To the girl who is heading off to college for the first time, I know how you are feeling. I remember being exactly where you are just a few short years ago.
You’re beyond ready to start the next season, the anticipation and excitement in thick. You’re anxious to see how this “big unknown” is going to unfold. You’re heartbroken to be leaving your old friends and wonder if your relationships will ever be the same. You’re scared to live away from home, and can’t imagine life without your parents. You’re eager to make new friends, and probably dreading those college classes. I get it all.
Let me just share with you five things that I wish someone would have told me when I was in your shoes:
- College will not be the best four years of your life. Straight up, no. Saying “college is the best four years of your life” is a big, fat lie and it puts way too much pressure on the college experience and sets people up for a really sad life after graduation. So just relax. Live each moment in the present. Enjoy the here and now. Yes, some seasons will be harder than others. Yes, some memories will be more fond than others. But by the Lord’s grace, each year will only continue to be our best year as we grow to become more and more like Jesus. So don’t worry, there is abundant life and FUN after college too.
- You don’t have to pretend like you’re having the time of your life if you’re not. There seems to be a pressure around the culture of college these days that you have to be loving every second. You want people to think that you are thriving where you are, but guess what? It’s very much okay if you’re not. God writes a different story for each person. For me, the first two years of my college experience were hard and consisted of a lot of tears, while the second two were so sweet. But that’s a humungous part of my story that I would never change. For others, they may really be having that much fun all four years and that’s great too. But you don’t have to pretend or live up to the facade. I knew way too many people that were struggling with where they were and yet based on their Instagrams you would have thought they had never been happier. Be real with those around you and don’t pretend for your audience on social media. AND if you are having the time of your life…YAY! Take ALL the pictures, you will want to look back later! 🙂
- FIND A LOCAL CHURCH. This has got to be basically numero uno when you get to college. I cannot tell you how crucial this will be to your spiritual health and faith during these four years. It’s okay to church shop for awhile, but don’t meander too long. Find your church, get involved, and be committed. The local church was the first place I got involved with when I got to college and it changed my life. I was involved in the college ministry where I was consistently being fed rich biblical truth and was surrounded by likeminded believers to build me up and hold me accountable. It’s where I met the woman who took me under her wing and mentored me throughout my time in college. It’s where I led a middle school girls Bible study and grew as a leader and disciplemaker. It’s easy to never really get involved in church during college. You are tired, busy, have no parents telling you to go, or you might be going back home often on the weekends. You might hop around to different churches with different friends, but you’ve got to pick a “home” that will know you and shepherd you and hold you accountable. It’s so important. Pray now for the Lord to lead you to the local church body he has planned for you to be apart of.
- It’s OKAY if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. Y’all. All of college I bounced back and forth between being a high school science teacher and being a physical therapist. Neither one ever felt quite “right” because I knew my greatest desire was to be apart of women’s ministry, be a wife, and be a mom. No degree really fit that dream, so I was always left trying to force myself into a little box that read, “Bachelors of Science”. My suggestion would be to make a list of your giftings, make a list of your passions & desires, and then see how those two could fit together. Ask the Lord for clarity and guidance. Ask other trusted people to speak into your life about what you might be good at. And although I had no clear direction for my life while I tried to pick a degree, looking back, the Lord was clearly directing every single step and was writing a beautiful story to lead me to where I am now. Hold on, and trust Him.
- Drop all expectations and HAVE FUN. If I could sum up everything I ever wanted to tell you about college it would be to drop any expectation you have coming in, cling to the Lord with everything you have, and have fun in the journey! Don’t expect to find your husband while you are here, that may not be your story. Don’t expect to stay best friends with every person you were ever friends with in high school, relationships change and fade and that’s okay. Don’t expect to ace every class and then be distraught when you get a B. Just drop the expectations and enjoy every piece of this chapter that the Lord writes. Live with open hands.
College really is such a unique time unlike any other in your life, get excited! Cling to the Lord and His Word above all else. Fill your mind, heart, and dorm room with TRUTH. Remember that he is present in every moment and has walked before you and prepared the way. Breathe in, relax, you’re gonna do great!
OH, and don’t forget to call your Mom!!!