summer mission trips

Scene I:
It’s summer and our mothers sign us up for a basketball camp
You’re awful and I think I’m better than I actually am
Somehow we end up hating each other but we both find a way to smile while standing next to each other during our team photo

Scene II:
It’s the end of eighth grade and somehow we have become the best of friends
It’s March so we pile in your mom’s car along with two other friends and we go to your dad’s house
We lay on the beach and get burned but we still spend the entire night laughing
When we head home, we’re closer than we were before and we promise each other that high school won’t change us

Scene III:
We’re fifteen now and the world seems a little brighter
We think we know all and we can conquer the world
Our parents know better
We spend the entire summer together going on mission trips and concerts and getaways
They’re worried we’ll get sick of each other
But the opposite happens
We miss each other so much it hurts when we’re apart

Scene IV:
We’re graduating
We both don’t understand how time has passed so quickly
We’ve made plenty of friends during our time in high school
But we’re both each other’s constants and we always find our way back to each other
We promise the same will happen during our time in college

Scene V:
We’re saying goodbye to our parents
Our bags are packed and our tickets are bought
Yet we still can’t wrap our minds around the fact that we’re going to be living in Australia for a year
Neither can our parents, really
But we board the plane and together we survive the greatest adventure of our lives

Scene VI:
We’re sitting on your parent’s couch watching an old animated movie
I can’t help but remember all the times we sat here together watching movies and laughing
And now you’re the only one with packed bags
And when the credits roll around, I’ll be the one saying goodbye while you move on

We overcome life together
We aren’t always living in the same house, or town, or even state
But we’re constantly battling life side by side
My kids will call yours cousins
And yours will call me auntie
When we’re old and wrinkled, we’ll look back and tell our stories to a blooming generation.

—  our story; jmb

studysweetheart  asked:

Hey Anne! I was just wondering why you always seem to be throwing shade at the members of College Confidential. I know that a lot of them are the Ivy-League-or-Bust types, but honestly, I've been lurking on the forums for a while, and a lot of them aren't like that. Plus, the information they present is really helpful to a lot of people. Maybe there's some backstory I don't know about? Please answer, I feel like this is kinda uncharacteristic of you & I just want to clear this up. Thanks!!

I’m sure there are plenty of people on college confidential that are great people! There’s good and bad everywhere. (Even in appblr, there are good bloggers and then Ivy-League-or-Bust bloggers.) When I joke about “college confidential,” I’m usually referring to users on the College Confidential “chance me” forums, who sound a little like this.

The problem with “Chance Me” forums is that they don’t help anyone, not even the original posters. In case you’re not familiar with “Chance Me” forums: Users will post all their stats–their GPA, test scores, their extracurriculars, a short bio about their “hook”–and ask other users to estimate their chances at a university (usually an Ivy or school with a similarly low acceptance rate). There are so many problems with this:

1. It assumes that random strangers on the internet have insight into college admissions. (Spoiler alert: They don’t.) Like, really? You’re going to trust some random College Confidential user to tell you that your “stats are perfect for Harvard”? How does anyone even know that? College admissions change with every school and even with every year.

2. It creates an inflated perception of the applicant pool. If you spend enough time browsing through “Chance Me” forums, you’ll start to convince yourself that every applicant has a 2300+ SAT score and a summer missions trip involving orphans in a foreign country, when that isn’t the case. There are thousands of applicants with regular extracurriculars–babysitting, volunteering locally–and even applicants without straight A’s on their transcript. Those applicants just aren’t posting on College Confidential.

3. Users will start to compare themselves–with ugly results. Again, a lot of users on College Confidential have stellar stats, and it’s easy for other users to feel discouraged. But there’s no need to be! Education shouldn’t be a competition. Trying to catch up to others is a losing cycle, because there will ALWAYS be someone smarter than you, or with more extracurriculars, or with better stats. The only person you should be worried about is yourself. Make sure you’re improving and growing and becoming a better person. And if after all that, your dream college doesn’t accept you, you have to understand that maybe you weren’t a good fit for that college after all.

4. It assumes that every person is nothing but a culmination of their achievements. Perhaps this is true for state school admissions, where stats are heavily weighed, but for many smaller and private schools, personal essays and letters of rec can separate the great from the greatest. So yeah, maybe that College Confidential user has a perfect ACT score, but how do they express their creativity? What can they contribute to a team? People are more than just numbers and letters from A to F, and it’s impossible to judge someone solely on the contents of a post on College Confidential.

5. It’s a sign of arrogance. This one isn’t applicable to all “Chance Me” forum posters, I understand. A lot of them are just lost kids looking for some reassurance. But there have been a few that are posting simply to brag about their stats or opportunities, and I absolutely can’t stand that.

Update: I answered a subsequent, related ask here.

You’re sitting in a room full of teenagers, and you’re being addressed by someone who used to be a teenager not so long ago. You’re out of your context and you’re impressionable and you’re not looking anyone in the eye because you know what the talk is going to be about tonight. It doesn’t matter what they call this talk, because they all call it different things, but it’s the same talk at every summer camp and missions trip and youth retreat and worship conference - the Sex and Relationships Talk.

The object lesson is different every time, but the most obvious one is the rose. The speaker takes out a single long-stem rose and hands it to the first person on the first row. Tells them to smell it, touch it, look at it from every angle, then pass it along to the next person. While the rose makes its circuit of the room, the speaker says things about guarding your heart, fleeing temptation, and not Cheating On Your Future Spouse (by holding someone’s hand, or kissing them, or sleeping with them, or telling them you love them). You nod at everything they say. Inevitably, they’re finishing their talk at right about the same time the rose makes it back up to the front. They take it from the nervous teenager who’s been stuck holding it for a minute or two, and hold it up so everyone can see it.

It looks exactly the way you would expect a rose to look after it has been held, smelled, and handled by a room full of careless, distracted, oily teenagers. It’s falling apart, the stem is bent or broken, all or most of the petals have fallen off. And the speaker holds it up high so everyone can see it, and they ask you a question:

“Now, tell me, who would want this?”

Flash forward a few years, and you’ve tried to reject all of that shit. Your brain is swimming with buzzwords like slut-shaming and sex-positivity. Virginity is “an imaginary concept,” is “an inherently patriarchal, heteronormative ideal,” is “rooted in the commodification of female sexuality.” You’ve been told a thousand times that what you do with your body is your business and yours only.

But when it comes down to it, both voices are still in your head. Sometimes you can block them out. Sometimes they’re both shouting at you. Along with a hundred others. Slut. Prude. Tease. What are they all going to think of you? He’s going to get tired of waiting. It’s only going to bring you grief. It’s permanent, you know, you can’t undo it. And amid all of those voices, it’s almost impossible to find your own. Because none of them sound like you. They sound like your eighth-grade camp counselor and your youth pastor and the faceless girls on Tumblr and the feminist icons and the people in the movies and how do you figure out what you think, what you believe, what you want…how do you find your own voice among all the chatter?

And not being able to find your voice is the single worst thing that can happen to you when someone you want and trust is looking at you with a question in their eyes and a promise that it’s fine, whatever you decide.