When the Campus is Quiet

When the Campus is Quiet

slow down and listen to the silence.

Yesterday, I walked back onto my college campus a day before the college opened so that I could settle in.

I quickly packed up everything I own at my house (when I say "everything I own," I mean that if I had left all of it at home, I could not survive for a day in my dorm), willingly did a load of laundry, ran the dishwasher, and grabbed a slice of quiche I made the other day so I could be ready to go when my family got home from church. I even braved the dog and all his nervous energy and put all the stuff I could in my car.

I was ready to leave.

Don't get me wrong, I love my family and my friends in my hometown, but college is different, and winter break is long.

When my mom finally told me she was ready to go, I put my last few things in my car, turned on some "mountain music," as my roommate dubbed it, and departed my house. Since the drive is almost two hours long, I knew I couldn't get excited yet, or I may run off the road. Every time a song my friends and I love would come on, though, I would get this burst of excitement, wishing the drive would be over. I was so excited that I was sweating.

When I parked in the so-familiar parking lot, I sat in my car for a second and responded to some Snapchats, and then I grabbed my purse and my backpack and made the short walk from the lot to my building. I don't think I stopped smiling the whole time, honestly.

Walking through the biting cold, I was still beaming. I opened the door to my dorm, and I had a moment of panic. What if it wasn't the same? What if all these reunions weren't as overwhelming as I thought they would be? What if I was disappointed?

That was not the case. Two of my friends were already sitting in the lobby, and I greeted them, still beaming. I unlocked my room, and then proceeded to walk with my mom back into our hall with all my stuff. I couldn't wait to be back to normal again, so I unpacked everything before we ate supper. I took her to one of my favorite places in Chattanooga, The Yellow Deli, and we dined on sandwiches while I excitedly told her about dream I had had the past few nights. I knew the moment was coming when my mom and I would part ways, and I would, once again, be on my own.

Making our way back up the mountain, the excitement arose in me again, as it does each time I top the ridge of Lookout Mountain. She left me, and I was alone. For a moment, it felt like my first day of college again. I didn't really know what to do with myself because most of my friends had not yet returned to campus, and I had no roommate to confide in. I decided to watch a movie with my hall, and then I decided to venture out into my usual place, the lobby, to see what was happening.

Two hours later, my returning sleep schedule demanded that I return to my hall, shower, and go to bed early. Around midnight, after reorganizing some decorations (because sometimes my compulsive need for things to be just right outweighs my tiredness), I went to sleep.

The reason I write this post is because of what I experienced when I walked onto campus for the first time after the break: Silence. The walkways I usually traverse were empty. I could hear the low wind blowing through the few dead leaves on the trees. I could hear my own heavy breathing as I walked uphill. I felt compelled to whisper.

The Lord calmed me. I was all excited to be back so that I could see my friends again, and the Lord calmed that overbearing excitement and caused me to take a moment and be still. He reminded me that one semester is already gone, and there are only seven more to go (even fewer with some of my friends who are older or who are transferring). If they all pass by at the speed that the last one did, I don't want to think about how soon college will be over. He reminded me that sometimes I need to be quiet and just take things in. I was all ready to rush in, see everyone again, and get back to normal--all in one short span of a few hours. God reminded me to take it slow so that I can more fully see His grace in the provision of the great friends I have here. He reminded me to take it slow because the beauty of my campus never gets old. He reminded me to take it slow because, even though our room is tiny, it sure is cozy, and it's one of my favorite places to be.

He's still reminding me to take it slow even this morning. I woke up to an email from the safety department that said that the college is closed today, and the roads are iced over. That means my friends will not be returning until later this afternoon. The college is at a standstill, but somehow that's ok. I'm not worried about it. I've never taken such a slow day here, but I'll be sure to make time for it more often now that I know the beauty behind it.

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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21 Quotes From Twyla Tharp's 'The Creative Habit' That Will Fuel Your Artistic Self

Use your half-baked ideas for good!


