I Don’t Know About You, but I’m Feelin’ 20 Without the Extra Two

I turned twenty on the twenty-third.

I’ve been taking the past few days to think about my journey– all of the experiences that have led me to where I am today. And with that in mind, I’d like to share with you a snapshot of each age (or groups of ages) that have shaped me to become the “Sophie” that you know.

Age 1: It’s okay to look goofy.

This is me, at age 1, with a snarky smile, crazy curly hair, and giant ears (Luckily, I eventually grew into them.)
This is me, at age 1, with a snarky smile, crazy curly hair, and giant ears (Luckily, I eventually grew into them.)

Age 2: Sharing is fun… most of the time.  My brother was born just before I turned two, which changed everything for me– no longer was I an only child, but instead, I was blessed by a kid who has taught me, supported me, and loved me through it all… and I was given the opportunity to give that same love and support back to him.

Age 3: Looking at other people with love is powerful.

Here's Harrison, my younger brother, and I. We've been besties from the beginning.
Here’s Harrison, my younger brother, and me. We’ve been besties from the beginning.

Age 4: Smiling is good for your soul. Not only can fake smiling cause real happiness, but it can also cause other people to smile, too.

Here's my dad and I, just hanging out.
Here’s my Dad and I, with smiles from ear to ear.

Age 5: School is scary. And that’s okay. You’ll get through it, make friends, and learn how to swing on the swings by yourself eventually. (Note: beginning college is like starting kindergarten. You got through it then, and you can get through it now, too.)

Age 6: Having amazing teachers in your life can change everything. Having role models and mentors can transform your life– do not take them for granted, nor miss the opportunity to let them shape you in your journey.

Age 7: You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Don’t worry about not wanting to play kickball at recess. By sitting on the tire swing instead, you might just meet a new friend.

Age 8: Not getting to have a popsicle because you couldn’t remember the answer to 8 x 6 isn’t the end of the world. (This incident was one of the first times I felt full motivation to complete something I had previously failed. Now, I have forgotten most other multiplication, but I remember that 8 x 6 is definitely 48.) Working toward success after failure can be so powerful.

Age 9: Math isn’t easy, and it will never be easy, but there are other talents to acquire and nurture. The concept of long division still escapes me… but this realization led me to realize that although I will never be a veterinarian, I make for a great Communication major.

I might not succeed at math, but I love to read, and Harrison and I loved to read together when we were little.
I might not succeed at math, but I love to read, and Harrison and I loved to read together when we were little.

Ages 10-13: Embrace your inner self, because your outer self might not be lookin’ so great. I was blessed with glasses, braces, and crazy curly hair all at once. I loved my bright pink zip-up Adidas sweatsuit, Crocs, and pigtails. I wish I had a picture to show you this, but unfortunately (or fortunately) my high school self voluntarily misplaced most of the pictures associated with this experience.

Ages 14-18: High school will not be the best experience of your life, but it will not be the worst, either. For the first time, you have new freedom to pick and choose your battles and pick and choose your values. You can do every extracurricular activity or focus simply on your studies. Your friends are great, but your family is better. Wearing the same shirt that your brother did to school is less of a big deal now than it was in middle school. Who you are will continue to change, and you will grow and discern your truth as your journey continues.

Having it look like your brother might be your prom date is also okay... just for the record, we both had other dates, it was simply a coincidence we both wore pink. Here's our mom and dad with us, too!
Having it look like your brother might be your prom date senior year is also okay… just for the record, we both had other dates, it was simply a coincidence we both wore pink. Here’s our mom and dad with us, too!

Age 19: Faith. Wow. For the first time, the words “grace” and “faith” had real meaning for me. I learned to trust in God, love Jesus, and follow the Spirit. That changed my life. Never before had I relied on Him the way I do now. And not only do I have faith in God, but I have faith in myself, and faith in other people– a confidence in knowing that for me, hope in the unseen is one of the most powerful experiences I will encounter in my life.

Dimnent Chapel, Hope College
Dimnent Chapel, Hope College

Age 20: It’s okay to not have your life totally together. I still live in a college dorm. I don’t have my career/life plan totally mapped out. No longer being a teenager does not magically create more maturity nor does it provide an ability to know every plan for your life. It does, however, provide one step closer to the reality of real life. And that, my friends, is super cool.


What’s your most significant life experience that has shaped you to become the person you are today? Comment below or tweet at me @hopesophie17.Questions or comments can be sent to me at sophie.guetzko@hope.edu. Have a great week!

33 Things I’ve Learned From Studying Abroad

Hi everyone! I wanted to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained this semester with you, so I created this lovely list. Some of these things apply to France, Europe, or studying abroad in general. Enjoy!

1. If I talk really fast and add the word/sound “ba” occasionally in my phrases I can almost sound like a native French speaker. Almost.

2. Celebrities are a much bigger deal in the U.S. than in France. The same goes for the Olympics.

3. The US dollar/euro conversion rate is painful for my head and my wallet.

4. French people don’t drink a lot of water.

5. Public transportation is a godsend.

7. Public transportation is a nightmare.

8. Trying and failing in French is better than not trying at all and speaking English.

9. French bread is hands down the best bread in the world.

10. The “p” in the name “Baptiste” is silent.

11. Family, politics and religion are off-limits in the work place and casual conversation. Around the dinner table, anything goes.

12. Speaking of dinner tables, French people actually use theirs.

13. French phramacies are full of wonderful, cheap beauty products.

14. Escargot is delicious.

15. French students talk loudly and constantly in class.

16. A surprising number of people think Chicago is in Michigan.

17. The local university is only for taking classes. School spirit and clubs are virtually non-existant.

18. How I Met Your Mother might be the most popular American show in France.

19. You’re never fully dressed without a scarf.

20. Speaking only one language is not normal.

21. Paris is truly magical.

22. Not every European has liberal political views. The West of France is well known for being conservative.

23. Attending mass each week in a 1000 year-old church is as normal as going to the farmer’s market.

24. Some showers don’t have a shower curtain or sliding door.

25. WiFi is faster in the US.

26. Despite the exclusiveness and ticket-only entry of Paris Fashion Week, it is possible to attend a show (or 6).

27. French is anything but a dying language.

28. Driver’s Education in France is more expensive and time-consuming than in the US.

29. The free newspapers given out at tram stops in the morning are good for keeping up on current events and playing sudoku.

30. Political correctness has not yet made its way here.

31. Sadly, neither has Jif peanut butter.

32.The vast majority of people are kind and willing to offer help when needed.

33. Study abroad is life-changing.