10 Things to do on a College Night (That Don’t Include Partying)

Honestly, one of my biggest worries when coming to college was the fact that I just don’t enjoy going to parties. Well, let me be more specific…I enjoy the cake and balloon type of parties, but I do not enjoy the super loud music and crowded rooms full of intoxicated people type of parties. I really thought that I would be the only one who felt this way and that I would spend every Friday and Saturday night sitting alone in my dorm room. But good news! If you don’t enjoy partying every weekend, you are not alone! And more good news! There are so many other things to do in college on the weekends besides partying!

So to all of my fellow introverts and party avoiding people, I made a little list of 10 things you can do on the weekends that do not include partying.

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The Difference Between Growing Old and Growing Up

*Originally ran November 9, 2015*

     I am afraid of growing up. I am afraid that one day I will no longer believe in “happily ever afters”, and that I won’t go out of my way to jump into a pile of leaves on the sidewalk, and that I won’t think that flowers and rain and sunrises are magical. I am afraid that I will become practical. And realistic. And unimaginative. And those are quite awful things to be. But here is a secret: growing old is mandatory, but growing up…well, that’s optional.

     You see, growing up is a mindset. Unfortunately, it has become associated with growing older, which makes people believe that they must ditch their dreams of fairytales and magic once they reach a certain age. But whether or not you choose to grow up is entirely up to you. Staying young at heart is a matter of seeing the world through childlike eyes. It’s looking at a puddle on the ground and seeing it as a mystical pond that you must jump over or into to get across, instead of viewing it as an annoyance to carefully tip toe around. It’s seeing the chore of folding bedsheets as a perfect opportunity to spread them around the room and build a fort hideaway. It is still holding on to hope that magic is real (because it is). It’s knowing that all people are good at heart and everyone has a chance to a happy ending.

     Most people say that age is just a number. Because it is. But it’s a pretty cool number. That’s the number of times that you have circled around the sun, which is a pretty big deal! With every tally mark that you add to your number of revolutions, just think of all the amazing things you have seen. Every year older gives you another year to explore and grow and change. Growing old in age and physicality is inevitable, but it’s not a bad thing at all. The bad thing is when you grow up, because that’s when your heart starts to grow old. You don’t grow up because you get older, but you do get older (in the bad way) when you grow up.

     But do not worry! It is never to late to be young at heart. And reaching to your inner child is easier than you might imagine. Never stop seeking to find extraordinary in the ordinary. Imagination is the most powerful trait that you have. Use it to your advantage. You can have the most colorful and exciting life if you choose to embrace your age and simultaneously look at the world through wide, childlike eyes. You are never ever too old for fort building, or sprinkler splashing, or finger painting, or fairytales.

“That’s the real trouble with the world. Too many people grow up.” -Walt Disney

~Madelynne Catherine

A Definition of Art

*Originally ran October 14, 2015*

“There Can Never Be a Valid Defintion of Art”

      Art is the way that your hair tangles in curves and spirals across the pillowcase. It is the way that your sleepy eyes slowly open and add two bright spheres of light to the world. It is the stretching and bending of limbs and the way your feet feel as they hit the cold floor. It is the wrinkles and creases in your clothes and the way the fabric folds as you dance.

     Art is the sunlight that peaks over the rooftops and through colorful stain glass windows. It is sunbeams dancing through lacy curtains, making intricate patterns on the windowsill. It is the glistening shimmer on the sidewalk as a small coin catches the glow of the sun. It is the rush of wind you feel on your face, as a hurried figure makes their way to work. It is the brush of a hand you feel on your arm, as a child weaves their way through the crowded sidewalk. It is the sweet smile of a stranger strolling along beside you.

     Art is the quick heart doodled on the window on a foggy morning. It is coffee stains on old t-shirts and paint splattered onto arms. It is the tickle felt by a forgotten sketchbook as a pencil finally finds its way to the page again. It is an accidental splash of color and a carefully planned out floral arrangement. It is the symphony of voices in a busy train station, the beat of fingers tapping on a desk, and the sound of laughter that shakes your whole body.

     Art is the way we attempt to define undefinable feelings. It is flexible and ever changing and perfectly imperfect, which is also a good description of the world that we live in. It is also a great description of you. Because you are flexible and ever changing, perfectly imperfect, undefinable, and simply put: a work of art.

~Madelynne Catherine

It’s Only New Once

*Originally ran October 5, 2015*

     The worst part about a new situation is the anticipation that comes before it. It’s the awful days, weeks, and months beforehand that we spend worrying and overthinking. It’s all of this extra space in between that gives our brain time to think up every  horror story that could possibly occur, every single mistake that we could make, and every little tiny detail that could go wrong.

     Recently, I had a pretty big change in my life. I packed up all of my bags from Virginia Beach and moved to the big city of Philadelphia to attend Drexel University. Of course, I spent a vast majority of the summer coming up with awful scenarios that could occur, because everything was new and I had no idea what to expect. I was living away from home for the first time, making up my own schedule for the first time, and attending lectures and art classes for the first time. For the entire first week, absolutely everything I did was new. But here’s the funny thing about that; it’s only new once.

     In one of my classes my professor told us these word, “it’s only new once”, and they’ve resonated with me ever since. Sometimes things in our day to day life can seem rather daunting. Easy tasks for some people may seem like Olympic worthy feats for others. It all depends on us as individuals. Sometimes beginning the first day of a new job is scary, or walking into your first class of a new quarter, or even picking up the phone to make an appointment somewhere new. No matter what our situation is, new things can be intimidating. However, we must keep in mind that they are only new once! All it takes is a good fifteen seconds of bravery to muster up the courage to pick up the phone or walk in the door. After that it’s no longer new. Been there done that. You got this.

