A few weeks ago, I discovered a blogger by the name of Stephanie May Wilson. She’s incredibly gifted in speaking and writing, and I instantly fell in love with the way she so openly talks about her faith. It’s inspiring.
She has a book she wrote a little while back and it’s literally just a memoir of her life so far. And, to be quite frank, I loved it. The reason I felt so drawn to it was because it was so honest, and she talked about everything she used to struggle with (and sometimes still does). It made me realize that, dang, other people went through what I went through in college.
So, to the college girl who’s feeling so completely lost right now: you are not alone.
Let me give you some more context: I’m talking to the girls who are fed up with drinking. And hooking up with random guys. And hiding their faith. And so on and so on and so on. Maybe only one of those describes you. Maybe they all do.
The fact is that, someway, somehow, you’re struggling. You feel so tired of the way parts of the college environment are treating you.
Now, tiny disclaimer if you’ve kept reading; I know this isn’t everyone. I know tons of people thrived in college and never had an internal struggle like this one. And that’s okay. I’m not putting down going to college, because I loved my experience. Rather, I’m saying there’s sometimes things we encounter in college that we let ourselves get pulled into, when we’re not even sure we want them.
First off, I think it’s important that I tell you about my own experience with this. I know so much about it because that girl I’m writing to was me.
Okay so yes: I loved college. It was full of beautiful memories and tons of awesome new experiences. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I’m forever grateful that I got to go. However, my first year ( and part of the second) was rough.
I came to college with the expectation that it would be “just like the movies” and I’d love every second of that. And yes, college can be just like that, but the image is deceiving. While drinking every weekend and kissing different guys at every party seems fun, it also did something to me.
I can’t tell you how many mornings I woke up with the huge weight of regret. I hated who I was becoming. I never knew how to find that happy medium when it came to partying. Either I was completely sober or obliterated. Usually, it was the latter.I can't tell you how many mornings I woke up with the huge weight of regret. I hated who I was becoming. Click To Tweet
I was technically Catholic at that time and held some of its beliefs close to me, but I didn’t know why. In all honesty, it meant nothing to me. It was just a label. Really, I stood for absolutely nothing. That’s what made it so easy for me to not care about what I was doing to myself.
I didn’t have friends who encouraged me to go to church or pray about it. Instead, they were right there beside me every weekend, doing the exact same things as me. Now, I’m not trying to say those friends were bad people (because they’re absolutely not), but our interests lied in different things–it was just that neither of us realized that.
Side note: Although my friends liked the partying side of college more than I did, I’d never change being friends with them. They completely shaped me into who I am today and we made some of the best memories together. And I’ll always love them for that, whether or not we’re still close now.
Anyway, I was completely and totally wrapped up in a side of college I began hating, and I had no idea how to get out. By the end of that first year, I was so sick and tired of who I was.
I hit so many breaking points that I stopped counting. Each one a little worse than the one before.
I wanted something more at that point, but I just didn’t know what it was. I was using the party scene from those feelings. For lack of a better phrase: I was lost. And I thought I was alone in that feeling.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO HEAR
Now, think about yourself. Did you find yourself silently saying, “OMG yes same!” while reading my story?
Maybe you’re surrounded by friends who don’t understand your faith, or who make fun of it. Maybe you’re letting guys walk all over you, even when you see how much it tears you apart to let them do that. Maybe you’re going out on the weekends to hide from your feelings or to please those around you…or both.
Whatever it is you’re feeling, I want to share some thoughts & advice with you. This is what got me through that dark time:
You’re not alone.
You read it in the headline and in the featured image. (And probably somewhere throughout this blog post, too.) But…do you believe it?
I know college can sometimes be incredibly isolating, even when you’re surrounded by people everywhere you go. The irony of that whole situation kills me.
Anyway, take a second and tell yourself this is the mirror. You. Are. Not. Alone. I guarantee you that there are at least a few girls in your same dorm or apartment complex who are thinking the same things you are.
They want something different and they’re sick of who they’ve become, without even meaning to. Make it your mission to keep an eye out and, possibly, seek out those girls. I promise they can become your greatest confidants in life. People grow so incredibly close when they can go through similar life experiences together.
If that doesn’t work, go to church and join a group. Maybe it’s a bible study or a women’s group, but I’m pretty convinced anything will do. Even a retreat. College is the time when so many girls are figuring out who they want to be and a lot of times it pulls them between the full-on college scene and living a life of faith.
When you put yourself in those intimate moments with other like-minded people, you’re going to be shocked with how similar you are.
Giving yourself that counsel of friends to go to will be invaluable, if only to reassure you that you’re not alone.You're not alone. Click To Tweet
It does get better.
I’m here as a witness to that statement. I know I was convinced, as a college Freshman, that I’d be stuck in that self-destructive lifestyle forever, but it’s just not true.
You might not be able to see what else is out there yet, but God has a plan. All you need to do is have faith and trust in that. If you can keep pushing forward, you’re doing enough.
Like I mentioned before, having those friends you can go to is going to be so important. No one else will be able to help you see the future like them. When you have role models to look up to (who maybe have been where you are), it’s going to be so much easier to have hope.
If nothing else, look at me: I went from that weird freshman who hadn’t found her place to an even-weirder ( 😉 ), Catholic college graduate, who’s so thankful for where she is now.
I promise there will come a day when you feel thankful for it all too. One day, you’re going to be able to just enjoy the smile on your face, because you’ll know it’s genuine.
There will always be struggles (internally and externally), but if you have something to guide you through that, you’ll be okay. (PS: Make that “thing” God, if it isn’t already.)
This is all supposed to happen.
I know you’re wondering why God would let you get into all that trouble and feel so much pain, but it’s part of His plan.
One day, you’ll be talking to friends or journaling or blogging or something and you’re gonna think about the past. Those weird, hard patches in life will start to make sense. You’ll realize why it happened, or at least be able to accept that it was necessary.
God isn’t ever going to put you through something you can’t handle or that won’t make you better.God isn't ever going to put you through something that doesn't make you better. Click To Tweet
Now, do something about it.
It’s one thing to feel alone, but it’s a whole other to feel alone and not be doing a damn thing to fix it. Don’t be that person who doesn’t realize their own strength.
You always have the choice to change who you are and what path you’re going down. Unless you’re dead, it isn’t too late.
It might hurt some people and confuse a few others, but sometimes your journey isn’t about anyone else. If you’re doing what’s best for you, don’t ever feel guilty about it. It’s okay if not everyone understands.
Once I started taking that kind of initiative in my life, and realizing I didn’t want to live that way anymore, I saw things drastically change around me. I knew I was finally starting to discover who I wanted to be and where I was being called in life. I wouldn’t change the journey for anything.
Just take the first step. Maybe that’s sending a prayer up to Heaven or even just reading this post. Expect the inevitable downfalls and a lot more struggles, but don’t ever let that stop you from continuing on.
And in case you got nothing else from this post, I wanted to leave you with this quote I found earlier:
In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you. -Andrea Dykstra