It’s a question every child gets asked all the time when they’re little. And when you’re that age, anything seems possible. Maybe because back then our biggest problems were who we were going to sit next to on the bus home from school that day. Or what kind of Happy Meal we were going to get from McDonald’s if mom actually agreed to take us there instead of saying, “We have food at home.” (Really though – cheeseburger or nuggets? It’s honestly kind of a hard decision for a seven-year old.)
So, telling someone you wanted to grow up to be an astronaut or the President of the United States or a professional football player seemed like a goal you could totally accomplish. But then… you grow up and start to understand the world and understand that life doesn’t just hand you anything you want, whenever you want it. You can’t just breeze through high school with average grades and expect to get into the top school in your state. You can’t just get a degree and expect to get your dream job once you graduate college. You can’t just tell people you want to be the President of the United States and not work your ass of to get there.
For some people, they actually will become an astronaut or the President or a million dollar athlete. For the rest of us, we aren’t so lucky. Sometimes though, it’s not because someone didn’t work hard enough or give it their all – sometimes, people’s dreams just change as they get older.
Just kidding… kind of.
Around the time of high school, I feel like our ideas of what we actually want to do become dreams that are maybe a little more attainable for most of us to reach. You start thinking about college and whether you want to study to become a nurse or a teacher or a dentist or a doctor. Don’t get me wrong, these dreams can take just as much work as the person trying to become the President one day but you definitely have a better chance at entering the medical field than holding the highest office in power. Just saying.
Just kidding, part II.
Some people start caring more about money than doing something they actually enjoy. Some people just want to move away from a place they’ve lived their entire lives and make a name for themselves, regardless of what the job title is. Some people want to stay close to friends and family and work a not-so-exciting-but-pays-the-bills job.
I know, I know. We all know those people who are like, “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!!!!!” Which is actually very true for me. If I just write things for my blog, watch Netflix all day, pet dogs and eat Chick-fil-A… then yes, I would literally never work a day in my life… like actually I wouldn’t work because I wouldn’t have a job (or make any money). BUT most people have to still pay bills and I’m sure most of those people don’t just absolutely love every minute of their job every single day of their existence, right?
Whatever your reasoning is for what you are doing – don’t let anyone let you feel like you are doing it wrong. I know people who work miserable hours with people they hate but it pays them the big bucks so they get to really enjoy their life outside of work. I know people who live pay check to pay check but it’s in a city that they’ve dreamed about living in their entire lives and they don’t care that they’re basically broke. I know people who work jobs that look nothing like they imagined their careers to look like but they’re happy because they get to be close to people they love.
Whether you aspire to be a CEO, a bum, a broke world traveler, a stay at home mom (or a stay at home dad – shout out to all my confident men out there) – TO EACH THEIR OWN. The only thing that matters is that when you lie down at the end of the day, you are happy with yourself.
Life is always changing. If you aren’t happy with yourself – you can always quit that job, sell all your things and travel the world or move to that huge city. Or don’t. It’s your life, your happiness and your time.
One of the best things about college is, obviously, the friends you make. I met so many new people my freshman year and pretty much reinvented myself. I joined a sorority and from the very first day I was spending all of my time with people I barely knew anything about. That first day turned into first month, then a year and then I seemed to blink and we were all graduating together. Those friends lasted all four years and many of them have lasted long since then, as well.
One of the other best things about college is how close those friends that you make are to you. Literally and figuratively. But in this case I mean literally. Sophomore year I lived inches from them in the sorority house. (Shout out to 820 Chautauqua Avenue – thanks for the mems!) Junior year I lived feet from two of them in a house. Then senior year I lived in walking distance from some and just a minute or two drive from everyone else. Everyone was in reaching distance. No one had to try that hard. You knew, every day, you were going to see them and it was almost effortless.
One of the worst things about the real world is the distance. Literally and figuratively. We all get different jobs with different demands and different schedules. Those once effortless friendships either survive because you decide to continue to give the effort or they dwindle away because one or the other decides the effort isn’t necessarily worth it. Sometimes it’s not exactly a decision – distance just happens and before you know it, that friendship has become more of a memory than a relationship and neither side uses the energy to fix it.
It doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us human. People change. Life gets busy. But those who you’re meant to be friends with for life will always be the ones who you hold close.
After graduation, most of my college friends who were from the DFW area moved back to Dallas. Dallas is one of the best places for post grad jobs and, not to mention, fun as hell. I moved back because it meant I would be close to family and friends and those are two things I need in order to emotionally survive in this world.
So, there was a solid group of us here. We had the “Dallas” group text and everything and none of us made happy hour, game day or weekend plans without consulting the group. We had a good thing going. Then, in November 2016 we lost the first member of the group to another city. And not just some city but the city… as in New York City (aka we might not ever get her back because that place is so amazing, ugh.) Then, four months later, we lost the next one… to the same place.
Don’t get me wrong – I was so excited for both of them. It was sad for me when each of them left but I was super proud of them for making that huge leap. Not everyone could uproot their lives to go live in one of the biggest cities in the world. Plus, I definitely thought I was lucky that two of my friends chose the same city to live in – it makes visiting each of them that much easier because I can do it at the same time. But still, having two of my very best friends – two people who I’m the closest to out of everyone I know – move 1,500 miles away, was not ideal.
Instead of going out together on Friday nights, we wait to hear details over FaceTime on Saturday mornings. Instead of lying around hung over together on Sundays, we text each other asking what hangover food we should get that night before “our diet starts Monday.”
