What I Gained From College

I know from personal experience even if you loved your college days it’s hard sometimes to see what benefited you. Sometimes all you’ll think is I got a degree that no one cares about since I lack experience, I have debt which will weigh on me for years, and four years of life eaten up.

After having a really lovely chat with a former professor, now friend and mentor this afternoon I was thinking about all the things I gained from college things that still benefit me to this day.

So here goes, some things I gained from college:

  • Confidence and poise: Despite my loquaciousness in writing, when I came to college I was so timid. I never spoke up in class, the thought of an interview would amp my stress. Just a few days ago I nailed it at a job interview. I am certain the only reason I won’t get the job is if all the others who interviewed were more qualified. I thank college for that, having opportunity to speak in class, speech class, acting class, performing in shows, preparation for senior comps, all these things prepared me for job interviews, meeting new people, and carrying myself with confidence.
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  • Mentors: I have a handful of professors who I can talk to about the realities of life, career building, are happy to give me a recommendation and are there to encourage me, build me up, and help me to pursue my best life after college.
  • Strong communication skills: I already knew how to write well (thanks homeschooling), college taught me how to communicate through email, with professors, to handle conflict (nothing brings up conflict quite like group projects!), and how to really listen to people.
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  • How to handle my mistakes: College for me like anyone was a learning process more importantly it was a space to make mistakes and learn from them. For example I was in a class and daily reading quizzes were part of the class. I knew I was doing poorly, I hadn’t quite realized I was completely failing that portion of the class. I talked with the professor and I ended up balancing out the grade to about a C, but it wasn’t easy to stomach and I learned to balance and prioritize things even when (often especially) they seemed unimportant to me.
  • That Writing is my thing: I for one don’t regret studying what I truly love to do. My intention wasn’t to earn tons of money or have a straightforward career, it was to study what I love and gain further understanding of where I want to go. I’ve gained both and that’s priceless.
  • A greater hunger, thirst, and love for Jesus: Priceless. But there is something to say that my Christian college experience made me a more authentic member of the body of Christ. I lost a lot of my rigidity and gained so much more hope and passion and ability to see how God is at work within ALL of us.
  • Deep, honest, wholehearted friendship: It’s cliche, but true my school did give me friendships that I intend to last the rest of my life. Friendships that have deeply impacted my heart. Plus a kickass husband, which is pretty much the Christian college jackpot.
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  •  The chance to explore: I’m so glad I had chances to travel, to be in a choir, to live with my best friend, to try out acting, to take theology, politics, psychology, science, and marketing courses, to be a part of ministries, to run clubs, plan retreats, raise money, tutor, and so much more over the span of four years. While many of those experiences could have been replicated over time, college is such a unique time to be able to do a little of anything and everything you’ve ever been interested in.

I have zero regrets about my days in college and I know the lessons and skills I gained from it are helping me to be successful right this moment. And I have so much more life to live so I have no doubts my gratitude will only grow.

What are some of the positives of your college/education experiences? What are the priceless things you will never regret?

Glitter,

Juanita

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That’s Okay

I just really want the words to come. Right now on my wordpress account I have 31 drafts, tiny compared to the 109 published posts, but they nag at me.

This is about my 4th attempt today to put words on the screen.

I don’t write as much as I think I should as a writer. Writing is what gives me life, the 30+ journals filled with my word vomit can attest to that. Lately though I seem to be fighting against myself. I have desire to live more meaningfully, to write more, to love and serve in more impactful ways and yet I work against myself. Sometimes though I don’t think I can accept where I’m at.

For the past few weeks I have been content to not do much. On designated days after breakfast I go to workout with my husband, head to work, spend time with Miss J, come home, make and/or eat dinner, hang out in my housemate’s bed while we color or watch TV (or both), off to my bed to try to stay up till S comes home (which so far it’s a 50-50 gamble).

The weekdays blend in to each other. I get some time with the Lord throughout my day and especially before S comes home, but while I get a lot of grace and comfort I still don’t have direction.

S tells me my life/our life is meaningful, but sometimes I can’t help thinking–well that’s because his life actually is. I seem to be losing the sense of sacredness in my life. It’s all just a blur of living and people brushing past me. I have to work to stay present, to reach out to others, to love Miss J because sometimes it’s so easy to just veg out with her instead of being fully present with her.

Tonight though felt creative for two reasons 1) I spent a little of last night organizing my room and as much as I am a perpetual clutter bug I like organization it clears my space out physically and somehow the order clears my mind up as well 2) because my housemate went out and did something so I had to really think of my time. I wrote letters, I job searched, I reached out to make plans with friends, I also spent too much time on facebook, but I digress.

The other day when I was with Miss J I was reading to her from the Bible and this Scripture gripped me:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:5, NIV)

I love how the author is confused about the state of his soul, because so often that’s what it feels like. I’m like soul aren’t we trusting the Lord, weren’t we just praying in gratitude and yet you’re sulking with all the weight of the world on your shoulders. I don’t get it, but still I will praise God.

So where am I going with this? I guess dear reader, I want to say sometimes (often) you will lack direction. And that’s okay. Sometimes you will be sad. And that’s okay. Sometimes you will be praising God and then breaking out in heavy tears because it’s just all too much. And that’s okay.

So I’m somewhere pushing for better, thankful for a time to write and reconnect with myself and Jesus. Hopeful that I will have the future I seek, comforted that my life is rich with meaning. I also realize that I can do something with this angst, that there are opportunities to love and care for others and add more beauty and meaning to myself and others. Mostly I’m thankful for this small act of art, this small act of writing it breaks away the doubts that tell me I’m not a writer, I’m just a washed up college graduate like so many others. But I’m not. I’m a writer. My degree added value to me. My life has worth and I will keep discovering that worth as I walk through life with Jesus. Today though I’m asking my soul why are you downcast and I also remind myself, that’s okay.

It really is okay,

Juanita