Why I Decided To Apply For College

I'm 21.
And this year, I will be a freshman in college.

"Why is that?" you ask.

Why am I starting college three years after the average norm?
(Actually, I graduated in 2012, so hurray to being graduated from high school for four years.  So that makes the gap even "worse", right?)

I don't regret the wait to start college, though.  Looking back now, I would recommend at least a two year break between high school and college to almost anyone.  "Why is that?" you may ask again.  I shall tell you.

Being home schooled all the way through high school was absolutely lovely (minus the excruciatingly painful study times in my bed at 8am).

After graduating, I decided to not jump directly into college but instead find a job (newspaper reporter, then barista), buy my own car (paid for in cash), travel (in the States and out of the States), teach, write, invest in family and friends.  And I would never want to trade any of that time for being a college graduate at 21, instead of a freshman.

Not only did I have so much free time to dabble in whatever I wanted to, but I was able to learn so much about myself during these last few years.  It's a commonly known fact that high schoolers really don't know who the heck they are.  Teenagers are still discovering things about themselves, changing rapidly - physically and emotionally - trying to figure out what they like, what they don't like, who they want to date, where they want to live.  (Those are things you'll probably be dealing with for the rest of your life, honestly, but I'm specifically referring to high school seniors.)

I, for sure, didn't know what I wanted to go to college for IF I had decided to apply right after graduation.  I saw so many of my peers enroll in college and when I asked them what they were going for, 99% of them shrugged their shoulders and said, "I don't know.  I'm just going and in a few years, I'll probably figure out what I like."

Why waste your time, energy and money on studying for something you have no idea what you're working towards BY studying?

That brings me to reason number two for deciding to apply for college at the age of 21...
After praying about what God wanted me to pursue and life, and being open to whatever career direction He placed on my heart, it was made extremely clear to me this year.  And since that moment of clarity and peace, I applied to two colleges.  I got accepted at both, but decided to go to one of them.
I will be studying for a degree in Psychology.
And I am BEYOND ready and excited.

Hello to that college scene!  I'm coming for you.


So that's my little "Why I Decided To Apply For College" story.  
What's yours?


6 Tips On How To Compliment A Girl

1)  Compliment her on something she doesn't get complimented on often.
If she's a beautiful girl, chances are she gets told that a lot.  If she's musically talented, chances are she probably gets told how good she is at music.  Et cetera, et cetera.  If you really want to make an impression (remember: it has to be genuine), compliment her on something that she doesn't hear often.  It'll mean a lot more to her.  And it will also surprise her that you're not complimenting her on something obvious and/or that she's used to hearing.  She'll most likely remember you as "the guy who said ____".

2)  Compliment her on something NOT physical
As I'm sure you have experienced before, some girls can be really attractive, yet when they open their mouths, they somehow become less attractive.  And the opposite is also true.  Looks and character are two completely different things.  Don't just compliment a girl on her physical appearance.  What about her character is attractive?  Get to know her.  Find that.  And compliment her on her confidence, her intelligence, her humility, her visionary mindset, whatever character quality(ies) stands out to you the most.

3)  Don't compare her to celebrities...unless you KNOW she considers them beautiful.
I've had a guy attempt to compliment me by saying I looked like a certain actress and, while his intentions were sweet, I didn't consider the said celebrity very attractive so...the compliment fell kinda flat for me.  Do NOT compare her beauty to an actress or model or singer unless you've heard her talk specifically about them in regards to how beautiful she thinks they are.

4)  Don't ever use the word "pretty" to compliment her.
Calling a girl "pretty" is basically the equivalent to how you guys perceive "You're a good friend".  It's like telling a little girl how pretty she looks in her princess costume.  That's not the word you want to use for your stunning date you're taking out to a fancy restaurant.  Or the confident girl who snapchats you after a work out.  That's not pretty.  That's _______ (fill in the blank).

5)  Know the difference
Compliment:  That color looks very nice on you.
Hitting on:  That color is sexy on you.

Compliment: Your smile is very lovely.
Hitting on:  You're hot.

Time and place, people.  Time and place.

6)  Compliment her without words.
"How am I supposed to do that?" you might be wanting to yell at me.  But c'mon, guys.  YOU of all people know that sometimes words just aren't good enough.  A picture paints a thousand words and sometimes, when you look at the girl who takes your breath away and leaves you speechless, a thousand words are nowhere near your tongue.  Maybe not even one word.  So what do you do?  You gaze at her in complete and utter adoration.
And trust me.  Us girls know that look.
And we love it.


Allow Yourself

Yes, this world needs to be less selfish.  But there's a fine line between selflessness and simply considering your own needs and deciding what's healthiest for you.
And hopefully this little blog post will be your wake up call to that.
Not me giving you permission, but reminding you to allow yourself certain things...