The group text on Saturday morning when I admit to waking up with half-eaten Taco Bell in my bed from the night before.
Although it’s not the same as living in the same city, we still make it work. Because, as cliché as it sounds, these are the friendships that last a life time. I talk to my two best friends who live in NYC more than I talk to some of my good friends who live a five-minute drive from me. We find excuses to buy last minute, expensive plane tickets that drain our bank accounts to visit each other because going more than two months without seeing each other just sounds miserable.
After a trip to NYC.
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if your best friend lives five minutes or twenty-five hours from you. If the friendship means enough to you, you make it work. I have best friends in Dallas, New York and Tulsa and they’re all always the first ones to hear about anything good, bad, sad, or meaningless going on in my life (or on my social media feed) because I value their opinions, encouragement, praises and even criticism the most.
Being long distance best friends doesn’t mean you have to drift apart or lose touch, it just means you have to work a little harder at that friendship and show them a little extra love. Plus, in our case, I think we’ll all find our way of ending up (physically) close to each other again, one day.
Us, years from now, when we’re all back in the same time zone.
When I was little I thought I would be married at 23, kids at 25, blah blah blah. Fast forward and I’m 24 and those things definitely have not happened and the thought of either of them scare the hell out of me. Especially the kids… I literally hide from them in public – mainly because they’re usually overpowering the restaurant music with their high-pitched screams 🙂
When I graduated college two years ago I was so worried about turning the next age and what would come of that year. I turned 22 and soon after I graduated college and moved back to Dallas. I turned 23… then 24. And here I am. Not much has changed. I’m still single and still going out like I was in college (the hangovers are way worse but that doesn’t stop me.)
And to think I expected to be married and have kids around this age… like, honestly, I can barely get myself (and the Taco Bell that I forced my Uber to stop for) home after a night out. One weekend recently I literally woke up with mild hot sauce packets scattered on my bed one night and crushed Cheez-Its next to me under the covers the next. Like how am I a functioning adult who pays bills and makes big decisions? These ages I’m talking about look a lot different for some people though. Not all of my friends love going out. Some of them have kids. Some of them are in serious relationships and prefer to spend their time with their significant others while the rest of us go out and act like we don’t have to live tomorrow. My point is – there isn’t anything wrong with either of those paths. Are they doing it wrong? No. Am I doing it wrong? No. And I’ve realized I have to stop comparing my life to everyone else’s around me.
I don’t feel bad for being single and selfish at 24 while some of my friends are married or very close to that point. Especially when there are 30-something year old guys boys out there telling girls women “they aren’t ready to settle down.” I feel like the age-old expectation that people need to find someone and get married as quickly as possible is going out of style and honestly I am more than okay with that because I gotta whole lotta living left to do. On the other hand – if the right person comes along, then yeah – you’ll be ready no matter what (yes even you, 31-year-old-man-child who says he’s not ready for a relationship.)
But until then:
Get drunk and eat Taco Bell.
Buy that last-minute plane ticket.
Kiss that guy (or girl.)
And don’t let anyone make you feel like you should be living on anyone’s timeline but your own.
To wrap up my thoughts on this:
My favorite song right now is “I Could Use a Love Song” by Maren Morris. First of all, this girl is amazing and a total bad ass. Secondly, I love the lyrics of the chorus that say, “I could use a love song that takes me back … to a time when I wouldn’t roll my eyes at a guy and a girl who make it work in a world that for me so far just seems to go so wrong.”
Moral of the song: just because your love life isn’t in full swing at the moment doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate love and keep your heart open for it in the future.
But this song also made me think – just because someone is happy in a relationship and seems to have their life totally figured out already does not make them a better person than you. It just means their timeline different.
This has been a rough week in sports for me. Last night the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship (I’m a huge OKC Thunder fan so if you know basketball I’m sure you can put two and two together on why I was rooting for the Cavs.)
“You’ll never be able to beat us so just join us!”
Sunday night the Nashville Predators lost the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh (I’m not a die-hard hockey fan but I really, really love the town of Nashville and was definitely pulling for them – plus their goalie chant was #goals … see what I did there?)
Trolling level at 100.
But the biggest loss for me this past week was when I heard the news that Bob Stoops was stepping down as head coach of my Oklahoma Sooners and retiring for good. The news hit me like:
It literally came out of nowhere and I was not emotionally prepared to deal with that at work last week. His replacement will be Lincoln Riley who has been the offensive coordinator for the Sooners for the last two seasons.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Riley will do a great job and I believe that he has the entire Sooner Nation’s support. I just think Bob’s retirement announcement was such a shock after 18 seasons; especially to people my age who have only known Sooner Football when Bob Stoops was head coach.
I didn’t grow up as an OU fan. My dad attended Texas State University and my mom didn’t go to college. So I didn’t really have any ties to a football program and mainly just supported the Dallas Cowboys when I was younger because I’m from the DFW area. Once I decided that I would be attending OU though, I became a die-hard.
I think I only missed two home games during my four years as a student at OU. I hated leaving the games early. And if we lost… you bet I went straight home to sulk in my dorm room instead of hitting Campus Corner with the rest of my friends. “Win or lose, we still booze” is fun in theory, but I was usually just too sad to participate.
Me when people acted like there was anything to be happy about after an OU loss.
My junior year of college I took a sports journalism class taught by a well-known radio personality in Norman named Al Eschbach. We wrote a lot in his class but another big part of it was the guest speakers he brought in. If someone was a big name for OU sports he knew them and he would bring them in.
