Goodbye Summer, Hello Senior Year

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Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer for most people.  For us Floridians, it's not necessarily the end of summer, but the end of unlimited beach trips and relaxing by the pool because school and work is back in session.

For me, this past summer wasn't really a "summer" but more of real-world work experience. That experience ended up putting an entirely new perspective on my life and career-goals as I dive into senior year. If you happened to miss my "summer in the city" blog, this last post sums it up pretty well.

Last year at this time, my goal was to move to New York City after graduation and chase my dream of working for a huge magazine.  As I got a glimpse of that lifestyle this summer, I'm not sure if that's where I'm meant to be. A lot can change in a year though, so I'm not eliminating that possibility. I did realize that home truly is where the heart is.

As I write this, I'm sitting on my back porch, staring at beautiful trees, while listening to Bon Iver. As if I couldn't set a more perfect ambiance, let me take a sip of iced coffee from my mason jar.

Putting yourself in the right mindset before taking on any task is so important, and it really changes your work ethic. So, I created a mindset going into this semester.

This fall, I set many goals for myself. For one, I simply want to enjoy my senior year to its fullest. In New York, one of the best keynotes I heard was at the Her Campus Conference. Chandra Turner from Ed2010News and Parents Magazine presented a powerpoint presentation and one of her ending slides was "Keep Calm and Play Beer Pong." She then went on to say, "be young, and have fun!"

To sum it up, we have our whole lives to work, but now is the time to enjoy the freedom we're given in college. These past three years, I've worked so hard to establish myself in my career field and somehow maintain that "college lifestyle." Now that I feel like I'm in a good place, I'm not going to be dumb–but hey, I'm twenty-one and it's my last year of college. Going to parties and out with friends is fun, so I'm taking full advantage. I'm going to take part in the corny campus activities and of course all the football and baseball games that I can. (But again, I'm an adult with responsibilities and a job, so shout out to my parents for raising me right.)

Another goal I set for myself is to really foster and maintain relationships that I want to cherish for the rest of my life. After being away from my best friends for the summer, I realized how important they are to my happiness and success. Friendship makes you realize that you need people and people need you and that's the best feeling. Personally, my friends have a way of bringing out the best in me when I tend to get too focused on my job or school. Thinking about us all going separate ways after graduation really stinks, but as long as there is effort made, nothing is lost. AND as an added bonus, this means more meaningful vacations to visit everyone!

The final goal I have for myself is to make time for myself and disconnect. I wrote about this last season in my Spring Cleaning post, but it became even more apparent this past weekend since my iPhone drowned in my friends lake (RIP). 

Not having a phone for almost 5 (FIVE), whole days could be devastating for most of us millennials. At first, I honestly didn't know how I was going to live. But after a few hours, I realized how free I really was. And the only time I could check Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs etc. was at home, by myself. It made me fully present with my friends and I wasn't worried about Instagramming anything at that exact moment and when I posted later, it was just as cool. I was able to enjoy company, have fun and not worry about who was liking my picture or tweeting about 'such important life events'. Don't get me wrong, it was hard. And I don't think I can go much longer without an iPhone, but I do know that sometimes it's nice to not be connected and I want to do it more.

This weekend I took bike rides, cleaned my room, sat outside, went shopping and guess what, nobody knew it. It was great.

These past three years of college flew by, and this real-world thing kinda freaks me out. Growing up is scary and after the passing of my grandpa and uncle this past month, it made me realize that life is so precious and I need to make the most of every minute.

Spending time with my family after these hard times, I learned really neat things about these two amazing men. Throughout their lives they never gave up, they loved with everything they had and they always gave back.

Grandpa Heyl, my little sister and I on his birthday.

Grandpa Heyl, my little sister and I on his birthday.

Thankfully, I was able to spend a few days with my grandpa during the last weeks of his life. I pulled out my iPad and showed him pictures of New York and downloaded Solitaire. We sat at the kitchen table and I watched him work so hard to move the cards on the screen. Although he was weak, he kept playing and after 3 games, we finally won one. That was the most he smiled and engaged with someone in months. As I left to go back to school, he pulled together a sentence and asked, "What are you going to do after school?" and I said, "maybe New York, but I don't know yet, we'll see!" We exchanged I love you's and I headed out the door. I will cherish this memory for the rest of my life.

As a Heyl, I know I have three things on my side: faith, perseverance and passion for things I love to do. So, senior year, I'm ready for you.