Once A Wildcat, Always A Wildcat

So there’s actually not a wikihow on what to post on a blog about growing up, just FYI.

As I mentioned in my post last night/extremely early this morning, my younger brother graduated today. I did the sisterly thing and sat through the whole ceremony without complaining once about how boring it was or the that the gym was approximately 1500 degrees, Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin, you choose. I didn’t even text during it (whattttt).  He, along with many of my close friends and family, started their lives post high school today, and boy are they in for a surprise.

One of our friends was in a horrible car accident about three weeks ago and was life flighted to Vanderbilt, our closest trauma hospital. No one was sure she would live, and she was expected to be at Vandy for at least a month. On Thursday she went home after being in a rehab facility close to home for a week, and today she was rolled in a wheel chair to receive her diploma with a thunderous round of applause. She doesn’t know it, but she is one of the bravest and strongest people I know and she gave me some fantastic advice while I was in high school.

My best friend also graduated today. I have known her since before she was born, and she’s 11 months younger than me. Every female in our family was born on the fifth by coincidence (including my soon to be sister-in-law and both of our female dogs), and so was my best friend. She might as well be my sister. We have been through so much together from playing softball together when we were 3/4, to flying for the first time together at 11/12, all the way to being on the academic team and marching band together in middle/high school. I love her dearly and she really will do great things. We’re actually house sitting together for two weeks this summer, so our many shenanigans will be shared here.

Much of the ceremony was filled with the standard sentiments, you have a bright future, you’ll do great things, education is key to blah blah blah, etc., etc.

Seeing as my graduation was many many…. months ago, I actually found a lot of the sentiments funny. I thought I would use this post to write a letter to my younger brother on what I’ve learned in the past year and what he can expect to experience in his time out of high school. Feel free to laugh at how naive I probably am at this time, but remember, this is only to get him through the first year.

Dear Tyler,

Congrats. You finally did it. You made it. You graduated high school. As your older sister who many people thought was your twin your whole life, I have a little bit of advice you should listen to.

1. Go to college. You haven’t applied anywhere and that is a problem. Yeah, Mom, Dad, and Derek didn’t go to college and they have pretty good jobs now, but those were different times. We weren’t in a recession, people were actually hiring back then, and they were just plain lucky. Now, even with a college degree, people are struggling to find jobs. Plus, the longer you’re in school, the longer you can avoid getting an actual job and you can mooch off of Mom and Dad (I mean, I DID apply for a summer job to get Dad off of my back, but I probably won’t get hired).

2. Don’t major in history. I know you. You won’t write all of the papers necessary nor will you study as much as you need to. I got a B in Western Civ after studying my ass off and missing 47 of 800 possible points that whole semester. Yeah I know, you like history, but remember how I liked math? You. Will. Not. Enjoy. It.

3. Major in something with computers. As I type, you are over there on your computer doing who knows what, and that’s all you do. You and Owen create games, and you laugh while doing it. You. Enjoy. It.

4. You don’t necessarily have to go to Western. BG Tech is just as great for a computer degree and it’s faster. Plus, it’s not as overwhelming and it doesn’t cost as much.

5. Life is Hell. With great spots in it. It’s full of hard work and unfairness and everything we were taught but not exactly exposed to while growing up. The best part is that now you get to choose what you do with that. And whatever you do, be happy. You were not born to wander around and hate life all of the time. You are such an intelligent kid and you need to put it to use with whatever you do. Find something you love and do it. No matter who says what. No matter if Mom and Dad support you or not. Because I will be behind you, ten-million percent. I will do whatever is needed so that you can live your life. Need money? Ask me. Need a place to stay in BG overnight? Ask me. Need advice? I’ll try my best. Want to go to the Godzilla movie and need a ride? Well you can ask me, but I’ll probably tell you to find a friend and I’ll meet up with someone while you watch it.