One particular class I knew Barry Switzer was coming to talk to us. I was running a couple of minutes late and was pretty stressed out about it because I didn’t want to miss a minute being in the same room as a legend like Switzer. Usually I would take the stairs up to the third floor where the class met. On my way to the stairs I noticed the elevator door was open. I figured it would kill a couple of seconds at least and save me from showing up out of breath from running up the stairs. I hop on the elevator and to my surprise I was standing next to Barry. Of course I’m panicking internally because I mean… it’s Barry Switzer, y’all. He looked at me and said, “What does your shirt say?” I replied, “Norman.” He said, “Oh, I thought maybe it was a sorority shirt. My daughter was a Chi Omega.” Cue more internal panic because I was also a Chi Omega. He then said, “I’m tardy to class. I hope I don’t get in trouble.” And I said, “I think we’re going to the same place so we can be late together.” Then we walked into Al’s class at the same time and he spoke to us for an hour about everything under the sun. So basically, that was the coolest elevator ride of my life.
Ok, sorry for getting distracted – back to Bob. Bob also came to talk to the class one week. We got to ask him questions, listen to his stories about recruiting and his favorite wins and most hated losses. I can’t remember everything that was said or if I even asked a question, but I remember thinking how cool he was and how much I respected him as a coach and a person. He was down-to-earth and not too good to spend an hour talking to fifteen college students, during football season, about his huge role as the head coach for one of the most prestigious football programs in the country.
Big Game Bob. That’s what they called him after a few seasons at OU. Only one season under his belt as the OU head coach and he ended up going undefeated and helped the Sooners get their 7th national championship title in 2000. Big Game Bob was the best. Towards the end of his era, sometimes Big Game Bob didn’t necessarily always hold up to the Sooner Nation standard though. I was there in Miami when we got embarrassed by Clemson in the playoffs. I was there when we shockingly lost our first game of the season to Houston. Regardless of those losses though, people still loved and respected Stoops. None of those games changed what he had done and continued to do for the program.
Stoops made Oklahoma Football great again starting in 1999. He is the winningest coach in OU history and led us to a national championship win, 10 Big 12 titles and 14 seasons with double-digit wins. No one can deny that he was an amazing coach. And if he thinks it was time, then so be it. I’m sad to see him go, as I know many Sooner fans are, but I imagine great things will come during Riley’s reign as head coach in the near future.
Since 2000, the Sooners have been on the Chase For Eight and I have a good feeling Lincoln Riley will help them catch that title. We love you, Big Game Bob. Thanks for making Oklahoma Football great again.
Here are some of my favorite things about Bob Stoops:
His relationship with his players. Talk about water works.
His locker room speeches. Ugh, my heart!
His heart for people. (Shout out to my sorority sister, Christina, for this awesome story!)
And as much as I didn’t want him to go – the way he went out with class.
Here is one thing I didn’t like about Stoops:
His ability to escape those dang Gatorade showers… because everyone loves seeing a good Gatorade shower after a win.
Like Brittany Snow’s character, Kate, in John Tucker Must Die says, “I wish it could just be simple, like a retro pop song, ‘I want you to want me.’ Boom. End of story. We all live happily ever after. But it is never really like that, is it?”
As human beings, we long to be around people who long to be around us. No one wants to force a relationship, a friendship or even a conversation if the other person doesn’t put forth the same effort. For a lot of people though, attraction to another person has a lot to do with the chase. And unfortunately, once the chase is over, usually so is whatever was going on between the two people. Because it’s just so crazy to think that you could actually want someone who wants you back… right?
A simple text that just says “hey” from a guy who you are in no way, shape or form interested in can come across as so annoying and creepy. Yet, that same text from a guy you like can completely turn your day around. And yes, that is embarrassing and pathetic to admit. Because who wants to base their happiness or the quality of their day on whether another person decides to speak to you or not?
Usually, once you get to the point where you decide a guy is creepy or annoying, there’s really no turning back. The guys who you aren’t interested in seem to always be the attentive and persistent ones and the ones who you wait days to hear from are the ones whose every word you hang on. I guess it’s true that we want what we can’t have.
But when is that going to change? It’s hard to imagine the day that you’ll finally find someone who doesn’t annoy you but is persistent. Someone who isn’t creepy but sends you good morning and good night texts. Someone who likes you as much as you like them. I have no clue when that will happen for me. I obviously can’t control that. What I can control is who I let into my life until I do find that.
I’ve gone through many situations with guys that I knew weren’t going to end well. Literally… I would have people tell me not-so-great things about them and I’d think, “Hm, maybe this guy isn’t so great after all.” Yet, I would keep talking to them in hopes that I would be the person to change them. But deep down, I knew I wasn’t going to be that girl who magically makes them change their ways and actually act like they cared about someone other than themselves. As harsh as it is, the people that happens to are the exception, not the rule.
Gigi is probably the most pathetic female character in a romantic comedy known to man, but a lot of us can relate to parts of her character on a certain level.
So as much as that sucks to admit sometimes (when you finally tell yourself he’s just not that into you) – you owe it to yourself. Time and time again this has happened to me because I kept thinking I was the exception. Like for example – this girl I know hooked up with this guy in college for years who blew her off most of the time and messed with her head and then they graduated and actually started dating and moved in together and are probably going to get married soon. It turns out that her asshole actually ended up being her prince charming. So it’s easy to think, “What happened to her could happen to me.” But no, you have to tell yourself that she is the exception while most of us, sadly, are the rule (like Gigi explains above.)
