Monday, March 28, 2016

My Easter Reflection

John 12:46 “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

This past weekend, I spent time reflecting on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on that cross. During this reflection, the magnitude of his sacrifice finally hit me. I got to thinking about times I’ve sinned and the humiliation, guilt, and hurt I’ve felt afterwards. Then I tried to imagine feeling that for not only myself in all of the sins I’ve committed, but that of my family, my friends. I couldn’t even try to grasp that amount of pure shame. But Jesus, he did. And he didn’t do it for only his friends and family, but for the world. He took on everyone’s hurt. Any time anyone has felt dirty, ashamed, mean, broken down, warry, He felt it all. What he was feeling was made clear when he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). In that moment, he was separated from the perfection and equality of the Lord, feeling the weight of the world’s sin on his shoulders. Can you imagine what that would feel like? I can’t.
And then, three days later, despite everything the world put Him through on that cross, He came back. What kind of love must that be to come back to the people who hurt you the most?
It’s a kind of love that we’re undeserving of. It’s pure, absolute, love. Easter is such a beautiful time for believers. It’s a time for rejoicing in this love that was poured out to us by Jesus Christ.
I pray that everyone had a beautiful Easter weekend and that this Easter Monday is full of the love of Christ. I pray that for the coming year, we all try to emulate the selfless love that Jesus so willingly gave us and that we can show it to others around us.
Happy Easter Monday, friends!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Color Wheel: Easter Palette

I just love pastel Easter colors. They are sweet, airy, and perfect for springtime.
I hope you have a beautiful Easter Sunday and that you gain some inspiration for your pastel wedding (below).

Engagement Fashion

Invitation Suites

Groom & Groomsmen Ties


Bridesmaid Dresses


Bridal Shoes

Ceremony Arches and Backdrops

Escort Cards

Table Settings

Place Settings


Wedding Cakes

Edible Favors

The Inspiration:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

My Story: Part III - Year 5

To read the beginning of Part III, click here:

Part III: Year 5
My last year at UC Davis was amazing!

My final recruitment for Chi Omega set the precedent for the remainder of the year. For the first time, I was 100% without my friends during pre-recruitment and recruitment. Three of my closest friends had graduated, and Emma was a Recruitment Counselor, so therefore, was disaffiliated; it was just me. What a blessing that was! I bonded with sisters that I hadn’t previously connected with and truly felt the love of my chapter all over again. At the end of pre-recruitment, we all sat in a circle and passed a candle around, giving each of us a chance to share what we learned or experienced during the previous week. It’s one of my favorite memories from my sorority, as we were all so in love with Chi Omega and so open about sharing that love. This was also the first time I had made it through all of recruitment with full days. It was a huge accomplishment for me and something I was very proud of.

My fall quarter was also my last quarter being a part of the New Member team. I was a member of the Sisterhood Support Team, which meant that I mentored the new members and helped them find their place in Chi Omega. My group of girls joined just after recruitment with snap-bids (a very fast process of joining). There were just three of them, so we all bonded really quickly. I am incredibly grateful for the friendships that I made that quarter, as they continued into my final quarters of active sisterhood.

For the first time since being an active member of Chi Omega, I finally go to experience it. I was involved with the new members, held a position as social media chair, was in charge of a day of recruitment, and had sisters turn into friends. It was a time that I had been waiting for since starting at UC Davis. My fifth year was where everything finally fell into place. It was the year that I finally experienced college and everything it had to offer.

In January, I decided to officially launch a wedding planning business, Dear Wedding Day. I had always loved weddings and event planning, and had started a blog the year prior showcasing my love for the two. It hit me in January that it was something I could see myself doing in the future, so decided to create an official business. I started posting on my blog regularly and even helped with an engagement shoot. It’s a love that continued to grow and something I am still so passionate about. (If you want to learn more about Dear Wedding Day, click here.)

Although I was loving Davis and everything I was experiencing, I was really missing my family. I was used to going home at least twice a month and now had to plan and fly to see them, hopefully once every 5 weeks. It was a big adjustment for all of us having me so far away. In December, we went on our annual trip abroad, this year going on a River Cruise on the Rhine. We spent 10 days in Europe, visiting Switzerland, Germany, France, and Amsterdam. I think it was at some point during that trip that I realized I didn’t like living so far away from them. We spent so much concentrated time together and I loved every second of it.