6. You can come to me at anytime for advice or for a hug or for whatever. I know you didn’t need it in high school (I didn’t either), but in comes college and it’s *in Aladdin theme*  A WHOLE NEW WOOOOORLD. Remember that I’m going through everything that you’re going through a year ahead of you. And if I’m not going through it I bet I have a trustworthy friend with great advice for you.

7. Come back to the high school and visit the few teachers that you loved. They cared for you for 4+ years and they want to know how you’re doing. Better yet, add them on Facebook so they can check it out in real-time. Ask them for advice, they were in your same place back however many years ago. They seem to have figured out at least that much of life.

8. Get out of the house sometimes. Hang out with friends. Make new friends with new ideas. Challenge these ideas. Challenge your ideas. Go to a place alone that is quiet. Look at the Earth and how beautiful it is. Enjoy it. There were times that I couldn’t sleep at night so I hiked up Western’s hill at 4 a.m. to watch the sunrise. It was absolutely beautiful.

9. You’re basically an adult now, make adult decisions. Accept the consequences like an adult. If you want to go to that party, go to it. But by all means realize that you can’t drink and drive or do anything else stupid.

10. Have pride in your upbringing. Yes, we were raised in small town Kentucky and were only allowed to have one point of view or else we were communists or the like. Yes, we all had to go to church and we all had to attend 1 of 2 elementary schools, but the same 5/6 center, middle school, and high school. Yes for the last 17 years you couldn’t speak your mind to Mom or Dad or Mamaw without being yelled at for backtalking. Yes everyone knew our business before we even knew it. Yes we received an average level of education from most of our teachers, but there were the few that will always stick with us. Yes all of this and more. But also, Yes we were raised to respect our elders. Yes we were raised to put God first then family above everything else. Yes we were raised to respect everyone unless we wanted to get spanked. Yes we were raised that if life got us down to get up again and to dust ourselves off and continue with our scrapes. I like to think of us, Tyler, as big city people who were raised with the best small town values. Take pride in our county and in our school. “Once A Wildcat, Always A Wildcat”, it’s even on your graduation program.

I guess here is where I put in that Dr. Seuss quote: “Congratulations! You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”,  except that I don’t want to do that because that overused quote is not good enough for you.

Tyler, high school was only one chapter in your amazing life. So many people make it the best chapter in their life, but my challenge to you is to make it one great chapter in your book of thousands of fantastic ones.

One song comes to mind as I sit here rereading and rereading trying to figure out what I have left out, A Talk With George, by Jonathan Coulton. You should listen to it sometime. It is pretty inspiring in my opinion. 

 

I love you more than anything else in the world, kid. Take that and run with it.

Always,

Your Big Sister

The First Post: Welcome to My Life

I always struggle with the first post. Should I let you know everything about me? Should I just give you my name? Should there even be an introductory first post? Should it strictly be about me and not have anything else? Should it this or that, etc., etc. This first post will be lengthy and probably boring, but will give me a chance to reflect on my life so far and fill you in on the details.

Hi,

My name is Tabitha Lynn Conley and I’m 18. I recently completed my first year of college, and, when I stumbled upon my old blog here, I could not believe how immature I was. It was from about four years ago and all I did was complain and talk about how life was not fair. My goal for this is to update in a consistent manner and let my readers watch me grow as I continue my journey into adulthood.

I guess I’ll start with the basic stuff. I have grown up in small town Kentucky and have lived in the same house all of my life. I two dogs: Lady, a three year old sheltie, Sasha, an eight month old great pyrenees, and a fur nephew: Cooper, a seven month old german shepherd. You’ll be seeing and hearing a lot about them. I’m the middle child- I have one older and one younger brother. Being the only girl as well as the middle child has been interesting. Growing up, it seemed as though my parents were either upset with Derek for doing something wrong or babying Tyler, and I was forgotten. I’m not complaining too much, though, because as soon as Derek moved out, the focus came on me and my journey to and through college. At this time, I had just turned 11, and I was their star child apparently. I had straight A’s (okay, so this wasn’t hard at any time in the public school system I was in), and was on the Academic Team, I played sports, and I was active in a ton of student organizations. This sometimes took all of my parent’s attention away from my younger brother. Now, as it is 13 hours until he graduates high school, I see the effects of that. He barely made it through the classes and the schools that I slept through and passed with flying colors.