I’m not even looking for a relationship. I love being single and spending time with my friends and not having anyone to answer to. I don’t want a boyfriend… I just want people to stop wasting my damn time. I’m also not ashamed to say I wear my heart on my sleeve. I care so much about everyone and everything that I expect others to be the same way. After a few slaps in the face, I’ve learned my lesson that not everyone is going to care as much as some of us. Why waste a second caring about someone who probably doesn’t even think twice about me?
I know what you’re thinking… easier said than done. I’m not saying that I never get sad over a guy or a failed attempt at dating. Sometimes it really sucks. Sometimes it physically makes my heart hurt… the kind of hurt that you forget you can feel because at one point this person probably made you feel so good. However, I think it’s so true when people say it’s better to hurt than to not feel at all. If you don’t put yourself out there and at least try, then you’ll never feel anything and that is prettttty depressing in my opinion.
You tell him, Gigi!
I’ve had to tell myself that I deserve better than what I’ve been getting. I’m not going to be the girl who he ignores, who he can just text on the weekends (or just during the week in some cases), who he only snapchats and doesn’t actually communicate with. I refuse to be someone’s second option. I refuse to settle. I would rather be single the rest of my life than ever settle for something less than I know I deserve.
After being single for a while and thinking every guy I date is going to be the one, I’ve realized what people have preached to me my entire life. No one else can make you happy until you’re happy with yourself. No one can make you happy but you. If you depend on a text, a phone call, a snapchat, or any other form of acknowledgment from someone else to make you happy – you’re never going to be truly happy.
I can’t say I’m completely happy with myself yet. But I can say I’m done depending on someone else to do that for me, and I am pretty happy about that.
And I’ll end with the ending dialogue from He’s Just Not That Into You:
Girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up: If a guy punches you he likes you. Never try to trim your own bangs. And someday you will meet a wonderful guy and get your very own happy ending. Every movie we see, every story we’re told implores us to wait for it, this third act twist: the unexpected declaration of love, the exception to the rule. But sometimes we’re so focused on finding our happy ending, we don’t learn how to read the signs. How to tell the ones who want us from the ones who don’t, the ones who will stay and the ones who will leave. And maybe this happy ending doesn’t include a wonderful guy. Maybe it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over. Freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is just moving on. Or maybe the happy ending is this: Knowing that all the unreturned phone calls and broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment… you never, ever, gave up hope.
BOOM. I think we all need to hear that and be reminded of those things from time to time. Also – another moral of the story is guys are dumb and we’re bad ass women who don’t need a man to depend on anyways! *hops off soap box again*
In 100 days college football is back. (Ok, so technically for some schools like Rice, Stanford, and that little school that no one has really heard of, it’s really only 95 days – this countdown is for the first full weekend of college football.)
On Saturday, September 2nd, countless people in Norman, Oklahoma are going to be woken to the sound of someone in their apartment, dorm or fraternity house blaring the Oklahoma fight song at 8am. Doesn’t matter if the game is at 10am or 7pm, people are serious about their tailgating and their Oklahoma Sooners. And the first game day of each season is spiritualistic.
Obviously, I’m biased when it comes to this whole college football thing. I’m Sooner born and Sooner bred and when I die I’ll be Sooner dead. Do I think the Oklahoma Sooners are going to go into the 2017 season and go 12-0 and beat the Ohio State Buckeyes on the road, in Columbus, after getting embarrassed by them at home last season? I’m not going to say no but I’m not going to say yes, either. Do I have faith that they have it in them? Do I hope it’s them at the end of all of this? You bet I do.
That’s what is so great about college football. People don’t just pick a team at random that they think is the best. (Besides those that are like some residents in Texas, for example – just because they live in Texas, they go to their local Wal-Mart and pick up a UT shirt and suddenly they’re Longhorns.) People spend four years – maybe a little less, maybe a lot more – at these universities and they have a loyalty to uphold. Once you graduate you don’t just forget. You don’t just watch the games on tv or keep up with the score via ESPN’s tweets. You drive three hours from Dallas, Texas to Norman, Oklahoma to see your boys in Crimson and Cream go out there and do their thing at Owen Field.
I know people are serious about the NFL, too. Don’t get me wrong – I love the Dallas Cowboys. I cried when they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs earlier this year. I’m a loyal, loyal Cowboys fan. But OU football? Do. Not. Mess. With. Me. when it comes to OU football. The University of Oklahoma is my alma mater and gave me the four best years of my life. I will never not cheer for my Sooners. Not until the sun dies.
And I can tell you… it doesn’t matter if you’re 24 (like me) or 74, you cheer for your Sooners until the sun dies. Just like any alumni from Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Auburn or Clemson does. That’s the beauty of college football. Everyone cares so much. And it doesn’t matter about pre-season rankings or where Vegas draws the line. In college football, anything can happen.
Do you remember the 2013 Iron Bowl? When Auburn beat Alabama with ONE SECOND left on the clock? If you don’t remember or don’t know what I’m talking about – first, please reevaluate your priorities and next, watch this…
Y’all… this was four years ago and I still get goosebumps watching the end of this game. I don’t care about either of these teams and I literally was jumping up and down in my living room crying when I saw this happen live on my TV. It’s not that I like Auburn better than Alabama. I didn’t care who won either way. But the fact that a team could pull off a miracle like that in the last second of a game blew my mind. It still blows my mind and gets my heart pumping. (Obviously, that really sucked for Alabama players and fans but you can’t deny the fact that it was absolutely wonderful and history before your eyes.)
