College told by the McDade Babes

College is such a unique experience that I do not think anyone will ever have fully figured out. But here is our shot through graduation pictures:

When you see that cute boy around campus and you make it real awkward:

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When people ask what you are doing with your life and you say being a kid forever:

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You will walk and walk and walk and walk the same paths again and again:

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When someone asks you if you want to get food: 

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Sometimes you need to find a new perspective: 

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Crosswalks SUCK as a pedestrian and a car: 

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When you are faking it until you make and your professor has no idea: 

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You may watch your GPA fall like confetti, but you won’t be as happy: 

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When you tell your friends embarrassing stories: 

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When your favorite song comes on at Back Bar: 

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Sometimes college might feel like it is going to kill you: 

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But do not fret, you WILL make it through. A different and hopefully better person:

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I absolutely love these people, this town, this college! So much so that I will be staying around another year. Throughout this bitter sweet time I am choosing to be joyful, because I know that life is just beginning!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

[Photo Credit: Noah Granger]

16 Things to Learn in College

As the dawn of LDOC (Last Day of Class) quickly approaches, my time as a college student is coming to an end. Everyone always said to enjoy this time of your life because it would go by fast and of course I never believed them. Come to find out it was true!

While people gave me insight about taking everything in, they did not prepare me at all for the adjustment to college life. The transition to college was super difficult, and looking back there were many things I wish I had known.

So here is my list in the midst of reflection:

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others.
    • We all came from a different background and are all headed in different directions.
  2. Tests won’t matter much
    • If it goes bad be upset for a little bit, vent to someone if needed, then move on! Really, MOVE ON!
  3. Go to sporting events and actually YELL!
    • Bodies don’t make much of a difference, we need noise for a home field advantage.
  4. Take your eyes off the screen
    • Life is happening all around you, not on social media
  5. Do your research on classes & professors before you enroll
    • Not every professor-student relationship is a good fit; find yours when possible. It can make or break your experience!
  6. Don’t get caught up in the partying
    • But don’t be scared of it either. Find a good balance! An employer might not be impressed on how fast you can chug something, but it might be a nice conversation starter at some point.
  7. Find those friends that will gladly join you in spontaneous, embarrassing actions, but will also pick you up when you are down. 
    • They will last after college. Shoutout to you McDade Babes, De’Nasia, Tyler.
  8. Spend time in an empty stadium, especially Kenan Memorial
    • Great place for quiet studying/thinking on a beautiful day.
  9. Be kind to everyone you see
    • The world is harsh to us already, don’t add to that.
  10. Eat your veggies!
    • Your parents aren’t there to remind you, but a balanced diet makes your body feel so refreshed!
  11. Choose socializing over homework occasionally.
    • This becomes natural by your senior year.
  12. Give up some sleep!
    • Get enough rest, but stay up late when it is worth it! “When you’re older you will remember the memories from the nights you stayed up too late, not the ones you got a good sleep!”~Myra Gebbie
  13. Don’t put your worth in worldly things!
    • People and things will eventually fail you
  14. Always maintain a student-learning mentality.
    • It is an attractive characteristic for employers
  15. Never skip breakfast!
    • You will regret it all day and will not be able to focus.
  16. LOVE yourself! ❤
    • YOU ARE AWESOME & INCREDIBLY LOVED BY THE MAKER OF THE UNIVERSE! There is nothing more or less that you can do to change that.

 

I hope this list gets to someone who needs the advice. But heck, some of the fun was figuring this out firsthand. Everything you experience shapes and molds you, so be joyful and embrace it!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

Nixing Exclusivity

Exclusivity.

