My Prison

I wrote this in December.  Truly, I haven’t been able to write much of anything since. So, I’m posting this now because it’s the first step in the direction of what I know to be True.  This is me taking a really deep breath and stepping. I hope this helps anyone struggling with similar things!

“There’s more than one type of prison.  I think you carry yours wherever you go.”

Chirrut Imwe

I have been avoiding this topic for years now.  Actually, since I was about fourteen to be exact. I have avoided at all costs writing about it, thinking about, or really talking about it- all the while subconsciously letting it take more of a hold on me in throughout the past six or seven years.

Oh yes folks, this is the post about MEN!! I hope some of you smiled reading that, because it’s been a long time coming.

A lot of the topics I have explored on this blog have been vulnerable to me, but also subjects that I willingly speak about because I know others are vocal about these struggles as well.  Yes, it is challenging to talk about my fears of not being liked, or fears of new opportunities, or finding fulfillment in things that have drained me, but in a way these are very much my surface level insecurities.  I am very willing to open up about those things to just about anyone who is interested or could benefit nowadays.

Truly, I have no idea where to begin.  I’ll start with a story.

I remember going to a routine check up the summer before high school right after I had turned fourteen.  I was sitting in the waiting room with an incredible amount of anxiety, not because of getting a finger prick, but because I desperately wanted to get to a movie on time with a boy and his family. Fourteen year old Hadley was panicking in the pediatrician’s office over the potential of disappointing a boy she barely knew at that point. I’m talking nervous sweating to please a fourteen year old boy while getting booster shots for high school, folks.

That was where it began.

Fast forward to present, Will and I spent a Sunday afternoon over winter break watching the new Star Wars movie, and quite a few great quotes were dropped.  As they were trapped in a prison cell Chirrut Imwe softly spoke, “There’s more than one type of prison.  I think you carry yours wherever you go.”

Once again, my most ignored, unfaced problem hits me like a ton of bricks and I was right back in that doctor’s waiting room as a fourteen year old.

(Just so you know, I stopped writing this post here because it felt so vulnerable, and here I am a two weeks later, trying to face it again! I’m not kidding about ignoring deep rooted issues)

Y’all, my biggest prison is simultaneously my biggest passion: people. More specifically, men. Truthfully, I never have written about men because I didn’t want to be perceived as the girl that ranted on a blog about boys. I wanted to have that part of my life wrapped up with a bow and put away on a shelf never to be touched or questioned by myself or others.

Well, that box has gotten bigger and bigger and I need to open it before it explodes. Take that Instagram filtered, blissfully ignorant, shiny bow off.

The past month or so, I have begun to see what has grown and grown in that beautifully wrapped box over the last 7 years.

A Hadley that is entirely fueled by the attention, affection, and validation of men.

Without that, the Hadley inside this prison, or box, cannot function or operate.

That didn’t feel any better to write as it probably did for you to read.

I’m not writing about this because I have overcome it. I’m writing about it because I know that I cannot be the only one feeling incredibly overwhelmed.

I’m here, typing this out with tears in my eyes, to tell you that I do know the Truth. I know this Truth for both you and I. The Truth is that what is inside this box, inside these prison walls of mine, will never give me what my mind tells me it will.

It will always fail us, it will never sustain us, it will be another outlet that lets us down and leaves us exhausted and saddened with confusion, grasping for more. No matter how pretty or tight the box is wrapped up.

If I have learned anything in college, it’s that putting anything in place of God will never work. I’ve run the gamut on this folks. I’ve written about fulfillment countless times. Men, boyfriends, significant others, friends, any relationship is just another example of something that was never created to be worshipped.  Loved, enjoyed, cherished…but not worshipped.  

There are many things I wish I could tell fourteen year old Hadley waiting to get a checkup. They would be the same things I am trying to work through now that I have grasped the Truth.

If you’re reading this, and resonating, know that you’re not alone. Know that there is someone else opening this box, trying to unlock this prison as well.
Until then, I’ll be thanking Star Wars for their wisdom and quote dropping.

My Prison

 

Come As You Are

Hey friends,

Well, I’m writing this very late at night, but you most likely reading it very early in the morning as you get ready for quite possibly the strangest, most rewarding experience of your life- Formal Recruitment.

One of the most profound things I have learned in college is the idea that at the end of the day, we are all searching for love, acceptance, and belonging in communities that value and cherish us.  

