, fashion makes being a women oh so fun!

Motherhood.

Let’s be honest, there’s nothing like physically giving life to someone. I cannot even imagine the kind of feeling it is to have an ACTUAL HUMAN LIFE GROWING INSIDE OF ME! I’m seriously so excited (not anyyyytime soon tho).

But not just the miracle of pregnancy, motherhood is a lifelong experience. What we girls are merely born with–that ability to want to nurture and care for people–is amazing. It’s not something that can be taught, it’s instinct and I just think that is so incredibly beautiful and special.

I know I’m getting all sappy, but seriously…just wow.

Strength.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s noticed how amazingly strong us girls are. Yeah, not all of us are strong physically (I can barely lift my book bag), but emotionally and spiritually and just in our presence.

Women have a STRONG presence. A room changes when a girl walks in it. And definitely for the better….

We take on so much! Most women become the support and backbone to their families. We do a lot. From mothering children to studying hard as heck to working to running a house, women do it ALL. And we are good at it all too.

Spirit.

There’s something about a woman’s spirit. Every girl I’ve ever met has their own unique vibrance to them and it’s stunning. Girls have a glimmer in their eyes I can’t truly explain.

Some are shy, some bold. Some funky, some traditional. Some edgy, others soft. Girls come in a wide variety you just can’t get tired of them.

There’s so much more, but time is fleeting.

I’d love to continue on and on about how AWESOME girls are, but I’m sure you get my point. Girls are great! I wouldn’t change being a girl for absolutely anything in the world!

While international women’s day comes to an end, us girls’ spirits continue on. So treat every day like it’s a day to praise girls because aren’t we just great?!

Peace out my lovelies and keep on being beautiful.

 

i’m not even going to title this because it’s embarrassing…oh wait this is a title…

Let’s all pretend I did not go a whole (wellllll not quite a whole year bc its been 364 days…) without blogging. Honestly, and I call myself a writer? I’M A DISGRACE! Ugh, I’m so so truly dearly utterly completely sorry. But do not fret! I have wonderful ideas and dreams for this blog in 2018! Been asking around and have gotten some great suggestions for content. What would you guys like to see? COMMENT! Definitely will add topics like fashion and college life (ew). Also I’m planning to blog twice a week this year (hopefully).

Now let’s talk a little bit about what I’ve been up to. 2017 was the year of MANY changes for me. How do I even summarize an entire year into one post?! I guess I’ll just give you the highlights, good and bad.

I graduated high school on May 21. It was beautiful. Prom, graduation, senior trip, and just everything that came with senior year was amazing. I loved every moment of it. I made new best friends and grew closer to old ones.

Summer 2017 was non-stop *cue Hamilton*. I joined a local musical theater group where I made some great friendships and had an awesome time. I also volunteered at a local VBS and choir camp. Gosh so many things. I spent some time in the keys…made a lot of good memories and inside jokes there HAaaaa. Most importantly, I grew in my walk with God over this summer like never before. I really felt like a renewed soul. It was exactly what I needed to go into college and prepare for such changes. Honestly, the summer of 2017 has been the best summer of my life.

Oh and a took a sporadic trip to NYC this fall with my parents and WOW. I saw the Starry Night and teared up (I’m obsessed with that painting). I also saw Hamilton…I SAW HAMILTON???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHH I still go crazy thinking about that.

Anyway…

Now on to fall…OH FALL. fall fall fall fall fall fall. What a change! I hated fall. Although, I can’t deny the MANY blessings that were in fall. College is just not my forte. I feel boxed up. No room for imagination. Every day is the same. No room for creativity. Maybe it’s worse for me because I was homeschooled. (I’m gonna blog about that transition specifically soon.) If I’m completely honest with you guys, I was so sad throughout last semester. I felt/feel like college is so selfish and gives me no purpose. It’s all about me and I always feel guilty. But, thankfully, I’ve been growing a lot and starting to just accept that this is the stage in life I’m in right now and just have to make the best of what I have! What good things happened? I got involved in student media! BEST DECISION! I had my first article published (and many more). It has been such a good experience and opportunity. This semester, I moved up to assistant director for the entertainment section. I’ll be editing a lot and in charge of a lot of writers and just more involved and it’s so exciting and fun and I’m really happy about it. In addition, I’m starting to be very veryyyyy thankful for scholarships and how blessed I’ve been in receiving them. Also, music. Just wow. Music has made my life and hard times 100000000x better. GOD BLESS MUSIC! And last but not least, GOD. He’s been present in my life and I honestly don’t know how I could’ve made it through last semester or any day without him.

Ok, enough about my life. Just letting ya know I’m not dead, this blog is not dead, and THIS YEAR IS GONNA BE WACHACHACHA AWESOME!

wait…it’s 2017?!

Soooooo where have I been?… Welp, yeah I’ve been busy…procrastinating. But hey–new year, new me!! I actually promise this time that I won’t forget this blog. I WILL be posting more. At least once a week…i promise. Anyway, brief update: I’m in my last semester of high school???????? Kinda in shock. Still waiting on college application responses.

