As many of you know, or maybe you don’t, I currently am living approximately 2,550 miles from the town that I spent 18 1/2 years living in. It is definitely one thing to plan on going out of state for college, but it is another to pack up most of your belongings in 4 suitcases, purchase a plane ticket and hope for the best. Destination: Across the whole dang country from everything you’re used to and familiar with.
Maybe it was a partly due to being an antsy 18 year old, ready to spread her wings and fly away from the monotony of rain, potholes, train whistles, fireworks and the city logo that was so misleading (“More than you imagined!”, usually coupled with the teen aged snickers of “but less than you’d hoped for”). Maybe it was partly due to my overwhelming desire to travel to new places and learn all about cultures experience new things. While Tennessee is in the United States, it was like being submerged into a whole other country in comparison to Washington when I stepped off that airplane in August. Maybe it was partly because God was tugging on my heart to leave my comfort zone and throw myself out into the big bad world where the only environment I hadn’t really been in is one where nearly everyone says they love Jesus. Weird, right? Well, maybe it was a concoction of all three of those but in any case, I started my first year out of the home and at college in a place where I stuck out like a sore thumb.
You never realize how much you appreciate the people you have grown up with, the relationships you’ve spent years nurturing and the places you have grown up always knowing until you are put in a situation where nearly all of those are either stripped or limited. I noticed quickly that I talked and dressed differently than everyone and to be honest, I was quite embarrassed. As far my introverted personality goes, I wanted so desperately to fade into the background of everyone else’ life but it’s kind of hard to when every other second someone is asking why you dress like you do or fix your makeup like that or what the average rainfall is in Washington. I fought God so hard on this. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be surrounded by people who understood why i wore over sized flannels all year round, who understood my intense level of sarcasm ingrained in my humor, I wanted to crawl back into that cocoon that I had neatly made that months earlier I swore was suffocating me. I searched for other schools the first week I was there. I made pros and cons list of transferring. I shut myself away from people because I figured that they thought I was too weird to be friends with anyway. I tried convincing God that it was an awful idea to be down here where people say “buggy” instead of “shopping cart” and when they ask for a “coke” it literally could mean any carbonated beverage. He didn’t come down with thunder and lightning and tell me I was wrong and being stupid. He kind of just let me do my thing and then when things settled He reminded me that reflecting Christ generally has nothing to do with my own selfish wants and comforts.
Being someone who grew up in a place where it was a little uncommon for my family to be going to church to somewhere, where it was uncommon for a family not to go to church brings a lot of differences in how we all came to be at this tiny little private Christian school. At some point, I realized that the world didn’t and wouldn’t revolve around me. It wouldn’t stop for me to tie my laces or wait for me to pitch a fit until I could be comfortable again. Change was happening for every single person I came in contact with. Whether it was a senior trying to get their portfolio together or a timid freshman trying to find their classroom. Change may not be consistent but by golly it’s inevitable. And if every time something drastically changed in my life caused me to have an existential crisis, I wouldn’t be very helpful to anyone. When I finally came around to being obedient to God, I found myself making new friends and having interesting conversations about faith and our relationships with Jesus. It went even further than that! People who had grown up around or in the south had me thinking about things I had never considered before and we would end up having deep meaningful talks. But the conversations weren’t just about Jesus and the church, they were about life. They were about fears and aspirations. They were about favorite memories and they were about things that were wished were forgotten. When I finally adjusted how I interacted socially, people began to let me live life with them and I let them live life with me.
Adjusting to the major changes of life is one part alteration and two parts how you decide to handle it. I have learned a lot about adjusting and I know I have a lot more to learn, but one big thing is to go against every humanly fear of rejection and be as open as you can with people. Now if you know me personally, you’re probably thinking “Wow, you’re one to talk” but I promise you, I know I struggled with being open but I also promise that I am working on it. Sorry if this was a long blog post, I’m not actually sure how long these things are suppose to be. On that note, I shall leave you with this:
“Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.” – Norman Vincent Peale