Hey, Freshman Girl.
Okay, so I know you don’t know me, but I totally get you, mostly because I was you. I know how much time you’ve spent picking out THE most perfect duvet cover complete with coordinating trash can. And, that futon? It’ll fit right beside your mini fridge. It’s all just perfect.
I cannot wait for you to meet your potluck roommate. I know you’ve stalked the mess out of her. Don’t worry. You’re going to click instantly. Trust me, she’s bridesmaid material, for sure. Your suite mate? She’s a Klepto—translation: she’ll be “borrowing” your cute clothes in no time. I kid, I kid. But seriously, watch your back, and love her too because you’re all just freaking out on the inside.
Speaking of freaking out, your mom is about to melt down. She’s totally trying to play it cool, but she’s moving a chunk of her heart onto the 7th floor of that co-ed dorm and she’s not 100% sure you’re gonna remember to wear your shower shoes, so cut the woman some slack and let her cry and fuss and blow up your phone these first few weeks. And your dad? You’re gonna notice he doesn’t have a lot to say as he lofts your bed and meets your RA. But it’s just because he’s afraid that if he starts to talk, he might become a blubbering mess. You’re his baby girl and he’s just not sure he’s ready for this. And when they pull away? It’s okay for your heart to crumple and for tears to come. In fact, I hope you cry and miss your family. It means y’all are each other’s safe place. And that’s how it’s meant to be, because with family, you’re loved already! Share your nerves and your insecurities with them and actually follow their advice during this crazy season of life. And please, please, please, wear your shower shoes!
That first weekend is gonna be brutal. The university is going to try and keep you busy with picnics and lots of free stuff and you will do a great job of meeting people and getting their numbers, but when it comes down to it, you’re gonna feel lonely. You’re gonna think, “What have I done?” and you’re gonna wish you could just watch a movie with your high school best friend. And you can. Next summer. But now is the time to be all here and lean into this loneliness, embracing the woman you are becoming.
No pressure, but the choices you make here will determine the trajectory on which you’re headed. Those friends you hope to surround yourself with? Choose the kind of girls whose character you admire most, because your crowd will determine your destiny. Oh, and you’ve probably heard of the MRS degree? Regardless of whether you get the “ring by spring” of your senior year or not, these years are going to determine what kind of man you spend your life with. In fact, you’re going to discover the purpose of your life and you will “find yourself” because YOU have always been there. You just needed these formative years to become secure in the skin God gave you.
Speaking of God, you’re probably about to have your heart rocked. Listen, I am not totally sure where you are in your faith, but I am praying you experience God in the most powerful ways during these next 4 years. There is no time like now to make your faith your own. And guess what? God loves you already. He created you with those freckles and has incredible adventures planned for that quirky personality. He knows that maybe, if you’re honest, you’ve thought about going to college and going at least a little buck wild but He’s made a provision for your crazy self. He’s gonna show you that He is better than the booze, the boys and that perfect body you long to have. He is the One who quenches your thirsty soul. And He’s going to take those secret longings of your heart and complete them in the person of Jesus. Because, that Jesus guy? HE is the reason you are already loved.
Yes, you’ll need to church shop and campus ministry hop for yourself and find a community of people who are for real about their faith. Go! Even if you have to go by yourself. Because, let me tell you, if you blow it this year, and you probably will–either by doing the things you thought you’d never do or by judging the girl down the hall for doing the unthinkable. There is nothing like walking into a room filled with people (who, come to find out, actually are those cool people you were hoping to meet in college) who are singing their hearts out and learning about Jesus. There is nothing like having your mind blown as you sit among them and come to understand that He lived a perfect life and died to erase your judgments and slip-ups, so that you could have a relationship with God. You’re not even gonna believe how He uses your shame, shortcomings and that semi-awkward Bible study on your dorm floor, to show you His irresistible love.
And as you learn to study the Bible, His love will change you. And you will need it to because you thought you were fairly cool and moderately attractive (even with that dreaded freshmen 15.) But you’re going to quickly find yourself swimming in a sea of effortlessly perfect girls whose grades are waaayy better than anyone from your hometown. And you’re going to need the Anchor for your soul to remind you that you’re loved already. And since there’s nothing you can do to make the Creator of the Universe love you more or less, then no matter what sorority bid you do or do not receive, you can take a deep breath and smile from the inside out. When you know who you are based on who God says you are, and that you’re loved already, then your confidence (like God’s love for you in Christ) cannot and will not waver.
And when you go to that first date party your significance won’t be found in how many heads you turn or by how many people ask to buy you a drink. (And here is where I play the mom card and remind you to bring your own water bottle to every social function so you can always have a safe (and legal) beverage in your hand. It overrides the sketchy guy who keeps yelling, “Hey, can I get you something to drink?”. Trust me, I’m just looking out for you, girl.) Also, legitimately, nothing good happens after midnight. So when people start slurring their words, you and your water bottle invite those solid gal pals to go watch Netflix, please. Because, after all, 8 am Biology 101 taught by the guy whose name you’ve not yet figured out how to pronounce does not take “I couldn’t find a parking space” for an excuse when last night’s black X on your underage hand is smeared all over your cheek.
Oh, and class? P.S. That is why we go to college. And that class that you thought doesn’t take attendance? That is the one whose professor wants to crucify your grade point average and get you to pay another year’s tuition ensuring his job security. So, for the love of used textbooks, get your tail to class. Also? Your professor is a real live human and it would benefit you to visit him during his office hours and at least establish some rapport so that when your 92.7 needs a curve he will remember the extra effort you made to see him about that lab project.
And, speaking of those big bucks put toward funding your future diploma, let’s talk about the YEARS you and/or your parents have worked tirelessly to pull together enough cash for you to attend the school of your dreams. Please, girl, let’s figure out a budget. Learning how to say yes to your needs and no to at least some of your wants will be one of your greatest steps toward adulthood. Sure, you can include an itemized budget line that covers your midnight chocolate chip cookie run(s), but let’s put it in writing so you know how you’re paying for that mani/pedi before the credit card statement posts.
Okay, I feel like I’ve covered the initial bases, but girl, you need someone like me. You need a good mentor while at school. You need someone to bounce your thoughts and ideas, insecurities and adventures off of. You need me to tell you when “that guy” is being an IIIIIIDDDIIIOT and you need me to tell you that Ecology won’t be the death of you. You need someone to encourage you to apply for that mission trip, even though you are scared scared to death. And you need someone to challenge you that while all “those girls” look picture-perfect on social media, they, just like you, need someone to tell them that in Christ, they are loved already. And who knows? All the while God has been shaping your soul here at school, He may have just been using you to dramatically influence the lives of students around you. And wouldn’t that make your collegiate years worth it?
So when you get to campus in a few days, reach out to that campus ministry chick who keeps texting you and inviting you to stuff. I promise you she’s not weird and even though you know don’t know her yet… she loves you already.
Blogger + CRU leader at Ole Miss