As I reflect on 2016, I am reminded that through all the struggles, there were tons of blessings. I made great memories at chorus trips, made new friends, learned a lot, tried new things. Let’s not forget the good things in every day. As I enter 2017 I’m reminded of all the good things in life and to make the most of every opportunity. I’m excited for this year. New things. Scary things. 2017 is the year of graduation and the start of college. However, I’m going to take advantage of these changes and live life to the fullest.

So, yeah. This was super random and short, but just wanted to tell you I haven’t forgotten about you guys and I plan on investing more time in 2017 on this blog.

 

Cheers!

Ashley-Anna

if i could change one thing it’d be the objectification of women.

So HEY! Sorry I’ve been so distant from this blog :'(. College applications are so annoying…BUT I’ll be back at this again soon!

Anyway, here’s an essay I wrote asking me if I could change one thing in this world what would it be and why. Soooo here ya go.

I constantly feel watched. Spied on and followed. There are eyes everywhere, looking up and down. Searching, scanning, comparing, humiliating. I pull my shorts a little lower and hold my head up higher, confidence is key. Welcome to a typical day in the life of a woman. The objectification of women is a term thrown around a lot these days. Feeling helpless in a world held under the impression that they exist solely for sexual pleasure, women attempt to ease their conscience. “All men are sick.” “It’s not my fault.” “That’s just how it is.” They are brushing over a problem assumed unsolvable. If I were able to resolve one issue it would be the objectification of women, for the improvement of society and women everywhere.

The objectification of women has seeped into nearly every aspect of society. At a young age, I found myself in line at the grocery store, my eyes scanning magazine covers, wondering if that was what I would look like when I grew up. When I watched movies, TV, went to the mall, or simply saw a magazine, I was being indoctrinated that that was how I was supposed to look. It is ironic that society expects you to look “perfect,” yet they do not tell you how. They leave out little details like surgery, makeup, unhealthy eating habits, pressure, money—lots of money. In the real world, there is no Photoshop. No two women are the same. Humanity comes in a variety of beautiful shapes, sizes and colors. Nevertheless, girls around the world grow up with the presupposition that there is only one way to look to be considered important.

It saddens me that this world has limited women’s importance to appearance. So much so that women everywhere feel vulnerable in nearly all places. Cultures around the world have attempted to shelter women from objectification. Being part Arabic, I have seen this firsthand. A few months ago as I sat down with my cousin from Saudi Arabia at a coffee shop, I realized to what extreme this “sheltering” has gone. With an innocent smile on her face and in broken English, my cousin told me how lucky I was to be a girl in America. “I cannot even go to the movies back home,” she explained. “I can’t wear my hair down.” I will never forget that conversation. We were two girls from different sides of the world, yet we had the same problem.

I no longer want to feel watched. I do not want to be spied on or followed, scanned or humiliated. I do not want to be objectified. I know there are other girls around the world who feel the same way. Whether you are like my cousin, feeling punished, or like me, feeling violated, you are not helpless. I dream of the day I can walk down the street with neither insecurities nor shame, but with satisfaction both with the world around me and with myself.

 

im not a senior…

Why, HELLO! It has been too too long…as usual. When was the last time I posted? 2 months ago? Okay, that’s NOT ok. I promise things will change! But before I start plunging into this blogging thing again, here’s a recap of my summer and an update on me.

If you can recall, I hated junior year. Thankfully, however, this summer almost-just almost-made up for the dreaded past school year. I had fun this summer. Period. end of conversation. I. Had. Fun. You know how normally at the end of summer you’re just like “I didn’t do anything…?” Well, this was not one of those summers for me. While a lot of great things happened to me this summer, the highlight has to be my trip to New Orleans. Let me be blunt here. I did not like New Orleans AT ALL. The city just wasn’t for me. Why was it the highlight then? I went to NOLA with my chorus to perform with 200 other kids from around the US. We got to perform in an amazing cathedral and received excellent training and musical experience. I grew even closer to the girls in my chorus. I made some amazing memories.

In addition to NOLA, this summer I was a mentor at a children’s choir camp and got to teach theory for two weeks-that was also a great experience. My aunt and cousin from Saudi came down (I had never met them so it was awesome). My great friend from Maryland visited. Lastly, and to me most importantly, I spent time with some awesome people. This summer I really got to enjoy some of my friends and grow closer to them. I think that’s something that can get lost amidst the hustle and bustle of the school year. Friendships are forever and it’s important to invest in them.

So there you go! My summer 2016.

