What They Didn’t Tell Me About College

The things I have learned that no one ever warned me about.

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It’s Senior Year! The most exciting time of your life up to this point. You are nearing the end of a twelve year journey that you really thought would never actually end. Finally! But there’s so much to do… senior pictures, projects, papers, graduation invitations, scholarships, papers, homework, life, AND… college.¬†Oh yeah, learning doesn’t end after high school. I don’t know about you but I was so ready to go to college, or so I thought.

I went to an EXTREMELY small school. I’m talking really small. There were two other girls in my graduating class. That was it. I lived my life in a Christian bubble. I loved it and while I was ready to be done with high school I was not quite ready to leave my bubble. I cried when I gave my speech on graduation day. That was my family and I knew I would not see them near as often as I had in the past five years that I had attended the school.

The summer leading up to my first year of college was intense. I had just entered a relationship two months before I graduated. I was hired to work at a summer camp. And, I had to actually get ready for college (side note: you don’t need everything on those “Ultimate Freshman Packing List” lists). I knew I would be busy. The summer went by fast and before I knew it I was packing for college. I had the logistics down. Boxes were labeled and everything fit perfectly in my car. But I don’t think I was or ever could have been mentally and emotionally prepared for the next step in my life.

I moved into my dorm a few days earlier than most of the first year students because I decided to go to a Christian retreat that was the weekend before Welcome Week. This made moving into the dorms so much easier! And, praise the Lord, I was on the first floor. My mom and dad were there with me and we got everything arranged and set up perfectly. I realized that I had nothing to drink so my parents said they would run to Walgreens before I had to get started with the retreat. This would result in my first breakdown of the day. It is strange because they were less than five minutes away from the campus but I felt like I would never see them again. I cried. And kept crying. There was no makeup left when I was finished. When they got back I was still crying. I can go on but really it’s just a lot of me crying.

This was college. At least once a week I was having a crying fest for myself. This is what I feel like you can never be prepared for as you go to college. I am closer to my parents than most kids but I feel like everyone to some extent will go through this and there really isn’t a way to deal with it. I’m still struggling with this. Being away from home is seriously the hardest thing in the world. I don’t know how to encourage you with this other than, it does get better.

No one told me that this would happen in college. No one told me that I would have this thing called anxiety because I didn’t know what was going on at home. All I got was, “college is nothing like high school” but no one ever told me why.

No one also ever told me that I would constantly feel like my life was a mess. Work never ends! It doesn’t matter what you do, there is always something else that has to be done. And even if you think you have everything done, you don’t. And it isn’t just with school. It’s your social life, your sleep, your laundry, eating, exercising, and I could go on forever (and I just added blogging to my list?!?) but life never just stops and takes a break but friend, you need to rest! Something I have learned in college outside of the classroom (and that I find more important than the fact that ATP is used in active transport) is that you need to take a Sabbath. We don’t use that word anymore I think because we think that the Sabbath day is just the day that we worship but it’s not! It is the day that we rest and let God’s love and grace be enough for us on that day.

Sabbath is hard. Taking a day to not work on school makes me feel guilty. For my last biology exam I was studying every spare moment for almost two weeks but the Sunday before the Tuesday exam I said, “take a break” and I felt so guilty. I should have been in the library reading over my notes and answering the questions on the study guide but instead I was resting! What kind of student was I?

You have to be okay with taking a Sabbath. It means maybe working a little harder on Saturday, or Wednesday, or whatever day before your “Sabbath Day.” This allows you to recharge and reset and prepare yourself mentally for the next day.

The last thing that they didn’t tell me about college is that it doesn’t look like the perfect Pinterest board, no matter how hard you try. Your desk isn’t going to look as great as the one you pinned. Your bed is never going to look perfect. You can’t fit everything in your closet no matter how hard you try. And you will never have a perfectly organized room. It just doesn’t happen. And that is okay too.

I think we strive for perfection. We are afraid of failure. Maybe you aren’t but I sure am. And while we should strive to always be our best I think we need to get to the point that we realize that we aren’t going to be perfect. At the end of the day, when you lay your head on your pillow, there are still going to be things left unfinished. Even if they are finished they probably could have been better. Your life isn’t going to be as perfect as your “College Life” Pinterest board. It doesn’t have to be.

Let God work through your imperfections. Let God use you in other people’s lives. Let people see you fail. Let people know that it’s okay to not be completely put together. Let God take your weakness and your brokenness and pull it together to make something beautiful.

Proclaim His praises!

~Sally

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