College. The time of your life. Where you meet your best friends, where you have your late night adventures. Where you figure the next few years of your life. Second year ended early due to the school shutdown and I returned home to New York, where I have been finishing up classes and trying to figure out what to do with all this time we have.
While reading my journals for the past two semesters, I was inspired to write a reflection on my second year of college.
Things can change in an instant
With absolutely everything going on, from spring break – going from volunteering at a local elementary school in Charlottesville and hanging out with friends to traveling home on a bus to New York, where I could possibly get the virus – in a matter of hours, everything can change. Life went from hugs and handshakes to waves across a screen. It’s just a realization that we all needed. I think routines have kept us believing that we’re safe and that nothing could affect us, but we do not control the things of this world. And that can be scary. IT can be scary to realize we don’t have control, it could also lead to our greatest freedom.
Creating vs. Consuming
There were times where I was down in second year. Given my first year experience, I definitely had expectations that this year was going to make up for what last year wasn’t. And now, we’ve all got to come to the understanding that now is all we have. That said, consuming for hours on end was draining me. Even if it was good content, I wasn’t supposed to have that much of a good thing. Creating, for me, is something I don’t always make time for, but it’s incredible to realize that if you never put the work for something to exist, it wouldn’t.
Let go of expectations
By the end of this year, I’ve realized that I need to let go of my expectations. Has my college experience been everything I wanted it to be? No. There are times when I’m exhausted beyond belief. There are times when I am lonely. There are times where I am uncertain of the decisions I am making. It’s a part of life to struggle. Even though we don’t always hear about someone’s struggling, that doesn’t mean they aren’t. While there were so many moments I built up that fell flat, there were so many small things that kept me afloat. The random conversation about family at a new friend’s house, the sweet first years who recognized my need for hugs, the memory I had forgotten seen through someone else’s eyes, the 2 hours spent singing songs at the top of our lungs, the beach sunrise. I don’t have photos of those moments but I have memories that I will never forget.
Self-care is an expression of love to yourself
At the beginning of the year, there’s so many events but SO MUCH TIME. One weekend, I probably went to 6 different events – met up with friends at a hangout spot, went to the dorms to meet dormmates, went to a gaming event, went to a Christmas party, etc. I still had time to do my skincare, and spend time in silence, and do all the things that are nice to do. In the middle of each semester, I found myself less consistent in skincare, spending 0 time in silence, no walks, no reading books, sleeping super late – like 5:30 in the morning *shakes head sadly* – basically treating myself badly in order to thrive in school and activities.
Racial reconciliation came up a lot this semester
Whether it was with my university’s new Multicultural Center and Latinx Center, through panels such as Black Fetisization, or through a conference based on racial reconciliation, this topic came up a lot second semester. It was tough. There were LOTS of conversations. How should universities respond so minorities feel there is a place for them? How should you respond if you feel your neighbor has prejudice against you? Is it okay for a white professor to teach an African American Studies class? Especially being in Charlottesville, these questions were tough to consider and wrestle with this semester. Being a minority at a predominantly white institution is quite the experience – especially if that university has a history in being complicit in slavery.
I can actually make it to the gym IF I prioritize it
This February, a few friends and I got together and decided we were going to the gym together. I got a membership for the month on classes I could take, and found I could go to the gym. Gyms are free in college, meaning you pay with your college fees. But still, you’re paying for it, so you should definitely take advantage. After semesters of telling myself I’m going to make it a priority, I did it. Sort of. I only did it for the month of February, but I went to Zumba classes, I did the stairmaster, I kicked butt for a few weeks. Now that I know it’s actually possible to go – I will definitely try to keep myself accountable.
You should always be growing outside of school
While we as a society harp on about education, we think education is synonymous with school. I could honestly write a whole blog post on that. That said, it’s important to learn skills outside of your classes, outside of your professional goals to keep yourself growing. For me, that was learning to read before bed. Fall semester, I read The Winding Path of Transformation by Jeffrey Tacklind. This book for me was life changing. I was getting so much knowledge and wisdom from it, and it really helped grow my faith. It was refreshing to listen to someone who was trying to carve out a new way of faith – not leaning too much on humility or finding himself in glory.
There are seasons of passion, and there are seasons where the fire has died so completely you forgot what you saw in the first place.
I have kind of been struggling with my faith this whole second year. And what was wild is that I didn’t even realize it until I looked back at all of my journal entries. From last summer and into the school year, my journal entries were full of prayers crying out to God for answers, for a sign of hope, for something to keep me going. Last summer was filled with a lot of disappointment, stories I’m not quite sure I’ve recovered from. Ever since making my faith my own in 2018, it was so insane for me to realize that I went from such a high place to such a low place. I think a lot of that wrestling was due to fear and doubt. And although that’s not the way we are called to live as Christians, it’s the human way. And Jesus has SO MUCH grace for that. These two semesters have been rebuilding my faith and trying to find it apart from community. Sometimes you have to keep moving towards the truth even when there are no signs of proof. On my move in day, I said the quote below to my roommate and it still stands.
I have been through enough in my life to know that God exists and enough to question his character. Though I do not understand, still I believe.
– quote from my journal
Home is where you build it
I desire the cute photos of friends all linked up together and sleepover stories and fun parties and things like that. That’s what my heart wants. And while people say home is where the heart is, my heart’s not quite in reality. I’m not as secure as I wish to be – in friendships, in my career, in my next steps. However, I firmly believe that if you build where you are present, a home will always find you there. In the hours drinking tea and doing homework, in the game nights, in the adorable cat at the university *heart eyes*, in the travels and in the dorm, in the outdoor beauty, in the dresses and in the dirt, in the party and in the sunrise.
This second year was not what I expected at all, but I wouldn’t trade it in for something other than what it was.