Dear Incoming Freshmen,
There’s something about the time we spend in college that doesn’t make sense. We live by extremes and feel useless if we’re not on either ends of it—like our lives lack meaning. I don’t know. On my drive back to Fayetteville today, I thought about how different it felt driving to my senior year of college versus my freshman year. As I passed the “Welcome to Arkansas” sign, I replayed when my mom and I pulled over to take a picture with it signifying the official start of the life I guess I’ve been living the last 4 years. And what life that’s been.
I was awkward sometimes, other times pretty social, but I did eat by myself more than I did with someone else. I met a lot of new friends and became close with very few. I was even in love at one point. I experienced heartbreak and broke a couple hearts along the way too. I’ve had enough mental breakdowns and coffee to last a lifetime. I went to parties, I got drunk, and I watched other people get drunk… but we all learned our lesson eventually (at least most of us). I failed a couple classes, I excelled in most, and I’ve been poor 99.99% of my time here. But! I worked my way up from a server to a Diet Tech in the town hospital and now I’m poor 99.97% of the time. And most importantly, I thought I lost God and I thought I lost myself, but realized His hands never let go of me. All things I’m pretty sure you can expect a college student to experience and all things I was told that I would. But one thing I wish someone told me before I left my hometown and entered this part of my life was that there’s no perfect way to experience college. It would’ve saved me all those times I thought I wasn’t good enough to experience college “the right way.”
Now, I won’t tell ya any advice on how to live it bc I definitely didn’t live it perfectly, but here’s a few things to keep in mind.
Do you know how blessed and privileged you are to be in college?
It’s easy to believe that going to college is expected of us at our age—but it’s not. I’m the first in my family to graduate from college and it’s something I’m really proud of, but I know this opportunity wasn’t given to everyone. So when you think the world is ending (like I did plenty of times) remember to be grateful for an experience like this to expand more than just your knowledge, but who you are.
You are not alone.
No one ever wants to, but at some point, everyone eats alone. Don’t feel bad about it. You’re not a loser and you’re not a loner either. I ate by myself almost everyday and somedays were harder to get through than others. But if you’re eating alone, so is someone else. Go sit with them. It won’t be weird. The very first friend that I made in college was a girl named Ericka; we met at a meeting held in our dorm. It was nothing less than awkward, but I believe that God knew we both thought we were pretty much the biggest losers in the room and knew we could use each other in our lives. And goodness was He right because I’ll be standing next to her as a bridesmaid on her wedding day after graduation ❤
It doesn’t matter where you go.
Ok, that’s not entirely true… but where you go to college is only part of the big picture. I will say that for any person to fall in love with a place, they’ve got to fall in love with the people first. But there’s a reason why you’re going to college and why you’re at the campus you’re at. Seek it out, discover your purpose, and live it out. God could do incredible things in your, through you, for you, and for the people in this place.
College is more than getting your diploma.
I’m not encouraging you to slack in your classes by any means… but remember there’s more to life than school. Your worth is not determined by your grades (even though it feels like it sometimes). When you graduate, your diploma will hold a lot more than the hair you pulled out before every exam and the amount of sleep you lost to get good grades… it’ll hold everything you invested in; everything it took to discover yourself; all your success and failures; all the friendships you made; and all the hard work you put in the last four years to be where you are.
I haven’t always loved it here and it hasn’t always been easy, but God has made Fayetteville a perfect place for me to grow, to be challenged, to be inspired, to be loved, and above all… to discover His beauty. It seems like of all places, God couldn’t exist in a crazy place like college… but He truly works in mysterious ways. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached and invited to have a spiritual conversation in a place you’d never think Jesus could be relevant… He was and He definitely is.
I’m far from the girl I was four years ago and still have the rest of my life to go, but I couldn’t be more thankful to have gone to college in this sweet little town of all the places in the world. The more I embraced the changes in my life that were happening, the more I started to feel like I was living. Belonging somewhere is a strange concept to me, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve been right where I should be and SO ready for my senior year as a Razorback!
Life is going to happen and the only thing you can hope for is that when you look back you’ll see how God has blessed you from beginning to end. Good luck, freshmen! You’ll need it 😉