Deciding to move was a terrifying decision for me and something I wasn’t expecting. I initially had no intention on following my family to Illinois. I loved California, and particularly loved my friends there. I always just assumed I would stay put and build my life in the Bay Area. God thought differently. There was one day where I just said out loud that I was going to live with my sister next year. It wasn’t something I had even fully processed, but there it was, out of my mouth, the decision to move. God had to be behind this decision because it wasn’t something I planned or even thought I wanted. I had been pulling away from God at this point in my life because I wasn’t surrounded by fellow Christians. I wasn’t making God a priority, but He had a plan to bring me back to Him (you can read more about this tomorrow when I give you my current update).

At the beginning of June, I graduated. Walking across that stage is one of my proudest moments. I often think that if someone else had experienced all of the health issues I had in the past five years, they probably wouldn’t have stayed in school. I not only persevered and stayed in school, but I graduated with a double major. I worked my butt off to finish my last year strong and it paid off – I received my highest GPAs during that last year. Unfortunately, I don’t officially have my degrees yet, as I found out when declaring my double major that is a foreign language requirement. I am currently enrolled in my 2nd of 3 French classes, so come August, I will officially have a Bachelor of Science in Managerial Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Studies.

In February, one of my girls from my SST group named Shruti posted on Facebook about a study abroad trip to Paris. Studying abroad had always been something I wanted to do, as I loved to travel and experience new cultures, but my health stopped me from living out this dream. Then this opportunity was presented. I read about the program online and decided it was the perfect fit for me. I applied that day and found out the next month that I would officially be studying Fashion and Marketing in Paris for four weeks. Living in Paris for a month was incredible. Shruti and I tried our hardest to do and see as much as we could while we were there. We went on as many field trips as we could, tried different cafes, and truly saw Paris for what it had to offer. I was so thankful to have her on the trip! We each gave the other a person to lean on and learn with, which is something I will never take for granted. By the end of the trip, we had our own little group of four that we travelled around with, while also having adventures with others in the group. Of course, there were definitely some hardships that came along with our time there, but overall It was a truly magical experience. I’ve found myself longing for Paris these past couple of weeks, wanting to sit outside at a cafĂ© with my coffee and croissant, just enjoying the culture and its views.

In September, after finishing my final class at UC Davis, I moved. My mom flew out to help me get everything together, and then the two of us drove from California to Illinois. We had so much fun! I planned everything out, including where we would stop and for how long, which made the drive easier. It gave us set points for the amount of driving we had to accomplish, while also allowing us to see the different states we were passing through. Seeing God’s creativity up close was surreal. We visited so many new places, each of which had its own charm and landscapes. It was a trip that I’ll forever cherish with my mom.

To learn about how my faith is doing now and how these last six months of living in Illinois have been treating me, click here: My Story: Part IV.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

My Story: Part III - Year 4

To read the beginning of Part III, click here:

Part III: Year 4

Throughout spring quarter and the summertime, the four of us worked really hard to put our friendship with Marie back together. It took baby steps, but by the time fall quarter of our fourth year began, we were all the best of friends again. The time apart somehow strengthened our friendship and I am so thrilled by the bond we’ve created.

My quarter started out so strong! Recruitment for Chi Omega was a different experience than I had been used to. Clara, Marie, and Izzy were Recruitment Counselors, so had to disaffiliate from our chapter until bid day, and Emma was Recruitment Chair for our chapter. Without the company of my best friends, I was pushed to get to know my chapter. As a way to make it through each day of recruitment, including Bid Day, I did half days. It was the best decision, because for the first time, I experienced all of recruitment. It was a stressful week for our chapter, but ultimately, we recruited a great class and I had a blast through it all!

Over the summer, Clara, Emma, and our fifth roommate stayed in Davis, while I returned home to San Jose. Throughout that summer, Emma and Roommate #5 butted heads. When we first moved in, they were the best of friends, but by the end of the summer, weren’t even speaking. I walked into a very stressful situation when I returned in September and the quarter really didn’t improve. I never had any issues with #5, but was guilty by association in her mind. Because we were all best friends with Emma, she assumed that we all felt the same way, and therefore, treated us the same. By the end of the quarter, I had finally snapped. It was nothing big, but all of the small things added together that did me in.