And my other favorite part about college football? These guys do it because they love the game. They do it for no money. (Yes, many of them have scholarships and other perks but this isn’t the NFL – they aren’t making millions so just stop that argument right there.) I was never a student athlete so I can’t speak from experience but I do know they work so hard. Hell, college is hard enough trying to keep up with classes, your social life and sleep. Imagine throwing a sport in there where people expect you to be your best on the field and every other day outside of football. I can’t imagine how physically and emotionally tough that is.
Now that I’ve rambled on about how much I love this dang sport, I’m going to give my predictions for the season while trying to remain as unbiased as possible. But first, what “the experts” think…
In February 2017, ESPN came out with the pre-season rankings. Here’s the top 10:
Oklahoma (shout out!!!)
Auburn (OU 35 – Auburn 19, just saying)
Ok, so I could keep going on and do the top 25 but I don’t want to drag it out that much. Here’s the total list of the rankings for you with FPI numbers and everything else.
So, to get to these pre-season conclusions they (whoever they are – the higher powers at ESPN, the football gods, whoever) look at multiple things. This doesn’t just mean this is who they think is going to have the most wins or who is going to make it to the CFP. They look at things like: Which team has a returning starting quarterback? (For example: Baker Mayfield will be returning to OU and Deshaun Watson obviously will not be returning to Clemson because he was just drafted by the Houston Texans.) Which team has head coaching tenure? (For example: Bob Stoops is entering his 18th season as the Sooners’ head coach and Nick Saban’s contract just got extended through Alabama’s 2024 season *sigh*.) And which team has the most impressive past four seasons in terms of offense, defense and special teams with the most recent season counting the most.
With all of that beings said… ESPN’s reasoning for Ohio State being numero uno: “Ohio State sits at No. 1 in the first iteration of preseason FPI. Entering his sixth season as head coach at Ohio State, Urban Meyer is returning eight offensive starters, including quarterback J.T. Barrett. The Buckeyes are returning seven starters to a defense that finished last season ranked second in defensive efficiency. Meyer again added depth to the team with a top-10 recruiting class for the fifth straight year.”
So, needless to say, I’m pretty nervous for September 9th. Maybe I’ll have to make a trip to Columbus, Ohio to bring a little extra “Sooner Magic” with me.
All in all, I do expect to see my Sooners in the College Football Playoff this year. Will they win it? Only time will tell. Ask me again about half way through the season and I’ll have a better idea for that answer… Last time Oklahoma was in the playoffs we got our you-know-whats handed to us by Clemson in the Orange Bowl. (I flew to Miami and went to that game and just laid in the parking lot afterwards crying until I got the courage to get up and go celebrate New Year’s Eve… which sucked by the way.)
Once the season comes to a close and it’s time for bowl games and playoffs… I think the CFP will look something like this:
Oklahoma (even if we lose to Ohio State during the second week of the season, which is likely, we will have time to bounce back by the time CFP rolls around)
Don’t take my word for it. Like I said earlier in this post, anything can happen in college football. In December I may look back at this and cringe and say, “What was I thinking?” or who knows… maybe I am spot on. Regardless of the outcome of the season, I’m so excited for college football to be back in a few short months. I can’t wait to spend my Saturdays cheering on my Oklahoma Sooners and see the football miracles that will come out of the 2017 season.
*disclaimer: this was obviously written before Bob Stoops resigned as OU’s head coach. However, I still have faith in Lincoln Riley and the 2017 Sooners. Boomer!!!!*
Warning: This post will be lengthy because it’s an issue that is very important to me. Recently, I’ve heard stories about young people, some younger than me, lose their lives to drinking and driving accidents in the Dallas area. I felt the need to share my experience with drinking and driving and why I have zero tolereance for it.
When I was a junior in high school, I was in a program called Shattered Dreams. Now, I don’t know where you’re from but if by chance you’re from Texas, you probably have heard about Shattered Dreams. Tons of schools do it. It’s a program that is used to show high school students the dangers of drinking and driving.
In 2010, Rockwall-Heath High School put on the production the week before prom to warn the students attending about the bad things that can happen when you consume alcohol and get behind the wheel. Instead of just going around telling students they could get a DUI or go to jail or kill themselves or kill someone else (which you’d think would be enough to scare anyone out of doing it,) a group of upper classmen put on a “skit” and made those concerns seem like they became a reality right before the student body’s eyes.
There were multiple parts to the production. The “living dead,” a mock crash and a mock funeral. The “living dead” were students who agreed to be pulled out of class, have their fake obituary read over the loud-speaker in the school, paint their face white, change into all black clothes and not speak for the remainder of the day. They each represented a person that dies every 15 minutes from a drinking and driving accident. The students who were pulled out in the morning were the strong-willed; the ones who the program sponsors knew could go all day without saying a word to their friends in class, in the hallway or even at lunch. The point was to remain dead silent. Of course, there were some students who weren’t involved in Shattered Dreams who didn’t take it as seriously. They probably thought it was dumb and would try to get the “living dead” to crack a smile or just say one word. I think at the end of everything though, deep down, we probably got to them.
