Last Words of an Undergrad
To say my time in college was transformational would be the understatement of the century. The person I went into college as, has developed, grown, and stretched so much. I have been pulled from my comfort zone, by people who believed in me and saw my potential. When I first started college in 2014, I attended the community college closest to my home. I had no real idea of who I wanted to become, or what it would mean to be studying beyond high school. People have told me about their college experience, and of course we’ve all seen it highlighted in television, movies, and social media. But it’s never tangible, until you’ve immersed yourself into the pool of people, just like you, trying to figure out what’s next. You could be standing in the midst of the next, Kevin Systrom, Judah Smith, or Aung San Suu Kyi. Extraordinary people are all around us, and I always imagined college being the sanctuary in which I’d discover just who it was I wanted to become. There’s a liberation that takes place when you enter a room, and not a single person has heard of you. It gives the space to a reinventing of self, allowing you to be whoever, and do it however you please. College, I imagined, would be the place where I could leave everything behind, and become someone new. And not new, in a way that implies a dissatisfaction of self, but rather the invention of a new self, that leaves the negative qualities at the door we came in, and allows for further exploration of who we could be. It’s this part I was most excited for. Yet, being surrounded by someones, trying to pretend or reinvent, leaves a bit of uncertainty and fear when making decisions. Because we fear failure, we often don’t take a step.I was afraid to move, so I stayed still and made decisions I often second guessed. I always wanted the best, and feared choosing a decision I’d regret. People told me the decisions I made at the beginning of my college career wouldn’t hold too much weight, but I felt different.
I love the idea of reinventing ourselves, and having a clean slate to become the best we can. However, all of this comes through trial, failure, heartache, and all of the icky things we try and avoid. The person I am leaving college as, has experienced deep hurt, frustration, doubt, pain, failure, and fear. But I’m proud of her. I have grown, not from leaving my negative qualities at the door, but bringing them to the feet of Jesus and asking for forgiveness and a new heart. It is not through the denial of our selfish ways that we gain a new sense of self, but rather in giving them over to someone who is much greater than us. We’re so afraid of failure, and we don’t want our bad qualities to be exposed. But what I’ve learned in going to a Christian University, is that those same qualities we’re afraid to share, are the things that actually bring us closer to our heavenly Father. During my five years of college, there have been moments of deep doubt in myself, and if I’m honest, in God. There have been moments where I was so blinded by hurt, I couldn’t see his goodness. These fives years, I tried to leave those negative qualities at the door, but they followed me and left a trail. It’s here where I’ve experienced the truth of God’s grace all over again, and his deep, abundant love for me, and humanity. College can be a time of deep growth, because we start to get older and realize the pain we’ve caused other people, and the pain we’ve endured ourselves. It’s in this growth, where we are stretched and pulled, and can grow more dependent on Jesus. So, seventeen-year-old Taylor had no idea what would come from her college experience. But twenty-two-year-old Taylor, is in the process of becoming. I’m still shedding, and growing, and I will continue to, for the rest of my life.
My life has been greatly impacted by Biola University. I have been deeply cared for by professors, friends, and the University as a whole. Every prayer, office hour, or appointment, I have felt the deep love God has for his children. I was welcomed not just with open arms, but praying hands, who deeply sought after Jesus, and loved fiercely. It was Biola University, where I made some of the closest friendships I’ve ever had, with people who are more concerned with the well being of others, rather than themselves. I’ve learned worship isn’t something you do just because it’s in the Bible, but because it’s something that truly transforms your life. Prayer changes things. Community grows us. Allowing people in to see the mess I’ve tried so hard to hide, actually brings freedom and restoration. So thanks Biola, for not only showing me how to be a better student, but how to continue to live a life, dependent on Jesus. I’m no longer afraid of failure, because it’s where I learn. I’m excited for all that’s ahead, even the messy parts. Growing doesn’t always feel good, but it’s necessary. Whether you’ve been out of college for a long time, are just beginning, or are currently living it- I want to encourage you to journal about it. Open yourself up. Not just the parts of you that are “pretty,” Open up the messy parts too, and let God in. Let people in. I’m seeing life through different lenses, and it’s changing me. Thanks for joining me in my process of becoming. It’s just the beginning.