When I left for college, I was told a lot of stories. My parents said that I would experience the best years of my life and make friendships that would last forever. My siblings told me about their college days and all of the goofy antics they got up to with their friends. I watched the movies and drank in the stories of close-knit groups of college teens having adventures and bonding and getting straight A’s even though they never studied (Aka-scuse me?). I got all of the pamphlets in the mail covered in photos of smiling, beautiful 20-somethings all having a great time at this fabulous school and telling me I was going to “thrive” and “find my calling.”
And I’m sure most of you have had similar experiences. Every one of you woke up today with an expectation of how you think, or how lots of different voices have told you, these next four years are supposed to look like.
But I am writing to you now as the other voice, and I am here to tell you whatever pathway you are currently imagining is a fine one, but it is by no means the only one.
College doesn’t always happen like it does in the movies (go figure). With the odds stacked how they are, you are probably not going to be like Bella and find your “pitch perfect” friend group, student org, job, and boyfriend and within the first week of orientation.
You might not get into the classes you wanted. You might feel alone. You might feel homesick (or, if you grew up down the street, smothered). You might not get along with your roommate right away, or ever. You might feel jealous because everybody else seems to have friends but you don’t. You might suddenly lose interest in the major you had been looking forward to for years. You might even start to wonder if you made a mistake, because your life isn’t what everybody promised you it would be.
I’m going to say it once, and I’m going to say it clearly: THAT IS OK.
Life doesn’t always happen the way you want it to, and that is ok.
I still remember the days when I was absolutely certain I would be a dedicated photography major. I would hang out with all the cool kids at Steak & Shake at two in the morning, and senior year I would live in an awesome house with all of my best friends. When none of those things happened, it hit me hard. I got depressed. And when I scrolled through my Facebook feed and saw everyone else having seemingly perfect lives, I got jealous.
It wasn’t until all of that turned to bitterness that I realized there was a problem. I took a step back and realized all of the expectations I had when I first stepped foot on campus, and how much they meant to me. And then, after some soul-searching was I able to look around and see how much I had to be thankful for. I did have friends, I did have accomplishments, I was a strong, beautiful person and I had a lot to be proud of, even if my life didn’t happen the way the movies said it should.
The next four (or five, SPAUD kids) years of your life are wide open: let them stay that way. Leave yourself open to what God wants to give you and appreciate the blessings in your life.
And if one day you find yourself less than satisfied, as we all do, take some time to talk to God about where you’ve been and where you think you’re going: he might have some interesting feedback for you (or as we like to call it in the Chimes office, “copy edits”).
From all of us here at the Chimes office, welcome to Calvin.