Allow yourself to leave any place you don't like, any job you don't enjoy, anything you aren't passionate about.  Allow yourself to not just think about leaving, but actually pack up your bags and start over somewhere new.  Somewhere fresh.  Somewhere with more vision.  Just because people think you're crazy for "giving it up" or "not being happy with what you have" doesn't mean you can't decide what's right for yourself.  Allow yourself to search for something that makes you excited about waking up tomorrow.

Allow yourself to change direction.  We can sometimes associate this with giving up or not working through something but in reality, leaving something and completely changing direction can be the biggest key to discovering who you are and/or getting out of being stuck in the same place for so long.  Sometimes it's the best thing you can do for yourself.

Allow yourself to not settle for the complacent, non-visionary, non-passionate friends.  Instead, surround your life with like-minded individuals.  Find humans who have your same mindset of taking over the world, looking for the good in others, and changing how we perceive this culture.  And bask in those friendships.

Allow yourself to think outside the box, be different, not be normal, regardless of what others think of you.  Set incredible goals for yourself, get that tattoo or piercing you've been wanting, change up your hair style, apply for that world-traveling job, write a book...

Allow yourself to end that relationship with the person you love simply because they aren't treating you the way you deserve to be treated.  That's really the "best" reason to break up with someone.  And even if your emotions and heart scream against letting them go, your brain and your soul know that you are worthy of so much better.  Allow yourself to care enough for YOU that walking away from an unhealthy relationship will give you peace because you know that it added more pain than happiness to your life.  Allow yourself to walk away when you're tried over and over again to make it work.  Remind yourself that you can't change it.

Allow yourself to let God completely reshape your life.  Not "let" Him in the sense of "giving Him permission", because oh honey, He doesn't need it.  But rather consenting to His plan, His pen, His design.  Cooperate to His gentle touch of guidance, His never-ending forgiveness and grace, and know with absolute certainty that it's the best decision you will ever make.  For He never makes mistakes.  And His plans for us are always good.


Shine Bright, You Crazy Diamond

I like to think that every person in this world has a bit of the "I want to save the world" mentality.
It's not very often that I find someone who shares that same passion with me, that same drive.  To leave a mark on this world, albeit small.
I don't meet very many individuals like that.
But the ones I do meet, I crave to be around.
Because I think two is better than one.  And three is better than none.

But there's another kind of mentality that I think we need to remind ourselves of.
And it is this:

No matter how much you want to save the world, you need to know that saving just one person is enough.  
And if that person is you, it's okay.

Now I'm not talking about the spiritual aspect of things.  I believe there is only One who can truly save you from all that is evil and corrupt in this world.  And only one place where nothing will ever harm you again.
But what I'm talking about is that while living in this world, you can't depend on others.  Yes, there are many people who will love you, care for you, but they're humans - just like you.  And they will fail.  They will fall short.  They won't always be there for you.  Don't let this make you mad.  Don't let it harden you.  Don't let the pain, that I guarantee you will experience in life, make you hate.  Don't let bitterness steal your joy.  Because at some point, you're going to have to stop.
Stop being angry.
Stop being sad.
Stop hurting yourself and learn instead that it's okay to be gentle.
It's okay to admit you need help.
You need to learn to embrace love and acceptance instead of being afraid of it.
You have to love yourself.
Learn to care for and respect your body.
Learn to show others you care for yourself and deserve to be treated as the beautiful human you are.
Don't waste time being unhappy.
Don't waste time trying to be like someone else.
Don't think that there's all to life - to be better than the next person.
Don't do this to yourself.
And don't let others tell you what to be.
You are you.
That's who you were created to be.
Explore that.
Find what that means.
Search after His design for you with all your heart and it will be made clear to you.
Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or next year.  It might take your whole life.  But what an adventure that will be.
Have goals and dream big, but don't focus on what can happen in a month or a year.  Things can change in the blink of an eye.  Instead, you need to fix your attention on today, the next twenty-four hours, and do whatever you can in that amount of time to get closer to where you want to be tomorrow.  Just a day at a time.

"Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?"
- Danielle LaPorte

Discover your vision and your goals as early as possible.  Find what you're passionate about and follow it.  Become aware of what's important to you and show it to the world.  Live life from the heart.  Don't let magazines, billboards, television or the internet tell you what to do and who to be.  You are your own person.  You don't need to be validated by the world.  Live for people, but not for their approval.

Shine your light.  Because you're a beautiful diamond all on your own.

"When there's this much darkness in the world, it doesn't take very much light to be noticed."


