I'd be lying if I told y'all that I thought of myself as an adult. Because, really, this just isn't true. My version of me is of a girl that is just beginning, not an almost thirty year old mom that drives a minivan, has a mortgage, and a real job. Sometimes, I see this young woman that has only one year left in her twenties and I can't believe it's really me. When did I have to start watching my weight, pluck grey hairs, and care for little people that are inherently mine? Have I really been out of high school for over ten years? It still amazes me that my days of driving my VW Jetta to cheerleading practice or back to school at Auburn are over.
The point of these throwback Thursday posts is not about me reminiscing my younger years or wishing that I was still in college (even though this is true, especially when we go to football games). No, it's about sharing what I learned in those years after high school and before the real world to girls that are truly girls and also to women that still have girl-like hearts. Because, those "in-between" years can be incredibly wonderful and difficult at the same time and I hope that we can find a place in this truth-seeking place to share valuable insight, direction, and love.
What I'm realizing is that I might not be a girl about to leave home for the first time but I do have a very special place in my heart for those that are. Quite honestly, I'm more at home talking to youth about Emi Jay hair ties than a group of older women who talk about cancer, financial struggles, and breast milk. That's why on Tuesday night, I agreed to go with my husband to a "Next Generation" social at our church. Yes, secretly I wished I could still call myself a next generationer but the reality was I went to encourage, interact, and have fun after a long day.
One of the best pieces of advice I received my freshman year of college was "go."
I think every freshman is a little overwhelmed when they begin college, whether you are attending a small school or a large school. To help with this "little fish in a big pond" feeling, it's important to find your place, where you belong. And, the only way that is going to happen is you have to go.
Does the word "go" scare you just a bit? Here are three ways to make "going" a little less scary:
1. You aren't alone.
One of my favorite things about being in college was I was surrounded by people my own age. I remember going to Wal-Mart in Auburn and the majority of shoppers were students just like me. It was almost weird to see an adult at the College Street location (unless it was obviously a parent buying bathroom shelving or something unusual like that for their child in the dorm). Use this to your advantage and connect with girls that you live with, are in class with, or are involved in the same extracurricular activity with. Go in each other's rooms and watch The Batchelor, study together in the library, or walk together to your meetings. Yes, you will still want your alone time in college, but usually that can be the most lonely time. Make an effort to be in community (because once you get out of college there are only old people and rednecks at Wal-Mart...just sayin').
2. You will meet new friends.
Sometimes choosing to go means you might not know a soul and this is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people. When I was going through rush at Auburn, I really felt God telling me to pledge a sorority where I didn't know as many people. At the time, this was a very difficult decision for me because I had great friends already in sororities and all of my Dothan friends were pledging sororities filled with girls from our hometown. But, it was the right decision. I met new people that have become some of my best friends. I can honestly say that we wouldn't have been friends if we hadn't become "sisters."
3. This won't last forever.
It's true, you won't always be young (need I remind you that I drive a minivan?!). I remember choosing to go to some crazy things when I was in college like secret society initiations (no coffins were involved, trust me!) or an eighties prom. And, the dress up parties. Oh, the costumes! I think I wore everything from a Tinkerbell costume to a cowgirl, hippie, bumble bee, and even a pair of dice. And, this wasn't even on Halloween, it was just typical for a middle of the week social. Trust me, when you have kids, you won't know how you had the energy to stay up until two a.m. on a weeknight. It's also a lot harder to go to Disney World with twenty of your closest friends or go to Washington D.C. for the Fourth of July, or have a Spring Break at the beach with your best girl friends.
Choosing to go might simply mean choosing where you are going to college. But, it doesn't stop there. Because, once you are out of school, you have to choose a job and possibly a new city. Learning how to say yes, meet new people, and trying the unexpected is a terrifyingly wonderful experience. It still is to us girls that are really grown-up. But, if you don't step away from the scary and embrace the new, you never truly learn what you are capable of or where you belong.
You, (like me) might not be in the age demographic of the "Next Generation" but if you still have a girl-like heart, what's stopping you from being the next generation to go and encourage these younger souls?
If you are a student, consider going to something - an event, a dinner, a walk with your friend - wherever you belong this week that lifts you up in a safe way and makes the world a little less scary.
Till next time, let your light shine!
*If you live in Dothan and are over 18 - recent college grad, consider checking out Covenant's "Next Generation" Bible Study that is going to meet on Tuesdays at six.