Well, here I am. Down in Alabama, at college, in my dorm. And I am scared witless. It comes in waves…the fear of being far away from home and the fear of entering a brand new world. I feel like Columbus, only without the backing of two powerful royals and in charge of a crew full of men who have to obey me.
I am definitely charting my own course. I’m the first child to leave home, and I’ve never been away from home for more than three weeks. However, I have to remember that I charted my own course in high school too. I went into school only knowing one person, and I came out knowing dozens. It took almost a full year to feel as though it was home, although I felt pretty comfortable after the first semester. I need to remember that although I’ll be spending all my time here on campus, it will probably take at least that long until I feel fully comfortable. But just like high school, I know I will find my way.
The best way to do this is to get involved. One of my classes is freshman chorale, so there at least I will find others who are interested in music. I also have the opportunity to attend a meeting tomorrow about participating in campus ministry. The Badger Expo is in two weeks, and will provide opportunities to get to know and get involved with other campus organizations. I found speech team at club fair sophomore year, and that was the first step I had to finding myself in high school.
Becoming involved will also help fill the hours when I’m not in class or studying. It is these hours that I worry the most about. I worry that I will become a hermit, only emerging from my dorm to eat and go to class. Being a highly social person, I don’t think this will happen. But I’m also afraid my introverted side will creep out. I’m so far out of my comfort zone, I can’t even remember what it feels like to be in it. And I guess this is a good thing.
Back to the Columbus metaphor. At convocation, Fr. Lucey likened the feelings of freshman to a shipwreck. Our boat, our world, has suddenly and drastically changed and we don’t know what will happen next. But that’s okay. All I have to do is trust that everything will be okay. One of my favorite sayings it “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” Everyone has their own personal feeling of “okay”. If your situation is meeting up to that standard, keep going. Eventually, you will reach that place, that feeling of okay.” If someone were to ask me now how I was feeling, I probably wouldn’t say “okay” in the figurative sense of the word. I might answer “okay”, but I probably would say “fine”, as in “Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.” Because that’s how I feel. I’m fine. I’m literally okay. I’m not bleeding, nothing is turning gangrenous, my heart is beating, I have food to eat, a roof over my head to keep off the rain and water to drink. These are all humans need to survive. I have all these tools. I’m fine.
I’m really looking forward to the events of the next three or four hours. We have a talk by Da Chen, the author of Colors of the Mountain, our summer reading book. Then, we go to seminar to discuss it and Da Chen himself is leading our discussion. I’m very excited. I don’t really know what happens after that, but I do know it will probably be out of my comfort zone and smack dab in the middle of my courage zone. All character building, all courage building, all good and wholesome growth for me. I just need to remember that I truly don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do, but I should do it because it is good for me to get out of my own head and my comfort zone, which right now is my room and my bed and this computer. I am pretty fulfilled by the stuff in this room, especially the computer. I am completely connected by this computer to the entire world, a positive and a negative. A positive because I can contact anyone I want when I feel lonely, or watch “Friends” by the hour if I need a laugh. It’s a negative because of all these things. I can bail out of other things I should do because I feel scared and lonely and out of sorts and emotional and hide out here. But I’m not going to do that, because in the word of Albus Dumbledore, “Numbing the pain for a while will only make it worse when you finally feel it.” So I’m going to let the pain come, and give into it when it comes with tears and fear and loneliness. But I’m also going to do things to help me grow stronger. I’m going to spend at least an hour at whatever courage building activity we have tonight. I’m making a pact with myself. I’m also going to get some sleep, and go to church tomorrow and finish putting my room to rights, organize my backpack for Monday, walk around campus to find out where my buildings are, talk to new people, watch a movie, call home, along with a list of stuff to send me, and I’m going to make a courage building playlist for my ipod. All very important things to do that will help me keep busy.
But for now, for the next hour before I go to seminar, I’m going to re-read parts of Da Chen, and watch “Friends”. Because I have nothing else to do, and this is my time. Even though I’m trying to be brave, I still need time to recharge. And this is my time to do that.
Wish me luck in my adventure. I’ll keep you posted on my first official day of college.
“Are you upset, little friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don’t worry…I’m here. The flood waters will recede, the famine will end, the sun will shine tomorrow and I will always be here to take care of you.” Charlie Brown to Snoopy