So here’s the post you’ve all been waiting for, or at least the post I keep referencing in my last few previous posts – my reflection on my third year of college.
This one is hard to write, and maybe that’s why I was sort of putting it off. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write it but writing it means I have to come face to face with the fact that I technically am a college senior (or as TJ would love us to say fourth year). And that’s wild to me. I started this blog in the winter of my first year, and being so near to the end – whew! I’m just not ready to confront that fact quite yet. But this post needs to be written.
Reflection is a necessity that will continue to initiate slow growth in us if we continue to practice it, so here it is, my third year of college reflection.
I entered this year with some sort of intentionality. I was tired of living at home for so long that I knew I would make my new space comfortable and I spent time decorating with post-it notes, twinkle lights, posters, and a tapestry. My framed photo was not one of friends or family, but a quote I love – “Do you want to leave soon?” “No, I want enough time to be in love with everything…and I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.” I’m not much of a crier but even having all the time I had this year, I just wish I had more to stop and appreciate how beautiful they were. I definitely was lucky enough to have a few of those moments.
Related Post: Reflection on Second Year
Reflecting on my third year
Making new traditions was a lifegiving way to live
I didn’t go into third year intentionally deciding I would make new traditions. Rather, I just went week by week saying yes to the same things knowing they were sweet moments filled with joy. Making dinner for all the interns at the Stud on Wednesday nights. Walking off Grounds to a beautiful garden filled with delicious food and kind people on Fridays. Beginning my weekend with a Chick-fil-A salad and a Bachelor franchise episode.
I know that people can feel limited in traditions because they are single but that’s not true. You don’t need to be in a relationship or have a group of friends to start doing the things that make your soul happy. Just keep following the small pockets of joy like I did, and you might stumble onto something beautiful.
Being in person is such a gift
Don’t get me wrong. This one seems obvious. 2020 turned our gatherings into online events, and now we’re late for everything and the concept of time is lost on us (just me? okay). But when I went back to church in person with masks, it was such a gift to be there in person. To listen, to sing, to laugh at our pastor’s jokes. To know that there were people who still desired to walk in faith, as hard as that road is – that was a blessing.
Being in person for office hours or finally meeting someone I had only seen in the small box of Zoom was really cool. So yes, this point might seem obvious but it’s a point worth making.
Related Post: Reflection on my first year of college + Tips for freshmen year
Going to bed way too late revealed a deeper issue
My sleep schedule has always been a source of tension for me. I firmly believe that getting 8 hours of sleep is a keystone habit. If I would just go to bed early, I would actually become that version of myself that I dream about. The one who always does her quiet time, the one who is wise, the one who is really fit, the one who is a heck of a lot of fun, the one who moves about the world in peace. Well, this year showed me.
The deeper issue isn’t my bedtime but my priorities. I had a conversation with my discipler second semester and it really clued me in on the fact that I have been doing a ton of things and my sleep was suffering as a result. Sometimes the revelations we have aren’t pretty. We don’t always get a round of applause or a “good job!” Sometimes we get a gentle rebuke reminding us that there is still room to go. I have to set down some activities that were good but were getting in the way of my wellbeing, of my relationship with God. And that’s okay. It doesn’t look like the world’s version of success, but I hope I’m starting to look like Him.
Declaring my major and minor
I think I’m in the minority when I say I declared my major and minor in the same year – my third year. Most people have declared either one earlier but I was still waiting for things to be just right. I needed a major to get me where I want to be. And my minor leans into the questions I have across disciplines, questions I’m really glad I have the space to ask. Overall, it solidified the fact that wow, college is really a time to be building towards something.
I don’t, however, think college necessarily needs to build towards your career. Ideally, it would be a place to broaden your horizons on the world, acquire some skills, and then launch you in a new direction. When college is a place for you to build your resume while partying your life away, it ceases cultivating your internal growth.
Shifting my career dreams
Due to lots of conversations with friends who have now graduated, I was talking a lot about future career plans with plenty of people in my life. Some of those conversations have brought forth a new perspective on this whole career thing. After all, who would have thought that I could potentially go into higher education? (I’d like to remind you, gentle reader, that this was not my idea.) But the chaplain idea – that was new. Something I conjured up. A path where faith is present but in the context of something else.
I’m not saying my goal for my future has changed completely. But I’ve been given a new vision onto what I had before and it’s widened my perspective a little.
Related Post: Reflections + Rest
The thread of relationships
A theme in my third year has been relationships. Granted, I did enroll in a class called Sociology of the Family, so I shouldn’t be surprised. This theme dominated despite my singleness. While I have been slowly realizing I have a good group of friends who have entered into relationships, I also recognize that I have some friends who are single too. My realization on relationships took place on a bus ride back to my dorm. It is as follows: It’s okay to want love and not be ready for it.
Friendship is a beautiful thing. It can come in unexpected forms. In fact, in my case, it always does. I actually don’t know anyone who I met and knew that they would be my friend from day 1. So friendship has always been surprising for me. But I guess there were some friendships that I couldn’t have predicted that kind of revived me a little. Eating dinner under a tent in cold February. A long talk about landscaping and engineering and faith. Lounging around the Stud’s kitchen island and laughing about Oompa Loompas. I am surprised (and sort of amazed) at the people who pursued me and who I pursued this year. I’m really grateful for the gift of friendship.
Intentional rest time is so key
This post is getting really long, so I’ll wrap it up with this last point. Taking time away from work is so important. I don’t mean stopping work so you can clean your room and do chores and run errands. I also don’t mean clicking on Netflix so you’re winding down for the evening. I mean actually setting aside time where you know you are cut off from work and you give yourself time AND space to lean into hobbies (or start hobbies).
While you can use this time as a reflective space to journal or pray or meditate, I would just encourage you to invite some fun back into your life. Maybe this looks like challenging yourself to stretch everyday. Maybe you gather some paint and get cracking on the kitchen table. Perhaps you sneak away to your hammock to read. Just do what you can to set aside work for the gift of letting your soul breathe.
For me, this looked like long walks with friends or with podcasts. It looked like stepping away to hammock with no time limit in mind. I looked like getting in bed with a good book. It meant listening to that new album over and over again.
Related Post: Weekly Reflection Guide
Let your mind rest and your soul breathe.
Here are some highlights of my third year: