The Freshman Fifteen, Part XV

April 26, 2017: Summing Up Freshman Year

Boy, were those words weird to type.

I’m almost done with my freshman year of college.

Have no fear: This post is not the finale of Freshman Fifteen. I’ll post again after the year ends, with a letter to incoming college freshmen. Today, though, I’m going to try to put together all my thoughts about this year, what I’ve learned, what I’ve experienced, what I’ve hated, what I’ve loved. To be honest, I’m staring at this screen, and I don’t really know where to start. Freshman year is still a work in progress. Even more, I’m still a work in progress.

I wish I could wrap everything I’ve learned this year into one lesson, but I don’t think it’s time to do that, not yet. I don’t want to tell God He’s done when I know He’s not.

So instead, I’m going to make a list. I’m pretty sure more of these posts have been lists than haven’t, but that’s fine. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned this year. They aren’t completely coherent to me, yet. I’m not sure how they tie together. They’re seeds of something bigger, though. I hope they are.

  • Comparison sucks, and social media is not the culprit. We’re too quick to blame Instagram for a much deeper problem. I’ve absolutely cast the blame on social media; one of the first posts in this series was all about it. Sure, social media doesn’t help us stay out of the comparison trap, but if you avoid social media… you still see other people. They’re still there to compare yourself to; they’re not the problem. Comparison stems from a lack of faith. It happens when I don’t believe God made me well, I don’t believe His plan for my life is good enough, and I think He’s better to other people than He is to me. Comparison begins to lose its footing when I trust how God has made me, His plan for my life, and who He is. That’s a deeper, much more lasting change than deleting the Instagram app for a week.
  • Some things just take time, and I struggle with patience. Before this semester, if you had asked me to list some of my weaknesses, patience would not have made the cut. As some external stuff and my own humanness have led me into worry about the future, I’ve realized that waiting is not my strong spot. Some (well, lots of) days, I just want to know every single answer. I just want to know every detail of what my life will look like in ten years. That’s not going to happen, though, and I know God is only keeping all the answers from me for my good. I’m trying to trust the process He has me in.
  • I really like words. The first day of my professional writing class, I flipped, realizing that if I didn’t like this class, I would have no major, no direction for my college career, no career goal. Praise the Lord that it has been my favorite class so far in college. Words are cool to me.
  • Routine is vital. People tend to bash routines. We glamorize unpredictable lives; don’t they sound like more fun? Doesn’t routine sound boring? I’ve learned this year that habits take you from point A to point B. Living the way you want repeatedly will result in the life you want. Routines are good if you make them good. I’m grateful my freshman year taught me the importance of discipline, commitment, and building your life.
  • Resisting the pressure to be busy is a gift you can give yourself. Yes yes yes yes yes to this one. I wrote about this concept in one of the very first Freshman Fifteen posts. I took this idea and ran with it from the get-go, and I will never regret that decision. I’m not overcommitted anymore. I’m not perpetually busy and tired anymore. Recently, I actually said no to a leadership role. Me. I said no to something. Sure, there are days I still feel busy or feel the need to justify why I’m only involved in one or two things instead of twelve. But I’ve built an uncrowded life here. God is using it to address lots inside me that fell onto the back-burner when I was constantly going going going. And it. is. so. worth it.
  • I’ve got a long way to go. Like I said up top, I am a work in progress. It frustrates me sometimes. It demands more faith than I could muster up on my own. It is slowwwwwwwwwww. It involves failure and getting back up again. Sometimes, I’m so tired. I’m honest on this blog, and honestly, growing hurts. But I am hoping that it will all be worth it in the end. I am trusting that God will make it all worth it in the end. I am learning to find joy in the here and now.