I was part of the mock crash (and the mock funeral but we’ll get to that later). I auditioned for the part and presented my best acting skills to the group of teachers and parents who were acting as supervisors for the program. I’m still not sure if it was my awesome acting or the fact that my best friend, whom everyone in my little town of Heath, Texas knew I had known since birth and had been inseparable from for years, tried out as well and the sponsors knew that it could be impactful to our peers if they saw two best friends go through this together.
Weeks before the actual “crash” happened, the mock crash students set out to film the scenes that we would edit together to show the student body the day of the production. They would see everything that happened leading up to the crash. The video would end with the sound of metal colliding then they would be escorted out to the small road that ran next to the high school to see their fellow students’ bloodied bodies lying on the ground and dangling out the windows of two cars.
My group was the sober group. The car I was riding in had my best friend I was telling you about, Morgan, who was also a junior, two other juniors and a senior. We did innocent things leading up to the crash. We ate at the most popular restaurant in Rockwall called Chiloso (if you’ve never been and you are in driving distance of one in the DFW area, please go because you will not regret it) and then we went to the varsity baseball game.
The other group was the intoxicated group. Their car was all seniors. They were doing the opposite of us on a Friday night. They went to a party and even though the driver, Shanae, pledged to be sober, she ended up drinking something she thought was a normal energy drink but turned out to be a Four Loko. Of course, it made the story believable because, in reality, Shanae was a star varsity basketball player… she didn’t spend her weekends drinking at parties either and the whole school knew that. So, they came up with the *oops-I-drank-but-didn’t-know-I-was-drinking* story and it seemed to work.
When they left the party Shanae realized she wasn’t feeling so well. But she was the designated driver and these people were depending on her to get them home. “I’m fine to drive,” she thought, because she knew her friends weren’t.
So, as divine timing may have it, my sober car was leaving the baseball game at the same moment that the intoxicated car was leaving this party right by the high school. We both head towards each other on the same road and through distraction and impairment our two cars collide.
Visuals of this were what the junior and senior student bodies saw inside the basketball auditorium on a huge projector screen. Then, like I said, they were instructed to file out to the side of the road to see the mock crash. This, too, would be filmed so that later everything could be compiled on DVD (even though I don’t think anyone watched it besides the people who were actually in it).
I remember I was wearing old, weird clothes. Clothes I would never wear to school but wore because I knew they would be destroyed by fake, theater stage blood.
I remember hanging out of the car window. It was quiet. So quiet that the only thing I could hear was the breathing and soft sobs of my friends who were lying next to me in the car. I was supposed to be completely still. I remember tears running down my cheeks. No matter how fake it was, it was still emotional for all of us involved. Even when half of the school came out, it was quiet. Quiet enough so that I could hear the sirens from miles away coming to the mock crash.
The whole time the students in the mock crash knew who was going to survive and who was going to live. When we were offered a part in the production, we were all instructed to talk to our parents and see whose mom and dad would actually be comfortable with the idea of sitting through a fake funeral for their daughter or son. For some reason, my parents said yes. I think part of it was the fact that my dad is a Dallas Fireman. He’s seen the worst of the worst as a paramedic and firefighter over the last 30 years. He probably told my mom that they could handle it. After all, it was fake.
So there I sat. Hunched over with one arm dangling out of the front passenger side’s broekn window. Like I said, we knew who was going to live and who was going to die. I was one of the not-so-lucky ones in this fictional tragedy.
One fireman put his large, heavy coat over my face and body so they could use the Jaws of Life to cut off the top of the car I was in. It was just for dramatic effect but in a real life situation the Jaws of Life are used when the car is too badly damaged to get the person out any other way. I remember lying under the jacket and it was so hot and the sound of the machine was so loud. I knew it was fake and that I would be fine. But still, I was scared. My crying grew louder and I was just ready to get out of there.
They eventually got me out and put me on a stretcher. A CareFlite helicopter had just landed and it was meant for me. Three people were going to “die” and I was the only one who wasn’t supposed to die at the scene.
Side note: I know what you’re thinking…. “All of these first responders were wasting their time at some fake crash when they could be helping someone who actually needed it.” So for a disclaimer: Every emergency crew member knew if their assistance or vehicles were needed at an actual emergency that day they would not particpate in Shattered Dreams and we would have to do it without them. Thankfully, they were all able to make it because not much goes on in our little townof Heath, Texas.
Back to my story. So, they wheeled me over to the helicopter. To be honest, I was actually pretty excited. I had never ridden in a helocopter before. Once we got in the air, the guys told me I could try to sit up so I could see out the window. Unfortunately, I was so pinned down with restraints and a neck brace (like any real patient would be) that I couldn’t really see much.
The hospital is only about a five minute drive from the high school so you can imagine how short the helicopter ride was. Once we got there, they wheeled me inside into a room. The staff were exchanging medical terms with each other and pretended to perform things that would save my life which, of course, from what I’ve already explained, didn’t work.
My parents came in and I had to lie there, pretending to be dead, while they held my hands and pretended to say goodbye to their youngest child and only daughter. I do know my mom’s tears were real, though. Even the thought of that happening to me would make someone as emotional as her cry. Even though she knew I was fine and it was all an act, she was still physically upset and my dad was comforting her.
I remember leaving the hospital once all the filming was over… for us at least. A camera crew followed Shanae, the girl who was driving drunk, to the jail where she was booked for intoxicated manslaughter. They filmed her sentencing in a court room and everything.
