To love is to heal.
To heal is to forgive.
To forgive is to let go.
This week has brought more change than almost any other short period in my life, as I have met hundreds of new people and experienced the tumultuous journey of day in, day out learning. From social conventions to dining hall hours, I and thousands of other freshmen across the nation have begun adjusting to the college lifestyle. I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed for forgiveness for the mistakes I have already made. With each day brings greater understanding of the beauty inherent in the learning curve. Essentially, this practice is letting go of “The Freshman Fairy Tale.”
Here I am, in the middle of one of the most beautiful college campuses I have laid my eyes upon in my short life. When I picture Davidson, I see ancient oaks gathered between charming brick walkways and white columned buildings. I see attractive, young, energetic people playing Frisbee or football on our fairway-style lawns, appearing joyful and carefree.
There is a distinct spirit to this campus, a blessed friendliness that abides in the air of our community. I have never smiled to so many people in my life, and it is truly refreshing.
Let me illustrate: on the day of freshman move-in, hundreds of returning students carried boxes and refrigerators up flights of steps to relieve the burden on students’ families. On multiple occasions, townspeople have greeted me, helped me with directions, and even returned my wallet. My mind skimming the surface of social convention delights in the loving kindness offered daily between strangers. This morning in Quaker meeting, as I contemplated my role in this place, I realized I had unconsciously invested my security in a picture-perfect community. A fairy tale, if you will.
I lost sight of the truth that Davidson is real life, filled with moments of awkward first encounters, stressful workloads, and social inequities. Moreover, I lost sight of the okay-ness that is reality. As I spent more time with other people’s thoughts and less time with my own contemplation, I lost touch with my journey’s deeper meaning. I lost sight of the treasured, unconditional Love present in each moment, holding me through the stressful transition.
Even though I knew Davidson would bring a tough academic workload, I first deluded myself into believing I would just work harder to avoid failure. My conversations with upperclassmen quickly humbled my perfectionism into realizing: I am going to fail, and learn from it, and be okay with it. The verse that comes to mind is “For where your treasure is, your heart will be also,” and investing my security in a achievement-driven life yields greater fear and a broken heart. Hence why I joined a Digital Art class, which will stretch me into the creative unknown.
That said, my steady realization of the long journey ahead has not tempered my passion for learning and growth. While the story of my college experience will not immediately be the happy-shiny-fairy-tale package that most alumni remember, years after the papers were turned in and the heartbreaks were healed. I anticipate many challenges ahead similar to the ones I found this week: making new friends, finding my niche, learning how to tell my story.
I do still believe that Davidson is one of the friendliest towns in the United States, and I am very grateful to be here. It is this setting where I can feel safe to deeply grow. It is a place for integration of beauty and struggle, of individuality and community. Of loving, forgiving, and letting go.
Sending love to you all as you begin a new school year!