That’s a word a I do not like. It’s more than a word really; its meaning is much bigger than to be classified as just a word. Exclusivity has the power to evoke so many emotions, usually negative.
Exclusivity creates walls or barriers if you will. The definition states “shutting out all others from a part or share.” I see this word played out best through the illustration of a crowd of middle schoolers looking with disgust at a non-member of their group who tries to join in. The crowd rejects the other middle schooler who is just trying to fit in because they “don’t belong.” Whether it’s because the new person does not dress the same or is not pretty enough or cannot join in with all the jokes, the reasons do not matter. It all just creates a divide.
Honestly, I think it is part of our human nature. We all have a desire to feel as if we belong to something and to feel valued by others and sometimes it does not matter at what cost it takes to get it. Once we attain this feeling we try endlessly to keep it, because we would never want to go back to being the “outsider.” Blinders are built around our eyes blocking out anyone who tries to jeopardize our position, and we forget what it was like to feel like them: lonely, rejected, unwanted. It is sad that we are so forgetful about certain moments and emotions in life that we will so easily create this divide among people. I don’t blame people though, because I know I have fallen to it too.
When you are on the positive receiving side of exclusivity it feels good. You feel popular, valued, purposeful, powerful, etc. But I think it is important to remember that those feelings will eventually become fleeting because they are driven from others’ opinions of you, and opinions change. Once you’re “in” the group it does not make everything perfect or your insecurities go away, instead it only masks them for a while. Now you find that what you once prided yourself in is not longer your answer of relief.
If this has never affected you then count your  blessings, but we have all at least seen it. I wish I could say exclusive groups does not happen after middle school, but this is something we will always face whether it is on a team, in the workplace, at church or so on… But as we grow up what we can do is be more aware that it is happening in order to limit the spectrum.
My message is to promote inclusivity, inviting all people in! Stop building barriers that keep others out. The world alone makes this life hard, so why should we make it even harder on one another too? If we all believe we are pretty cool people with some stellar positive qualities why not choose to show that to everyone? As you go throughout this week let us all try to be more aware of how we exclude others. Put down the blinders and turn up the nozzle of our emotional intelligence to be conscious of how people surrounding us, not in the group, are feeling and acting! Make an effort to spread the joy!
Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.
~Carly

Last Time, Best Time.

So March definitely brought the Madness that spewed over into April. This past month or so has honestly been one of the best times in my life! Although it was filled with every emotion on the spectrum: feeling like I would pass out before every game from nerves, going hoarse from cheering too loud (is there such a thing?), getting anxious before every trip, not mentally being there in my classes even when I was home, the excitement of adventures, the awkwardness of some events, the thrill of winning and celebration, the high of surviving to the next round, the hope that there is still a chance, the heartbreak and sadness, the deeper love now felt for my teammates and our team…the list could continue on and on.

Everything I was able to experience was absolutely UNBELIEVABLE! It is something so special that I cannot even begin to put it into words. I wish I could, but I do not think I could do it the proper justice.

And in these moments now where the traveling stops. the games end. and everything is supposed to just go back to normal when I am not sure what that is anymore I am kind of lost. There are so many things that I am feeling about my favorite basketball team ever and the end of a cheerleading career that I do not know how to express nor do I really want to.

I don’t have any profound words to say, because so many have already been said. So here are some links that best hint of what myself and many others  are feeling.

Lucas: Proud

#GDTBATH

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“I’ve had some really, really good teams, and some really, really good players. I’ve never been as proud of a group as I am of this group right now….But I wouldn’t trade my team for anybody. “ – Roy Williams

“Well, the whole four years means the world to me. I wouldn’t trade any of the losses, any of the games… It’s hard to say, but even including this one, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s hard because at some point tonight I have to take this jersey off and I never get to put it back on. I just have to rely on all the memories I have with my teammates….

I’m telling you, this is the most fun year in my entire life.” -Marcus Paige

Well said Marcus, well said!

I’ll get back to finding joy, don’t worry.

~Carly

Spring Break Staycations

This week was Spring Break for my college. Almost every single one of my friends left Chapel Hill to go on various adventures, besides myself and my beloved cheer team. My social media feed was full of fantasy getaways to the beach, cruises, fun-filled cities, global travels and island adventures. Snapchat was full pictures and videos of people in cute bathing suits relaxing on a sunny, warm beach or living up our last Spring Break with a group of friends.

It was slightly difficult to block out the feelings of F.O.M.O., but I soon realized all the benefits of being in a college town when it is not cluttered by thousands of students!

Why didn’t I travel anywhere exotic or tropical during my week off you might ask? Mostly because it was not a week off. We are currently in the middle of March Madness, and I could not be more thrilled, but our team played during the week meaning we had to be in town. So I decided to make the best of it and boy it was a beyond wonderful experience!

Benefits of staycations in college:

  1. While all my friends were getting up in time for prime sun bathing hours I could sleep or lay in bed for as long as my heart desired.167071906
  2. I DID NOT GET SUNBURNT! Guys, this is a biggggggg deal. I can be outside for literally 10 minutes and come back burnt. Last Spring Break I mistakenly forgot that you can get sunburnt in March and roasted, roasted, roasted my entire body (RIP to that layer of skin).165473026.jpg
  3. Saving that MONEY! Most of the time on Spring Break trips I just hear “cha-ching, cha-ching $$”, or the weeping of my bank account with anything I do whether it was paid for in advance or not. Even if you are treating yo-self a little extra during your staycation, it will probably be less than you would have spent otherwise!117046655.jpg
  4. Besides seeing a few of my friends, aka my teammates, this week I did not have to worry about being social! I was able to be a hermit and also roam the beautiful campus paths without seeing other humans! This was especially delightful when I went for afternoon runs, because I did not have be self-conscious of people seeing me practically dying from being out of running shape or get in the way of bikes, cars or humans. University-of-North-Carol-Campus-General-Campus-The-Quad-on-UNCs-Campus-UNC-CP-GC-00032smd
  5. Lastly, I saved myself from any embarrassing Spring Break stories that could have potentially been documented! I am all about funny stories (as you may know from my other posts ), but believe me there is a difference. I am happy to hear all of yours, but I am glad I have none of my own!