Twyla Tharp is a master dancer and choreographer. She's worked with the world's most prestigious artists to create works that will withstand the test of time. She published her book "The Creative Habit" as a viewing window for seeing into her creative process. Tharp offers both hard truths and gently encouraging words for both serious artists and everyday people just trying to expand their circle of knowledge about art. I compiled some quotations from the book that were profound, useful and to-the-point when it comes to examining artistic development.

1. "Creativity is not just for artists. It's for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it's for engineers trying to solve a problem; it's for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way."

You get some creativity! YOU get some creativity! Everyone gets creativity!

2. "If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge."

3. "Everything that happens in my day is a transaction between the external world and my internal world. Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity."

4. "In the end, there is no one ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself. Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn't scare you, doesn't shut you down."

5. "Someone has done it before? Honey, it's all been done before. Nothing's really original. Not Homer or Shakespeare and certainly not you. Get over yourself."

Ouch. Toes stepped on.

6. "Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we're experiencing to what we have experienced before."

"It's *literally* like this..."

7. "...get busy copying. Traveling the paths of greatness, even in someone else's footprints, is a vital means to acquiring skill."

Choose your muse wisely!

8. "You can't just dance or paint or write or sculpt. Those are just verbs. You need a tangible idea to get you going. The idea, however minuscule, is what turns the verb into a noun..."

9. "When you're in scratching mode, the tiniest microcell of an idea will get you going. Musicians know this because compositions rarely come to them whole and complete. They call their morsels of inspiration lines or riffs or hooks or licks. That's what they look for when they scratch for an idea."

You know you look crazy, but press on, baby ideas in hand!

10. "It doesn't matter if it's a book, magazine, newspaper, billboard, instruction manual, or cereal box -- reading generates ideas, because you're literally filling your head with ideas and letting your imagination filter them for something useful."

"Alexa, play the Reading Rainbow theme song."

11. "...there's a fine line between good planning and overplanning. You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work."

Screw this global need for instant information. You gotta just let things run their course sometimes.

12. "Habitually creative people are, in E.B. white's phrase, 'prepared to be lucky.' You don't get lucky without preparation, and there's no sense in being prepared if you're not open to the possibility of a glorious accident. In creative endeavors luck is a skill."

Twyla Tharp is really just a more Type A version of Bob Ross.

13. "I know it's important to be prepared, but at the start of the process this type of perfectionism is more like procrastination. You've got to get in there and do."

14. "You're only kidding yourself if you put creativity before craft. Craft is where our best efforts begin. You should never worry that rote exercises aimed at developing skills will suffocate creativity."

15. "That's what the great ones do: They shelve the perfected skills for a while and concentrate on their imperfections."

16. "Without passion, all the skill in the world won't lift you above your craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. combining the two is the essence of the creative life."

17. "My heroes are those who've prevailed over far greater losses than I've ever had to face."

18. "Part of the excitement of creativity is the headlong rush into action when we latch onto a new idea. Yet, in the excitement, we often forget to apply pressure to the idea, poke it, challenge it, push it around, see if it stands up. Without that challenge, you never know how far astray your assumptions may have taken you."

19. "...there's a lesson here about finding your groove. Yes, you can find it via a breakthrough in your craft. But you can also find it in other means -- in congenial material, in a perfect partner, in a favorite character or comfortable subject matter."

20. "A math professor at Williams College bases ten percent of his students' grades on failure. Mathematics is all about trying out new ideas -- new formulas, theorems, approaches -- and knowing that the vast majority of them will be dad ends. To encourage his students not to be afraid of testing their quirkiest ideas in public, he rewards rather than punishes them for coming up with wrong answers."

This approach would've been so helpful.

21. "I began as a dancer, and in those days of pain and shock I went back to where I started. Creating dance is the thing I know best. It is how I recognize myself. Even in the worst of times, such habits sustain, protect, and, in the most unlikely way, lift us up."

Take Twyla's knowledge and have fun exploring creativity in your personal life!

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