Walking into this summer, I wanted: friends, family, fun, God, tan, experience, leadership, vision, power, employment, sun, home, laughter, horses, learning, team, growth, money, impact, relationships. And the list goes on…
Walking through this summer, I’m getting something(s) completely different. I’m getting my butt kicked by fatigue, illness, and injury. I’m gaining valuable teaching experience and lessons in patience. I’m learning to be alone, and learning that it’s okay. I’m getting to fight with God. I’m expanding my talents and using gifts that I didn’t know that I had. I’m being used as a vessel in ways unknown to me. And I’m struggling in areas I didn’t know possible.
I guess those things, those struggles, those lessons, are really what I needed. I needed to be turned around and kicked in the pants. I got too proud and too humble, too reliant and too self-sufficient, too competent and too naive. I needed to learn that there is a fine line situated between good things that turn not so good. I needed to learn, and am still working on learning, that I can do things on my own, but should still ask for help. I needed to learn the difference between asking for help from the right people, and demanding assistance from someone that can’t step in.
I needed to learn who I was before I could even hope to help someone else figure out who they were. I needed, and still need to, figure out who I am to others, who I am to me, who I am to my Creator, and where the differences lie.
If I were to do my, now completed, 3 1/2 years of undergraduate studies again, I would change some things. But, if I had opportunity to give advice to someone younger regarding their future, I would tell them to do somethings exactly the way I had. College taught me a lot. But, I learned more about life than I learned in regards to my bachelor’s degree, cliche as it may be.
I learned, for example that relationships are everything. If I had to do things again, I would have valued relationships more than anything else. I would have not abandoned my family when I moved into my new dorm. I would have taken out more loans so I didn’t have to work 3 jobs and had more time to bond with my floor mates. I would have spent less time fretting about assignments, and more time chatting over coffee, going to dinner, baking with a friend, or sharing stories of everyday happenings. I would have spent more time getting to know people deeper upon meeting them so that today I would have more friendships rather than acquaintances. Love deeper.
Beyond that, I wish I would have learned to give up sooner. People come and go. I wish I would have known when to give up rather than to hold onto someone and submit myself to hurt. If I had given up, I would have been able to invest the time and energy into bonding with a new, and potentially longer lasting or more supportive relationship instead of grasping at the threads of one that was unravelling. It would have saved portions of my heart from getting hurt, never to be mended.
On my second chance, I would spend more time learning about other cultures. College is a crazy cool opportunity to meet people from around the globe. I met these people, sure, but I didn’t get to know them. I could have experienced their holiday traditions or eaten their favorite homemade dishes, but instead, I stayed in my own comfort zone and looked longingly at them from afar. On my second chance at undergrad studies, I would study abroad to further the learning about other cultures. Who cares about the cost, it’s all on my student loan anyways? When else will I have the chance to galavant around Europe, bike across Australia, touch a life in Romania, or do medical mission work in Honduras. Chance number two? I’d take out an extra loan to study abroad.
If I got to do it over, I would be involved in more. I would have coached or played on more teams, joined more clubs, gone to more events, or been a part of more committees. Where else will I have the chance to meet people so passionate about what they are doing?
My second chance and I’d major in something I loved first, and something that would make me money second. I did this, but not to the fullest extent. Don’t settle because your parents, peers, teachers, or the world is telling you that you need to make money. God will provide. Major in something you love, something God gave you the talent to pursue, not something that you believe will pay the bills.
Go to more parties. Not necessarily alcohol and drug parties, but parties. Parties where you play board games, or celebrate a sports victory. People at parties love to have fun and love to laugh. Meet those people and share their happiness.
Be open to emotion. Don’t hide happy or mask sad. Show it. Chances are, someone very near to you is feeling the same. There is no shame in emotions. And, the most beautiful growth happens here. Grow.
Have more adventures. Take more night walks, go on more road trips, explore your city more in depth, build more cardboard boats to float in the campus pond, play more pranks, have more dance parties. Keep it legal maybe, but do more crazy.
I paid a kajillion dollars for my education and am still a kajillion dollars in debt. I believe that college is expensive not because of the education, but because of the experience. I got my money’s worth in terms of my education, heck, I’m graduating early because I got it down so well. What I don’t know, is if I got my money’s worth out of the experience. Chance number two and I would LIVE.
“Here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God and you’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings out the best of you, developing well-formed maturity in you.”