Some highlights of my school career:

6th Grade: joined band-you’ll understand why this is so important later

7th Grade: was a starter on the KY Middle School State Champion Quick Recall Team, got braces, flew for the first time, went to the National Quick Recall Tournament in Washington, D.C.

8th Grade: joined marching band, became captain of that academic team, made the basketball team, started my overdramatic years, was in a play

9th Grade: started high school, met a senior, fell in love, all that jazz

10th Grade: new band director, new love interest

11th Grade: new band director

12th Grade: the only year that mattered. I really didn’t do anything this year, but every day was a “last” and it seemed meaningful at that point in time. I applied to six colleges, ranging from Yale to the University of Kentucky, to my safety school that I was never going to actually attend, Western Kentucky University. I got accepted to all six. I chose Western. Received the John Philip Sousa Award** I got all of that award stuff and a bunch of stuff that really doesn’t matter in the real world but I worked for them my whole school career. I remember in first grade wanting to be valedictorian of my class, if that tells you what kind of child I was.

Alright, August 17th. Move in Day. Also, my younger brother’s 17th birthday. Yet another important thing to him that I got attention on. I moved in to my room at Western, scared to death of what college was going to be like. I was starting band camp and had moved in a week early, so my roommate wasn’t there yet. I was afraid, lonely, and was convinced that band camp would be a living hell, because I didn’t know anyone. I went to registration and signed in, not five minutes later did some of my first friends come up to me and introduce themselves. That day and the rest of band camp turned out to be fantastic. The Big Red Marching Band was what got me through my first semester of college.

Speaking of my first semester of college, I changed my major more times in those few months than many people do in their whole college career. Talk about the paperwork.

I went in as a Biology Major because my parents and grandmother wanted me to be a doctor. I was still in the please everyone else mode. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be a doctor? A week into classes, and the best answer to that question was me. I had no clue what to do because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. I talked to my friends, and my older brother, and I decided that I would drop down in my parents eyes and be a Math Teacher. I mean, I love math and everything, so why not? So that was my second major. I then realized, when it came to choosing classes for my next semester, that I was spending all of my extra time on the 3rd floor of FAC (that’s the music major floor), and that I was extremely happy when the Wind Ensemble audition music was put out. I confided in an older friend on what to do, because the one thing my parents absolutely positively told me they would not support me on was a music major. She gave me some much needed advice and, after almost a month of deliberation and talking to who would become my lessons professor, I auditioned for the music program. I was accepted. I did not tell my parents for a while.

To this day, a full semester later, I have not told my high school band director. I want to, but I need his approval, and I’m afraid that I won’t get it.

While dealing with all of that, I was splitting myself up with my college life and my home life. There was this boy, my high school boyfriend, that I spent every weekend possible with, and it wasn’t until later that I realized that he didn’t care anymore and I was just wasting all of my time. That was and still is the hardest realization I’ve had.

And now here I am, one semester into being a music major and I finally realize what college is about. Well I think so, anyways. To me, so far, college has been about finding myself underneath what my many years in small town Kentucky has shaped me to be. Of course I have good morals and values from there, but everyone always wanted me to be something that I didn’t. I wanted to please everyone, but now that is obviously no way to be happy.

Coming from small town Kentucky, many people were extremely religious, my Mamaw being one of them. She took me to church and everything, but I didn’t really learn anything there. So I came into college not saved. I’m still not. But through this year and through the people I’ve met and one organization I joined, I feel as if I’ve become closer to God. I’ve cried with others about him, I’ve prayed with others to him, and I’ve prayed to him when I had no clue what to do. I am afraid to ask for help, but I need it for that reason, and I don’t know where to start.

Here it is, summer between my first and second years of college, and I’m through with my first blog post. If anyone happens to read this, welcome to my life. If you happen to stay for the ride, I hope you enjoy it.