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    I’ll just let your imagination wonder…

All this goes to say that I hope everyone had a Spring Break for the books, but do not ever think it is “too lame” to enjoy a staycation. Choose to be satisfied with however you decide to spend your time off and the joy will follow!

I am thankful for the people I was able to grow closer to and spend time with this week, thanks for the memories, even if it wasn’t on a beach! It also reminded me how great this place is; stay beautiful Chapel Hill!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

“My Life is a Joke.”

When I was a young teenager I was obsessed with Seventeen Magazine! I received their monthly issue in the mail for years up through high school. While I would study the magazine cover to cover, about three times and try every make up and hair trick they suggested (bad idea), my favorite section came on the second to last page. It was a comprised list of readers’ embarrassing life moments that I like to refer to as My Life is a Joke moments. These are  moments that you had no control over, but were forced to reap the consequences. Sure, we are all dramatic at times but sometimes the world just does things to you that leaves you dumbfounded! Similarly, I have documented a few stories thanks to myself and some friends explaining the moment when the world clearly solidified this thought. Enjoy!

  • My roommate Sarah has always dreamed of having confetti fall over top of her head and fall effortlessly in place looking like the beautiful homecoming queen in all the teenager movies. One night we attended a birthday party with confetti poppers all around. This was her moment, her dream come true! Visions of windblown hair, big smiles and a touch of sparkly confetti danced in her head but when reality hit it hit hard! Instead of breaking apart and slowly floating down, when she popped the confetti ball it all stuck together and hit her directly in the face. Near by the birthday girl popped one which just happen to work flawlessly. Your life is definitely a joke when your dream nails you in the face!
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Your day will come Sarah, your day will come.
  •  Last year I was seeing a specialist for allergy trouble and the doctor casually asks me “Has your voice always been that raspy?” Hmm… I have never had this question before so I didn’t know how to answer because this just seemed like my average voice. She proceeds to take a camera down my passageways to look at my vocal cords. Then looks at me and says “Yep. You have vocal nodules.” Okay I get that this is not the end of the world or anything, but excuse me I have NODES like from Pitch Perfect?Then the doctor’s treatment plan was to have me not talk for SIX, yes 6, months!!! Last I checked this would be a major problem because 1. I am a girl who loves to chat. 2. I am in college. and 3. I am a cheerleader who literally yells for my job! I’d say that classifies as the world playing a joke on me!

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    Gif courtesy of Tumblr
  • For UNC Football there is a rivalry between us and Duke that whoever wins in football get to have the cherished victory bell. Each game the bell is pulled in front of the team with two girl cheerleaders riding and ringing the bell as they run through the tunnel. It was the last home game of the season and my two teammates were getting set to ride the bell out…well so they thought. The boys pulling the bell rounded the corner too quickly without the girls having a steady hold, shooting their bodies through the air to land on their backs in front of the student section and in the middle of the end zone. To make matters worse the boys didn’t realize they had fallen off and continue moving only to run over the girls with the wheels of the couple of hundred pounds bell. With paint, grass stains, tire marks and all the girls hopped right up to cheer the game like nothing happened. Congratulations your life was a joke for thousands of people to watch! Sadly there was no documentation, but just imagine from the picture below.
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Photo courtesy of Peter Schlitt
  • Additionally, at football games the guy cheerleaders are lifted in the air on a push-up board after touchdowns to complete as many push-ups as the team has points. It was one guy’s first time on the board, which apparently is much harder than it looks because the 60-some push-ups he had to do proved to be too much for his arms to handle. He fought and pushed and shaked until he gave in to a quick rest on his belly before completing the rest. Lucky for him it was all caught on camera!
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Photo courtesy of Eddie Newman

While I hope these stories gave you a good laugh, the point is that sometimes life will throw at you ridiculous circumstances, but you’ve just got to know how to handle it. Sometimes you have to choose to roll with the punches and laugh at the joke that has become of your life! Let your stories provide entertainment, and if you are able to find the joy in them it helps lessen the sting!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

Saying Goodbye to My First Sport

Tomorrow. Tomorrow. I have been thinking about tomorrow, February 29th for a while now, and honestly I am dreading it. Besides the fact that it is a Monday and everyone dreads Mondays, it is going to be a really strange day for me.