And now for an update on me…

I’m a senior. Well, apparently I am. I don’t think it’s true, though. It’s impossible! How can I be a senior?! It feels like it was just yesterday when I entered high school. Most people get so excited for senior year. “It’s finally over!” they all say. Well, for me, I don’t want it to be over. As a homeschooler, I’ve made irreplaceable memories throughout school. All those hours of my mom reading to me as I sipped my coffee, those days when we would spend time just studying nature and enjoying the outdoors, the two hour deep convos we’d have on art and culture and history and theology, even the simple moments like when I walk around my house reading in my robe while eating cookies (all in the name of education, of course). This was-is-school for me. I don’t want it to end. But, that’s just how life goes. There are a couple different stages in life and I’m entering a new one. Yeah, it’s sad that my childhood (which was so great) is coming to an end, but I’m excited for what the future holds. BUT…IT’S NOT OVER YET! And, because it’s just the beginning of senior year, I’m going to hold onto my youth for dear life. And when I graduate, and only then, will I agree to shift into the new stage of my life. Thankfully, I learn from my many mistakes and am therefore only taking one AP this year :D. Boy will life be easier *and more enjoyable*. I’ll also have a lot more time to do things like blogging.

So, yeah, I guess I’m a senior. But I just have to make the most of it!

“See” you soon. I promise this blog won’t fade away.

XO,

Ashley-Anna

Women, it’s about time things changed.

So there’s something that’s been on my mind for a while…

Women. Nearly 100 years ago on August 18, 1920, us women were given the right to vote. Ever since, equality between women and men has increased. Well, we would think so, right? For a while, this was true. From voting, to military rights, to equal pay, things have been looking up for women. In a legal way, at least. But there’s still that mindset. That degrading mindset that will–no matter how many laws are passed–force women into one role. Or, should I say, one “object.”

It seems that now, a “free” woman (one that can do what she wants) is anything but free. Even subconciously women are still in bondage. In bondage from men. And, no, not in the superficial way. Thankfully, in the 21st century, women can have whatever job they want, they can vote, wear pants, and run for president. However, that’s not what I mean when I say women are in bondage. In fact, this culture and these laws, while good, have altered the role of women. They’ve made the roles of women, that of men’s. I believe, this is a main reason why women are in such bondage today. A woman should be able to be a woman and be proud of it. Instead, it seems as though, in order to succeed in careers and other life things, a woman must take on a man’s personality. They feel pressured to be hard, strict, tough, strong, big…unnatural. They feel that they must suppress their natural women tendencies to succeed in a man’s world. Why is it that in order to be viewed with respect, women must begin acting like men? Men should be able to view women as women and still respect them. But, unfortunately, women feel like they must take on a man’s personality to gain this respect. I believe this stems from an even greater issue. Which leads me to my main point. The objectification of women. What’s up with that?

Yep, I said it. You’ve probably heard it a million times, “the objectification of women.” But, let’s be honest, no matter how many  women have stood up and fought for this issue, nothing has changed. Actually, this issue has just gotten worse over time. From billboards, to commercials, to movies, to even reporters, women are portrayed and valued by their physical beauty. Unnaturally so. This value has forced women at a young age to begin viewing themselves poorly. The self-esteem of girls now-a-days is incredibly low. Eating disorders are prominent. Plastic surgery is promoted. Beauty products are prevalent. The sexual abuse women face everyday is sickening. But, sadly, it has become a part of a woman’s everyday life. Without even realizing it, women are in bondage. Girls, let’s be honest. Would you really straighten your hair, contour your cheeks, and wear that low v-neck shirt with a push-up if there were only girls in the world? I don’t think so. Every time a girl gets ready for HER day, subconsciously men are controlling her. It’s sad. It’s twisted. It’s wrong. And, while this realization and change must first take place in women’s minds, it then has to take place in men’s. For the most part, I don’t believe most men (and, of course, not all men) even realize the effect they are having on women and the entire culture.

Women it’s time to change.

But…men, it’s time to change too.

Change your perception and standards.

Once, if ever, this is done, everything else will change for women. A gentle, kind, and motherly figure will be prized. Because if the objectification of women ends, then women will be able to be themselves. They will feel free to be the person they were created to be. A woman can be a woman and be confident about themselves, too. They can do whatever they set their mind to, but they won’t have to change to get there.

It’s about time our culture changes the way we view women. The sooner, the better. But this is a joint effort. Women and men must change their mindsets. The media, must change. Everything must change. And it’s all for the better.

Verse of the Week

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

{Ephesians 6:12}

salutations. i survived junior year.

Well, hello there. Yes, it is I. I am back from the dead. Okay, no I didn’t die, but I went through my junior year…same difference. With that being said, I’m officially a senior! (Is this even possible?…) But, boy, have I learned a lot this past year. Good and bad. But every experience is sent our way for a reason. Junior year definitely stretched me academically–that’s no doubt–but it also stretched me spiritually and emotionally. It seemed that during my junior year everything around me began changing. I hate change. But whatcha gonna do? I was forced to change some things, learn some things, and move on from some things. Everything that happened, while I might’ve strongly disliked it at the time, pushed me toward improvement within my life. So basically what I’m saying is that I’m a new person! Well, no. Don’t worry, I’m still the same old me ;), but I’m an improved version of me.

Anyway, I want to apologize for my extended absence. Aaaaaand, yeah I say this all the time, I am again going to be committed to this blog and that’s final! (Granted I’ve also said that a bajillion times…but I truly mean it.)

So here we go Summer of 2016! Let’s see what’s up with you.

Always lots of love,

Ashley-Anna