It’s been almost an entire semester of sophomore year since spending three and a half weeks in Europe with a few of the coolest people I will ever meet. Seriously these people are SO COOL. If they weren’t so darn encouraging, it would be really easy to feel like they’re all much cooler than me. But a fantastic dynamic of the CR10 familia is an attitude of encouragement, so naturally, by engaging with them, I’m reminded of what makes me special and super cool as well. All that being said, I am sad to admit I haven’t been able to spend quite as much time with all of these friends as I had hoped. The semester got busy for all of us, and as soon as rehearsals started for me at the beginning of October, my evenings were basically all occupied for the following two months. Thus, it has been quite the balancing act just trying to get homework done and be a healthy person. Regardless, the moments of hugging CRecaders at church, bumping into each other while crossing South University, or meeting up over a quick meal have been super sweet. From what I can tell, we’re all certainly experiencing the ups and downs of sophomore year and are probably ready for a nice, long break. I can say with confidence that many of the lessons I learned–and started to learn–during CR10 have stuck with me and are continuing to shape me this year.
I’m still discovering that it’s okay to not be okay. I struggle identifying and embracing my negative emotions. I love joy, relationships, confidence, and peace, but sometimes I’m stressed, tired, lonely, and anxious… and that’s okay. On CR, I experienced many moments of stress and felt some negative emotions surfacing, and I really did not want to deal with them. If I had it my way, I would have pounced through Europe with nothing but smiles and confidence, all the way from Berlin to Rome. But constant travel, heavy discussions, new friendships, and a lack of 8-hours-a-night of sleep didn’t necessarily cultivate in me a spirit of rest and confidence. This was a time of growth, and I knew that, but I don’t think I was full prepared for the growing pangs that were to accompany me on my journey. I remember one day in Munich, I told Audrey I was feeling stressed and tired and not fully myself, and she assured me that I was not alone and reminded me in her sweet, sincere way that it’s okay to feel these things. Since CR, I’ve been growing a lot in my ability to embrace and accept negative emotions, not as a part of who I am, but as an indicator that something is going on in my heart that deserves some attention. I’ve begun to acknowledge emotions as an entity separate from character; thus, I can handle the good, bad and ugly of my emotions without beating myself up about having them. Furthermore, I notice that the roughest of days often lead to the most joy on the other end because they cause me to lean harder into the Lord, my close friends, and family… I usually end up learning something valuable about myself, those around me, or just life in general. It says in the first chapter of James, trials produce perseverance, which leads to a strengthening of character. Praise the Lord, CR was a beautiful opportunity to embrace this character-building because I was surrounded by a family of fantastic, loving, genuine, encouraging, honest individuals. Our support system was–and still is–hard to match. To readers, my greatest encouragement post-CR is to surround yourself with a strong community of genuine and encouraging people and to embrace all aspects of the present moment, the good and bad, ups and downs. Thank you, CR10 familia, for your friendship and encouragement. Knowing you all is an incredible gift!