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Saturday, December 3, 2016

College 101 - The First Six Months

Starting at a young age, I was asked what I wanted to be.  Such a simple question, but the answer changed at least eleven times for me, if not more.  The older I got, the more the question was asked and the more it was accompanied by more specific and demanding questions.  Where was I going to middle school, high school, or college?  Where did I want to live someday?  How old did I want to be before I got married or had kids?  Did I want a family before or after a career?  So many questions that I had no clue how to answer, but continuously made up as I went.  And the more I thought about them, the more concrete they became in my mind like a checklist where I had to have "this" done by "this" date.  I had a timeline that I very much intended on sticking to.  As a girl who went through a lot as a kid, I just wanted to be able to paint my life's picture on my own and be confident in what I was doing.

And boy oh boy, did I think I had it all figured out at first.  I picked my middle school...and then ended up going to a different one instead.  I had one high school planned out and then switched my sophomore year.  I even had my college picked out thinking this one would surely stick.  I had the perfect major for me and for once I could just follow my plan, right?  Now I could happily move on to college with the reigns completely in my hands, become a super successful journalist, and travel absolutely everywhere (and if I accidentally found some cute guy in a foreign country, I would be totally fine with that), right?

Or maybe not so much.

Truth is, my plans never seem to work out at all how I plan them, and that can become very frustrating for a very self-sufficient, organized, high anxiety, eighteen-year-old.  In fact, it seems the more I try to plan, the more it doesn't work.  So as I take a deep breath after six months of "adulting" and wait to start my second semester of college, I am going to tell you what I have learned so far...because it is quite a list.

1.  The plans you make for yourself probably will not end up working out like you'd hoped.  
Turns out, the thing I thought I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life is not right for me at all. The college I started out at is not even the right fit for me.   Funny enough, I am going to the college that was originally not even on my list, not because it's a bad school, but because I wanted out like many other high school seniors do.  On top of that, my mother teaches in the business building at my new university, so you'd better believe that was my #1 on my "Not Going to Major In" list... and now I'm going to be in the very same building as her.  (Side note: I love my mother very much, I just really hate math and the thought of doing accounting made my head hurt, just like the thought of writing makes hers hurt).  

2.  You learn who your real friends are.
On top of schooling, my friends have changed a lot.  Sure, I still have some from the past that will always be close to me, but people change and so did I.  I think college forces you to learn who you are.  It's an entirely different ballgame.  Everything that formed your identity in high school is completely gone, and you have to start from scratch whether you like it or not.  You have to choose between doing what the crowd is doing and what is best for you, except this time your decision could follow you way into your career.  You have to be smart and look out for yourself because you're an adult, and no one else will do it for you.  You completely lose yourself and slowly, but surely, find yourself again, except this time it's an entirely different version of yourself.  The real friends are the ones who won't mind sitting in a stairwell listening to you cry about how lost you feel, and they might even cry with you.  They are the ones who make an effort to see you when they are home or make FaceTime dates with you when they can't be there.  In high school I thought I needed the largest amount of friends, but college has taught me that there are only a few that truly matter.  Give them the appreciation they deserve, you are so lucky to have them and you are going to need them to lean on.

3. Boys are stupid. 
That is something I have been hearing since as far back as I can remember, but you don't quite realize just how dumb they can be until you get to college.  Cat calling is a real thing and if you are a girl in high school saying, "that's never happened to me and it isn't going to," you are in for a wake up call.  This isn't to say every single boy in college is terrible, because that obviously is not true, but you do learn just how bad they can be.   For some reason, some boys get to college and forget about boundaries and they have absolutely no problem coming up to you and saying extremely inappropriate things.  It is going to make you feel super uncomfortable, and sometimes they don't stop no matter what excuse you come up with (I have a boyfriend, I don't want to date, No thank you, I have class, etc.).  So when that happens (because it will), take a deep breath and walk away.  They usually don't follow you.

4. Girls are stupid.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, girls are also very air headed.  They can make drama out of absolutely nothing, and half the time they make absolutely no sense.  I am a girl and I don't even understand.  What do you mean you don't like him but you are going out with him?  That makes zero sense.  You don't want guys to stare at you, but you are going to wear a tank top as a dress...yep, that sounds logical.  So what, your hair is getting wet from the rain on the walk to class?  It'll dry, I promise.  And dear lord, wear a jacket.  I don't care if your outfit won't be perfect if you wear one.  It is better than getting sick.

5. Your opinions and faith are going to be challenged. 
In college, you are going to face real life problems that you get to solve 100% by yourself.  There are going to be a bunch of people who disagree with you and tell you that what you think or believe is wrong.  It makes it very hard for you to think straight, but that does not mean you have to let them win.  It is okay to have an open mind, and to change it, but it is also okay to be sure of what you believe.  College teaches you to stand strong in what you do have faith in, and to become more educated so when you do encounter people who tell you you're incorrect, you can plead your case.  All the challenges can make you even more certain of your thoughts, religion, etc., which is one of the great things about meeting new people.  

After all these crazy first few months, I can honestly say I think I have at least a tiny grip on my life.  That is not to say I think I have found myself.  I've got a long way to go, but I'm finding small pieces that will help me figure out where I am going.  I have to put trust somewhere other than myself, which is something I have been struggling with since third grade.  I have to trust that God has this, and that I need to stop making a timeline.  The older I get, the more I am reminded that God's timeline and the one I imagined are nothing alike... at all.  And the hardest part of that for me has been to accept that that is okay.  Just because I am not on a plane documenting other countries right now does not mean I'm not on the right track.  God also has a funny way of taking my timeline, and turning my plans into something that helps His plans.  I went to the wrong college and went into the wrong major, but I made two amazing new friends and took one class that has started this entirely new career path in the process.  I realized what is important to me and what is the most rewarding.   

At one semester in, I can say college is certainly interesting.  It's an emotional roller coaster and a huge question mark.  I never thought I'd be where I am, but it is time for me to truly accept that I do not have control over this, He does.   So here's to a new semester at a new school with a new major and some new and old friends.  I'll keep you updated!

Love Always,
Bree x

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