I like to think I am a person of many surprises. My favorite one to unleash on people is that I was homeschooled all of my life; the reactions are priceless. “No way you were homeschooled! But you are so social!” I don’t get offended, it’s actually quite funny. Because the truth is, the image of someone who has been homeschooled is not always the most flattering view. The stereotypes would lead you to believe they have been hidden away, isolated from society with no contact with the outside world; and I was painfully aware of these stereotypes as I began to approach graduation. People would ask me questions about my future and where I planned to attend college since, you know, I was homeschooled and all. I’d smile and laugh it off, but deep down, that question terrified me. I didn’t have the typical schooling experience, and I felt that I had missed something and graduation was the last hope I had for sanity because college was going to eat me for lunch. I have now come to realize, whether homeschooled or public-schooled, the fear and anticipation leading up to college doesn’t really know educational backgrounds because, in the end, college changes everything.
I was always one to keep journals, and throughout high school, I committed to four journals, one for each year of high school. I filled those pages with my biggest dreams, greatest joys, most overwhelming fears, and secrets that only the Lord and I will lay eyes on. As I write this, I am taken back to March 25, 2015.
A red, tin water bottle sat at my door with a note inside. I tore open the water bottle to unveil a note saying, “CONGRATULATIONS! You have been accepted to DBU!” With trembling hands, I ran to my room and recorded my thoughts on those sweet pages in my journal. The excitement was overwhelming; to this day the words look almost like a foreign language to me. I had waited for this day for months; this was the moment I had been praying for. But as the days and weeks pressed on, the excitement dwindled and fear and doubt crept in.
How was I going to pay for school? Would I like the teachers, and would they like me? (This was a real concern seeing that the only other teacher I truly had was my mom.) How will I make friends, or will I make friends? What if I fail? Am I smart enough? I felt as if I had missed something by being homeschooled, I thought surely I was incapable of making it in college, and with that thought alone, everything else seemed to follow suit.
I specifically remember one night, after packing up my room at home, thinking to myself, "I can’t do this. I’m just not ready." Overwhelmed with emotion, I broke down and took out my journal. How was I, a newly graduated homeschooler with no idea what she wanted to do with her life, going to make it in college? If I have never experienced “real school” how will I fare in a few weeks when I am literally dropped off at a school for the next four years? I felt so unprepared and unwilling. My boxes were packed with things I thought would help me to look less awkward and more approachable. I had planned my move-in outfit just so and picked out a hairstyle days in advance to prove to people I had my life together. I said goodbye to my friends back at home, packed up my car, and unwillingly said goodbye to a part of my life to which I so desperately wanted to hold on. Being homeschooled never prepared me for this, but then again, I don’t know if you can prepare anyone for what happens to a person when they leave for college.
I’m now a junior and I can say this with full confidence: If you were to ever travel back in time and tell 17 year old me that I would go to college, make lifelong friends, travel the world, have a 3.5 GPA, and live life to the absolute fullest, I would have laughed in your face. I would have laughed because I had an idea what college was like in my head, and I wanted nothing to do with it. To me, college meant change; it meant giving up control of everything in my life that I thought was most valuable. It meant being courageous and stepping into a world that was much bigger than the one I had created for myself. I walked that stage on graduation day knowing nothing about who I was, what I wanted to do, or anything about this big, beautiful world around me. I was afraid to take risks for the fear of showing people my weaknesses. I was afraid to look outside of myself to see just how little I truly was, and I was afraid of giving up control to a God who, honestly, I wasn’t convinced of. But as I write this, I can say that in a year and a half I will once again walk the stage on graduation day. This time, however, I have learned who I am in the eyes of a good and gracious Father. I have seen the beauty of my brokenness and my Savior’s power to make me whole, I have seen the world through the eyes of my sweet Redeemer, and I finally know the purpose and ultimate call that the Creator of the universe has placed upon my life.
Change is hard; I of all people would know that. I came from being homeschooled, where my friend circle could be counted on two hands, to a university of more than 5,000 students. I felt unprepared and incapable of the tasks set before me, and honestly, there are times where I still feel that way. But the truth of it is, change is inevitable. No matter where you are in life, change will come and your thoughts will rage war against you. But, we have the power to demolish every argument and battle that our flesh fights against us because of the power of the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts are not meant to control us and steal our joy but to be submissive to the will of our Lord and Savior (2 Corinthians 10:5) who desires to use everything for His glory and our salvation. Let this be an encouragement to you: there is no transition through which your loving and kind Heavenly Father is not waiting on the other side. What a blessing it will be when you stand beside Him on the other side, looking back on the miraculous wonders He has performed in your life.
And if you ask me, it's a pretty great view.