8 Absolute Traveling Essentials

Besides the obvious necessities, such as luggage and money, here is a list I compiled of 6 traveling articles that I have found to be immensely helpful in my many travels.


1.  Gum
Cuz you never know when you'll wake up from a nap and have horridly smelling breath...

2.  Earbuds/headphones
Earbuds are easier to pack and you can have a neck pillow on at the same time, whereas headphones make it a little more awkward.  But headphones block out more sound.  So just decide which you want more - a comfortable neck, or absolutely no noise.

3.  Pillow
I promise you won't regret this.  Either one for your neck or an actual full size bed pillow.

4.  Hand sanitizer
Because when you really think about everyone else who has sat in the seat you're in, touched the armrests, maybe coughed or sneezed...yeah...

5.  Dramamine
Depending on the kind of traveling you're doing, this may not be extremely necessary.  But for me, long flights or windy drives call for one of these life-saving pills.

6.  Ponytail holders (if you're a girl.  OR a guy with a man bun)
These things always seem to disappear.  But even more so when traveling.  So be sure to have some extra ones handy.  I like keeping them on a key chain attached to my backpack so you know where at least a few of them will be.

7.  Snacks
You never know when you'll get hungry, if you can stop for food, when the airline will serve refreshments...

8.  Cozy socks
Sometimes the temperature drops, or you just want to be snuggled in warm clothes for a travel nap.  Socks definitely help with this.


10 Little Things Someone Can Do To Make My Day Instantly Better

1)  Calling me
Texting is great and convenient, but there’s nothing like someone taking the time to call and say hi, ask how my day was, listen to me vent.

2)  Ask me if I wanna go on a drive.
There's just something about taking a drive with no destination in mind that is good for the soul.

3)  Hug me.
Best ever.

4)  Bring me tea and/or chocolate.
Can't go wrong with either one.

5)  Send me encouraging verses.
Because what letter is better to read than the one written from Him?

6)  Remind me how loved I am by God, to them, and to others.
Because sometimes you just need to be reminded of this...

7)  Invite themselves over for a movie night.
I'm a very hospitable person.  I love having people over.  And just so long as they know I have nothing else going on, it's fun when someone texts or calls me and says, "You're not doing anything tonight, so I'm coming over to cheer you up."

8)  Leave me a surprise on my doorstep (handpicked wild flowers were a most recent cheer-me-upper)
How fun is it to come home from a long day at work and discover that someone has taken the time and effort to get you a gift and bring it your own doorstep?

9)  Ask me to tell them about something that makes me happy.
This reminds me to count my blessings...

10)  Kidnap me and take me for a long drive and/or walk.

Again with the drive...but also, long walks are good too.


What are some things that have proven to cheer up your day?


Everyday Blessings // 45

>> getting back from Peru in time to celebrate Father's Day
>> tortelinni pasta salad
>> late night road trips to the beach
>> getting my hair cut and styled
>> making funny videos with siblings
>> looking through baby pictures
>> going to Shari's at 10pm with my Mama and big bro just to eat pie
>> puppies


This Everyday Blessings edition is going to be a little different, because instead of just writing a list, I will also be bringing you up to date on a little of what's been going on in Raquel's life lately...

First of all, I will be joining the college scene this autumn as I have been accepted to Warner Pacific to study for a degree in Psychology. This is a dream come true for me, and especially after taking a couple years off after graduating high school, God really pointed me in the right direction and got everything set in motion for me to pursue something I am passionate about. (I've written articles about college before and I plan to write one regarding the decision I made to attend it this year. So keep an eye out for that...)
Secondly, I moved up to Washington this week. I never thought I'd live in the state north of my beloved Oregon, but God decided that I will for a while. I think I'll be able to find some perks about it;) Already have, honestly, because I'll be so much closer to certain friends, and definitely closer to Portland. It's a good in between spot. And only about thirty minutes from my family.
And lastly, because of my move, I will be leaving my [first] beloved barista job. As much as I was sad to hand in my notice of departure, I am also extremely thankful for everything I've learned while working there and for having an amazing boss. I am thrilled for the opportunities such versatile job skills can offer. I am really hoping and praying that I can get another barista job in the town that I moved to, but whatever the LORD wills, I know will be best. I'm open to other work positions too. I love learning new things and being planted in new areas.
Anyway, with all this being said, I want to give God the glory for everything He has done in my life - and is continuing to do. A couple months ago, I was in a really big rut as far as trying to figure out what He was doing and which direction I should take. Honestly, though, there is so much truth in the "Be still and know that I am God" verse because sometimes that's all you can do. And when He comes through - in His timing, not yours - it's more incredible and amazing than what you could've ever imagined. He is so good.
Have a blessed month of July, peeps! Let me know how your 4th of July goes:)