What My Freshman Year of College Taught Me

Hey hey, people! Long time no see! Sorry I’ve been MIA lately, but I love you all and here I am, rising from my sickness and peering through pink eyes (see what I did there? I have pink eye. Hah.) and writing you a little something. Well, we only have a few more weeks left of college, and I’m happy and sad about it. Freshman year has been exciting, challenging, and wonderful. I learned a lot, I felt a lot, and I laughed a lot. Here are 9 things I learned during my very first year of independence.

1. People Matter, Your Social Status Doesn’t.

This is number one because it’s important and I don’t want you to get bored and stop reading before hearing it. Middle school, high school, college… If you’re not careful, all any of it will amount to is a competition. You want to be pretty, but not a try hard. You want to be smart, but not nerdy. You want to be fun, but not trashy. You want to be desirable, but not slutty. You want to be popular, you want to be known, you want everyone to like you. I’ve summed it all up to the fact that all anybody wants is to be loved, and most of the time even the people of the utmost status don’t feel that. They don’t feel it, because admiration isn’t love. Admiration can be destroyed as quickly as a wrong decision or a twisted story spreads. Fame can turn into infamy in an instant. Love, though… real love doesn’t just disappear. What I’m trying to say is, that status that you’re striving for can disappear in an instant, and if you spend all your time trying to balance, you’re going to be way to exhausted to do anything else. And even if you end up maintaining your level of fame or popularity, you aren’t going to get what you want out of it. You’re still going to come up empty. It’s all so weird and crazy, the little categories we put people in. But guys, it doesn’t matter. That’s what I’ve realized. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard the name of the girl next door or not, she deserves to be loved. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the best sorority on campus or if you’re in the worst. It doesn’t matter. None of it matters. People matter, and if you spent less time focusing on a status and more time focusing on loving people, I guarantee you you would feel so much better about yourself and better about the world you live in. Life is too short to constantly try to get people to like you, trust me, been there done that! It is fleeting and it amounts to nothing. More than that, when you’re focusing your time on something that doesn’t matter, you’re taking time away from focusing on things that do. Know what’s important, and know what isn’t. That’s the most important lesson I’ve learned this year.


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2. I am actually an introvert.

If you knew me in high school, you’re probably laughing so hard at this one. Yeah right, I know. But it’s true. If you met me in college you are not at all surprised by this, I’m sure. I didn’t realize how much I needed time to myself until I didn’t have it anymore. And don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love people more than anything else on this planet, but I have discovered that in order for me to love people, I have to make time for myself. In high school, I was famous for never sleeping, and I think a lot of that is because night time was the only time I was alone! That’s really when I had time to write or read or play music. Then I came to college… and people are EVERYWHERE. If you are an introvert and haven’t yet started your collegiate journey, you are going to have to make a very conscious effort to make time for yourself or you will self-destruct and no one will want to be around you! Take it from someone who knows… hahahaha.


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3. The whole “you can be in a crowd of people but still feel all alone” thing is totally true.

There are so many people here… so many friend groups… so many parties… it’s insane. At first, you feel like you have so many friends you will never be lonely ever again. And then you take a step back and realize no one knows that you have siblings or asthma or a birthmark on your elbow. It’s really really easy to feel alone in the midst of a huge crowd. During the first few months of school, I thought I had so many awesome friends, but then I stepped back and asked myself if any of these people really knew me, and realized most of them really didn’t. It’s so important to make sure you’re creating relationships that are more than just surface level. It’s really easy, especially in college, to get spending time with someone confused with growing your relaitonship with someone. You can be with people 24/7, from sunrise to sunset, and still at the end of the day have no one that knows your soul. You have to fight for that, it doesn’t just happen with time. Not only should you look for people that will love you deeply, but you need to be that for others. You’re going to need it! This is a crazy, crazy time, and your friends become your family. I have people in my life now that I had never met eight months ago and will be standing next to me on my wedding day. It happens! But you have to make a HUGE effort to make those deep friendships, or you’ll just float from friend to friend and never feel fully know. You know what they say, four quarters beats 100 pennies any day!


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4. Coffee is a food group

Nothing more to be said about this one. Bottoms up, people.


5. God will never fit into anyone’s box.

Everybody is trying to figure it out in college, and you have to figure it out for yourself. But what I’ve discovered is, a lot of people play it safe, and I don’t think God is safe. I think He’s frightening at times and fun and exciting and mysterious… and I think that is amazing. My faith has freaked a lot of other Christians out, y’all. I’m just going to come right out and say it. The Holy Spirit is alive and moving, and some people are really scared of it. But God is big. He is so big. And I’ve experienced that more this year than ever before in my life. I just want to encourage you guys to make sure that your relationship with the Lord is YOUR relationship, and don’t let anybody make you feel bad about the way you believe! (although it is extremely important to have friends that sharpen you and make you better. See #7)


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6. Music makes me better.

I don’t know if most of you know this, but I have loved making music for my entire life. I wrote my first song when I was four, and God has used music to help me cope with my absolute loneliest times. I love it, and I know that I was born to do it. I know that because this year, going from leading worship multiple times a week and writing consistently to pretty much not doing anything music related in college, a part of me has been missing. I finally came to the conclusion that I need music to be a whole person. That sounds weird and super dramatic, but it’s true. It makes me better, it helps me process, and God has used me to reach others through it. So how dare I stray from what I am called to do because it’s a little scary to put myself out there? So, I’m going to be doing a whole lot more of it. Keep an eye out, people!


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7. Life doesn’t have to be perfect for me to be content.

Everybody else seems to know exactly what they want to do with their lives, but I am absolutely not that girl. I thought I knew what I wanted, and then I came to college. But you know what? That is okay. I’m learning to be content in the not-knowing, because I would go crazy if not. If you keep waiting around for life to be perfect to finally be content, you’ll never get there. Contentment is not dependent on your circumstances, it’s dependent on whether or not you trust God enough to lead you where you need to go. You do not have to have it figured out. Trying to force something you think you want instead of waiting for Him is ultimately not going to give you fulfillment. Wait on Him. I promise, it’s worth the wait!


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8. You need people that challenge you.

You need people that love you and know you deeply. People that give you grace and love you despite everything, but also challenge you to be better. Not by scorning you or lecturing you, but by loving you and holding you to such a high standard that they would never let you struggle without holding a hand out for you to take when you’re ready to. I think relationships are the most amazing gift God has given us here on earth, aside from Jesus, of course, and they are essential to our walk. We have to have people to lean on when we can’t stand up, and we have to be there for people. It’s the only way this whole independence thing is manageable, especially the first year!


9. Independence is really, really wonderful.

It’s crazy and challenging, but I am an adult, y’all! I’ve lived on my own for almost an entire school year, and I have probably learned more about myself in a year than in my entire life combined. Growing up is really amazing. College may be terrifying to you, or maybe you can’t wait. Either way, cherish it. Freshman year of college is probably the most growth filled year you will have, and I am such a better person for it. Take a deep breathe and dive right in. You’ll love what’s ahead.

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There you have it! A brief synopsis of what I’ve learned this year. If you’re a freshman too, I challenge you to write down a few things you’ve learned. It’s easy to move on without reflecting, but I think sometimes it’s cool to be able to look back and see where you were and where you are. And if you are a senior in high school, get ready! Your list is going to be different than mine, but I promise you, you’ll have one. Get ready for an indescribable year. Life moves fast! Don’t forget to take it all in. 

With love,

Claire

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