For some it might be in sports teams, others it may be in faith communities, or clubs, or neighborhoods, geographic areas, friend groups, really the list goes on and on.  It may look completely different in each circumstance, but we are searching for love and belonging.

This one looks especially different- searching for authentic community to belong in a sorority.

It is so easy when your heart is longing for this space to cling to what is on the surface level of who we are. To cling to beauty. To cling to clothes. To cling to “saying the right things.” To cling to people pleasing. To cling to involvement. To cling outward appearance. To cling to resumes. To cling to prosperity.  It is easy to reach out your hand and grasp whatever is easiest to grab onto when you are terrified that you’ll never find your genuine community.

I say this because I’ve been there, and at times, I am still there.  We are all in some regards.  We all desperately are searching for love, value, and worth.  I’m talking about the women going through recruitment, the sisters already involved, and everyone in between.  We want someone to look past the resume, the makeup, the past, the GPA, and authentically love us for what is left underneath all of those layers, even if we can’t see that ourselves at times.  

So, I want to take a moment and invite you to come as you are.  As you are staring at your phone right now, reading this, I want you to know that you are wanted for what is underneath every single one of those layers. You are loved more than you will ever realize. You are valuable, and you have a purpose in the communities you will end up in. I want you to take off the armor, come and be seen for who you are.

Once you do that, come exactly as you are, suddenly the spaces you can find rest and belonging will be illuminated.

You are valuable. You have a purpose. You are treasured. You are a gift. You belong. You are Loved.

So, peel back the layers, and come as you are.

come

Much Love,

Happy HC

 

As You Refresh

Hi there!

Y’all! I have been hiding this semester.  I want to get back to writing, so this is me, trying my best to put my heart out on the internet.  I hope you can relate to this moment that has stuck with me!

Several weeks ago I was checking my email.  I kept hitting “refresh” to see if I had made it to the second round of an internship that I was in the process of applying for.  Eventually, after hitting that button over and over again, I yelled to my mom from across the house that I had gotten to the second round.

My brother’s girlfriend, Dani, hopped around the corner and asked what was happening. I explained to her how most college organizations, clubs, and company internships deliver a “yes” or “no” through email.  I elaborated to Dani how I had been refreshing my email for weeks to find out about the next round for this company.

Dani said something along the lines of, “Wow, I would not like to wait and sit around in anticipation for big decisions over emails, that sucks.”

To which I said, “Ehhh, I’ve gotten used to it.”

Truly, this post has nothing to do with the company or internship, but purely an example of what it means for my heart to “get used to” refreshing my email.

You see, for years now, I have refreshed my email.  The face value is that I am simply trying to see what decision has been made.  My inner dialogue greatly diverts from that, I wish it was only that simple for me.

At times we all struggle and trip into finding our value in “things.” For some it may be in their significant other, for some it may be in their friend group, others it may be their career, or their grades, or their family, or their house, their money, the list does not end.  For me, I wrestle day in and day out with finding my value in the things I do.

So, yes, waiting for emails informing me of if I was selected to do a “thing” is a whole lot more than the face value it may present.

While I sit at my dining room table, my desk, coffee shop, wherever you may be checking your email, I am not checking just to see an “Admission status” or “Yes” or “Congrats!”… my heart is checking for validation and assurance in that email. That fact has wreaked havoc in my heart and mind.

The validation and assurance that I am still needed in the communities I am in.  The thumbs up that I am still loved.  That I am still valued.  That I am still important.  Somehow my mind has associated a confirming email with my inherent purpose and value.

I have spent a few years “getting used to” the overwhelmingly anxious feeling in my heart searching for validation as I refresh my email.  That saddens me beyond belief, it is has overcome me, and hardened me to a point where that unhealthy angst is normal.

I have not gotten over this, that angst and false internal dialogue hasn’t totally gone away.  My biggest fear is that it never will.  But in that fear there is a Truth that I know, and try to remind myself of on a daily basis.

As my gmail is loading and I am watching the bar that says “Loading hadleycc@vt.edu…” I know that there is no email that can be sent to me that ever will bring me satisfy my need to feel loved.  As easy as that would be, there is no email that will fulfill me.  There is no email that will finally make me happy.  

So, as you refresh your email for college decisions, job decisions, or anything that could be apart of your future, find rest in that Truth.  You could never receive a confirming email again, and still be just as Loved.