Then, in October, Emma, Clara, and I all received personnel meetings for Chi Omega due to conduct. Apparently #5 had complained to enough people that it meant we needed to discuss the situation. I was the last of the three of us to have my meeting, and unlike theirs, it went smoothly. It was a moment that I knew going into Human Resources was the right career path for me. Despite being accused of bullying someone, which was not the case, I remained calm. I gave an exact timeline of everything that occurred over the past couple months, and at the end of it, the personnel advisor thanked me for speaking so calmly and eloquently. That meeting was my final straw with #5. Since it was seen as bullying, the personnel board had to tell nationals because it was considered hazing. #5 was already an alumnae of Chi Omega, so we were really confused how this was the case. It could have been really serious. The personnel advisor asked me to reach out to her and try to smooth things over. Clara and I met her for coffee so that we were outside of our apartment and talked about how we would spend the last month of our lease together. She informed us that it wasn’t really us, but still she had no desire to be friends with any of the roommates, and trust me, the feeling was mutual. The rest of the quarter was spent in a tense environment. Knowing that she had accused us of acts that never happened (thankfully the personnel board believed that, sicne all three of us told the same story) was something we couldn’t get past. I hadn’t experienced that kind of drama sine junior high and it was not something I ever wanted to experience. At the end of the quarter, #5 officially graduated and moved out. Clara and I decided to take the high road and bought her flowers and a cake for graduation.

In January, we had a new roommate: Clara’s Big, Megan. Having Megan move in changed our dynamic completely. Clara and Megan were glued to each other’s hips, even before she moved in, and it continued that way. We felt very distanced from Clara at that point and like she no longer valued our friendship in the same way she valued Megan’s. In February, we all took a trip to Lake Tahoe to celebrate my birthday. The two of them weren’t as social with the rest of us, and it was really confusing. When we got back, Clara confided in me that her and Megan were actually dating and in love. It wasn’t that big of a surprise for me, because they had always seemed a little too close for just friends, but it was still a big change. She finally told our other roommates in April. Keeping that to myself for so long was hard, but I knew it wasn’t my news to share. Once everyone knew, we had to adjust to living with a couple, which wasn’t easy. It wasn’t something we signed up for and therefore, was hard to navigate. Before the news was shared, we had all decided to live together the following year. Once everyone knew, it was hard knowing we had another year of couple-dom.

In April, my dad found out that he was officially be transferred to the Chicago office of his company. For the past four years, my dad had been living in a multitude of places. He was in Napa for two years, then Florida for six months, and then split his time between southern Ontario and Chicago. For those four years, my parents did a long-distance marriage, with my dad coming home on weekends every week or two. When they found out they were relocated, they were really excited at the prospect of living together again. When Bethany found out it was near Chicagoland, she made the decision to transfer universities. For the first two years, she was in the honors program at Sacramento State, only 30 minutes from my school. Finding out she wanted to move with my parents was really hard. I knew I would be taking a full fifth year, so wouldn’t be joining them - a first for our family.

In August, they moved. Saying goodbye to my house in San Jose was incredibly difficult. That house meant the world to me, despite only living there full time for four years. Never has a house felt like such a home. There, I saw friends turn into sisters and brothers, I found Jesus, I experienced love, and I became the truest version of myself. This house was the backdrop for all of those moments, a second home for my friends and the gathering place over the years. Seeing that era end was sad for everyone.

I had to head back to school a couple of days before my family officially left. Driving away knowing that I wouldn’t be going back to the house was really sad. I cried a lot during that drive. I prayed that God would protect me and help me live in a different state than my family. When I was about 30 minutes from school, I saw the most gorgeous sunset. I've always equated sunsets with God's beauty and love, and that night, God reminded me of His promise to never leave me. I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

Seeing as this was our fourth year in school, most of my friends were graduating. I knew that I would be taking a fifth year to finish my double major, so it was a scary time knowing they could all be leaving. I decided that despite not graduating with them, I couldn't pass up experiencing the typical senior year activities. I went on the senior bar crawl with them, took graduation photos, and enjoyed the senior brunch. Although it wasn't my celebration, I was so lucky to experience everything with them. They're memories that I'm so happy with!

To read about my fifth year, the year I truly experienced college for the first time, click here: My Story: Part III continued.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Story: Part III - Year 3

If you missed the beginning of Part III, you can find it here:

Part III: Year 3

My junior year of university was hard. Really hard.