Tomorrow I cheer my last game at UNC. Meaning I am one step closer to completely ending my career as a cheerleader forever.

To give you a little background for the magnitude of the above statements, I began cheerleading at age 4. The rec program in my hometown did not accept athletes until they were 5, but my mom begged the coach, I shed some tears and they let me in. Since that day, I have not gone a single day without being a cheerleader marking 18 years altogether. I went through the normal progression of recreational cheer, middle school team, plus one year of competitive, high school and now college. So I do not really remember a time where I was not a cheerleader.

But that moment is approaching quickly, too quickly.

Clearly I have always been drawn to the sport, and it was a point of motivation for me to pursue competitive gymnastics for 9 years (which I too found a passion for) in order to secure that I would have enough skills to make the varsity team in high school as a freshmen. I made that goal when I was 6. From then on I filled my weeks with countless hours of gymnastics practice, cheer practice, tumbling class and games year round, never giving my family or myself a break. But for me that was exactly how I wanted to spend my time, and I am beyond thankful that my parents supported it.

To say I have loved every second of this journey with cheerleading would be a lie. I often explain it to people as a love hate relationship.

Prior to college cheerleading was a hobby and the sport that I excelled at! I pushed myself so hard in the gym to learn and perfect new skills, both as a team and individually, many things that my peers or audience would never see. But it did not matter to me that most people would never understand the the sport I loved and the talent I had been gifted with, because conquering fears and mastering skills gave me a thrill I never wanted to lose. My experience with this sport taught me about self-discipline, teamwork, confidence, perseverance, enthusiasm, overcoming adversity, mental and physical strength and so much more.

On the contrary, cheerleading is hard. It sometimes frustrates me to my core. It is a sport based around appearances, which is quite frankly just plain shallow. Because of this, there have been times when I have felt unloved, too flawed, inadequate, pressure to conform, angry, judged, judged and judged some more, etc. There were most definitely times in my life were I made cheerleading an idol. I have been guilty of placing too much importance on cheerleading and therefore let it determine my self-worth and value. Like many other cheerleaders, I made numerous sacrifices such as skipping a senior prom, missing social gatherings and vacations, working my body until it will forever be injured because it all seemed worth it. This is slightly embarrassing, but I even prayed harder for things involving cheerleading than anything else in my life.

Oftentimes I have questioned whether the good really out weighs the bad. Finding the balance can be hard and it did not get any easier in college. Instead cheerleading became my job, a responsibility that carried a heavy weight. At times it lost some of the fun, but do not worry I found it again!

The joy that I have experienced throughout my cheerleading journey rose above everything else  which led me to choose this athletic path year after year.

Cheerleading has been one of the most constant things in my life; while the teams, atmospheres and situations changed the sport was always present. But soon it won’t be and I am honestly terrified of that. What emotions will I feel? Remember back to the first post I wrote, I am not a feelings person so makes me all the more nervous. Am I going to feel sadness, relief, peace, apathetic, excitement for a new stage of life or emptiness because I am losing such a large part of me? Will I experience an identity crisis? Maybe I will feel a mixture of all these emotions at some point, but who knows. All I know is that I am hopeful that I became a cheerleader because I am an encourager and not the reverse that way when this chapter fully closes I can be known as “Carly the encourager of life,” not just “Carly the Cheerleader.”

Know that when or if you say goodbye to something that once helped make you into the person you are, it is NOT all that you are!

My mom called a few hours ago and said “Tomorrow will be bittersweet won’t it?” I know many of my teammates and their families are feeling the same way. But yes, bittersweet seems fitting for now.

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

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Photo courtesy of The News & Observer

 

Deafening Disappointment

As time runs down you hold your breath and grab on to whoever is around you for dear life. The buzzer sounds, the crowd screams and colorful confetti falls. But it is not for you.

The visions of the victory quickly fade and you are left with an emptiness. While everything around you is in a loud uproar, somehow it is drowned out because you are in a daze. For me, I feel like I have been a part of too many of these moments. Yes, this topic is weighing on my mind because of the heartbreaking loss UNC endured this week, but that is not all. I have cheered at many big games and championships in both high school and college and more times than not received a discouraging ending. (Although the games that have ended miraculously have been added to the ‘Highlights of my Life’s’ list.)

