I find myself reflecting with fervor at the end of the 2010’s. It was a decade of growing up for me. I was 12 when it started.
I have road marker moments from the last ten years. Moments that changed everything. Moments that taught me lessons. Moments that brought people into my life, made me cry in every context, and moments that reminded me who I am.
Here are 19 of them.
I joined newspaper staff at Cherokee Middle School.
This decision kick-started my dream of a career as a writer. I wrote silly stories with my friends, like an opinion piece about why Harry Potter is better than Twilight, but it ignited a passion in me that never left. It spurred me on to journalism in high school, where I spent two years as Editor-In-Chief of the yearbook. Nine years after I joined newspaper staff, I still write every day, and I am about to graduate college with a degree focused in writing.
Thank you Ms. Hurdle. I don’t think I’d be pursuing writing if you didn’t resurrect the Smoke Signal.
I met Taylor Swift.
You heard that right, in my 15-year-old prime, sock bun and all, I hugged my girl! Maddie and I were picked to meet her out of the crowd during the Red Tour, and I sobbed for about half the show. Then I did not stop talking about it for a solid three years.
Taylor released five albums this decade, and I would be doing myself an injustice if I didn’t mention the role her music played in my life as I grew up. Her music was my soundtrack, the background noise to every moment of my teens and early twenties. I saw her in concert eight times. I belted 22 at midnight on my 22nd birthday. It was a decade of Swift.
I made friends and memories through the internet.
Much to the dismay of my parents (sorry mom and dad), I met strangers online. Then I met them in person. They are now some of my dearest long-distance friends. The days I get to see them IRL are full of joy and laughter and plans for the next time. And don’t worry, mom and dad are cool with it now.
Sydney, Sarah, Maire, and Beth, you are so precious to me! Sending love from my corner of the globe.
2014 was also when I discovered the Vlogbrothers (John and Hank Green), and they have been a solid source of joy since. Their books, videos, podcasts, and general Nerdfighteria goofiness make my nerd heart sing. I spent countless hours with the content they produce, and I am grateful for the wonderful stories and perspectives they bring to my life. DFTBA!
I started a blog.
Laurenstockam.wordpress.com was born on August 12, 2015, the day before I started my senior year of high school. What a ride it’s been. I have watched myself, my friends and family, and my writing grow over the past four and a half years. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
I went to Disney World for the first time.
And I hugged Elsa and bawled my eyes out during the fireworks. I think I reacted the same way at 18 as I would have if I went when I was four. I am a perpetual child.
A few months later I went again with Sydney, and we conquered the 4 Parks, 1 Day challenge. It was glorious. I had blisters on all parts of my feet.
I sat near Samuel Senn in calculus.
Choosing a corner seat in Mrs. Odom’s calc class ended up a decision that changed a massive part of my life. I had no clue how God was going to rock my world.
Samuel deserves a whole blog post, but I will keep it short here: He is my best friend. Since those days in calculus, we have grown together through the victories and the tough losses. He reminds me what’s important in life. He is weird and goofy and so kind. He’s always down for a Disney movie or a slow dance in the kitchen. He is so, so precious to me.
I also didn’t have to take a math class in college because of calculus. Win-win.
I graduated high school.
So much was happening at this point in my life. In the least cliche way possible, this day closed a chapter. I was ready for a new start, but I was hesitant to leave this time behind. I gave a speech at the ceremony that ended with a quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
“I know there are people who say all these things don’t happen. And there are people who forget what it’s like to be 16 when they turn 17. I know these will all be stories someday. And our pictures will become old photographs. We’ll all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now these moments are not stories. This is happening.”
High school is a story. It’s a memory. But that day, it was happening. And I took it all in.
I spent the morning of graduation on the football field with my dear friends. We watched the sunrise and read letters we wrote for each other. It will always be a fond memory, and a beautiful way to finish my days as a Chief.
I made friends who pointed me toward the greatest hope.
The summer after I graduated high school turned my world upside down. After years of pushing God away because of a tragedy I couldn’t explain, I was plopped into the middle of a friend group full of faithful people. I ached for their joy. And I found it again.
God placed me with these people at the perfect moment, when my heart was open to change and surrender. Since then, I have witnessed that perfect timing in everything, every minute, every second. I trust Him again. I’ll spend my whole life in awe of how God weaves people into our lives to serve Him. To reveal Himself. To remind us that He’s here.
Samuel, Keaton, Joe, and Jordan, thank you for being bold. It has an eternal impact.
I started lettering.
