I bleed black and gold. I’m a tiger at heart, determined and fierce. I’m one in a million, drowning in life lessons. I break the rules in a piece of the world where there’s only one rule you should follow: have fun.

And I got out. I got out a lot sooner than most. Maybe I did drown and this is where I ended up. Maybe I knew that my time there was done, a year versus four. Maybe I’ll never actually know for sure. When it’s choice versus fate, what ultimately wins?

I’m young, really young, something I always forget. I’m maneuvering through a sea of drugs and alcohol, relationships and sex, perseverance and responsibility, heartbreaks and triumphs, backstabbers and soul mates. I think I drowned in all of that, but don’t we all?

A piece of my heart is a sunny day in Greek Town. A piece of my heart is the clusters of tailgates on game day. A piece of my heart is cheap food and Netflix. A piece of my heart is having too much but not caring and being so happy in the moment. A piece of my heart is the shameless morning after walk on campus. A piece of my heart is the life altering conversations with someone I barely know in the middle of the night. A piece of my heart is the year I lived with all of that at my fingertips.

There are days I really miss it. I met a handful of people in just one short year who have changed my life forever, for better and for worse. And how does God bring the people we feel the most for in and out of our lives so quickly? I don’t know.

How does a dream become so corrupt? How does something you’ve worked so hard for break you and change everything? How does something become bittersweet?

Neither love nor hate does my feelings justice. When it comes to Mizzou, I just feel. Mizzou is a turning point, the end of an era and the beginning of new life. It was always where I’d be going but never where I was supposed to be. Surely everyone has a piece of their lives like that… something that holds you captive and sets you free.

An expensive mistake, rich with self-discovery… Worth everything, or worth nothing at all? Different people have different opinions. As something still so hard for me to comprehend myself, I hope writing about it gives you some insight too, because I know no one understands. How did the try-hard’s life turn upside down?

And how do you entertain “what if’s” or decide if you made the “best” choice? How do you pick and choose the pieces of your life that you want to shape your character when you are who you are without ever knowing it? How do you say goodbye and hold on?

I wrote this with a heart so full thinking about the people that I love in Columbia today, a heart that’s full but aching nonetheless. That’s what a heart does when it’s love reaches out to bridge distances, and I’m lucky to have people in my life to ache for. True love isn’t between the prince and princess in a fairytale, it’s between the people who want to do life with you, no matter what.

Thank you, Mizzou, for teaching me that. The try-hard girl needed to learn that… She needed to be broken and loved for her brokenness to move forward.

Days like today, it’s hard for me to silence the piece of myself that wishes I was experiencing game day alongside everyone else, but I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m still a tiger, and when I bleed, because I do, I bleed black and gold.



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