It’s been a full week since I left, and I still can’t put into words what this past year has been for me. There is no simple way to say it. I have grown so much this year. It’s true that one year of college can change you so much more than four years of high school can. Don’t get me wrong high school had its impact on me, but it took moving into a town filled with complete strangers to force me into a period of pruning and growth. I am nowhere near the person I was when I left.
When I left, I was an extremely insecure girl who was still trying to figure out who she was both spiritually and as a person. I was terrified, and trying to hide it behind thick eyeliner. So many times I felt like giving up before I even started, but without fail graduation came. Next thing you know, summer was almost over and it was time to pack. Then the day came, August 16th, 2016: move in day. The ride was painfully silent knowing that later my parents would leave me to make friends and figure out how college worked. The first friend came in the check in line. Still dazed and trying not to cry, I heard the girl in front of me whispering to her parents about how she thought the girl behind her was her suite-mate. I watched as she very slowly turned around and I was face to face with Katherine Clair. The introduction was awkward. Little did I know that I would be making spontaneous chicken nugget runs and laughing so hard I threw up with both her and the next girl I met. I had already moved some things into my room and had just gotten back when I opened the door to Fant 304 to find Hannah Steele and her family moving all of her stuff in. We didn’t really talk much but that would soon change. Soon we would find ourselves in conversations about everything from deep and meaningful topics to irrelevant news about what’s-what on campus.
Then the time came. My parents left, and I cried. I didn’t know what to do. I was in a room with two strangers and all they could do was awkwardly watch me cry. I felt out of place. Orientation week began and I started meeting people left and right, although it took a while to remember their names. That week was filled with seminars, volleyball, capture the flag, and a very strange game of Where’s Waldo. I started to realize what kind of a community would be at college as I stood on the porch of the student center with a bunch of random people telling stories, and as I sang my heart out in Fant lobby with some more strangers. I met people that week that I am proud to call some of my best friends. Then classes started, syllabi came, and more tears ensued. I still had no idea what major I was supposed to be in, but I met professors who cared about me and helped me along the way. I started to adjust to college life, and as I started to acclimate, the insecurity, eyeliner, and anxiety started to fade.
That is not to say that freshman year was easy though. This year was one of the toughest years I have faced. First semester I dealt with moving out, deciding a major, and relationship problems. Second semester was not much better. I started it off by getting very sick and trying to play catch up. I then had to wrestle with getting a job or internship, burn out, and more relationship issues. Through all of it God provided strength, wisdom, and laughter in many forms. No, freshman year was not easy. It was incredibly painful. Nothing seemed to work out for me. But when I am weak, He is strong. God’s faithfulness did not fail. He never left, and although I couldn’t see it, He had a plan for my year, and all I had to do was trust him.
This year God gave me friends that I never could have asked for. They are the definition of iron sharpening iron. They were always there to pick me up when I was down and pray for me when there was nothing to be done. He gave me people I could trust and experience life with (you know who you are). Life was hard, but there was always something to laugh about and always someone to talk to when I needed it. God provided so much laughter and wisdom through my friends, professors, RAs, and classmates. It’s strange how you can be thrown into a place with a bunch of random strangers and come out as friends you never knew you could have. God is good, even when life is not.
Each semester brought its own joys and hardships. It was hard being away from home for so long. I couldn’t run home to talk to my mom and get a hug and a home cooked meal. There were so many new responsibilities that came with being in college, and I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect. I felt like I needed to have everything together or else I would have failed as a new college student. So I made my plan. I figured out what I needed to do to be successful, or so I thought. As I tried to follow what I though was right, I started to fail immensely. I kept trying, but with each new step came failure. I failed so many times I burnt out. So there I was with no job, a confusing major, and a lot of people telling me that God had a plan and new opportunities. Nothing anyone said seemed to help, but God pulled through. He provided, although in ways I would not have expected. I have a job next semester, and although I still don’t quite know what I’m going to do with my life, I at least have a direction to work in.
I went into the first semester of college knowing nothing, and then I went into the second semester thinking I knew everything. God is very quick to make us rely on Him, and show us who’s actually in control. Second semester was a mess, but it forced me to think about where I find my validation and why I am trying to pursue the things that I am running after. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m still not great at relying on God for my worth and guidance. I still try to follow my own plan and find my validation in things that I’ve accomplished. Even with all the things that I have accomplished God has shown me a different way of living, and that new way is nowhere near my comfort zone. Nowhere near where I thought I’d be. Heck, I thought I was going to be a music major at Bryan College. Try Biology at Toccoa Falls College on for size. It’s not what I planned, but it’s where God lead me, and I couldn’t be happier, so where ever He’s leading me now must be better than what I had planned. It’s hard to trust in that fact, but God has shown His goodness so many ways in my life. Freshman year was not easy, but beauty is often made through hardship. I may not see it yet, but God is leading me toward the plan He has had all along, and it’s going to be for His glory and my good. All I have to do is follow.
Year one: success.