I just finished my first year of college and WOW, what a year it was. My roommate Micah and I were talking and we both agreed this could have been the best year of our lives. There were plenty of lows but I am amazed at how much God has grown and changed me since the last August. In light of that I wanted to make a list of some of the top things that I learned this year.
- Be friends with Jesus first. Honestly this could be my only point. From this one amazing truth the rest of what I have to say flows. The first month of college is pretty much chaos. You will be meeting hundreds of people and trying to find friends amongst them all. You will make good friends and you will make bad friends. Sometimes it may even feel like you have no friends. Amidst it all, though, you need to have one true friend, the true friend. You need Jesus. I was the one who struggled making friends at first. I was too worried about what people would think of me and wasn’t secure enough in Jesus to put myself out there. I tried to find one good friend that I could be completely myself and honest with but that doesn’t happen in a week. Through a long string of events Jesus showed me I needed him every day and he wanted to be with me every moment. So just start being with Him! In the dull and boring parts of your day start talking with him. Tell him what you’re feeling, write down what he teaches you, and start some inside jokes with Him (seriously this is too fun and brings so much joy to any day). Like any good friend he is there to cry with and there to laugh with but unlike any friend on this earth, he will always love you. Imagine the friendship that the disciples had with Jesus They were with him constantly, asking him questions and learning from his teaching (I’m sure they had inside jokes too). Now think about the amazing things they did because of their love for Him. It wasn’t because they had become disciplined or memorized the entire Bible on their own. It was because they lived each and every day with God incarnate. They couldn’t help but be changed.
- Find a godly mentor. My mentor’s name is Erick. I met him late fall and Jesus used him to change my year around. Like I said before, I struggled with making friends and I really wanted someone I could truly confide in. About a week after I asked Jesus to find me a good mentor I met Erick. Erick was great at giving advice but the best thing he did for me was just listen. I tend to over-analyze ideas and thoughts in my head so to be able to simply “talk it out” with someone was more than helpful. He helped me process through academics, relationships with roommates, asking a girl out properly, what it looks like to spend time wisely etc. Honestly we talked about almost everything, and that is the key; you have to be willing to put your heart out there. Going to college is one of the toughest transitions you will make and trust me, you don’t know everything.
- Love everyone. You will meet TONS of new people. The first month is basically handshakes and “Hi my name is ______, what’s your major?” Many of these people have different personalities, different beliefs, and come from different backgrounds so it is easy to start judging and comparing. Now, it’s wise to be wary of becoming good friends with everyone you meet but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love them. You have to remember that pretty much everyone is as lost and confused as you are when you’re dumped on campus so a quick compliment or question about their story goes a long way. This is also a good way to stop worrying about what other people think of you. If you are too busy making sure the person in front of you is doing alright then you don’t have time to worry about yourself!
- When adversity comes, embrace it. Adversity will come, whether it’s loneliness, homesickness, academic stress, social problems, peer pressure, roommate issues, etc. Like I said, transitioning into college can be one of the hardest transitions of your life so there will be adversity. But that doesn’t mean it’s pointless. Actually, adversity is one of the greatest things that can happen to you; it is usually in the middle of hardship that Jesus pulls you closer. So instead of trying to fight it or run away from it, embrace it. Remember that you are not perfect and Jesus wants to use your imperfection to bring you closer to himself. Stop gritting your teeth, loosen your fists and walk with Jesus all the way through
- Exercise. This one is kind of simple but something that I found very relieving. You will have stressful days. You will have boring days. You will have all-round crappy days. First bring it to Jesus, tell him all about it. But after that go run till you puke! Honestly, a good, hard workout literally pushes the stress hormones out of your body! It’s a good time to give your brain a rest and let your body take some of the load.
- Have fun. Yeah, college is fun. I don’t think I’ve had as much joy in any other year of my life! Your schedule is yours, people don’t judge you like high school, and you get to live with a bunch of people your age. Don’t Netflix binge by yourself or do homework all day long. Find a good friend group that you enjoy being with and hang out with them as much as possible. Trust me, being alone in your dorm is not fun but going to concerts, squirrel hunting, and playing the Hunger Games across campus is fun.
Like I said before, this past year was probably the best of my life but that may not be the case for your freshman year. And honestly, that doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that whatever God brings you through, be with Him, each and every moment.