Life Lately: My favorite moments of 2017

2017.

It’s been a whirlwind.

I can think of so many words to describe this year – Humbling. Terrifying. Exciting. Successful. Demanding. Enchanting. Frustrating.

So many words to describe only 365 days, but yet, I wouldn’t change a single thing about this year for the world. In 2017, I’ve accomplished so much. It was the year that I graduated from college, accepted my first full-time job, moved home with my parents and begun a new chapter in my life. Though it’s been a large topic of discussion on my blog in the past year, I finally feel like everything is coming together and know that in 2018, the tone of my blog may shift slightly as my worries, desires and accomplishments continuously evolve, too.

As I look back on yet another incredible year, I decided to tell this year’s story in a slightly different manner than I am used to. Instead of writing¬†an in-depth look at my year, I decided to pick one Instagram post from each month that I felt best depicted my year.

Looking forward to 2018, I hope to progress in my professional and personal capabilities, travel to new places and to continued sense of fulfillment.

January

February

March

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Coconuts by the ocean ūüĆä

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April

May

June

July

August

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2ÔłŹ‚É£3ÔłŹ‚É£

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September

October

November

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Thankful ‚ú®

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December

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Long weekend trips to Chicago ‚Ě£ÔłŹ

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Going Big: Finding a sense of fulfillment in my post-grad life

Earlier in the year, as I approached my impending college graduation, I felt as if I had life figured out. I had a job offer from a great company, I was moving back to my hometown of Indianapolis; I knew which direction my life was headed in. However, there was a looming feeling I couldn’t shake: I wanted to find a way to make my post-grad life count. I wanted to do something that mattered. As cliche as it sounds, I wanted to find a way to make my life meaningful outside of my full-time job.

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Posing with a sign as part of BBBSCI and Eli Lilly’s campaign in September to raise awareness of the organization

For these reasons, I decided to start volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana (BBBSCI). This national, highly-respected organization pairs an adult and child together to form a mentor relationship. Since their beginnings in 1904, the organization has formed thousands of relationships that have been linked to higher graduation rates, academic achievements, positive family relationships and more.

From the moment I began the process, I couldn’t wait to get started. Though it was at times meticulous, stretching over the course of a few months, I knew I was joining a great organization. Following the interview process, BBBSCI formally accepted me into their program. This meant that I would attend “big sister” training and then I would be paired with a “little sister”.

One thing I love about BBBSCI is they actually take the time to pair bigs and littles together who will be compatible. They explained to me that this process can sometimes stretch another few months, depending on location, interests and other personality traits. For me, this meant waiting another 2 months before I was finally paired with my little sister.

When I got the call, I was beyond excited. After reading an in-depth description of my little sister, her family and other noteworthy items, I knew that BBBSCI had found the perfect match for me – I couldn’t wait to get started!

Olivia Allen- Sammi Coppedge
My little sister, Olivia, and I are during our match introduction (August 2017).

As a big sister in this program, we hold a number of responsibilities. We meet with our little sisters on a consistent basis each month, typically ranging from 2-4 outings. Each pair has several match goals and “thriving indicators”. During our outings, we do a number of different activities. Not only do we ensure they are fun (very important!) but we also want to make sure these activities help the little sister grow, as well as help the match grow in their mentor relationship. All pairs are also required to participate in one volunteer activity a year.

Not to mention, BBBSCI does a wonderful job at finding low-cost and unique opportunities for matches. Every month, we receive updates of activities and exclusive programming, as well as have access to hundreds of outing ideas on the “Big App”.

Though I’m still at the beginning of my journey with BBBSCI, I am so thankful I found such a meaningful and impactful organization to participate in. I’m looking forward to many more great years to come!

 

 

23: Why I won’t dread growing older in my ‘Jordan Year’

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If I’m being honest, I spent my 22nd birthday in the most melodramatic way possible – complaining over the fact that I was turning 22. Like most things when you’re young, it seems ridiculous in retrospect. I’m embarrassed to admit it – but I spent a large majority of the¬†months¬†leading up to 22 dreading it. Perhaps because, like the store, I wanted to be “forever 21” or maybe 22 was simply the first birthday that seemed “not so fun”, either way, I was dreading the day.

