If I could do college again...

Friday, February 19, 2016

Yes, I'd do it all over again...

But not for the reasons I originally thought.

Before this past week, I had spent most of my post-college time looking back at my 17-year-old self, and wishing I had been different.  Wishing I had been braver. Thinking that maybe I shouldn't have chosen such a "safe" option for college. Maybe landing so strongly on my school of choice, without being willing to look elsewhere at all, was only because I was too fearful of stepping anywhere outside of my comfort zone. I knew that I had been very well spiritually "fed" while attending my small, Christian college...but I didn't feel that it prepared me much at all for the real world.  In fact, I hadn't felt like I experienced any real personal growth until AFTER I left.

I had a hard time throughout my undergrad years. I dealt with massive amounts of anxiety...pretty much every day. I lived in constant fear of not being good enough, as well as an ongoing feeling of unworthiness to be loved by anyone around me. My professors were wonderful, and I did learn a great deal from them, especially my music professors! And I know I had friends...or at least what I hoped were friends. But when I went through one of the darkest times of my life, during my final year of school, it seemed that all of those people, that I just wanted to love me, were slowly starting to drift away. I felt like everyone was just giving up on me...including my professors. My interactions with them seemed a lot less genuine than before. But honestly I wasn't surprised. I was in a terrible place, unhappy and anxious most of the time, unable to enjoy things, too tired and worn down to do just about anything. In my mind, who in the world would want to be around someone like that?  I did not like myself, and I didn't expect anyone else to like me either.

After finishing school, and moving on into the "real world", I began to look back on my college experience with a lot of bitterness. I actually said, out loud, to several different people, "I regret choosing Bethel." I didn't recognize until just this week, that I had allowed myself to completely forget every good thing...

All of the beautiful songs sung in choir, and all of the choir tours.
Every other ensemble I participated in...and how much fun performing with them could be.
Portraying a leading role in an opera, that I could've only DREAMED about at a larger school in a larger music department.
The best voice teacher, and the most gracious professors in the world.
The most genuine, loving, Godly choir director and music department head any of us ever could have asked for.

...and so many other things...

And now we've lost our beloved choir director...a mentor, and a father figure to many...after a several year battle with cancer. And of course, the memories have been flowing through my mind. This time all lovely.

I don't regret choosing Bethel. I really and truly don't. I would have missed out on so many experiences, and knowing so many people. Most importantly, I don't think I ever would have experienced Christ so fully either! And although I do think that I've grown and changed the most just recently, my time spent at Bethel College laid the foundation and definitely shaped who I would become a few years later.

Here's what I DO regret...and the part I would do over again if I could...

That I was the one who drifted. 
I kept myself hidden from day one...so much so that by the time my college career was almost over, I lost myself. I had no idea who I was, and had no desire to find out. So why would I want anyone else to find out? Without even realizing it, I made it pretty much impossible for anyone to love me...because I hated myself so much.
I lost a lot of people...a lot of relationships. They drifted away because I pushed them away. And I wish I could apologize to every single one of them. Our music department, and especially our choir, was A FAMILY. Of course I never quite felt like I fit into it, and I always thought that was because no one else wanted me to. But now I realize that I just didn't really want to. And I hate so much that I was just THAT insecure!

Scrolling through my Facebook news feed all week long, I can't even believe {and yet I absolutely can!} how beloved Bob, our choir director, truly was...how much of an impact he had on SO. MANY. PEOPLE. Myself included. It still doesn't seem real that he is gone. And the closer we get to this coming Sunday for his funeral, the harder it's gotten. And I know everyone else is feeling that too. But you know what? It truly is going to be like a big family reunion. And it is going to feel good to be around all of my Bethel people after all this time. And I am never going to take them for granted ever again. 

Yes, I was very much in my comfort zone when I chose my college. 
Yes, I STAYED inside that comfort zone the entire time I was there...and I wish I hadn't.
But I don't regret choosing Bethel.
What I do regret, is not recognizing what I had sooner...and not making more out of the beautiful experiences I DID have.

I regret ever even UTTERING THE WORDS, "I regret choosing Bethel."

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for sharing. As someone who works in higher education, it is nice to hear you don't regret your college years and are still reflecting on all the good that took place during those formative years. "Yes, I STAYED inside that comfort zone the entire time I was there...and I wish I hadn't." I work with several leadership development programs and remind my students about the importance of pushing outside their comfort zones all the time!