This weekend I became an alumnus of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. I walked across the stage to celebrate the accomplishments of the past four years of my life in front of all my friends and family (and a few other people). I took pictures with loved ones and couldn’t seem to wipe the smile off my face but dressing up in a cap and gown and taking countless pictures that would end up on Facebook didn’t even begin to describe my experience as an Ohio University student. So, here’s this blog post. It’s a way for me to share my thoughts and reflections from my 4 year college career in a very, very condensed format. Here’s just a few of the lessons I’ve learned as a recent graduate:
#1: People come in all different shapes, sizes and formats.
Growing up in a wealthy suburban neighborhood in Northwest Ohio, I was livin’ the good life. My parents pretty much catered to my every need and I rarely felt out of place or uncomfortable. Most of the kids I went to school with were in the same boat. A typical day in the life went like this: Wake up, go to school, socialize with all your best friends, act like you were getting work done, play a sport after school, get ice cream with your friends, maybe do some homework, watch your favorite TV show then go to bed and do it all over again. It was REALLY TOUGH. Anyways, college is a whole different ballgame. Students come from all over the country. They all grew up differently, have different interests, learn differently and look different. Especially in Athens, you’re bound to find every species of human on that campus. Guaranteed. I’ve learned to expand my horizons, accept people for who they are, understand people’s backgrounds, try new things and get along with people who aren’t my particular “in group”.
#2: Life is never comfortable and it shouldn’t be.
The ultimate comfort test is the dorm life. Living with two other girls you’ve never met in a tiny 10 ft by 15 ft space is never comfortable. I couldn’t walk around naked, go to the bathroom in private, get a good night sleep, study or have my own thoughts in the dorms. However, I learned that not everything’s about me and my needs and lots of people think everything’s about them and their needs, ALL THE TIME. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a roommate tell me, “Can you be quiet on the phone?” at 2pm in the afternoon when they keep me up at 3am on Friday night stumbling in drunk. Roommates make life uncomfortable sometimes but roommates can turn out to be your best friends. My freshman and sophomore year dorm mate is one of my best friends to this day. If life was always comfortable, we would never grow, learn new things or see new things. We would never have the experience of a male friend thinking your pink pepper spray was a Pez dispenser and spraying it all over your dorm room! Being uncomfortable taught me to better understand the world, to deal with people and to deal with sticky situations.
#3: Summa Cum Laude honors doesn’t mean smart, it means motivated.
If you asked me to tell you what 6 X 7 was off the top of my head, I probably couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that college is REALLY, REALLY hard and I’ve never worked so hard in my life. I may have graduated with top honors but to me that means 4 years of hard work, motivation, long days in the library (cause Lord knows my bedtime is 10pm) and a willingness to make sacrifices for my school work. I am in no way, shape or form a genius who doesn’t study and aces every exam. Every single assignment, project or test I completed was a result of long hours, determination and research to make myself seem smart! In fact, when President McDavis directed graduates to stand in recognition of honors, I had a mini panic attack as I searched the crowd to make sure I stood up at the right time! The main point here is you don’t have to be book smart to be “smart”. You just have to possess the drive and determination to get it done.
#4: The distance between a dream and reality is action.
I truly believe that any dream can become a reality if you put your mind to it. A lot of people dream of vising Australia. So did I. I wanted to turn that dream into reality. It took months and months of meeting with different OU staff members, multiple conversations with parents and extreme planning to make it all happen. I never thought in a million years that I would actually be on a 14 hour plane ride heading to Australia for 2 and half months but I did it and it was truly a dream come true. I’ve always dreamed of the perfect job and I know that my hard work and focus thus far will eventually get me there. It might not be my first job but it will come with time. College has taught me that dreams don’t have to be dreams. They can be real and they are possible.
#5: If you don’t know who you are, go to college.
College is an extremely important time in one’s life to discover themselves. To find out what they enjoy, who they enjoy, what spiritual path they wish to pursue and so much more. The first two years of college I spent my weekends getting intoxicated and then showing up at church Sunday morning with a headache. I hid my “extra-curricular” activities from my “church” friends and really struggled to figure out where I belonged. Did I want to continuing going out with my friends, disobeying God and feeling guilty every morning? Or did I want to risk losing friends, being judged and changing my social life to completely give my life to Jesus? At the end of my junior year, I decided to stop going out and forgetting what happened and start living my life for the one who made a sacrifice far greater than I ever could! I got baptized soon after and started dating my current boyfriend who had just recently overcome a huge obstacle in his life and surrendered his life to Jesus as well. Since then, my life still has the same struggles as anyone else but I have a totally different perspective on every struggle I face. I find myself joyful after overcoming obstacles, loved by my new Christian community and filled with faith that carries me through life with purpose. I truly found myself in Christ through my college experience and I can’t wait to continue serving Him everyday! This just skims the surface of all the incredible things I learned in college. I didn’t really learn anything from my textbooks. My studies taught me how to struggle in life and how to overcome those struggles. I learned that my faith will make every struggle easier and help to transform struggles into moments of joy! My future is bright and I can’t wait to see what God has planned.