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Picture on my 22nd birthday (2016)

However, I quickly found how young I actually was – and ever so ironically – began to dread turning 23.

Now that I’m 23 (and 20 hours into it so clearly an expert on the topic of being 23), I’m no longer dreading being another year older. In fact, 23 still sounds extremely young so I’m just grateful for another year in my early-twenties.

This year, I promise myself to stop dreading growing older and the inevitable passage of time and instead, will enjoy the next 365 days while they’re still here.

When I take the time to think about it, I find it funny how we spent so much of our lives dreading and fearing the future, instead of simply living in the moment – where’s the quality of life in that? As with many people, my fear of the future stems from my fear of the unknown. However, with age, I’ve only found more happiness – so why are we so quick to fear that?

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Picture on my 23rd birthday (2017)

22 was truly one of the best years of my life. While I’m sad to see such a wonderful chapter in my life come to a close, I know that if 23 is even half as great as 22 was, I’ll have an incredible year. However, if I’ve learned anything from the passage of time it’s this: great things will continue to happen.

For these reasons, I can’t wait for my 23rd year. I’m looking forward to settling into my semi-new life as an adult and experiencing all of the great things that will come with that, as well as experiencing all of the things I can’t yet foresee (the future doesn’t have to be so scary). This is why I think my Jordan year will be the best yet.

Until next time,
Sammi

P.S. – for those of you who don’t know, your ‘Jordan Year’ is your 23rd year – it symbolizes Michael Jordan’s jersey number – so obviously it’s going to be great.

 

Dear (Future) Daughter: Here’s why I marched for you

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Last week, I read a blog post called “Dear Daughter: Here’s why I didn’t march for you“. If you saw my Facebook post in reaction to it, then you’ll know I was immediately infuriated by such post. So, as a writer, what do I decide to do? Write a reaction to the post, of course.

I could say a lot of things about this post. I could go on and on about how infuriating it was to read all of the ways this women believes there is gender equality. I could discuss how my fury heightened when this author explained why she believes women are paid less than men. However, I won’t – because that is what my Facebook post was for. You see, for me this isn’t about politics, it’s about equality. It’s about equality for all women – for all people – to have the freedom to choose what they want to do, who they want to be and what they want to believe in, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, political party, socioeconomic status, etc.

So, instead of getting angry, I wrote a letter. Much like the author from the blog post did, I wrote a letter to my future daughter, but this time, explaining why I did march for her.

Dear (future) daughter, 

At this moment, it’s hard for me to imagine who you are. I don’t know what your name is, what you look like, or who you are. In fact, I’m just a 22-year-old who, when thinks of becoming a parent one day, struggles to imagine what that would even be like (and wonders how I will even manage to survive the pains of child birth).¬†However, whoever you are or whoever you become, there are a few things that I want you to know.

Women are not equal. They say we are. They say we can do anything that a man can. They say that if we work hard, dream big and never quit, we’ll reach the same levels that any man can. But they aren’t right. Yes, women can vote. Yes, women can obtain a post-secondary education, secure a corporate-level job at a Fortune 500 company and even become the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. Women can even run for president – in fact, one did just a few months ago. But what they are missing is that women aren’t equal to men.¬†

You see, a woman only makes 80 cents on every dollar that a man makes. Only 4% of CEOS are female in the United States. We live in a world where, if a woman is raped, she is asked how much she had to drink that night, or how short her skirt is. But when a man rapes and is charged with the crime, his sentence is shortened because he has a “bright future” ahead of him (begging the question; did the woman he raped not have a future ahead of her?). We live in a world where more people would prefer voting for a male sex predator than a woman.¬†

Yes, we live in a world where women can “do anything we want” –¬†unless it includes our bodies, of course. When we get angry, we are asked if we are on our periods, as if our feelings are not valid enough. When we look “nice”, we are asked if we did it for a man, as if we could never look this way for ourselves. When we choose to have children, we are told our “time off” (as if it is some vacation) may not be covered by our company, leaving us without pay and financial means to take care of our families.