Your value isn’t the sum of the things you’re involved in.  Your value transcends the entire equation.

You are so loved, with or without a confirming email.

refresh

Much Love,

Happy HC

Brokenhearted

Hello, hello!

The whole summer I wrestled and wrestled with what I wanted the “back to school blog post” to look like. I have written two posts, but wasn’t entirely feeling them. So, here I am, at 12:30 a.m. on a Thursday night writing what is truly on my heart.

After serving in various roles welcoming new students at Virginia Tech this summer, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the lessons I have learned, and what lessons I want new students to take away.

The amount of advice on the internet for folks entering new stages of life is entirely overwhelming.  I have found some it of to be helpful, and portions of it to be too ideal and unrealistic.

I am here, trying to enter this conversation, with a bit of a broken heart.  A heart that is yearning for new students entering transition to understand their themselves before moving into college.  To understand what they stand for, what they are working for, and what can set them on track to get there.  To not listen to the voices in their heads telling them what is “cool” or “right” or will make people “like” them.

My heart aches because each of these things will steal your joy and will never make you ultimately happy.  Three years in, and I am still struggling as I sit here at my desk at 12:45 a.m. now.  Tears are still springing to my eyes as I have constant reminder after reminder that the things of this world cannot satisfy our human hearts, no matter how hard we try.

A lot of new students are in their first week as a college kid.  After hearing all the rumors, seeing all the movies, getting warnings from parents- here we are, at the first week.

This is where my heart starts to hurt because I am feeling what a lot of these students are going through.  

Even if you’re not a college student, chances are that you know what it feels like to look around at a crowd and to experience this pull in your chest to be included and liked.  To not be sure about your own feelings or opinions, but to buy into what the culture is preaching.  These students are living in it, they can literally hear rumblings of the crowd outside their bedroom door.  New students are existing in a culture that they might not buy into, but feel as if they need to adapt themselves to be welcomed.

This is a trap.  Not just of college, but a trap of the world. No matter how hard you try, buying into a culture that doesn’t exude and represent the values you stand for will always let you down. Investing in a community that is not investing goodness back into you will fail you every single time. I am so sure because it has let me down time and time again.

So, I stand here with a broken heart because transition and new experiences are wonderful. I’m not sure where I would be right now without the lessons God has taught me through my university.

But my heart hurts because I know it is so hard.  It is hard to make the right decisions for you, regardless of the crowd.  Regardless of what people will think.  Regardless of being liked. Regardless of fitting in.  It is entirely easier said than done.

So, here I am, sharing that if you are feeling this way, I am too. Three years later, and it still hurts my chest. You are not alone in that.

I believe in you though.  You will find your people, you will find your place, you will find a community that stands for exactly what you want to represent.  I am confident in that.

Until then, think about why you are doing what you are doing.  I will be right alongside of you, brokenhearted yet encouraged that I am not alone, reminding myself of the same lesson.

Brokenhearted

Much Love,

Happy HC

 

Just Walk In

Hey, y’all!

Do you know the feeling right before you walk into a new room?

Your stomach is churning as you wonder if you will know anyone, what you will experience, who you are going to meet, if you’ll have anyone to sit next to… That feeling of excitement and sickness settles into your stomach, as you swing open the door and walk your way into this new room.

For young people, the summertime often represents anticipation of changes to come in the future.  Excitement builds, but so does anxiety, worry of the what is to come, and a general feeling of unsettledness.  As fun as “new rooms” can be made to sound- they truly can be petrifying as well.

For me, this summer has been and will be a whirlwind of walking into new rooms- quite literally and figuratively.  It has been a summer of change, transition, reassessment, and vulnerability- and it’s only been about six weeks.

One of the first weeks of this summer, I found myself walking into a very new room with a wonderful friend of mine- Anne.  I remember standing in this new room, looking around at the people and thinking, “Besides Anne, I can count the people on one hand that I vaguely recognize, I feel incredibly out of my comfort zone.”

Walking into rooms that we are comfortable in, with family and friends that we adore, is very important- but I believe it is in these new and different rooms that we will learn the greatest lessons.

One of my all time favorite quotes from Kid President is…

“You add something to every room you enter.”

I remember walking out of that new room in the pouring down rain, and feeling complete Joy wash over me as I got in my car.  I thought about this quote above, but in a new light than I ever had before.

Not only do I agree with Kid President in that, “You add something to every room you enter” but also that every room we enter adds something to us as well.