I went into my fall quarter with such high hopes of enjoying college and succeeding in my new major. For the first time since being diagnosed, my thyroid levels were stable – and had been for eight months – and I had started a new medication for my gastroparesis that was really helping to curb my nausea. I was feeling well, something I hadn’t been able to say in seven years. Unfortunately, this streak wasn’t able to last. In the middle of October, my thyroid levels changed drastically. I became more under-active than I had been in three years, making me extremely lethargic and nauseous. Around the same time, my doctor and I decided to up my gastroparesis medication in the hopes that a higher dosage would improve my circumstances; however, this was not the case. After being on the increased dose for a week, I began having heart-attack-like symptoms, which ended up sending me to the hospital. I was immediately switched back to my lower does, so for the time being, only had to worry about my thyroid symptoms. My body has always had a difficult time readjusting its thyroid levels, usually take 8-9 weeks instead of the usual 4. Over the next few months, my levels would continually fluctuate between over- and under-active.

With the best interest of my body in mind, I made the decision to take time away from school. Rather than take an entire quarter off, I chose to go part-time, taking only two classes instead of the normal four. That was the best decision I could have made. I was still able to continue my education, while also giving my body the time it needed to rest. When I met with my advisor, she said, “you need to stop pretending that you aren’t sick.” For some reason, that simple sentence really put things into perspective for me and I knew part-time was the right decision.

For two quarters, my grades really took a hit, with GPAs less than 2.0. Part of maintaining membership within my sorority is keeping a certain GPA, one that I wasn’t meeting. Because of this, I had to meet with my sorority’s personnel board. Their decision, despite my circumstances, was to revoke my membership from Chi Omega. The previous times I had met with the personnel board, they were helpful and explained my options; this time they did not. I truly felt that I was going to be able to keep my membership due to my extenuating circumstances, and when that wasn’t the case, I was devastated. When I asked if I could appeal this decision, my advisor’s response was: “I mean if you want to you can, I guess.” The next day I looked into my sorority’s Book of Rules, and found a form that was meant for members with extenuating circumstances to receive another quarter to prove they could raise their grades. I immediately emailed the personnel board along with my advisors asking if this could be an option for me as it completely coincided with my situation. After five days, I finally received an email back with the reply: “Your chance to ask questions was in your personnel meeting.” In response, I then asked if I could have another meeting to discuss my options, but never received a reply. After a week of waiting, I emailed again asking how the appeal process worked, as I wasn’t given any instructions during my meeting. It took a week for someone to answer me, and they weren’t very helpful. I lived with two members on the executive board and they were receiving emails from all five of the women I emailed almost every day, and it took them a week each time to answer my emails. As my sisters, I would have thought that the board would have looked into every option to help keep me in the chapter, and that if nothing was found, they would have worked with me to help appeal in the most effective way.

Before this experience, whenever people would ask me what Chi Omega had done for me, I always told them that it saved my college experience. If it weren’t for the sisters of Omicron Kappa, my first year would have continued to be utterly depressing. Despite my two chronic illnesses making my time at UC Davis very difficult, no one had supported me more than my Chi Omega sisters. These women inspired me to keep pushing throughout the struggles of my illnesses, so when this happened, I was very confused.

I decided to move forward in the appeal process, without the help of my personnel team. I submitted my appeal in the beginning of February; the deciding committee meets in June.
My depression flared those two quarters. It really hit me that this was going to be my life, constantly changing medications, feeling healthy, and then everything changing in the blink of an eye. I wasn’t able to participate in my sorority, I couldn’t attend all of my lectures, and spending time with my friends was difficult. My life basically consisted of sitting on the couch, watching TV or doing homework. It was really no way to live and I was incredibly unhappy. I decided to start seeing a therapist, which was a strange experience for me. I really loved my therapist; she specialized in chronic illnesses, so understood a lot of what I was saying. That being said, I had a hard time opening up. I felt like I had to constantly explain myself, rather than just talk and let her help me. I continued to go for a couple of months, and then decided to stop.

The time away from my sorority did, however, have a wonderful outcome. I had wanted to get connected with a Christian group on campus, but my health had been holding me back. Finally, near the middle of spring quarter, I began to feel healthier, so no longer had an excuse. I emailed a girl asking if I could join her College Life Growth Group (like a Bible Study), and it went from there! I emailed Evelyn on Monday and the next day met someone else from the group. Clara and I decided to study at Starbucks (which we never do) and had to sit outside (there were no tables inside), and there we overheard a conversation. After eavesdropping for a few minutes, I turned around and asked if they were apart of College Life - they were! We talked for a little bit and he mentioned Spring Retreat which was the following weekend. That night, I received an email from the coordinator and then paid at my first growth group meeting (that Wednesday). Within a week, I had joined a growth group and went on a weekend retreat with complete strangers.

Going on Spring Retreat, despite it being so far outside my comfort zone, was the best decision! My faith was encouraged, the speaker was incredible, and that weekend solidified my feeling that College Life was where God wanted me.

