Year One

Coming into college, I didn’t know anybody except for one girl from my high school. We lived on opposite ends of campus so essentially I knew no one. The first week before school was kind of crazy, to put it lightly. I moved in to my dorm along with six other girls I had never met, I said goodbye to my family and best friends, and I was completely on my own.

For the first time in my life I felt independent. I’m not talking about the independence you feel when you get your license and can drive without a parent in the passenger seat. I’m not even talking about the independence you feel when you turn 18 and think you’re an official adult. This independence stemmed from finally being out of my comfort zone. I didn’t have people telling me what to do, how to think or who to be. I had the ability to think for myself and figure out just exactly who Kealia was.

It’s exciting — being able to do (almost) whatever you want whenever you want. It’s kind of an adrenaline rush once you figure out that it’s up to you to make decisions — big and small. Decisions like waking up to go to class, getting good grades, choosing to meet people as opposed to staying in your dorm, or educating yourself on hard topics.

After my parents left on that first day, my emotions ranged from excitement to nervousness to optimism to fear. It was scary being in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. UNC does an amazing job, however, of introducing incoming students to campus by hosting a variety of events during its Week of Welcome: seven days filled with events to showcase the campus and get students connected. During this week, you have the opportunity to meet people from across the country, stay up until all hours of the night and become familiar with campus.

This exploration phase begins to define your college experience. You begin to discover your passions, make mistakes and worry. But worrying about things that you can’t control (which is a lot more than you think) is so useless. I’m not saying that I don’t worry because I absolutely do. I’ve found that it takes a toll on your emotional, physical and spiritual states and can be so easy to fall into.

That’s where faith comes in. It’s so easy to doubt what you’re doing in college — is this the right major? What if I can’t get a job? How did I fail that test? Will my parents support me even though I change majors? Why is nothing working even though I’m trying my hardest?

Maybe that’s the thing. Maybe sometimes, trying to do what you think you’re supposed to do is totally opposite of what is in store for you. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a lot of us – I know I’ve had to face that realization more than once. And when things don’t go our way and we’re not really sure what to do next, we begin to worry. And doubt. And not trust.

But God says,

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, not about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more that food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” — Matthew 6:25-26

There is so much reassurance in knowing that worrying is useless. And that’s especially reassuring going into the four most stressful years of a person’s life. As my Branding of Me professor, Gary Kayye said, “Why put all of your energy into worrying about things you can’t change when you can be focusing on the present moment, the NOW?”

Isaiah 43 is a beautiful image of God’s redeeming love for us and not only that, but it’s a beautiful image of what it looks like to take that love and cast out the fear that enslaves us. I don’t have the whole chapter posted, but I encourage you to read all of it and rest in the freedom that God offers.

Isaiah 43:1-2 — “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”

College is a long four years. I wasn’t alone in the beginning of it and I’m not now. Take comfort in knowing that neither are you.

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