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JM[Thank]U

April 25, 2018

As my last semester is drawing to a close, I'm feeling both utterly nostalgic about my past four years and overly excited about my future. Over my time at this university, I've learned so much about who I am, what I want, and where I want to be. I'm so thankful for each and every opportunity that crossed my path over the course of my college career.

It's weird and bittersweet looking back at my experience here. I got to experience two ESPN College Gamedays at a college they never visit. I experienced the height of Yik Yak (s/o to whoever yak'd during the first UREC fire drill of Spring '15: '"Jordan from UREC is so hot she set off the fire alarms", that was my peak).  I experienced a flood so extreme that people blew up pool floaties for the Godwin field that turned into Godwin lake. I experienced the fear of a mumps epidemic. I experienced the opening of a multi-million dollar gym that I'm lucky enough to work (and pretty much live) at. I raiseda dog from an 8-week-old puppy to a two-year-old handful. I experienced dorm life, living with two different sets of roomies, and living with the love of my life. I remember many fond nights and I can't seem to remember just as many. College was a blast.

In college, I finally found out who I am. All throughout middle and high school, I struggled with people telling me who I could and couldn't be, what I liked and what I didn't, who I was and who I wasn't. My goal for 2017 was to focus on myself, and as I result I ended up finding myself. That year, I started my blog, I took my love for fashion and ran with it, I got rid of my fear of the weight room, I figured out what I wanted, and I stopped caring what other people thought of me. Now, I'm one strong, stubborn, powerful, loving, smart, driven, fashionable, boss ass bitch that's ready to make something of myself. 

 

In college, I learned independence and I learned partnership. I learned how to hold my own, do my thing, and be myself all while nurturing and growing the relationship that betters me every single day. Most people doubted Tylar and me in high school. We were a strong couple, but people have a tendency to doubt young love. When they found out I was going to the same college as Tylar, they gave the same smirk every single time.

 

Here we are, almost six years in, living together with our dog. Hopefully there's a life lesson in this for anyone that doubted us: love is love no matter your age. If you can grow with someone, love them all the same, and work through your issues in a mature way, hold onto that. Independence is important, but partnership is magic. I wouldn't be where I am today without his support every step of the way. I cannot tell you how thankful I am to be able to come home to this man every day.

It's funny, when I first got to JMU I was in no way thrilled. I've always been stuck in Virginia and more than anything I wanted to get out, but to be financially smart I had to go to an in-state school. It took me a little while to find my place here.

 

During my Spring semester of my freshman year, I became a Group Exercise Instructor and really found my niche. I took one Zumba class and decided this was what I needed to be doing with my life (s/o to my queen, Bri Rodgers). I loved my job, my coworkers, and the family that came along with that position. I've been working there ever since, I was promoted to manager two years ago, and as my seventh semester teaching has almost passed I just can't believe it's over. I found confidence in this job. I found a positive body image. I found friendships that mean the world to me. I found the leader inside of myself. I found passion for not only keeping wellness a prominent part of my life, but for making it something others could enjoy.

 

To anyone and everyone who has taken a class of mine over the past four years, thank you so much for your positive energy. You have no idea how much teaching a class to a room of smiling faces can completely turn a day around. I remember going to work so many times after having a bad day and coming out of that studio glowing. Thank you to the friends that showed me a support group like I've never had before. Thank you to everyone for instilling the confidence I needed in my life with each and every smile, compliment, and "woo" you've given me.

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A very special thank you to my very best friends this job has blessed me with: Kiersten Deutsch, Marquise Lee, Ally Kask, Becky Eacho, KB, Zoe Panarella, Mack Kairys, Elena Russo, Laura Pachnos, and Josh Bensink. You people make every day better than the last.

 

Four years later and I'm sitting on my couch with my daily medium mocha iced coffee from Dunkin', nearly in tears from all of my memories. I can't help but hear my favorite professor, Dr. Broderick, saying the word 'solastalgia' over and over again in my head. Solastalgia is a neologism that describes a form of psychic or existential distress caused by environmental change. Leaving this place, I finally understand what that means. I'm sad to go, but I'm stoked to leave.

 

I'm so excited to announce that in just a few months, I'm moving across the country to Palm Springs, CA. Tylar and I are taking a cross country road trip and living with my brother (and best friend) once we get there. I'm so, so lucky to be where I am today. I may be jobless, I may have no idea what I'm doing with my life, but I am sure as hell happy with who I am, who I've become, and where I'm going.

 

To every professor, photographer, coworker, roommate, and friend... Thank you for making these the best four years of my life. To Tylar, thank you for being my sunshine every day. To my mom, thank you for raising me to spread my wings and fly. To my dad, thank you for encouraging me in all that I do (even if you don't understand it). To my brother, thank you for being my hypeman in every adventure life brings me. To my grandparents, thank you for your constant support and love. To Katelyn and Chan, thank you for being my best friends in high school and my best friends today no matter how many miles separate us. I couldn't do this without any of you. Thank you, JMU, for letting me grow into the woman today. Thank you for the knowledge. Thank you for the friendships. Thank you for the memories.

 

xoxo, no longer Just Jordan...

With love, Jordan Shiley

 

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