Growth Group became the highlight of my quarter. The women were great! My friends from high school are some of the most wonderful, Godly women that I have ever met, and this group reminded me so much of them! They made me feel so welcomed and loved, and taught me so much and brought me closer to the Lord in such a small amount of time! I am so unbelievably grateful to have spent the second half of spring quarter with them.

Also around this time, at the end of April, I received an email from the personnel advisor. I read her email while in class, and almost started crying right there. She informed me that she was going to send the form I’d requested in February to headquarters and needed my signature that night. Within two weeks, I was 100% reinstated into my chapter and my appeal was thrown out.

God worked in interesting ways that year. Being asked to leave my sorority was devastating, but had that not happened, or had they given me the form when I requested it, I never would have found College Life. My faith increased drastically throughout those couple of months with my Growth Group, and was so encouraged during Spring Retreat. Had I remained in Chi Omega or they gave me the form any earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to go on Spring Retreat due to a mandatory philanthropy event happening the same weekend.

God truly orchestrates heartbreak into encouragement; frustration into gratitude.

My summer before starting my fourth year at UC Davis was wonderful. I spent the majority of my summer with two of my best friends, Daphne and Kristina. Through my relationship with Brian, I was able to form a closer relationship to Daphne. She is by far the best thing that came from that relationship. Kristina, Daphne, and I became our own little trio of best friends. They pull out my goofy side, support me, and show me God through their character every day. There was so much happiness spent that summer because of these two, and I’m forever grateful.

In July, my sister and I went to Argentina with Habitat for Humanity. I really wanted to experience a missions trip, and thought that Habitat would be a great fit, as it's a Christian organization. I had really high expectations for the trip, and sadly, they weren't met. I really felt like it was going to be a time spent helping others through growing closer to God, but only one other person on the trip was Christian besides Bethany and myself. Bethany and I were also the only people under 30 - we were at different life stages, so bonding was harder than we expected. The work we did there was amazing, though. We helped build houses for two different families, something I never thought I would be able to do. I definitely struggled with my health throughout the trip, having to miss two days of the build, but overall, God came through and allowed me to participate. It was a trip that showed me another culture and a different way of life, which is something I'll forever be grateful for.

In August, I made the decision to wear a purity ring. I had been praying about it a lot, and one night when I was at a friend's house, his girlfriend and I were discussing our rings. As soon as she said one was her purity ring, I had the overwhelming feeling that I wanted to wear one. That night I made the decision to outwardly show my commitment to God. This was a decision I never thought I'd make - it was fully God's work in me. In my past relationship, I had gone farther than planned, and I knew through my deeper relationship with God in the years since that I didn't want that for my next relationship. When I bought my ring, I prayed over it, making my promise to God to honor Him by waiting. It's a decision that is hard in today's world, but one that I'm so proud of. It was a big step in my relationship with Christ and one of the most defining. I love having the reminder of the life I've given to Jesus on my left hand that I can see and remember each day.

To read about my fourth year, the year my family moved away, click here: My Story: Part III continued.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Story: Part III - Year 2

If you missed the first installment of Part III, see it here. Read Part I here and Part II here.

Part III: Year 2

My second year of university started out with my first formal recruitment season for Chi Omega. We had an intense work week where we prepared for our four days of recruiting and then a week spent engaging with potential new sisters. It was a lot of fun, but also really hard. The days were really long on my body, and my stomach just couldn’t handle it. I was able to participate in the first day, but after that, had to stay home. I was incredibly bummed to be missing out on the opportunity to meet new women, as well as bond with my current sisters. Thankfully, I was able to attend our bid day celebration at the end of the week. What made that day even better was that my best friend, Emma, received a bid from Chi Omega. Now, out of the six of us, four were a part of the sorority (sadly Alaa had dropped during freshmen year). It was my first bid day experience and I had so much fun!

I also moved into my first apartment that year. I remember feeling so grown up picking out the furniture for my new home. I lived with Marie, Clara, and Izzy, and Alaa and Emma lived with two others girls across from us. I shared a room with Clara, which was amazing. We coordinated our comforters and picked out beds together. Sharing a room with her was one of the best decisions I made, and we continued to share a room for two more years. Living with my friends was an overall great experience, but we definitely went through some struggles. For some reason, three of us were having a really hard time living with the fourth, despite being best friends. We learned fairly quickly that some friends just aren’t meant to live together, and when we were going to renew our lease, we had to tell that friend we couldn’t live with her the next year. That was one of the hardest decisions we had to make, but in the long run, benefited all four of our friendships immensely. The remainder of our lease was stressful; we all had a really hard. time Unbeknownst to us, she was going through a really difficult time, which made the situation harder. She eventually confided in us about the struggles she was experiencing, which helped us understand everything so much clearer. That year, we all became so much closer to one another, through the struggles, happy moments, and first time truly living without our parents.