Yet, being a woman is a privilege. I’ll teach you one day that not every person has that privilege. You may someday ask me why the girl in your class used to be a boy, and now wears dresses. I’ll teach you that every person is different, and that we can’t judge them for not being the same as us. You may ask why some people have two moms or two dads, but that you have one of each. I’ll tell you about that, too. I’ll teach you that being a woman is great because not everyone has the freedoms that you and I do.

I’ll teach you about all of the great women in history who have moved mountains and made great strides in equality. Of course, I’ll tell you about the Women’s March of 2017, the one where I was just a 22-year-old without a clue of what direction I was going to take my life in, but the time when I watched with amazement as millions of women around the world stood up for what is right. By the time you read this, I can only hope that the world is different. Maybe you’ll even ask what the word “feminist” is , and when I tell you, you’ll say: but isn’t everyone a feminist, Mom?¬†

You see, I was apart of the Women’s March movement, not because I, myself, face immense amounts of discrimination, inequality or disdain on a daily basis, but because other women do. I have insurance and can afford to see my doctors on a regular¬†basis, so I may not be as heavily impacted if Planned Parenthood were to be defunded, but I can tell you that thousands of other women would be. I am a minority in that I am a woman, but not in my sexual orientation, race or religion. In those, I am about as “privileged” as they come, but not all women are. You see, society tells us that if we dress racy, we are “sluts”, but when Muslim women practice modesty, they are told they are terrorists. The bottom line is that some women may feel equal, but not all women are.

What I’m trying to say is that when I marched, I didn’t do it for myself, rather, I did it for all women.¬†For future women. For¬†past women. I marched for those who marched in 1920 for women’s voting rights. I marched for those women who marched in 1973 for the right to choose. I marched for the women who may march 20 years from now for reasons we don’t know yet.¬†I marched not because I feel women have no rights, but because¬†we don’t have full rights. I marched because I want all people of all different backgrounds to be equal.¬†

More importantly, I marched for you. I marched for my future daughter(s), so that one day, you don’t have to.

8 Things Being a Sorority President Taught Me

06Last time I wrote, I was still in Brazil experiencing the Olympics¬†and acting like a semi-important person (after all, that’s how people made me feel when they found out where I was!) These days, my life isn’t quite as adventurous. However, I’m busy as ever. Between classes, my internship and student organizations, I sometimes wonder if I have time to breathe, though my Netflix account begs to differ (it says I have too much free time).

One aspect of my life that has kept me the busiest is my position as chapter president of my sorority, Sigma Kappa. For the past year, I have been serving as the 2016 president of the Gamma Eta chapter of Sigma Kappa Sorority. Just a few short days ago, I passed¬†down the gavel and installed¬†my successor into her new role as 2017 chapter president. Though I am eternally sad to see this position come to an end, I can’t help but be so incredibly thankful for this opportunity my sisters gave me to become their fearless leader this year.

So, as my time as president comes to an end, I thought I’d share with you all the 14 things I learned this year:

1 – The ability to problem solve is one of the best skills that you can have

Whether you believe you are a good problem-solver or not, this is undoubtedly one of the best skills we can possess as humans, regardless of our intended future careers or family lives. We come into problems and conflicts on almost a daily basis. Learning how to make decisions (and sometimes very quickly) as well as finding solutions to problems is one of the best things my presidency has given me. I know this will be a skill I will carry into my future, regardless of what I choose to do.

2 – If being a leader was easy, then everyone would do it

Though I’m not sure who said this quote, it is something that has really resonated with me. It is also something that I’ve said to myself (almost daily) since taking over the presidency last January. I’ve faced difficult decisions, animosity and sometimes backlash. However, whenever I hear this quote I am instantly put at ease. Being a leader¬†isn’t¬†easy, but it is well-worth it. You can’t make everyone like you or your decisions, but if you lead in an ethical and determined manner, then you can make changes that many will appreciate.

3 – Making the “right” choices is rarely easy¬†

Building off my last point, doing the right thing is hardly ever “easy”. This is a skill that I believe also sets leaders apart from others. It’s never easy, nor is it fun, to make that difficult decision and become the “bad guy”. However, I’ve learned how to be able to make these choices even when they seem impossible to make.