Everyone else involved in the crash had come to the hospital to pick me up. It was strangely funny. After all of this dramatic stuff and the crying and the acting… they just drove and picked me up. Fake wounds and fake blood and all.
We all drove to the high school where we had to sneak in to get to the locker room showers. Obviously we needed to get the sticky, stage blood and fake wounds off of us. But I was supposed to be dead. They didn’t want any students to see me. We turned off our phones. We didn’t speak to anyone. And I was instructed to not let a soul (besides those involved in Shattered Dreams) see me. They wanted it to seem like I was really dead and gone and never coming back. It was more impactful that way.
So we showered and ran back out of the school unseen. Everyone that was a part of Shattered Dreams loaded into cars and we were taken to some camp grounds about thirty minutes outside of Rockwall. We would stay there for the night and have zero contact with any of our friends or family. Plus, we had a guest speaker scheduled to come join us.
None of us knew who it was going to be. We all piled into the small event center and in came a pretty blonde girl. She was in a wheel chair. She couldn’t have been much older than all of us sitting in the audience. Her name was Melissa Walsh.
Once she got to the center of the room a video started playing. The first two minutes and thirty seconds of the video below is what was shown to us in 2010. She went on to tell us every detail of that night and how her life has been ever since. The speech she gave to the class of 2012 which is shown in the YouTube video below was similar to the one she gave us.
After meeting Melissa I was in such a weird mood. She was such a normal girl. It really made me understand that it could be any of us. It could be me.
The next day we headed back to the school for the mock funeral. There were three actual caskets there for each of us that died. That really freaked me out. Mine was surrounded by pictures of me with my friends and family and things like my favorite stuffed animal (yes I still slept with a stuffed animal and still do), my cheer megaphone and my letterman jacket.
Have you ever thought about your own funeral? It’s a morbid thing to admit but I know I have. I’ve thought about who would come and what people would say. Would there be a lot of people there? Would they be as sad as I would hope for them to be if I was gone? I had thought about it plenty of times before and that day I got a pretty good glimpse. I wasn’t supposed to be in there for it because they wanted it to seem like I was still gone. But who would miss their own fake funeral, right? I put on black jeans and a black hoodie and zipped it almost all the way up. I snuck in and sat down in a corner where no one would see me unless they turned around.
My best friend, Morgan, who I told you was in the crash with me, was the one to give my eulogy. It was so real because she truly was my best friend. We had known each other since birth. Our moms were best friends and were pregnant with us at the same time. I was born only two weeks and two days before Morgan. So hearing what she had to say about me filled my heart but also broke it. She could hardly finish her thoughts she was crying so hard.
Of course, I’m sitting in the corning trying to hold back loud sobs because of all the nice things she had to say about me. I also just couldn’t help but think, “What if this was actually real?” Look how sad everyone is. And even though this particular incident wasn’t my fault, any of us could have been the one to make the mistake that Shanae made.
It was two of the hardest days of my life. I wasn’t a good actor, I was completely out of my comfort zone, I didn’t get to speak to my parents or my boyfriend and I had to act like I freaking died. It was tough. But still to this day, it’s one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.
I didn’t really drink in high school. I never really went to parties. It just wasn’t my thing. We spent our nights at the movies or driving around town listening to music, stopping for a Sonic drink every hour before prank calling people all night instead of going to bed.
Once I got to college that definitely changed. I joined a sorority and started going out and drinking every weekend. Don’t get me wrong: I love a good time (still do) and I didn’t think there was anything wrong with how my friends and I were acting (and still don’t). We were being young, college students. I don’t think anyone could blame us for that.
The one thing that I never tolerated in college – from myself, my friends, or anyone who was around us – was drinking and driving. Thankfully, there were always designated drivers (who were mostly pledges that were assigned shifts from the fraternities they were trying to earn a spot in) swarming campus every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Thankfully, most fraternity houses and bars were in walking distances so we could have easily made it places on foot. Thankfully, it never happened to any of us. I like to think my experience with Shattered Dreams contributed to that, even if just very little. I was ok with being that girl who said, “No, you’re not driving and neither are any of us,” even when it annoyed people.
Now, at 24 years old, living in Dallas, still enjoying fun times out with my friends, I still don’t tolerate it. And neither do any of my friends.
Back in the day it might have seemed alright to “just have a few” and drive. It may have even seemed a little cool. I’ve actually heard many people say, “I’m a better driver when I’ve been drinking.” Well, to those people I say: You’re drunk. Literally, you are.
These days, it is so easy to order an Uber or a Lyft that no one has a valid excuse for getting behind the wheel. I even know of some bars in Texas that will reward you with coupons or a free meal if you leave your car in their lot after a night of drinking. Yet, still, I hear stories of beautiful young people being killed because some selfish person decided it was easier for them to drive themselves than to order an Uber or a Lyft or call a cab or a friend. I wonder how easy their lives are for them now? Knowing that they murdered another human being who did not deserve to have their life cut so short.
Maybe if they had met Melissa and heard her story, sat through their own funeral (however fake it may have been), or if they would have thought, just for a second, about the consequences that one decision could bring, those people who paid the ultimate price would still be alive today.
Like I said in my first post on here, I have no clue who will read this or if anyone will read this. But, if you are reading this, do not drink and drive. I don’t care how many times you have heard it. I’m telling you again. Order an Uber… call a cab… get your car towed… get a ticket… because I guarantee you those things are all cheaper than the price of your life or someone else’s.