~Madelynne Catherine

The Trouble With Expiration Dates

*Originally ran July 29, 2015*

Currently I am in that awkward stage in between graduating from high school last month and entering college next month. I’m not a high school student anymore, but I’m also not quite a college kid yet either. Everything around me is the same. I have the same friends, we hang out at the same spots, I work at the same place, and I live in the same house. Yet for some reason I’m looking at everything differently. I’m viewing all of my surroundings with a big fat expiration date that says September 12th (the day I move in for college).  This has been going on for a while. I can’t look at my friends without thinking, “I won’t see you every day like this next month” and I can’t enjoy the beach without thinking, “I won’t be able to visit here whenever I want next month”. But today it hit me that I have to stop thinking like this. It’s like looking at fresh, delicious strawberries and thinking, “because you expire next week, I can’t enjoy you now.” That doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? So now I’m viewing life like a bowl of strawberries. I’m going to appreciate everything around me and love every second I spend with my friends and family, because I don’t want to waste any time fretting over a bowl of strawberries that hasn’t expired yet.

      It’s so easy to live in the future. Sometimes we just get so wrapped up in everything that’s coming. We stress over dates, and dead lines, and obligations, and expiration dates. But the thing is, it’s all going to come eventually. Eventually tomorrow turns into today and today turns into yesterday. The obligation will pass, you’ll meet your deadline, and you’ll realize the things you thought would “expire” maybe won’t. It’s all going to come at one point or another. So why waste now thinking about it? Face the problem when it reaches you. Don’t bring the problem to you sooner, because the only thing that will come out of that is unnecessary stress.

      So take a deep breath. In and out. I know it seems like a simple thing to do, but sometimes we forget to just take one moment to breathe. At prom, my friend told me to stop and close my eyes. He said later to do the same thing the last time I walk out of high school and then at graduation and so on. It just shows you how quickly time passes. I closed my eyes one second while in a gown with lights flashing around me and when I opened them I was standing in a cap and gown with a diploma in my hand. But this made me appreciate everything around me more. In the midst of our very busy lives, we just need to remember to stop sometimes and simply breathe. In and out.

~Madelynne Catherine

Sometimes You Just Need to Say Yes

  *Originally ran July 28, 2015*

Personally, I think that the word “no” is used far too often. Upon hearing a question, we hesitate. In those few seconds of silence our brains go through an intense series of lists with the topics of “what if’s”,  “ways I can get out of this”, and “reasons staying in bed would be better”. But I have yet to hear of an interesting story about someone’s amazing day in bed watching Netflix, because let’s be honest: no great story takes place during a lazy day at home. For once let’s skip the moment of hesitation that gives our brains time to think of an excuse. Instead, just say yes. If your friend calls you up in the middle of the night for some wild secret adventure; say yes. If your mom invites you out to lunch to spend time together; say yes. If you’re offered an amazing opportunity at work that’s a bit out of your comfort zone; say yes. New experiences are the key to growth, adventure, and some pretty awesome memories.

      Years from now you won’t remember the day that you spent sleeping in and watching movies for twelve hours straight. I’m definitely not saying those days aren’t great occasionally, but after a while they blend together and get lost amongst other more important memories. They’re buried underneath the memories that started when you said yes. The exciting memories. The nerve-wracking memories. The crazy memories. The sweet memories. The yes memories.

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Be a Tourist in Your Own City

*Originally ran July 25, 2015*

While living in the tourist magnet city of Virginia Beach the past few years, I’ve picked up that the word “tourist” sometimes carries around a negative connotation. Locals tend to stereotype this group as a bunch of loud mouthed, wide-eyed people who walk way too slowly and don’t know how to properly drive on our roads. My friends and I often wonder why people bother coming to vacation here, of all places, when they could go anywhere in the world. They come to our city with amazement and wide arms ready to soak up everything that comes their way and maybe these “annoying” tourists actually have the right idea…

      Often times our every day surroundings become monotonous and we begin to take everything around us for granted. So here’s a challenge: set aside a day to be a tourist in your own city.  Do all of the roll-your-eye tacky, cheesy things those visitors in your city flock to. The other day my friend, Katie, and I did just that. We took on the beach with the most hotels lining the streets and tourists bursting around every corner; the Oceanfront. I had always had it in my mind that it was just hotel after hotel after hotel, etc. But recently we’ve found some hidden gems that made us finally understand the appeal of that part of our city to others.

      After starting off the day with fresh fruit and delicious coffee from Bad Ass Coffee, we began the search for a parking spot, which usually turns into quite the adventure. The great thing about having an awful sense of direction is that I often get lost. A lot. Which usually ends in discovering cute little tucked away shops and faded, pretty brick walls that are perfect for posing.

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Make Your Own Flower Crowns

*Originally ran July 19, 2015*

“I’d rather have flowers in my hair than diamonds around my neck.”

The treetops above are blooming vibrantly with buds and the grassy fields below are decorated with the most beautiful wildflowers. It’s clear to see that spring has sprung and summer is now in full swing. With warm weather and sunshine finally in our grasp, it seems to be the perfect time to celebrate and show off nature’s works of art. Flower crowns are a beautiful and whimsical addition to any outfit and a reminder of sunshine and summer. Also, they happen to be extremely easy to make.

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