There are a lot of new rooms coming up- whether it be new jobs, new organizations, new colleges, new family situations, new relationships, etc. Chances are, you are on the brink of entering new rooms most of your life.

As you stand outside that door, wondering what this new room might hold, questioning if you should enter the threshold, I hope you find yourself thinking back to your old rooms.

The rooms that transformed you, the rooms that provided the exact people you needed in your life, the rooms that made you into who you are at this very moment.  At one point, we were all nervous sweating before walking, or tripping, into those new spaces. Yet, here we stand again, knees shaking with sweaty palms- staring into more new rooms in front of us.

I think back to my “new room” experience several weeks ago with a heart overwhelmed with peace because I know I was supposed to walk into that room.  As I was driving away in that rain, I knew that the room I had walked into was going to add something to my life.  I knew that room was going to change my life- simply because I took a deep breath, and walked in.

My challenge to you- whether you are about to enter college, a job, organization, a new lifestyle, is to just walk in.

Just walk in. These new rooms pop up for a reason on our paths, they are supposed to add something meaningful to our lives, the rooms are supposed to stretch us.  We are supposed to look around and be unable to count on one hand the people we recognize. They change us because they surprise us, they make us think harder, and they grow us.

As Kid President would say, “You’re about to enter some new rooms and they need you.”

They need us, and we need them.  So, let’s walk in, shall we?

Walk In

Much Love,

Happy HC

Investing in Change

Hey, y’all!

Happy Summer for any college students reading this post- and for everyone else, you are almost there.

As I am writing this, I am imagining where I would be sitting about two weeks ago. Every Tuesday and Thursday, one of my very best friends, Lizzie and I would meet at 11:30 a.m. before class to grab lunch and catch up. Amongst a semester that held some of the most anxious and mentally trying times, this was an hour that held my biggest laughs and reflection moments of sophomore year.

One of our last lunches we were discussing change and transition- and how much we hate it. “Change” is great in theory- I love new ideas, innovation, and adventure- but it never quite feels as phenomenal as it sounds beforehand.

As we were talking about changes further, what bubbled to the surface was the concept of change in people. People coming, people leaving, people transforming, people adjusting, etc., etc.

What bothered us the most wasn’t that change was happening in the “things” around us, but more how those situations were gong to change the people around us. We then looked at each other, mutually acknowledged that change was always going to happen in people around us because human beings are dynamic creatures, and then came to a bit of a dead end.

“Grow and Change” was written on a canvas in my suite the whole year. I love growth. I love it when things change for the better. What is our issue then?

A few days later, I was talking with someone who identified folks like Lizzie and I as “the investors.” “The Investors” are the people who find a lot of joy, purpose, and fellowship in the humans around us. We find a lot of our identity in our friendships and relationships, and as you can imagine, that can be a good characteristic but can also turn sour very quickly.

I would gander that possessing investing characteristics is pretty common. My personal belief is that we were built to be with others. We are hardwired to find people and be in relationships that do promote growth and change. We are supposed to be investing ourselves in people and relying on friendships.

What goes wrong is when you find yourself sitting with a best friend at lunch on a Thursday or in any situation and thinking to yourself,“ I love how things are right at this very moment, I can’t imagine it getting better…so I never want it to change.”

That is where the people who invest in people starting investing to a fault.

When you get involved with those around you, fall very in love with the relationships and groups that you have, it is challenging to comprehend how “change” could make anything better.

And, although this doesn’t sound like much of a solution for the issues that “investing” can cause- this is a struggle that I am anticipating having for the rest of my life.

Since coming home I found peace in the fact that change is happening continuously around us, but I am not going to stop investing in people just because it causes me to be fearful of change.

My Tuesday Thursday lunches with Lizzie might not be on Tuesday or Thursday at 11:30 a.m. anymore. I might not be involved in the same groups at the beginning of college vs. the end of college. People will graduate and live faraway. People may move closer. Friends might have new friends, as well as leave friendships. Majors will switch, and organizations will evolve.

If we choose to invest in people, then that means that we are also investing in the change that needs to eventually happen in their lives in order for them to grow to be better.

Although this is so simple- what I remind myself is that something had to change in order for me to have lunches with Lizzie 11:30 before class in the first place. I didn’t always do that. We made positive change, and because of that our relationship got better.

