Surviving My First Semester of College

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A few months ago, I was working on some assignments in one of the study rooms of my dorm when I looked out the window and decided I needed to take this picture.

Most people will just see a shadow lingering across the face of the building.

But I see a shadow of my past, of the 2D houses I used to draw back in elementary school. I drew pictures of the house my family lived in, of the house I would live in one day with my husband and children. My little brain did not think of what would all occur before I ever reached that point.

For instance, I would have to survive my first semester of college.

And survive it I did.

Looking back, I see how the newness of it all—college, independence, freedom, adulting—wore off by October. But I also see how much I’ve grown just in the past few months.

And how much more growing up I have to do.

I discovered that I have still yet to find myself. Yes, I know my likes and my dislikes, my habits, my wants.

But that’s it. I’m still trying to figure out who I am. Still trying to love me for who I am, instead of looking to people’s approval and acceptance for love.

And I definitely didn’t look to God for the love that He gives so freely, the love that He already gives me without my doing or saying anything.

So even though I was learning about world literature, the Spanish language, systematic logic, and how to research effectively, I was not learning about other things. About things I need to be learning about.

First and foremost, I wasn’t learning about God. I remember a time, only a few years back, when I would rise early in the morning, dive into His Word and pray to Him, talking to Him as if He was my best friend.

Now the only time you can get me to rise early is to flip on the lights until I grumble and stumble out of bed.

Secondly, as mentioned earlier, I wasn’t learning about myself. I wasn’t taking enough time away from my studies to just sit and reflect on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. To reflect on what makes me me.

I wish someone would’ve told me that it’s okay to be an official adult and still not have found myself. Discovered who I am.

I wish someone would’ve told me that it’s okay to have insecurities, but to not let those insecurities drown you in a sea of anxiety.

I wish someone would’ve told me that while working hard is important, it’s also important that I take time to relax and temporarily escape from reality.

I wish someone would’ve told me that some college students do not know proper sidewalk etiquette. Seriously, I’m from a small town and even I know to walk on the right side of a pathway at all times, instead of staring down at your phone, walking slow, and weaving in and out just enough to where I can’t pass. That always made the walk to my 8 a.m. class interesting.

I wish someone would’ve told me to never wash laundry in a public facility on weekends unless you’re looking to have it out with someone who either doesn’t know what they’re doing or isn’t being considerate.

I wish someone would’ve told me the best ways to handle finances. How to budget, how to save, how to not be frugal to a fault.

I wish someone would’ve told me that finding a job is not as easy as it seems, and that filling out the job application is probably the easiest part.

I wish someone would’ve told me that not everyone comes from the same background. Diversity exists in high school, yes, but even more so in college—and in the real world beyond.

I wish someone would’ve told me the ways of finding common ground with someone you don’t have much in common with—in starting and maintaining a decent conversation.

I wish someone would’ve told me that I won’t always hit it off with everyone. Some people just like to keep to themselves, and that’s fine. Not everyone has to talk to me. Not everyone has to like me.

I wish someone would’ve told me to get over my shyness and branch out a little. To talk to others in my classes and organizations. To put myself out there and see what becomes of it.

I wish someone would’ve told me that at the end of this semester, I would discover that there are some people who got accepted into college without knowing how to change a toilet paper roll. Or better yet, not knowing that there’s one last step beyond using the last sheet, getting a new roll, and just setting it on the old one.

I wish someone would’ve told me that my relationship with my parents would change—but in a better way. I’m still their child, their baby girl, yes, but I am also a grown adult. And somehow, my parents started to take on the role of friends (while still maintaining the parent role, however).

I wish someone would’ve told me that it’s okay to pray to God at night, “Father, please help me to ‘adult’ tomorrow.”

I wish someone would’ve told me to go to the gym more—not to work out and get stronger necessarily, but to run off the pent-up stress and anxiety I didn’t realize had gotten so bad.

I wish someone would’ve told me the essentials of growing in my relationship with God. How to want to study His Word daily, how to talk to Him like He is my best friend, how to find a church and a small group that I know will encourage discipleship, community, and God’s love.

I wish someone would’ve told me that I can’t find myself until I find my identity in God.

I wish someone would’ve told me that walking with God takes discipline and motivation, but that it’s all worth it. That it would give me a peace that passes all understanding and melt all the burdens from my shoulders. That I would want nothing else but to spend time with God, to talk to Him, to hear from Him.

I wish someone would’ve told me to stop wallowing in self-pity and insecurities and start living.

I wish someone would’ve told me that there is a definite line between being a girl and being a woman. A point where the dependent girl becomes the strong, independent woman.

I wish someone would’ve told me that I was a woman, and not the girl I sometimes catch myself thinking I am.

I wish someone would’ve told me that getting an 84 on my first math test was not the end of the world, and that I was still capable of pulling out an A in the class.

I wish someone would’ve told me to go out to the dorm courtyard and play my guitar more—to get lost in the music to avoid getting lost in the stresses and burdens of life.

I wish someone would’ve told me to read more. As something I love, as something I use as an escape, I should’ve taken more time to pick up a book and physically relax as my mind traveled around in a fictional world. Besides, reading textbooks just doesn’t cut it.

I wish someone would’ve told me that one thing I would miss about high school is the free textbooks. Boy, how I wish they were still free in college!

I wish someone would’ve told me to remember to smile, to laugh. To cherish these moments.

I wish someone would’ve told me that my valedictorian status and my high GPA doesn’t have as much sway in the real world as my work ethic and character do.

I wish someone would’ve told me that I could say no. I didn’t have to agree to everything and everyone.

I wish someone would’ve told me that I wasn’t going to get as many free T-shirts in college as I was led to believe.

I wish someone would’ve told me that there are more cute guys in college than there are in high school. And that for this stage in life, I should just stand back and admire while focusing on my studies.

I wish someone would’ve told me that sometimes it’s okay to splurge on myself and buy that fancy coffee or new book.

I wish someone would’ve told me that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay.

I wish someone would’ve told me that life is not like that 2D house I drew back in elementary school. No, life is 3D, with more than just a square front, four windows in each corner, a door in the center, and a sun in the left corner of the paper. It is beautiful. It is complicated. It is wonderful. It is frustrating. It pops out at you like the characters and objects in 3D movies.

But it is a gift from God. One that I should not throw away.

My first semester may be over, and I may have survived, but I didn’t truly thrive like I should have, like I wanted to.

And I wish someone would’ve told me that God created us to thrive, not merely survive.

So, here’s to the rest of my college semesters, the rest of my life, dedicated to thriving.

Dedicated to appreciating that 2D house drawing transforming into a beautiful, 3D model.

4 thoughts on “Surviving My First Semester of College

Add yours

  1. Very well written. I remember feeling the same way; however, someone or the other has been telling you this your entire life. It just didn’t have any meaning to you until you became an adult living away from the securities of your 2D house called Home. It will continue to mean more to you as you go along your way. And, I know you will put it all to good use because you are You.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful, insightful letter. Now you know that most of he things you mention are never finished because you keep growin and changing. Love yourself always because we do. You are precious I he one God and in you he had created a wonder

    Liked by 1 person

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