As I sit here procrastinating before my final exam, I can’t help but reminisce on my freshman year as a student at the University of Tennessee. Going through the pictures on my laptop, I smile as I am reminded of all the exciting memories that I will have for the rest of my life. I have learned so many life lessons this year. Some of these I learned through others and some I wish I had learned an easier way. Either way, God has been by my side and has given me so many new friendships and opportunities.
The first, and hardest, lesson that I learned was that I am not as strong of a person as I believe I am, and thats okay. I came into college believing that I could refrain from all peer pressure. I would remain the perfect person. Sadly, I proved myself wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I do not regret a single decision that I have made. These decisions have made me who I am today and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Often disappointing myself with my decisions, I turned from God. I convinced myself that if I denied God my attention, I wouldn’t have to face the fact that I was disappointing Him. Little did I understand, God had already forgiven me. I learned that mistakes are okay, but not to turn from God in the midst of them. I learned that God stood behind me through it all, even when I had turned a blind eye to Him.
Another lesson that I learned the hard way was to always trust your mother. While I have always considered my mom one of my best friends and biggest allies, I began to feel disconnected from her. Like I felt with God, I didn’t want her to be disappointed in who I had become. It wasn’t until I broke down in front of a friend who disciples me that I learned: by withholding my feelings from my mom, I was affecting my relationship with God. After having a heart to heart with my mom and pouring out the feelings I had been holding in for months, I was able to let all of my guilt and pressures go and move on.
A more positive lesson that I have learned in college is that college isn’t all about school and social life. Yes, I need to focus on my grades. (Which my dad I’m sure thinks should be my sole focus). Yes, I have benefitted greatly from joining a sorority. Coming into college, I thought that these were the most important aspects of college, but I was wrong. Church life, once I found a home, has benefitted me greatly. I have dedicated myself to give time there as a member as well as a nursery assistant. Most importantly to me, I have given two hours a week to Lost Sheep ministries. Here, I am humbled by praying with homeless people, serving them food, and giving them clothes. I learned that college isn’t just a place to get education for your future, but also to grow as a person, find what you’re passionate about, and to not be selfish.
Those are three of the huge lessons I learned in college, although I could go on with a million more: Being lonely is okay, your parents weren’t kidding when they said you’ll appreciate their lessons, finals week will make you eat more junk food than you ever could imagine, sometimes you do have to get really hurt in order to grow, naps are your best friend, be careful when choosing your future roommates, and to make mistakes and have fun.
Although I have been to some pretty low points in my life this year, I have watched my best friend cry in true agony for the first time, and I miss my family more than I could ever imagine… I have made some pretty awesome friends and memories this year, I have become a proud member of Delta Gamma, and I have grown to love my school. I look forward to learning more life lessons as a sophomore next semester with my friends, sisters, family, and God by my side. Go Vols!