If you are struggling with this transitional season of life right now, I hope you can find peace in the fact that you are not alone. But also that when we invest, we are investing wholeheartedly- we have to invest in the change because we are investing in the people.

investing

Much Love,

Hadley Carter {happy hc}

 

Laptop Stickers

Hey, y’all!

Long time, no blog.  I can blame it on nothing other than the craziness of life and the mulling over of this topic.

Stick with me here on this observation- I am sitting in a Starbucks at 10:30pm right now, beginning to write this post and looking around at all the laptops.  I see some people with cool band stickers on their laptops, I see some with cartoon graphic stickers, I see some with artistic stickers, I see some with club and organization logos, and I even see some bare laptops as well.

Flashback to the craziness of this past summer- I found myself writing a blog post about Hokie Superstars. I’ll be honest- I had no idea what phenomenon I was truly talking about while writing it. I had started to notice awesome, stand out people on campus and the post was simply an observation and opinion about collegiate leadership based on these “Superstars.”

Nine months later, and I am still observing and attempting to understand the “leadership fast track” that occurs in universities. One aspect of this phenomenon are the laptop stickers I referenced earlier.

Typically, when you receive an acceptance into a student organization or get involved in a club or group, it quickly comes with a sticker.  A legit physical, sticker that you can choose to place wherever your heart desires! It has become a trend in a lot of colleges to put this sticker on your laptop.  Right on the front, so if anyone looks in your direction they first see your stickers on display and then look past the screen and see your face.

Emily

I think on a surface level this occurs simply because it is “trendy”, it promotes groups on campus well, it decorates plain laptops, and if you have stickers, you might as well place them somewhere.  

But on a deeper level, these stickers start become the definition of who we are.  Every single time you sit at your laptop in a dining hall, on campus, or at home, your laptop is physically in front your face.  Whatever you choose to put on your laptop is seen before your own face is seen.  We subconsciously put people into categories, based on decals, that represent student groups,  interests, or expressions and judge them based on those stickers.

I am in no way advocating for everyone to go rip these stickers off of their laptops- I am completely guilty of having sticker decals all over the back of my laptop.  But, I think this is a phenomenon that we need to think harder about.

When we first get into organizations- why is our immediate thought about subtly broadcasting it via stickers?  Why do we find value in creating this presentation of ourselves on a laptop? Why are we terrified to have blank laptops? Why do these stickers matter so much to us?

I know for me it is because I find ultimate fulfillment in people thinking that I am “enough.” That I do enough, that I serve enough, that I am involved enough, that I try enough, that I am ENOUGH.  For me, these “stickers” are a way to prove myself.  Before, someone even looks at my face they can see that I am enough, that I have proven myself, and I am somehow valuable.

These personas we put up- laptop cases filled with stickers proving ourselves serve as a way to boost our image and our surface level worth. They serve as a self-preservation, defense mechanism to show the world a perfect, involved, exciting version of ourselves before they even look over the laptop screen and see our faces.

So, figuratively what happens when you don’t have stickers to fill on your laptop? When you have a blank space after getting out of organization? Or you don’t have all the stickers you want at that moment? Or you didn’t get the sticker you really worked hard for?

At that point, I find myself buying to the lie that I am less valuable, I am less needed, I am less cool, I am less known and that I matter less than the people behind the laptops layered with stickers.  

If we buy into the lie, we will always end up disappointed.  There will always be someone that has more stickers than you, there will always be someone who has less. Over time, those stickers will fade, they will become less exciting,  we will be on our next search for more stickers, and we will continue to fall asleep at night feeling like there was more value to be achieved and more stickers to be won.

It’s a never-ending cycle of the search for achieving value and purpose in stickers that will never give you more meaning or satisfy you. What we fail to remember is that Value and Purpose have nothing to do with achievement.  There is nothing that you can do, nothing that you can get involved in, nothing more you can join, no better way to present yourself that will make you more valuable and important than you are at this very second.

I encourage you to be excited about stickers- whatever that may mean for you.  I hope you do get to cover your laptop in stickers that will get you pumped about the stage of life that you are in.  But, I urge you to remember that they do not define your worth, they do not make you more valuable or needed in your community, and they will not make you ultimately satisfied when your head hits your pillow tonight.

Your stickers are phenomenal, but who you are while sitting around campus once someone looks past the stickers on the front of your laptop is what gives you true value.

Much Love,

Hadley Carter {happy hc}