I was in studio constantly, sometimes forgetting to eat. I was trying to fit in with my peers but slowly losing myself in the process. Wake up early. Work. Drink coffee. Work some more. Maybe go to bed. Repeat. It was a grueling cycle that ended my first year of college with a weak immune system and a sickness that knocked me out for several weeks. I no longer recognized myself. So I ran away. I spent two amazing weeks in Northern Italy, soaking up the sun, the culture, and the pizza. It was like my soul had finally awakened. I took so many photos and truly fell in love with Europe. Unfortunately, when I returned, I was once again wrapped up in my busyness. Opening every morning at the coffee shop, followed by an eight hour shift at the pool. I rarely saw my family or took any time for myself. I was so financially driven, I thought I needed to work as much as possible. Joy only came after my student loans were paid off.
I returned to school, more focused, but on all of the wrong things. I once again poured myself into my schoolwork, rarely coming up for air. That winter break, I traveled to Louisiana for a service trip, along with a team of UC students. Somehow, I always ended up painting trim with this cute redhead. We talked about our families, what kind of music we liked. He borrowed my fingernail clippers. But what really caught my attention was when we weren’t together. Every morning, I saw him reading his Bible. He always seemed to be the first one awake, and I was intrigued by his dedication. I knew something about him was special. And then love happened. I was so busy looking down at my work, that it had to straight up smack me in the head to get my attention. I was eager to hang out once we returned to Cincinnati, but after our trip, we said our goodbyes and left. No exchanging of phone numbers or quick hugs. Nothing. Thank goodness for Facebook! Todd looked me up, and we quickly began talking and making plans to “hang out.” Still no dating. Not part of the five year plan.
He picked me up and we drove an hour to the closest ski resort. Did I mention I’m not a huge fan of the cold and had never been skiing in my life? But something about Todd’s adventurous personality made me want to give it a try. And it was a blast. I was a full time student and having fun? This was not possible. Soon I found myself taking late night walks with my new friend, staying up late talking, and meeting for coffee after class. For the first time in a long time, I was thinking about someone other than myself. Todd made me dinners and helped me to see the pleasure of enjoying food. He challenged me to study the Bible and strive for a deeper relationship with my Savior. We trained for our first half marathon together, and crossing that finish line hand in hand felt perfect. I was enjoying life. And miraculously, my grades were getting better. The more time I took off, the better my work became. It is amazing how getting to know your best friend can help you discover more of yourself.