Fall quarter was sadly, very similar to my first fall quarter. I was doing really well and then about halfway through the quarter, became really sick again. I was back to missing class almost exclusively, falling more behind each day. I was retaking the calculus class I had failed the year prior, along with taking more engineering-based classes. I failed calculus for the second time and my GPA fell below a 2.0, putting me on academic probation. When I first received the letter about being put on probation, I cried a lot. I thought they were going to kick me out of university. I met with my academic advisor and the dean of my program, and explained my case. Thankfully, they were sympathetic and helped me through it, without having me take time away from school.

Over winter break, my family began our tradition of traveling each Christmas. We travelled back to Mexico, the first foreign place we’d ever gone as a family. What an amazing time we had. It had been a very stressful quarter and spending a week in sunshine with my family was exactly what I needed. I’m so lucky to have such a close relationship with both my parents and sister. We spent as much time as we could just the four of us on this vacation, touring around and having new adventures. God made sure to bless us with quality time together despite me being away at school and my sister finishing her senior year of high school.

In the new year, I started seeing a new doctor, this time a neuro-gastroenterologist who specialized in gastroparesis. The doctor who developed the test for the illness was head of that office, so I knew I was in good hands. She decided to run another test just to be sure, and it came back positive, giving me a true diagnosis. We discussed options, but had a hard time coming up with the right choice. The medication usually used for gastroparesis had a side effect of face malformation, particularly in women 18-24. At this point, I was right in the middle of that age group and didn’t want to risk it. My doctor suggested another drug, that although not FDA-approved in the US, was approved in Canada. Because I’m Canadian, I was able to take this medication. Once I had the prescription, I started taking the pill 30 minutes before I ate, and it was amazing how much it helped.

Much like the previous year, my thyroid levels were all over the place. I would be on a medication dose that seemed to be working and then a couple weeks later, would throw off my entire system. Dr. B had heard about a different type of treatment, so went to a conference in southern California to meet with the doctor who prescribed it. The person’s case sounded similar enough to mine that Dr. B decided it was a good course of action for me to try. I started taking what we deemed the “mega dose” that May. Rather than taking my medication each day, I would take the full weeks’ dose on Saturday. The theory behind it was that because I metabolized my medication differently than most, this would allow my body to pull what it needed throughout the week. It took a couple of years to get the dosage perfect, along with my body to utilize it consistently, but ultimately, it would be my saving grace.

I finally passed calculus with a B+ that winter quarter, so moved on to the next course in the spring. I failed that class, too. It was then that I realized I might need to readjust my ambitions. My parents were always very supportive when it came to school, never pushing me to change my major or take an easier route. Failing a calculus class for a third time finally made me evaluate my major choice. I had switched my major from biomedical to biomechanical engineering at the beginning of my second year, and was about to change it once again. I finally realized that it wasn’t just calculus, but that I wasn’t enjoying the actual program, either. I loved the idea of engineering, but finally understood that it wasn’t for me. Thankfully, I have two very different sets of skills: 1) my logical, analytical side, and 2) my interpersonal and conflict management side. I started looking into different majors and when I told my parents that I wanted to pursue Human Resources, they both lit up and thought it sounded like the perfect fit for me. I wasn’t able to change my major right away, as I hadn’t taken the prerequisite courses, but I started taking classes to pursue a double major in managerial economics and organizational studies the beginning of my third year. It was the best decision I made for my future while attending UC Davis.

In the spring, Chi Omega participated in recruitment again, and Clara surprised us all by attending an event. We had been trying for months to get her to consider joining, but she was being stubborn. She eventually realized that she wasn’t joining not because she didn’t want to, but because she didn’t want to feel like she was only joining because her friends were a part of the organization. She told me the night before that she wanted to rush, and I was so excited! She already knew so many members of our sorority, and we knew she would be a perfect fit. Giving her a bid was the final piece to the puzzle. We were all sisters in Chi Omega after that night, which was the best feeling in the world.