A moment that is supposed to be filled with a spectrum of overwhelmingly happy emotions never happens. How do you prepare for this? You don’t, really. I mean technically you are always aware that it could happen because if not then you are too cocky, but if you focus too much on the negative outcome confidence is loss. There has to be a healthy, productive balance leaning a little more towards winning.

Disappointment is not only limited to sporting event. The atmosphere of having both ends of the spectrum (some people’s highs in the midst of other’s lows) in one place just makes it more visible. Unfortunately, this feeling has no boundaries; it can affect any person in any situation no matter the race, age, gender, etc. Whether it comes in the form of missed job offers, breakups, failed test, etc. we will all face it at some point. So why not stare it right back in the face when it comes your way?

Moments like these have the possibility to defeat you, but only if you allow it. Like many things in life, I believe it comes down to a choice. A choice to use these disappointments as motivation.

When you face these trails take time to reflect on the situation, usually many lessons can be learned. But do not dwell on it! Be aware of how your mind is recalling the events and processing them. If it is all a negative and hyper-critical tone then stop yourself from getting to that mental place, putting yourself down more will not be helpful. If you are sill struggling with this on your own ask a friend to keep you accountable, or write down every time you think about it in a nonproductive way in case you do not even realize it.

After reflection comes appreciation. Be thankful for the opportunity to fail; without the opportunity there is no option for growth! Then it is time to swallow your pride and get to work. Use these gut wrenching feelings as motivation to improve in a variety of aspects.

Currently, I am still waiting on my Peyton and Lucas moment from One Tree Hill, but until then I am going to try to enjoy the roller coaster of life. As cliche as it sounds do not let the disappointments of this world dull your sparkle, continue getting up time after time to chose to be triumphant. Sometimes being victorious is just a mindset, and I think we can all be winners!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

Photo courtesy of the ACC.

 

I Love Doing Nothing with You

In the spirit of the recent snow and ice days, I began thinking about things that make the difference between having a wonderful free day and a wasted, boring day. When we were younger any day off from school seemed magical and like a dream come true; (maybe our parents thought differently) no matter what the day consisted of it did not  make a difference because all we focused on was the sweet, sweet freedom from school. The more I age the more I notice people dreading days off due to the weather. People get super antsy and begin feeling “cabin fever” about an hour into their free day. Now, I understand that these days can potentially create more stress because it effects deadlines, work loads and sometimes a paycheck, but sadly I also feel that people just do not know how to sit and relax anymore. Many folks either get too stressed or bored to take in these types of days as a blessing! I believe there are two types of people during times of inclement weather , ones who view it as a day “stuck” at home and others who see it as a day to finally stay at home to enjoy some peace and relaxation.

While contemplating what makes the difference between a good snow day stuck at home or a boring snow day I came up with many reasons, but one rang much truer than others. So of course a large factor that can determine the course of the day is continuing to have power. This allows you to enjoy the beauty and fun of the wintry outdoors , but come inside and enjoy the warmth of a home at  your leisure. Additionally, nowadays Netflix can too make all the difference. You finally have an entire day to delight in countless hours of emerging yourself into the dramas of television shows and movies and you do not even have to feel guilty about it! But let’s strip all of that away for a second (scary, I know). I believe that the most important element in appreciating a snow day is who you have as your company to spend it with! In order to have the best experience you have got to be surrounded by those who you can enjoy doing nothing with.

Oftentimes I have heard this topic mentioned in reference to relationships…for example: “You will know you have found the one when it is someone you can do nothing with and still have fun.” But I completely think this goes for friendships as well! In life you will have an array of friends. You will have those friends that you always go and do something with, whether it is adventures, eating out, or going shopping; it does not really matter what but it is doing something. Then you will have a specific special group that you can literally do nothing with and still have an absolute blast! You genuinely enjoy doing nothing when it is your choice and also when you are forced to. The nothing action in this sense can mean laying around, literally not moving or partaking in activities that have entirely no significance to anything.

Luckily, I was able to find my group of pro-do nothings-ers when I moved in to my college suite full of a few girl roommates placed together randomly. Somehow all our craziness clicked and meshed together perfectly. Some of my favorite memories in college have come from the nights of doing nothing. From making lip syncing music videos in our dorm for no reason at all, to playing makeshift karaoke, to failing at acroyoga stunts, to burning Christmas trees on snow days, to sitting in silence with the comfort of knowing you are not alone.

I have found that these people are hard to come by, but when you find them do not under any circumstance let them go. They are your people, or for all you fellow Grey’s Anatomy lovers, they are “your persons.” I am continuously thankful that these girls choose to do the boring parts of life with me, and in turn things become less boring! I am so filled with joy by these people, and my wish is that you all find these special gems in your life too!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

snow days