Freshman year of college can be so many things. Rough, beautiful, exciting, terrifying, basically any adjective can be used to describe the feelings that come up during this first introduction to the "real world" at the young age of 18.
I went into my freshman year feeling all of the things (although admittedly suppressing most of them.) To this day, a lot of my experiences revolve around things that happened that year.
I moved into Green Hall, a bright-eyed 18 year old with a funny 19 year old roommate. We were both obsessed with Friends and Spongebob, and we got through the agonizing welcome week activities as a team. Shannon and I were inseparable, and it was pretty obvious to those around us. I hadn't ever known what it was like to have such a friend.
And the weeks went on, and my world changed.
I still loved Shannon and would stay up late talking to her about the deepest events of our lives, but other things, outside of Shannon, went wrong with me. I discovered what it was like to learn who I really was. Who I had been hiding, even from myself, for so long. Who had been trying to burst forth in so many ways, yet had allowed herself to be stifled.
My mind was a disaster. And I attribute the reason I stayed afloat to a mere three people from that time.
Fast forward to February of my freshman year. With the loving and fierce counsel of the three who kept me afloat, the thought of moving away from Shannon peeked into my head.
And with that came a torrent of a week. All in about a week I visited every Residence Life office, cried more than I had in years, and was still totally confused.
I had been told that it was probably a good choice to move away from Shannon. I understood perhaps why, I needed a chance to start again in freedom of who I was. But yet, moving away from Shannon was not in the plans. Like, at all.
And yet, I still felt the pull. I prayed, hard. I listened to others, and I learned to speak up for myself, amidst tears and confusion. I declared to multiple "high ups" that I knew it was what I wanted to do. And they (thank the Lord Almighty) trusted me, something even I wasn't sure I could do.
Then I was left with the task of figuring out who to move in with. I didn't have a ton of other close friends that had space in their room or seemed willing for a new roomie, but one person, who I knew slightly and loved a lot, came to mind.
Rachel Diane Boaz.
I had discovered my own self when I was with Rachel at a service project in November. I remembered what it was like to be me with her, and I was encouraged.
I met Rachel in her room and spilled out the whole situation in one sentence. Without missing a beat she declared that yes, I could in fact move in with her.
After that came details like talking to Shannon and my other roommates, and moving all of my junk.
And still, I didn't really know what I was doing.
I knew I was hurting Shannon, but I knew I was helping me. And boy, did that stink.
It wasn't until the next year that Rachel and I fully realized what had happened.
It was really one of those God things.
I had needed a new start. Rachel was my chance at life and freedom in a new way. Rachel saved me.
But apparently, somehow, I also saved Rachel.
Now, her story is hers to share. But I can say, that Rachel needed me, just as much as I needed her. And I was totally unaware. Just letting that sink in for me is awe-inspiring. I can't say it enough: we both needed each other, and we didn't even know.
Isn't that one of the freaking coolest things you have ever heard in your entire life? It is for me at least.
Since freshman year, and after some time apart, Shannon and I have become literal best friends again. My moving out showed her, years later, how to stand up for yourself and take a risk out of love. If I hadn't moved out, Shannon and I would probably not be as close as we are now, that I am sure of.
And Rachel has become one of the most encouraging people I have in my arsenal. That is not even an exaggeration. Her friendship is the most supportive and loving one I have. On a bad day, I can text Rachel, and she knows exactly what to say to encourage and hug me (from afar.) Rachel is a light of hope in my life.
And to think, that from something so extremely confusing and disorienting, something that I wasn't even sure I was really supposed to be doing, came two of the most significant relationships in my life. Not only that, but became a cornerstone reminder to me that I am trustworthy, that I make good choices, that I can choose freedom and life.
Shannon and Rachel, thank you for walking through my crazy, messy, beautiful life alongside me. Your stories are so intertwined with mine, and that is just one other thing that I don't quite understand, but am filled with immense gratitude for.
Thanks be to God.