Friday, April 20, 2012

The Evolution of a BYU Student


Freshman year I was just a little naive zoob. Moving out with one of my high school/ward besties Caroline was an exciting adventure filled with too much Diet Coke and way too many grocery shopping trips. Late nights were glamorous. A "real-life" job was my greatest pride. A Gold's Gym pass was obtained, although working out regularly doesn't counter the constant stream of snacks I pounded. I went to every dance party Facebook and my friends invited me to, because that's the trendy college life I'd seen on the internetz.

It wasn't all bad though. There were BYU football games with some of my best pre-mi friends. Plenty of studying and paper-writing. And obsessing over Mamma Mia!

Glenwood wasn't quite my style (too ward-centric and young) so Winter Semester I moved into Crestwood (private rooms and fewer zoobs). There I met one of my best college friends and the greatest roommate ever, Natalie.

I ruined my summer with History classes and Calculus. Still healing over a breakup and the less than ideal dating life I'd been experiencing at college, I pretty much spent the whole summer studying and watching the original Star Trek series on YouTube. Not my finest hour.


That August changed everything. I decided to snap out of it. Katie and I finally bonded. I met Kami and Marit and started trying again. I cared again. I partied again. I dyed my hair dark a la Zooey Deschanel. The very first night I actually went out again, I met The Beard (at a SINGLE'S WARD ACTIVITY. Semi-embarrassed of this.) I still remember something waking up inside me when I talked with him. It's not something I can articulate. But it was good.

Marit and I hung out with the famous Trumans, met the BYU football team at the airport at midnight after their triumphant Oklahoma win, and started to go to more and more local music shows with my rapidly becoming bestie Tiffany. I bought new clothes, stopped eating crap and started yoga. I began the teaching program at BYU. I really DATED and made new friends in my ward, complex and classes. I was almost the "real" Danica here.


The Beard and I grew progressively closer, always circumventing eventual "official" status. Never seeing one another more than MAYBE twice a week. But come March, I was dominating my classes, especially with my Writing in Social Science class and remembering how much I loved English classes and writing. I had made so many friends, dated guys that weren't pre-mi's or complete weirdos, and was on the top of the totem pole at the library. People knew my name. I was finally wearing good clothes. Studying in a desk at the library instead of in my bed with microwave popcorn and The Office open in another window on my laptop. What a little adult I had become. I was more confident in myself and it was clear that The Beard was to play some role in my life. So I didn't run from it, even though we were both leaving for the summer.

We spent nearly every day together before he left, despite the good advice of my sweet and protective friends. We left with a "Have a great summer!" and the slightest potential hope that if we both came back and wanted to do it again, we would. And for real.

Once classes ended, I finally had a summer. No classes. Worked 4 days a week. Spent plenty of time in Mesquite, St. George and at the King Henry pool with Tiffany and Ali. I really grew close to my best friend Eliesa and looked forward to her newly single status and the promise of the greatest summer ever. I spent hours at the pool reading my huge tome of British history, preparing for Wales. I visited Chicago with my family for Brooke's senior trip.

I left Provo with a renewed sense of what this summer meant. I finally had a guy to care about, but I could function without him. I was desperately scared that liking him would ruin my summer without him, but instead I found it to be a pleasant hope to look forward to September. I could be funny. I could be cute. I could be crazy. I could enjoy time alone and time with my friends. I could drive with the windows down blaring Metric and The Eagles all summer long. As I finished a Cocoa Bean run with my office friends, I was just so grateful for my life and so happy to be living.
Wales was amazing. I won't re-hash that for you all. I showed up as the quiet, weird girl that no one knew, because I applied late and took the place of a dropout, not taking the prep class. I finished as everyone's friend, the group clown and "The Girl Who Doesn't Sleep." That's who I am. Deep down. The train had come full circle and I was ready to come home and be somebody. Just in time for my last year at BYU. :)


The Beard and I started dating pretty much immediately. I moved into the Dream Palace and vowed to remain social despite a boyfriend. We went to local shows, parties and threw awesome bonfires. I met Claybe, Shane, Myles, Jordan, Tanner, Myles, and a hundred other friends of Ryan's. I became FHE mom, and actually enjoyed it, despite my complaining. I fell in love with Just Dance. I watched Friday Night Lights, Entourage, Parks n Rec and Chapelle's Show with the Beard every night. We played counselor to our friends. We fought (a little).

Around Christmas I had a breakdown. I was facing my last semester of BYU, real world life, frustration with my family, boredom in my job, and uncertainty with The Beard. I lost it, you guys. My parents honestly looked terrified watching my sob on the floor like an 8 year old. I didn't even do that when I was an 8 year old. So you can only imagine. I considered running from Ryan. Postponing a semester. Quitting my job. Moving somewhere new. Doing anything else. During this stress I lost 20+ pounds, my hair fell out and my school work pretty much suffocated.

The only things I was sure about were that I didn't want to break up with The Beard; I liked teaching and being in classrooms, even if I hated my education classes; and that the coming 3 months would determine much of the rest of my life, so there was no way I could check out.


I decided to stop being a baby and finish strong. I started out attending my final education and history classes regularly. I tried harder at work to be awesome, even though I thought I had reached that threshold. I took better care of "me" as Oprah would say, by trying to send The Beard home before 2 am, reading books I liked, doing homework before cramming stressed me out, etc.

I interviewed a a few schools in the area, and then was quickly offered my current internship position, which came as a merciful blessing in a time of craziness. I felt confident and excited to teach, although a little anxious.

The moment of truth came for The Beard and I, and it was just what we need to both decide we were "all in." After that point, talks about love and marriage and planning just spilled out. I was happier than ever and attending class probably less than ever. As the Dream Palace situation grew crazier, we spent more and more time with our families, and I absolutely fell in love with his. How fun is it to have 4 new sisters?!

I concluded my BYU career by unceremoniously trashing all my notebooks and selling all my textbooks. I moved back home, cut back on work hours and spent all my time wedding planning and hanging with The Beard and Holdaways.

Seven Peaks with Jeanette and Katie, Owls games, and one EFY session later, I was getting married to my best friend!

As far as BYU goes, I considered myself done. I still had to go to some stupid meetings and finish that b*&%# (sorry) of a Teacher Work Sample (a 40+ page portfolio showing that I know how to fake good teachings on paper), but I was pretty much done. Visiting campus made me so grateful for what I had and learned there, but so happy to be at home with my husband and working at an awesome school.

And here I am. Graduating today. LIKE A BOSS.

Thank you, BYU. Thank you apartments and roommates and singles wards. Thank you Study Abroad. Thank you LAO & HBLL. Thank you Mckay School of Education. Thank you to my family for always being there when I had to get away from Provo.

Thank you Beard. You met me at my lowest point and brought me to my highest, with patience all the while. I love you!

And thanks to you, my reader-friends. You endure my long-winded rants, and why? Because you know deep down I love you. I hope to have more and better posts since BYU, school and everything else is easing up on me. :)

Go Cougs forever!


  1. I really liked this post Dani. Thanks for sharing!! I can't wait to hear about all your other adventures in the future.

    1. Thanks! Hopefully I have adventures ahead of me! I read your blog and love it. Especially your last few posts. I love the courage and honesty. You should post more.

  2. If this were a facebook post I would "like" it. Thank goodness all that crappy drama is over. I totally agree with your sentiments about that stupid TWS. Best day of my life when I turned that thing in! I'm glad you're so happy, hooray for graduating college and turning into adults!!!