Happy Monday, friends! I hope your weekend was restful or adventurous or productive – whatever you needed it to be.
Mine was restful and productive – thank you Lord for both! We got to love on some of our friends at one of the most fun baby shower’s I’ve ever been to on Saturday so that was a blast.
As we’re continuing our theme of hope for the month, I thought it would be a good idea to share my story of hope – a story that I’ve really been trying to avoid sharing to be honest, but I should stop ignoring that tug (very sorry Holy Spirit).
When I started She’s Taylored, my goal was to always be honest and transparent and I think some of the struggles I’ve dealt with are really relatable to a lot of people. So I’m hoping my story of hope through that struggle will be helpful.
A decently big group of people who know me will know this, but college was really, really tough for me. I went to Texas A&M and graduated in May of 2015. Throughout my time there, I went through a sort of secret struggle. Don’t get me wrong – I had an absolute blast and wouldn’t change a lot of my college career, but dang it was certainly tough. A big contributor to my struggle was my grades. I was
really overly involved all throughout college – I was in multiple organizations at a time, working at the business school, and trying to balance school and a social life (if anyone ever figures out how to do that let me know!)
I managed it all pretty well for awhile – grades were okay, my friends were great, and I was moving up the ranks in my organizations. After a couple of years of this honestly sad attempt of balancing, one thing started to get pushed down – my grades. I started getting terrible grades and falling super far behind. One semester my grades were so bad that I was almost kicked out of my main organization and was actually kicked out of another. Because of this, I was almost put on academic probation. A little background – I was salutatorian in high school and was a super student. School was my thing. Being “well-rounded” was my thing. I faked it in college for as long as I could, until the smarter, more talented, harder working students climbed ahead – as they deserved, too. (No hate, y’all!)
I had unknowingly put all of my identity in being completely “put together” – through my grades, my organizations, and my friends. I slowly started to break under the pressure and under the illusion that I was managing it all. Honestly, maybe I really did think I was. At the beginning of my senior year I decided to finally do something about it. After my leadership was over in my organizations at the end of my junior year, I purposefully chose not to join anymore in my senior year. I didn’t work more hours at my job and I made myself start saying no to some things I was invited to – which was obviously the worst part. To this day when I have to say no to plans, it feels like someone it cutting off little pieces of my social butterfly wings HA.
Even through eliminating some of the excess in my life, I was still left feeling kind of empty and the reason why was obvious. All throughout college, I had been barely managing my relationship with the Lord. Years of on and off distance with Him was finally catching up to me. The feeling of the future unknown was starting to creep in, too. Where was I going to live post-grad? Where was I going to work? Why haven’t I found a job yet? What are my relationships going to be life when we all move away?
Like a lot of people, girls particularly I’ve noticed, I started developing anxiety. At first, it was anxiety from stress, but eventually turned into frequent panic attacks. For anyone who has panic attacks or has had one, I understand how powerless and out of control it feels. Since I didn’t know I was having panic attacks (I thought I was just stressing out hardcore), I didn’t tell anyone or seek help. It wasn’t until I had one over the phone with Ryan that I realized what was happening. At this point I sort of dropped everything and fell into Jesus. I know that sounds so cheesy and churchy, but it’s true and it honestly wasn’t much of a choice. I had gotten so empty and out of control that it was all I knew to do.
Over the next few months, I started cutting out every bit of excess in my life and seeking Godly community. I was in a really great bible study and started to learn what it looked like to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. For someone who had known Jesus basically my whole life, this was the first time that I knew what it felt like to be utterly dependent on the Lord.
It was an impossibly tough time mixed with incredibly beautiful moments in between. Ryan proposing in the most magical way. Friends landing great jobs. Friends graduating. Friends getting engaged.
I still struggle with some pretty intense anxiety every once in awhile. I’m thankful to have a husband who know how to love me through it and friends who struggle with similar things and are the best encouragers.
The difference now is that I have hope.
Yes I feel temporarily anxious, fearful, and overwhelmed. But it’s met with peace. I don’t feel empty. I don’t feel out of control, because I know Who’s in control.
I’ll wrap this up since it’s getting long, but please know that if you struggle with something similar or can’t find relief for any struggle – please reach out to someone who can help. Reach out to me! Don’t get stuck feeling empty and alone because I guarantee you know someone who’s struggling too.
Remember, too, that you can have the same hope that saved me.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
Have a wonderful Monday, friends! Thank you so much for reading.
– Caitlin –
Photos by: my cutie husband.