I'm on the home stretch, headed toward finals week of my freshman year of college. I know you see these articles all the time: 10 things I learned about college my freshman year, 15 things I want to tell future college freshman, 10 things I was wrong about as a freshman in college. You get the gist? Things change.
Honestly, I thought I hated change. But when I rolled up Lookout Mountain on August eighteenth, I was giddy, to say the least. I hopped out of the driver's seat, told the move-in-day staff where I was supposed to live for the next two semesters, and they quickly unloaded both of our cars (yes, both. I'm a packrat who doesn't like to feel unprepared). I walked into my room, and about five or six hours later, it was transformed (almost completely) into the dorm I'd dreamed of all summer long.
So far, so good.
I made new friends. My roommate and I grew closer than I've ever been to any friend in my life. I'm thriving. Here are a few things that have changed since I arrived at college, and I'll try not to make it too cliche:
1. I became an extrovert.
My residence hall is the only building on campus with lobbies that are used for more than just an area to walk through, and my hall is on the ground floor, so foot traffic is inevitable, but in this case people sit and stay for a while. I have met more friends in my own dorm building in the past three months than I think I've met in the past year. And these people are true friends, not just those friends to whom you say "hi" in passing. These are people who have my back. When bad things happen, they ask me if I'm ok. When I seem stressed, they talk me through it and tell me it's going to be ok. They're becoming my people.
Now, I have to be around people. When I'm down, I recharge with my friends. I rarely have those introvert moments when I have to retreat to a place where I can be alone. I intentionally approach people and make conversation with them, even if I barely know them.
2. I don't want to be a chemistry major.
I spent a lot of the summer deliberating over which major to choose. Shifting between education, English, Chemistry, and Biblical and Theological studies, I chose Chemistry with a minor in education because it was "safe." I knew I could always change, and it would be a whole lot easier to switch out of a chemistry major than into it.
After my first two weeks in General Chemstry I, I realized I wanted to change. I was not cut out to be a chemistry major, I was not made to mix chemicals, and I was not made to solve equations my whole life--much less teach kids how to do all these things.
However, I did realize something else: if I was not a chemistry major, then I wouldn't be me. I met one of my best friends on my orientation team (made up of chemistry, math, physics, and pre-engineering majors) on the day after move-in day. I learned that anxiety is something you just have to attack head-on when I had a very low-key panic attack before a lab. I learned how to talk to professors about hard things like anxiety (hint: at a small college, it is so refreshing to meet with professors and just be honest with them!), and I learned just how amazing the faculty is at my college. I saw Jesus in my decision to be a chemistry major for my first semester of college.
3. I do want to be an English major.
I never saw it coming. My English teacher in high school was probably my favorite teacher, and she always complimented me on my writing, giving my high scores on most essays. I scored highly on the English section of the ACT. I've always wanted to consistently have a blog (I do now!!). I write for this website, for crying out loud. English is in my blood, it seems. But I never saw English as a viable option for a career. It wasn't until one of my friends talked to me about it that I realized I should be doing what I want (within reason) and what I feel like the Lord is calling me to do, whether or not it opens up high-paying job options.
4. I am vocal.
Now, I take opportunities to meet people. I get out there. I apply for jobs. I go to interviews. I meet with professors. I have deep conversations with people. I don't hesitate as often as I used to. I wore a unicorn onesie and a green clay face mask in public at the end of our first RUF meeting on the day before the first day of classes, and I got other people to put on the mask--people I had only met a week earlier. I talk to people about hard things like race relations.
5. My relationship with the Lord is deeper.
College is a time when people either grow a lot or regress a lot in their relationship with God. I believe that being at a Christian college has helped my growth, but I also believe that the Lord has used my newfound independence to show me that I must trust in Him. There's no way around it. In any situation--boys, grades, tests, my job, my friends--I have to trust in Him, or else I'll fail and be miserable. I've learned to trust the Lord to bring me "that perfect guy" when He sees fit, and I've learned to be content (most of the time) in not settling for someone who isn't right for me just because I want a boyfriend (it's cuffing season, am I right?). I've learned that the Lord is revealing to me who I really am, and He's accomplishing His righteous work in me as we speak. I'm learning to be content in where He has me, and it is beautiful.
This is not the "me" that left my little hometown three months ago, and I'm so happy about it. College has done me so well, and I am so thankful to the Lord above for every opportunity He has given me, for the relationship that has so beautifully formed between my roommate and me, and for change. I never thought I'd say it, but I am so thankful for this drastic change that I could never have imagined.