What “Her Campus: Guide to College Life” Didn’t Prepare Me For

A few days ago, a friend brought me a thoughtful graduation gift: Her Campus: The Guide to College Life. I’ll be the first to say I’m not much of a reader — I can think of maybe two books I have read cover to cover willingly — but this one has kept my attention. I recommend it to every “collegiette” (as they say in the book), whether you’re new to campus or a seasoned upperclassman. The book has covered everything from handling relationships to internships to extracurriculars to staying safe and healthy. As far as life on campus goes, this book has you covered.

But as far as life before campus goes, it doesn’t.

This book didn’t prepare me for the night I went out to eat with my grandparents and saw one of my classmates having one last dinner with his family the day before he moved off. This book didn’t prepare me for when I realized that a week from now, that will be me, too. This book didn’t prepare me for the overwhelming emotions I would feel as I reminisced on pictures from senior trip, stored away my infamous homecoming overalls, and ran into some of my best friends as they picked up last minute dorm items.

This book didn’t prepare me for finally coming to terms with the fact that high school is over. It’s time to turn the page now.

In a way, the thought of it is exhilarating. When people ask me how I feel about college starting soon, I naturally reply with, “I’m so excited!” I mean, why wouldn’t I be? I’m in a totally new environment with the chance to start over again.

But at the same time, I’m in a totally new environment with the chance to start over again. And that’s terrifying.

This book didn’t prepare me for the times I began to feel so anxious and worrisome about the changes that were beginning to take place. Will I make friends? Will I be safe? Will it really be the best years of my life? That seems like a bold way to describe it. Will I be able to be independent? Do I even know how to make a decision for myself? I can soak in helpful information all day long, but the bottom line is I’m just a big ole worrywart.

It’s all so bittersweet.

By the time graduation rolled around, I was more than ready to get out of high school. Senior year for me was not all that it’s cracked up to be. I lost a lot of friends, I slacked off on going to after school events, and I felt like I went from being on top of the world to just being. I vowed to myself I would never do that again. But it wasn’t just me in that situation. We had all changed, and we were all tired… but we were all comfortable.

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My graduating class was around 150, so everyone knew everyone (and their first cousin too). I had grown up with these people. Centered around these people were the memories of thirteenth birthday parties, games of Knockout at recess, and big fat puppy love crushes. We walked around together for the first time without our parents at the Gingerbread Festival, we had our first kisses when we thought nobody would see, we drove to each other’s houses after getting our license, we rushed to the field after our football team won their first game in who-knows-how-long, and we pointed “to the windoooow” and “to the waaaall” a few good times.

We knew who our friends were, who our friends weren’t, and who went back and forth depending on the crowd they were with. We had gained enough freedom to try making our own choices, but had enough dependency that we never were held truly responsible.

Now, here we are. Free, but responsible.

So, when I tell you I’m excited to go to college, I really am. But what I’m not telling you is that I’m also nervous, only somewhat prepared, trying to cope with my anxiety, and honestly a little sad that I have to shut the door on the last four years of my life. Maybe I’m just a drama queen, because I felt this exact same way when I graduated 8th grade too. I just didn’t have a blog to share it on.

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But in all seriousness, here’s a quote I have printed to hang on my dorm room wall: “Be where you are, not where you think you should be”.

So many times we find ourselves at work wishing we were at the beach, or at church worrying about all of the laundry needing to be done that evening, or in my case, at home wishing I had five more minutes of high school. We spend our lives hoping and wishing and worrying and stressing instead of being right where we are.

Her Campus: Guide to College Life taught me a lot of things. It taught me about how to handle roommate disputes and how to eat healthy on campus and how to act responsibly and still have fun. But it didn’t teach me peace. I learned that elsewhere.

There is a piece of scripture that has stuck with me during times adversity, insecurity, discomfort, and change:

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to reap, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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