They always say that life goes by pretty fast, but I didn’t know it went by THIS FAST. I was a kid… and then, I wasn’t. I was all of a sudden walking across the stage at high school graduation, getting ready to enter into a complete unknown in my life. And I was so excited. I always dreamed of going to college, and Oklahoma City University was the perfect University for me. I just knew it. What I didn’t know was what was ahead of me that first semester. My expectations included going, having the best times of my life, and getting to study exactly what God was calling me to. It sounded so amazing and easy, and that was far from my Freshman year experience.
I forgot, just like many Freshman college students do, that it was time to start over. It’s easy to watch movies and hear fun college stories and just think that it’s all going to be a piece of cake with maybe an obstacle every now and then. Believe me, I wish that was the reality.
I don’t know about you, but I was never given a lesson on how to form new relationships. I mean it’s just supposed to happen, right? When heading off to college, I had no worries in the world about making friends. That was the least of my worries. Well, that was one of the hardest parts. I felt that I couldn’t be myself because I was scared that people wouldn’t like the real, authentic me. I had always been a person who had no problem being completely myself, so this fear was not something I had ever dealt with. But because of this fear, I constantly had my guard up. I was aware I did but, I couldn’t put it down. I had lost all confidence I once had.
Senior year of high school, I felt the calling of God to go into ministry. I had my doubts every once in a while, but I was still confident that it was where God wanted me to be. After getting in college, I started comparing myself to others. I could understand how God would use all of these amazing people I was surrounded by for ministry but was so unsure of how He could use me. With being in leadership in my own Church and constantly looking at the Bible academically, my faith was being challenged. I was so overwhelmed by school work that I used that as an excuse to not pour into myself spiritually. I was exhausted because it felt like I was pouring out and pouring out in all different aspects of my life, but nothing was being poured into me. Are you in a season in your life where your constantly doubting? Doubting God. Doubting your calling in life. Doubting if you really are actually good enough.
My faith was just dead. My guard was up. And I had lost all confidence that I once had in myself. This is not what I expected when I said I was ready to grow up. I was so excited for the unknown when I walked across that stage. I just knew that everything was going to be new and exciting. Although it may have been far from what I thought it was going to be, I grew up even more through my experience.
First of all, we can’t just wait around and expect relationships to come to us. We have to be willing to go out of our comfort zone. This is something I wish I would’ve realized going into college. I couldn’t sit in my dorm room and expect magic to happen. I needed to be proactive. Remember, other people are in your same position. They’re overwhelmed and possibly (most likely) feeling the same way you’re feeling. I had several conversations with people that year that I was surprised to hear were feeling the exact same way that I was feeling. Yes, at first, new relationships will make us uncomfortable, but sometimes the hardest things in life will give great rewards in the end. AND we can’t forget that God doesn’t just leave us to do it all on our own.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
This is one of those popular verses that I know, for me, I let go in one ear and out the other. Actually soak this in. If God is by our side (and isn’t leaving our side) then why be afraid? God is with us when we even take the littlest of steps in order to develop new relationships. I mean let’s be honest. Sometimes the things in life that seem small can be some of our biggest battles. Remember, you don’t face those alone. Are you in a place where you feel alone? Maybe you think that all of your trust is in that promise that God is with you, but when you really think about it, you’ve been trying to face fear alone. Sometimes I make myself believe that I’m relying on God through my hardships, but in reality, I’ve been putting God on the back burner. Remember that God is with you and gives you strength. Use that strength, be uncomfortable, and ask that really nice person to go grab coffee with you. I bet that someone you ask will be so so happy you did. Like I said, they probably are feeling overwhelmed with all the change just like you.
Second, growing up comes with more responsibilities. Period. And as you keep growing up, your responsibilities will look different, but you will still have responsibilities. We all face them. In the society we live in today, it seems like nothing ever stops. We constantly are going and going, one responsibility after another. Let’s be real. It’s absolutely exhausting. It’s even more exhausting when we place expectations on ourselves. I was constantly stacking more on my plate and expected the best out of myself all of the time. When I felt that I didn’t line up to my best, I got down on myself. I would tell myself that I was failing and not going to be able to reach my goals in life. When we don’t meet our expectations, we can feel like a failure. Are you in a place in your life where your responsibilities, your expectations, and the stress in your life have you feeling like a failure? Like you’re not good enough? Don’t be discouraged, you’re not alone. Just breathe. Sometimes it’s just time to change your perspective.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27
“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11
All of the unhealthy pressure we put on ourselves is only going to drive us into a pit. I say “unhealthy” because pressure is not always a bad thing. We can challenge and push ourselves to do the best we can, and it can be healthy. However, I know in my case it was far from healthy. I constantly stressed about my to do list. I set high expectations that I couldn’t always meet. I never let myself have peace. I constantly had negative self talk in my head. Have you driven yourself to that place? Well if you have, God gives you STRENGTH. He gives you PEACE. Accept them as God’s gifts to you. Don’t try to do it all on your own. God’s strength is what is going to get you through the hard times, so receive that. Give God the reigns. If you’re anything like me, I bet you’re thinking… but that’s not how it works.. God can’t check off my to do list. Well let me tell you, truly letting God into your life will make a difference. Give God the control by talking to Him. Even start your morning out with Him!! I promise your day will feel totally different if you soak in some Jesus rather than social media when you get out of your bed. Give your life to God, and you will feel His strength. Give your life to God, and you will feel His peace. God’s peace is so big that it sets your life into perspective. It brings you rest by reminding you that God is much bigger than your responsibilities, your expectations, and your worry.
But don’t let my experience discourage you. If you’re reading this and about to go into college, be ready for some amazing, life-growing experiences!! It’s a new time, and new can be SO fun. Although, I had challenges, I have such great memories from my first year of college. And it’s important to note, we all have different experiences. Go into it with a positive mindset, ready for a great year. But also know that if challenges come your way, you’re not alone. Obstacles aren’t a bad thing, they are ways to build your perseverance and prepare you for life.
Growing up is hard. Go into it with these truths. Don’t let yourself lose all confidence you once had in yourself. You are doing great. Sometimes it’s good to have reassurance that what you’re going through isn’t easy. You may tell yourself that you’re the only one facing challenges growing up, but I PROMISE you that you’re not alone. Be encouraged by this, and keep persevering. These experiences and challenges are going to make you even stronger. They’re preparing you for the real world, and the calling that is placed on your life. You may feel that everything is coming at you all at once, and you have to face that alone. Well, my friends, the good news is that God doesn’t let that happen. God is with you every step of the way. Don’t try to face it all alone.