Dear Victoria of 2017,
Did you ever think that so much could change in one year?
Your physical location.
Your college degree.
You've always been great at bunny trails, but I am positive that not even you can imagine what gets you to where I am now.
I'm writing this to you on April 16th, 10 days before I leave GCU and my Sophomore/Junior year behind me. Not all of your credits transfer from your current college, so you're stuck in a weird place. Sorry, dude.
The season of life I like to think you're at right now is around March of 2017, the month where everything changes.
You choose to enroll yourself in an Anatomy and Physiology class (as someone pursuing a THEATER PERFORMANCE degree) because you think, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to be a doctor?" even when your parents HIGHLY discourage you from making this mistake.
You realize what a mistake this class was when it is the sole reason your GPA leaves the 4.0 regions. Oh, Victoria. You love doing what people tell you not to do.
Your family decides to move from Virginia, your home of almost eight years, back to your hometown of Las Vegas. This is where time gets a little crazy. Your life diverges in the Virginia woods, and you take the road to the West Coast. Little do you know that this dust-covered, 100-degree surpassing road will lead to some of your best friends.
You decide against James Madison University and choose Grand Canyon University, a college about three hours from the actual Grand Canyon. It makes no sense, but you go with it.
You get into GCU's Theater Program and realize that maybe you're not too shabby at the whole acting thing!
When you make Phoenix your home for the next two and a half years, you will wonder why. Why did you pick quite possibly the hottest city in North America to be your city? I still don't have an answer.
Your first six weeks kill. You like school, but you long for home, and you can't find it. Phoenix isn't home, Las Vegas isn't home, and you feel so out of place.
You question your degree and not for the last time.
The first semester will make you cry many times. Tears are never a bad thing, but it becomes a habit for you to go back to your dorm room and cry for home, for familiarity. You will struggle with giving complete control of your life over to God. You won't be successful yet. You will learn, however, that your imperfections do not separate you from God anymore because Jesus has bridged the gap.
You question your degree again. See? I told you.
You long for Winter Break, and when it arrives, you pray it won't end. Something changes, though, when you are forced to depart break and drive back to reality.
You find the friends that cause you to sacrifice your regular sleeping schedule. The ones that make you addicted to coffee because that's the only way you will survive your classes when you have 7 am's and don't go to bed until 2:30 am most nights.
You find the bosom friend you've been longing for since 7th grade in a farm girl from New Mexico. She may enjoy country music, but she loves theater more, and she loves Jesus most.
You learn that showing animals is much more than prancing a pig around a pen. It takes hard work and consumes most of your time. You appreciate your bosom friend even more.
You discover a love for film. Never did you see yourself as a movie actor, but you find some amazing people who take a chance on your skills in front of the camera. You nudge your way into their friend group and are introduced to improvising songs on the spot and "Blind Pierres".
Yes, I know that means absolutely nothing to you, but it will. Just ask, "What is a Blind Pierre?", and you'll get one of the best experiences of the school year.
Game Night will cement itself into your week. Above all else (school-related) is Game Night. "Secret Hitler" jokes will make no sense to anyone but the fine few that inhabit The Parlour, the center of fancy gamers. By title only, you will think that this is an insensitive, politically-charged game, but you are very incorrect, you Fascist.
Will you experience heartbreak? Yes, indeed.
Spoiler alert: college brings on heartbreaks big and small. Will you learn to navigate them? Kind of. (This letter is not meant to focus on your failed relationships, though; it's the successful ones that matter most.)
The biggest lesson you will learn? Life changes. Quickly. We are not promised any of our days on this earth, so we live in the present moment. We come up with cheesy, sentimental quotes that inspire us to "make the most of everyday" and "live life to the fullest." You know what? We should. Maybe, though, we can do without the constant Facebook posts.
Victoria, here is the encouragement that pushes you to where I am at currently. It's found in Philippians 1:6 - "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
You will wonder your worth. Often. You will be unsure of your gifts, and you will question (again) why the heck you thought pursuing theater as a career was a good idea.
What you should not question is God's plan for you. You are still discovering what that means, but you know from His promises that He is not finished with you. Your story does not end when people leave your life. Your story does not end when you have an unsuccessful audition. Your story definitely does not end when your heart gets broken.
Your story ends when God signs the final page of your book. Gruesome, I know. Just know that your story isn't over yet.
Love a lot.
Forgive a lot.
Praise Jesus always.
Know that your story can change in a matter of seconds. We can't control that. What we can do is say, "Okay God, I am ready to move wherever you put me." We use every experience, every conversation, every second of our lives as an opportunity to live for Jesus. Our stories are not finished until we give our last breaths. So, use that time in between your first and your last breaths wisely.