4 РLearning to delegate is one of the best things you can do for yourself 

This is something that has always been hard for me, whether that be in a job, student organization or even a group project. I like to have control over the situation and always take things upon myself, knowing full well that I can get the job done and get it done right. However, this isn’t always healthy, nor is it fair to other people you may be working with. This year has pushed me outside of my comfort zone to learn how to delegate and trust others to handle the situation.

5 РConfidence is key 

My involvement as president has also pushed me to become a more confident individual. I think that whenever you are in a position of leadership you are forced to inherently become more confident. After all, if you aren’t confident in yourself, your abilities and your actions, why would anyone else be?

6 РNever settle for complacency 

I think one of the greatest things a leader and a person can do is to always strive to become better. When I think back on my year, pushing forward and always finding ways to improve is something that I definitely think I have excelled in as president. However, it’s something that’s been a long time in coming. This experience has taught me that I should never settle for “good enough”, whether that be professionally or personally.

7 – Most things come to an end, so help to build strong successors and leaders

Unfortunately, most things in life come to an end. Rarely does one person ever hold the same position/title forever. So, it is extremely important that, as individuals, we find ways to cultivate leaders and build up those who will one day take over for us. I think this is a very difficult concept to grasp for many, as sometimes, we’re more focused on control and power than the good of the future. Nevertheless, I believe in this past year, I’ve learned how important it is to instill confidence and necessary skills in those who will one day take over the future. While being a mentee is wonderful, serving as a mentor is an undeniably important skill to possess.

8 РWork hard, celebrate your accomplishments and never give up! 

Lastly, one of the most important things we can do as leaders and individuals, I believe, is to work hard and never give up, and at the end, take time to celebrate our accomplishments. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in the work that we do. After all, accomplishments are what make hard work well worth it.

Remembering Grandpa: The Disease that Took Him Away

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My grandpa was always that person who would talk your ear off for hours about essentially nothing. He was a Korea/Vietnam veteran, and probably the most proud at that. Growing up, I couldn’t even tell you how many army stories he rambled on to me about. It wasn’t just me either. He would talk to anyone who would listen.¬†I’ll never forget the time he ordered me and my cousins pizzas and then spent what felt like forever on the front porch telling the delivery man all about his war days. We used to joke that the¬†poor guy probably got fired for¬†taking too long with the delivery.¬†Nonetheless, he was proud that he had fought for our country. It was an incredible honor for him to have served as Command Sargent Major, and I was always proud of him for that.

Looking back now, I wish I had spent more time listening to him tell these stories, no matter how boring they may have gotten. I wish as a teenager I had realized how limited my time with him was.

As only a sophomore in high school, he began to change. Slowly, dementia took the grandpa¬†I knew away. He was no longer talkative and barely remembered who I was. Sometimes we would laugh at his forgetfulness, but for the most part, it was painful knowing that I would never get the man I knew back. Eventually, I began to adjust to his changes. He lived with Alzheimer’s for four years before passing away in March of 2015. When he passed away, I struggled with losing him because it had felt like I had lost him a long time ago. It was comforting knowing that he would now be reunited with my grandma and that he could finally go to a place where he didn’t have to suffer anymore.

One of the most difficult things about loving someone with Alzheimer’s is trying to remember them as the person they were before the disease. I have a lot of great memories with my grandpa. We spent countless summers camping in the trailer my grandparents owned. He taught me lots of things, like how to fish and throw¬†a baseball. My grandma and him were married for 61 years, and I always admired them for that. He may be gone now, but that doesn’t mean we have to forget the amazing man that he was.

Every 67 seconds, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It is an awful, terrible disease.¬†The hard part is, it takes your loved ones away from you years before they actually pass away. What I wouldn’t give to have those last four years back with the grandpa I remember. Or to have taken in every moment with him when I was younger. Although I won’t¬†what took him away, for it now is a cause close to my heart. I will also choose to remember him as the man he was and not as the disease that changed him.

This year, as I walk in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Kokomo for the third year in a row with my Sigma Kappa sisters, I will be holding a purple flower, rather than a yellow one, signifying that my loved one with Alzheimer’s has passed away. In his memory, I hope to¬†raise money¬†for the walk. Please help me out by donating to my Walk to End Alz Page!