There’s not one big takeaway, which also leaves me without a solid ending. That’s okay, though, because freshman year hasn’t been one thing. It’s been a collage of laughter-filled nights and tear-filled ones, of new challenges and rapid adjustments, of football games and getting involved (but not too involved), of calm and panic, of new people and old friends, of a lot of fun. I don’t want to sugarcoat freshman year, which is why I included some of the tough parts, but I also want to remember the good things, too: the Judah & the Lion concert my first Friday in Auburn; falling in love with University Program Council; the girls I live with, who are absolute gems; the posters in my dorm room; group fitness classes at the Rec; Friday FaceTimes with Mom; Auburn. If Auburn were a person, they’d be impossible not to love. You might start out annoyed with the super Southern accent but you’d realize that genuine sweetness was behind it pretty fast. Even on days when gratitude is in short supply, I’m grateful for Aubs.

Through it all, good and bad, there is God. He alone has remained constant. He’s not my one thing of freshman year, because He doesn’t stop there. He goes on and on and on. He’s not leaving, and that’s pretty cool.

If you’ve stuck with these posts the same way God has stuck with me, thank you. It means a lot. I have something pretty exciting coming soon, after my letter to incoming college freshmen. Stay tuned for this work in progress.

(“The Freshman Fifteen” is a year-long blogging project posting every fifteen days of my freshman year of college. Follow along for life updates, deep thoughts, and everything in between.)


The Freshman Fifteen, Part XIV

April 11, 2017: Satisfied*

*No, this is not about the song from Hamilton. I have never listened to the Hamilton soundtrack. I’ve heard of the song from twitter.**

**Please, don’t yell at me for not listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. I have lots of Hamiltony friends. My grandfather is even named Hamilton. It’s just not my thing, but I have great respect for fans of Hamilton.***

***Hamilton doesn’t even look like a real word anymore.

The past few months have been teaching me what it looks like to be satisfied in Jesus.

I thought I knew what that phrase meant. I thought being satisfied in Jesus meant knowing that cute boys could love me, I could attend a great school, fun friends could surround me, and none of it would be as good as Him. I thought it meant saying, “Lord, if you don’t give me what I want, that’s okay, because I’ll still have you.” I thought knowing ahead of time that nothing in this world would truly fill me was the definition of satisfaction in Jesus.

This advance knowledge is nothing like experiencing the real thing, though. My dad could sit me down and explain how to drive our stick shift, but I wouldn’t know how until I got behind the wheel and stalled the engine four million times.

I got what I wanted, for the most part. I’m at Auburn. I recently got a leadership position in one of my favorite student organizations. The girls I live with couldn’t be more wonderful. My mom and I FaceTime every Friday. NEEDTOBREATHE added a show in Atlanta that I get to see. Sure, I don’t have a car, but I’m doing okay.

I came to the realization a few weeks ago that nothing in my life was wrong… so why was I still feeling uneasy, unsettled, discontent?

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis

This is one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes, and I’m finally starting to understand it.

The good things in my life are so good… but they aren’t perfect. And I’ve always struggled with perfectionism. I set impossibly high standards for myself, others, and my circumstances. Inevitably, I fail to live up to the expectations I invented. I’ve recognized this cycle of hope and defeat and beat it back. Stop looking for perfection, Haley. It doesn’t exist. To be content, you must become okay with flaws. 

But lately, as God has graciously blessed my life, I’ve come to realize that perfection does exist. His name is Jesus. Instead of shooing away my deep-rooted desire for perfect, true satisfaction, I’ve shifted its focus. I can’t expect that of myself, my grades, my relationships, anything in this world. But I can expect perfection of God.

I’ve found myself with a desire nothing in this world could satisfy, and I’ve thought that the answer was to stop desiring. But God placed that desire within me to draw me closer to Him. He is teaching me now to truly look to Him for fulfillment. There’s a difference in giving up on fulfillment and finding fulfillment in Jesus. I didn’t know what that difference was, and I’m starting to now. It’s okay to long for something holy, perfect, only good, flawless. That longing finds its resolution in Jesus.

God is teaching me how to be satisfied. And like everything else with Him, it’s turning into one more reason to praise.

(“The Freshman Fifteen” is a year-long blogging project posting every fifteen days of my freshman year of college. Follow along for life updates, deep thoughts, and everything in between.)