November 30, 2017

What My Atypical College Experience Taught Me

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane, shall we? This time four years ago, I had just finished wrapping up my college applications. I was also losing my mind very ready to leave high school behind. I didn’t have a bad high school experience; I was just too excited to move on to bigger and better things— the biggest and best being college.

Here I am, four years later, 17 days from commencement, my one-way flight (back) to NYC booked for the 6th of January, the day before my 22nd birthday. College was nothing like I expected. Not one bit. I never thought I'd transfer schools, I didn’t make as many friends as I'd expected to, I wasn’t involved on campus like I’d thought I’d be, and I didn’t attend one sports game or tailgate. But that’s fine with me.

I know that when I look back on my three and a half years, I won’t regret not doing these things (just like I’ve never once regretted not going to my high school prom. Urban legend that you will). I believe that the discoveries I made from the time I was nearly 19 to now, on the brink of 22, would never have taken place otherwise, and these discoveries have profoundly shaped who I am. Things aren't always— and often aren't— what you expect, and that's okay.

+ I discovered my passions.

From the time I was a fetus kid, I’ve loved to write, and I’ve always kept having some sort of writing profession down the line at the back of my mind. I’ve always loved music, but I got really into it, concerts especially, my junior year of high school, and by the end of my freshman year of college, I knew it was more than a love. I’ll never forget the May day I spent freewriting in a Starbucks; there was suddenly an epiphany on the page.

Over the years, I've realized a strong interest in media in the everyday and found these three things— writing, music, and media— tied closely together into one strand: my passions. I also discovered how enjoyable and rewarding teaching is; for nearly two years, I've tutored high schoolers, mainly in writing and standardized test prep, and it's been incredible knowing that I've helped even a couple of kids advance academically.

+ I re-discovered my place in Christ. 

I grew up in a Christian home and attended Christian school from the time I was a preschooler through the 7th grade. That salvation is found through Christ is something I’ve always known, and I thought that that was good enough. I never had patience for Sunday school or church, and my patience waned more and more as I got older. Eventually, I stopped going to church altogether with the exception of Easter and Christmas.

And then someone I worked with this past summer invited me to his church. My life hasn’t been the same since. I couldn’t hold back the tears at my first VOUS service; the message hit home with how I was feeling at that time, and I knew that I needed to come back. In my three months attending services, I’ve learned that my purpose is not my career and that it’s not how I use my degree and that it’s not even my passions that define me: it’s something far beyond what is in my power to decide.

+ I discovered grief.

Two years ago next month, we lost my yiayia to lung cancer. Four years ago, I got my first taste of what it’s like to grapple with mental health.

+ I discovered gratitude.

Towards the end of my junior year, I really came to terms with the idea of being grateful with where I am and what I have. I've always been the type to count down to the next event or trip or date or whatever else, so earlier this year, I made a conscious effort to focus on what I have to be grateful for right now.

+ I discovered that you might gain the most important of things in the most unexpected of places.

I never expected someone 14 years older than me, whom I’d meet at a summer internship (an internship that I strongly disliked, might I add), would help change my life by simply inviting me to church. I never expected that a tutoring gig would turn into a job that I love. I didn't know what to expect when I faced grief, but I came out the other end, stronger and more faithful than before. I never expected that I'd leave New York to live in Miami for two and a half years just to run back with open arms.

I'd say it's been real, college, but it was kind of unreal, honestly. Deuces. 

1 comment

  1. It's crazy how much we change in these college years. It's amazing that you've rediscovered Christ! I'm so proud and happy for you! I feel like the same thing is happening to me, something about being adult and growing up changes your mindset!


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