It started with a notebook and a sharpie and turned into a hobby I treasure. I created cards, prints, and doodles. I funded part of my study away. I found a creative side of myself I didn’t know existed. I am excited to see where I take my art in the next decade.
I went to New York City.
God bless my sweet momma, who took on the Big Apple with me during Spring Break my freshman year of college. We survived flight cancellations and five-hour phone calls with Expedia. We walked over 30 miles in four and a half days. We doubled over with laughter trying to ride a tandem bike in snowy Central Park. We shopped until we (literally) dropped. We froze our tushes off. It was a dream come true. I sobbed like a lil baby when we boarded the plane to leave.
I met Sarah Broyles.
Summer of 2017 brought miss Sarah Broyles into my world, and it’s been brighter ever since. We met through NCA, and we got close quick as we suffered through long camp days together. It didn’t take long for me to know Sarah is a lifelong friend. She makes my heart full and strives to be the best person she can be. She spurs me forward.
She turns mundane and/or stressful moments into sweet memories. For that, I am grateful.
I got a job.
I started as a student writer in the Missouri State University Communications office my sophomore year, and it has been a blessing ten times over. That office is like my second home, I have interviewed and created stories about passionate and COOL faculty and students, and I have met some of my dearest friends. I didn’t know a job could become an integral part of my life like this one has. I will be sad to tell it goodbye.
I met Alyson Jones.
Speaking of dear work friends, Alyson Jones (soon to be Alyson Epperson) walked into my office in June of 2018 with a bag of popcorn and a soul so bright I cry if I think about it too much. God blessed me big time with this one. She’s very dear to me. Less of a friend, more of an eternal sister.
Al is a big words of affirmation girl, as am I. The words she speaks to me and writes down for me are stored treasures in my heart. Her words sing the praises of Jesus.
I love you Al.
June 17, 2018. I was 20 years old. It was a glorious day. My smile in this photo says it all.
I got a sister.
Justin married Isabella on September 22, and my dream of having a sister came true.
It was a beautiful day, and they just keep getting better. Isabella is the perfect addition to our family. Y’all, having a sister is awesome. Don’t know how I made it almost 21 years without one.
I lost my Papa.
November 26, 2018 was the most difficult day of the decade. My mom called during my night class and I found out my dear Papa passed away after a long road with cancer.
I was crushed. Still am. I miss him everyday. I miss his hugs, his goofy songs, and his love. He loved us so well.
His funeral was beautiful because the audience told stories about him. Memories of the moments Papa touched their lives. It went on for almost an hour because so many people wanted to share. It was a testament to the beautiful, kind, hilarious person he was. I’ll never forget it.
I just know he’s cracking jokes up in heaven. I can’t wait for that reunion.
I studied abroad in London.
And my heart grew the span of an entire ocean. London, a dream that came to mind at the start of the decade, came true at the end. The jet lag was tough, the laughs were constant, the adventures were filled with wonder. Ten days I will never forget and always cherish.
One moment of the trip stands out to me because of its simple beauty. On one of our last nights, Beau, Quinlan, and I went searching for lemonade after dinner (I developed a weird addiction to English lemonade. That’s a story for a different day). We popped in and out of little corner stores until we found some, and we made our way back to the hotel without a map. We soaked in the last of the evening light and I felt at ease, I was free. I still replay it in my head.
I watched my dear friend get married.
Middle school daydreams came true when Brooke and Nick got married in September. I was honored to stand with Brooke as a bridesmaid. She is a dear, dear friend.
The wedding weekend was straight up glory to God. We had deep conversations, sang worship, cried of laughter, drank wine, wrote letters, steamed dresses, and soaked up each other’s company. Before the ceremony we prayed over Brooke and her marriage. I sobbed, but what else is new? Then I watched Brooke’s dreams play out in front of me, and my love for her swelled knowing she was following God’s path for her life. It was wondrous. It was also very hot, but we made it work!
Brooke Dell, you are a beautiful, God-honoring bride. I love you so.
I got a glimpse of heaven.
After small group friendsgiving, I sat in a parking lot with my friends while we waited for a locksmith. I looked around while we sang mediocre worship with a ukulele, and I was overcome with gratitude for this life. For the wonders God sends–in shooting stars, car blankets, and a locksmith who charges zero dollars. For the friends surrounding me, who speak truth and love into my life at every turn, who have been there in the beautiful moments and the tough ones.
When I told Alyson about it the next day, she said “That was a glimpse of heaven.”
That it was.
And may the next decade bring more.