During my high school years, I was heavily involved in my church. I served every Sunday, participated in summer outreach events, and went on several mission trips. I was (and am) blessed to be apart of a small group of girls my age who poured into me and encouraged me in my faith through my middle school and high school years. Our “d-group” was formed when we were in the 6th grade, and we met weekly to share life together until we graduated high school. Those girls are still some of my very best friends, and whenever most of us are back in Austin, we love to meet for brunch at La Madeline to catch up. After high school, I moved to Waco, Texas where I began my college career at Baylor University (AKA the best college ever).
It was easy to stay connected to the church and pursue my relationship with Jesus when my life revolved around christian school, church, d-group meetings, chapels, and a family who actively pursed the Lord. It was harder to “get away” from Christianity than it was to find it. While I was extremely blessed to have grown up in such a Christ-centered environment, starting fresh at Baylor made pursing my faith more difficult than I was used to. After living almost my entire life in the same house, going to the same school, and hanging out with the same friends, all the change I faced when moving to college quickly took my focus from my relationship with the Lord. There was so much change all at once, and there were so many other things competing for my time and energy: finding a great group of friends, getting involved, rushing a sorority, keeping up grades, going to parties, the list goes on. Between studying, hanging with friends, and making (somewhat frequent) trips to Austin to visit my boyfriend, I didn’t seem to have the time to spend with Jesus. He quickly fell to the bottom of my priority list. It kind of took me drifting away from my faith just a little bit for me to realize how much I really needed Jesus in my life. That freshman year was not easy, but it taught me A LOT. It taught me to not get caught up in the temporary things in life but to focus on those that last. It taught me nobody “has it all together” despite what’s conveyed on social media. It taught me that Jesus loves me no matter what. It taught me to rely on Him more than anything because He is the only thing that stays constant throughout the change. It taught me it’s okay to be myself because my identity remains in Christ alone.I grew in my faith and matured so much during and after my freshman year. I became more aware of where I placed my identity, I became more intentional with my time, and I became more grateful for true friends who constantly uplift and encourage me.
Freshman year of college is not easy for anyone. It’s a year full of change and new experiences. To my girls who are currently dorm shopping, preparing for sorority recruitment, or about to move in: just know that you’ll most definitely be faced with many challenges your first semester away from home (and all throughout college, really). Remember that no one has it all together. It may seem that everyone around you has the perfect group of friends and is having the perfect college experience, but trust me when I say that everyone struggles during the first semester or two. There’s a weird pressure to let people know that you’re “thriving” at college (even after freshman year), and social media will play a huge part in making you feel that you’re missing something. I challenge you to keep it real, to not be fooled by picture-perfect instagram posts, and to keep your priorities in check as you embark on this new season of life.
Freshman year is a great year. It’s a year of growth and self discovery. College in general is an amazing time where so many great memories are made. I love being at Baylor and spending time with the amazing friends God has blessed me with. And truthfully, every semester presents its own unique challenges and trials. I’ve had to rely on God more than ever as I’ve navigated my college years, but I’ve grown tremendously as a person because of it.