That summer, Marie decided she couldn’t live with us the next year. Emma happened to be staying at my house the day we received her message, but Clara was studying abroad in Ireland at the time. Somehow we all managed to Skype each other about the situation and eventually got Marie on the phone to explain herself, as we didn’t think her Facebook message was good enough. Our friendship with Marie really took a hit that summer. We felt abandoned, hurt, and ultimately felt like Marie didn’t know us at all. The aftermath of her announcement was one of the most stressful times in my life. The three of us (Clara, Emma, and I) didn’t want to live with a stranger, but couldn’t afford to live in the apartment with just the three of us. In Davis, people sign leases in January, February at the latest. It was July. As it happened, one of the people Alaa was supposed to live with that year also bailed, so we started talking to her leasing office about switching her 2-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom, while simultaneously looking for people to fill our lease. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to so many people about apartments in such a short period of time. By August, we had secured our lease at a new apartment complex and handed our lease over to new tenants. We moved in in September and the next week began pre-recruitment for the second time.

Throughout that year, I was able to see my friends from each stage of life. I saw my high school friends during each school break: Thanksgiving, winter, spring break, and summer. I was even able to make a trip down to Southern California to see Caitlin, Keiko, and Shannon. It was a wonderful year for my friendships. We experienced new adventures and continued to grow up together.

To read about my next year of university, click here: My Story: Part III continued.

Monday, March 7, 2016

My Story: Part III - Year 1

If you missed the first two chapters of my story, see them here: Part I & Part II.

Part III: University

My college experience was filled with friendship, sisterhood, and so many experiences and memories that tried me, surprised me, and made me stronger.

I was so excited to start university. I was such an independent person and enjoyed new experiences, so couldn’t wait to be placed in a situation that would utilize both. However, it didn’t play out so smoothly. I had a really hard adjustment into university. I cried so much and constantly called my mom. I started to slip back into my depression, even seeing a counselor on campus. That counselor suggested I take time off from school; something my mom wasn’t pleased with. I hadn’t even been at the school for a full two weeks and this counselor had me throwing in the towel. I didn’t listen to her, but it was something that I really thought about. I also thought about switching schools to be closer to home, but ultimately decided to stay at Davis. After that meeting, I made an appointment with my family doctor and explained my history in grade nine and how this felt really similar. Together we decided that I should try antidepressants - a decision that I am so glad we made.

During my orientation the previous summer, my mom had talked to the president of the IFC (Interfraternity Counsel) and he told her that I shouldn’t rush a sorority my first year. That was a huge mistake for my adjustment time, yet, I know was completely orchestrated by God. I had met a couple of girls through a girl I met at orientation, two of which were in the sorority Chi Omega. I started to talk to them about my regret with not rushing, and they told me that their sorority was hosting informal recruitment. I was really interested. I ended up meeting one of their sisters at our gym on campus and talked to her for more than an hour about her experience. Kaitlin was the reason I chose to go to that informal event. I thought if they were all this kind and outgoing, this group might be what I was looking for. I researched Chi Omega heavily before attending, trying to figure out if it was the right fit for me on paper; it was. That night I met some incredible women. They were truly interested in me and what I had to say. It was the first time I felt at home in Davis, and that night, I was overjoyed when I received my bid to join Chi Omega. That night, I also met a girl who would become my best friend. Marie and I both went to the informal recruitment event, as our mutual friend, Izzy, had invited us both. We talked briefly that night and when we both received our bids, started to hang out. It turned out Marie was going through the same thing I was. She wasn't adjusting to being in Davis and hadn't really found a group of girls that suited her. We discussed crying to our moms, missing our boyfriends, and feeling depressed - it was the first way we bonded. Marie was the first true friend I had. She was the first one who brought food to my room when I wasn’t feeling well and who made me feel more confident about staying at Davis.

At the beginning of November, I became really sick. Because I had dealt with my thyroid nausea for so long, I knew this was different. I felt like I had the stomach flu, minus the throwing up. It kept me in bed most of the day and I started to miss a lot of class. It got to the point in December that I was so sick, my dad decided to take me to the hospital. I missed my final exam for my calculus class and decided not to make it up as I was already failing the class. I had missed the last month of school and couldn’t teach myself the material like I could my other classes. It was the first class I'd ever failed, which was a really hard thing to grasp. Thankfully, despite that class, I managed to finish my first quarter with a solid GPA, so wasn’t placed on academic probation.

