I wrestle with the truth. I would love nothing more than to write the whole truth about my time at a new school, in a new state, so far away from home and all the people I know, as well as how I feel about being thrown back in to my home life for the summer. But if I were to do that, people’s toes would get stepped on. And I can’t help but feel a tiny bit of remorse for that. It’s a hard balance to find: writing about the truth and being nice. It’s why I mostly stick to writing about myself. I would love to write about other people, but feelings are easily bruised.
I would like to say I have changed a lot in the past year. I hope I have—for the better at least. The future feels more open than it has in a long time, and I have a lot more clarity now than I did this time last year. Even though it was my second year of college, this past year at a new school was the first year of the “full college experience,” and it certainly had its challenges and frustrations. It was a completely new experience at times, and at others it felt like a complete repeat of freshman year.
But I am a person who does not like to dwell on the past. I’m constantly looking to the future. I had originally planned to write about the highlights of my new school and elaborate on all the struggles and the people who made it a challenge. Now that I’ve had time to distance myself from the school for the summer, I do not want to go digging through all the feelings and emotions of the year and try to sort it out. Better to leave it behind and move on. There are, however, a few things I do need to write about concerning the past school year.
First, being put in a smaller housing division isolated from the rest of campus was a significant disadvantage. I struggle with taking the initiative to get to know people, and being in an apartment setting is different from having a hall with lots of people living on all sides of you and lots of connections to be made. I did go to more campus events than I was anticipating, but I also have a hard time connecting with people in big group settings as opposed to one-on-one conversations. I made several friends, maybe more than I was expecting over the course of the year, and I’m grateful for them.
Most of the classes I’ve taken so far were not particularly good, nor were the professors, with literature being the exception. It’s been wonderful getting to study literature and writing in ways I never have before, partly because the literature aspect of my high school education was significantly lacking.
The spiritual aspect of the school is much trickier to write about. The students at the school definitely seem passionate about the Lord and His calling for their lives, but the spiritual leadership at the school felt lacking. It appeared to be more focused on presenting a Christianity that was hip and trendy. I realize another student’s experience may be completely different from how I see it. And maybe I am being overly skeptical because of the frequent difficulties I’ve encountered when it comes to a larger, united body of Christ.
I want to try and put this aside and focus on the students around me: the friends I can make and the teams I can be a part of. That will make far more of a difference than dwelling on anything I didn’t like about the school or my time there. Because even though it was challenging and unexpected, I look back at it with fondness. And I look ahead with eagerness.
The next semester will definitely be different for the best. Housing arrangements will be better, my roommate is a friend I already know, and I am settled and content in my choice of a major. Having a break from school is appreciated, but I have a lot to look forward to when I return.
The last week of the previous school year, once I had finished all of my finals, one of my new friends filmed me from the second floor of one of the school buildings. It’s a big, stately place with tile floor, a skylight in the ceiling, and pillars stretching up to the third floor from the lobby. Above the face of a giant clock, I threw every last page of my biology notes and assignments, watching them fall apart from each other and float down in a beautiful rain of paper until every one settled on the floor. The papers were everywhere, and as they fell, so did all the anxiety and worries and frustration of the year. I’ve let go of everything that had previously held me back. Choices from last summer forced me to step out of comfort zones, and the temporary concern and trials have paid off. The opportunities are even greater when I return this fall.
As for this summer, I can’t admit that I am happy to be back in this town. Describing it would be too frustrating—that’s how much I hate it. But why focus on that? I should know by now that my surroundings are only as horrible or magical as I make them. I am not spending this summer in a sketchy, ruined town. I am spending it on the edge of a forest—a forest filled with unknown potential and untold stories. I look up.
White squares bloom and unfurl in the sky.
What once were worries or difficult roommate issues, or previous insecurities, or impossible science exams are only sheets of paper brushing against my skin as they fall to the ground. The conquerable pages surround my feet in a beautiful, chaotic pattern of forgotten problems.
And I’m still standing.