My senior year of high school I decided I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I remember sitting on the couch watching the 2011 College National Championship between the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks. I didn’t care about either team. I had no desire to ever go to one of those schools and was only really watching because it was a Monday night and nothing else was on tv.
I thought I knew a lot about football then. I was a high school cheerleader who went to every varsity football game. So, I thought I knew a lot about football. Our team wasn’t any good, really. We didn’t go into the season thinking we were going to win a Texas state championship or anything. The thing we cared about most was beating our across-town-rivals and winning our homecoming game. I was captain of the cheer team so I did have to know SOME about the game. I needed to know when we were on offensive or defense, when we were close to scoring or if the ball was fumbled, etc. And small town Texas football brings that nostalgic, “Friday Night Lights” feeling to people. Whether you’re a player, a cheerleader, a band member, or just some kid sitting in the stands. I mean… it’s Texas. High. School. Football. So yeah, I thought I knew a lot about football.
I remember watching the intro piece for Auburn before the game started. It, of course, focused on Cam Newton and I remember hearing the song “Don’t Let Me Fall” by B.o.B. play while they showed highlights from the Tigers’ perfect season. I thought I knew a lot about football but that night I learned about the kind of football that has this special effect on people. This is different from showing up to a high school football game because it’s what the popular kids do on a Friday night in Texas. This was college football. The kind of football that gets a 75-year-old Auburn Tiger to spend a small fortune on a 50 yard line ticket to fly half way across the country to see his alma mater play. This was the National Championship. This was the kind of football that gave a 17-year-old girl (who didn’t actually really know that much about football) the chills on a Monday night watching two teams who she didn’t know anything about besides that they were both really, really good.
The next thing on my screen was Erin Andrews. I know what you’re thinking, “How many girls these days say they want to be the next Erin Andrews? Thousands, probably. How original.” And for a while, yes, I told people I wanted to be the next Erin Andrews. It was like being a cheerleader on the sidelines but she actually knew what was going on and cared about the game. I remember thinking, “There’s no way she’s not getting the same goose bumps I have. Heck, her goose bumps are probably mountains compared to mine because she’s actually there.”
About a month later, I decided I was going to attend The University of Oklahoma for four reasons. 1. I knew I wanted to be a journalism major and from what I read and heard, OU had a pretty good journalism school. 2. I wanted to go somewhere that I could join a sorority. 3. I wanted to go far enough away from home but still be close enough to drive back whenever I wanted to. 4. OKLAHOMA FOOTBALL.
Oklahoma Football. The seven-time National Champions. The crimson and cream. The pride of Oklahoma. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be able to be one of those 75-year-old Oklahoma Sooners who spends a small fortune on a 50 yard line ticket to see my alma mater play in the national championship one day. So, I did it. I enrolled at OU and four years later, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
Then that was it, right? I had the degree. I had the journalism experience. I had the love for football. I had the love for all Sooner sports. So that was it. I would get a job in sports and eventually end up one day working for my beloved Oklahoma Sooners. At least, that was the plan.
My plan didn’t go exactly how I had imagined. I graduated. I moved back home with my parents because no job means no money and no money means you move back in with your parents. Thankfully they were willing to accept me. I interviewed at news stations (because my last semester of college all of my superiors and mentors told me how much easier it is to get into the news business then transfer to sports) in places like Biloxi, Mississippi and I tried to imagine myself there. Twenty-two years old, living in Biloxi, Mississippi, working early mornings, late nights, weekends, holidays, you name it. I admit now that during this process I was naive. I wanted to put in the work but I didn’t want to go that far to put in the work. Where would I live? Would I make friends there? What would I even do with my time outside of work? Would I be lonely? Would this lead to something bigger and better one day? Would it be worth it? I couldn’t find it in me to tell myself that it would be worth it. So, I made the decision to find a job in Dallas and move in with a friend from college.
“It will be very temporary,” I kept telling myself and my parents and anyone else who asked why I wasn’t jumping right into a job in journalism or sports.
Well, here I am, two full years after my graduation from OU, and I am still in this “very temporary” job that has become not-so-temporary anymore. Don’t get me wrong – I work for a great company with nice people, good pay and great benefits. But the one thing I can’t seem to answer completely truthfully these days is the question, “Are you happy?” In the big scheme of things, of course I am happy. I have a roof over my head, family and friends that love me, a super cute dog, and I am healthy and employed. In the small, day-to-day scheme of things, however, I’m not happy. I don’t feel like my purpose, the one that God gave me, is being fulfilled. I don’t feel like I’m doing enough.
I know what you’re thinking… again. “Just go get a job. Do whatever it takes.” Trust me, I am currently doing everything I can think of and at the moment, it’s just not good enough. Employers in sports want someone with experience. They aren’t going to take a chance on someone in an industry where perfection is expected. I understand that.
So here is where my happiness comes in: while I continue to work my desk job in an industry I have no interest in, I will write. I will write about sports, life, and anything else that pops into my head. Because life is too short to be anything but happy and I plan on making taking control of my happiness from here on out.
Even if my hundreds of applications don’t lead to a sports job, through this blog, regardless of who sees it or who doesn’t, I am starting to doing something that actually makes me happy. Current happiness = getting my thoughts out of my head and onto a piece of paper… or in this case, a computer screen.
I recently heard someone say: “You plan, God laughs.” So, I know He will be missing some of the daily entertainment I’ve been providing Him with the last two years, but this is me putting the planning to bed.
I thought I knew exactly where I would be two years out of college. Yeah, I thought…