I had an appointment with my endocrinologist at the beginning of January. I had decided to base my decision on continuing my education on the outcome of that appointment. When Dr. B couldn’t figure out what was happening and referred me to a gastroenterologist, it was decided that I needed to take a quarter off of school. It was a decision I needed to do for my health, both because I knew I would be having tests done and seeing multiple doctors, as well as knew my body needed that time to rest. It was a really hard couple of months. All of my friends were still away at school, enjoying their time and having these wonderful experiences, while I was lying on the couch watching another episode of Friends. It was a really sad time in my life.

Then in February, Brian broke up with me. At this point, we had been together for more than a year, and he was everything to me. I know I was only 19, but I thought I was going to marry him. He had been acting distant for about a couple weeks, but I just thought he was going through something he didn't want to talk about. I had myself convinced that nothing was wrong with our relationship. When Brian came over that day, I really didn’t think we would be breaking up. Brian and I sat on the couch, and he explained that he needed to figure out who he was outside of a relationship, while I sat there silently crying. He made sure to tell me that he wasn’t breaking up with me because I was sick, but there’s still a part of me that doesn’t believe that. What 18-year-old boy wants to deal with someone who was sick more than they weren’t? Our relationship consisted of watching a lot of tv because I was too sick to do anything else. That’s boring and stressful for anyone. That night I drove up to Napa (where my dad’s work had relocated him), as I was signing a lease to my apartment that weekend. I have never been so grateful for my dad. As soon as I got out of the car, I started crying and said “Brian broke up with me.” My dad stayed with me that whole night. I was so sad I didn’t even want to go to dinner because I couldn’t stop crying for more than 5 minutes. My dad hugged me and talked me through it for hours that night. He was exactly what I needed. I told Brian that night that I understood that I was losing my boyfriend, but that I didn’t want to lose my best friend, too, so we decided that we would try to be friends once the dust settled. I saw him right before I left to head back to school. He told me about all of these things he had started doing with his school and church and I remember crying while he was talking. I tried so hard not to, but I couldn’t help it. His life got to move on, while I was stuck in this stagnant existence because I was sick. That was the hardest part of the break up for me.

I still don’t know how it happened, because we hadn’t hung out for too long before I got sick, but my college girlfriends were really there for me throughout that entire quarter. We decided to live together the next year and signed our lease in February. The following weekend, all five of them came to visit me at home to celebrate my birthday. We got dressed up and went out to dinner. It was the happiest I had been in a while and I love them so much for that. It was the beginning of the best of friendships. That was one of the first nights that we established ourselves as a group of six.

In March, my family doctor had an epiphany about my health. She suggested I be tested for gastroparesis, which literally means “paralysis of the stomach.” She sent me for a test to see if this was the case, and the week before I headed back to Davis, the results came back. I had gastroparesis. This meant that my stomach couldn’t contract on its own, making digestion incredibly slow. It was rare, particularly for someone my age and with my condition. People in their sixties who have diabetes are the most commonly diagnosed; I was 19 and had a thyroid disorder. 

I went back to school in April, ready to have a good quarter. I was taking classes I enjoyed, the weather was perfect, and I had friends to call my own. I completed my new member quarter with Chi Omega and started to build relationships with my sisters. I was initiated into the sorority right before my second year at UC Davis began, an experience that will forever be one of my favorite and most gratifying experiences in Chi Omega. My health continued to be an issue, as the doctors hadn’t figured out what kind of medication to put me on, so I was still consistently nauseous. I spent a lot of time with doctors having more testing done, just incase it was a false diagnosis, and learning about different options. By the end of that quarter, I knew that God had placed me exactly where I was meant to be, complete with friends who made me happy.

That summer, Brian and I actually became friends again. We started seeing each other every week and I finally felt like a friendship was possible. I, along with a lot of my friends, thought we were going to start dating again, but the Lord had other plans.

In July, Brian and some of his friends from church decided to start a Bible study and invited me to join. Each week, I would go to his house and worship and learn about God. One of the first times I truly experienced the Holy Spirit was at that Bible study. My friend Marcus was playing the guitar and we were singing, and I was overcome by Him. I remember sitting there feeling like I was unable to move because I was overwhelmed by the love that was being poured onto me. It was such a surreal experience and one I will never forget. 

That summer, all of my high school friends came home, so we spent a lot of time together. I was so thankful for the love and support they gave me. Despite being away from each other so much that year, we were still just as close and truly enjoyed each other’s company. They showed me different sides of God throughout that summer and I love them so much for that.

To continue reading my testimony and learn about my second year of university, click here: My Story: Part III continued.