Right before I moved into college, I was forwarded an article about the danger in forcing college to be the best four years of your life. Always one for measured and moderately unpopular arguments, I felt smart agreeing with it. But something about living here makes it hard to imagine any other type of life, at least for now.
Very often when students on my tours ask of my favorite thing about Vanderbilt, I draw a blank. Of course, the people–but that feels easy. I usually answer by trying to explain the intricate way Vanderbilt is now sewn into my heart, the backdrop for my comings and goings, my joyful victories and bitter losses. My favorite thing about it is that it’s mine and it’s home. Of course, this is easier said than done, but there’s something special–enigmatic–about living in a place ripe for challenge and growth. When I visited Vanderbilt as a junior in high school, I imagined myself walking this place, taking fun classes and making friends and frankly, getting out of where I’m from.
What I got here was, thankfully, harder and better than my expectations. I’m thankful I’m not the same person I was the summer I turned 18 and drove down to Nashville. If I could tell my 18 year old move-in-day self anything, it would be first that the Lord is good and second that the Lord does not want you to stay as you are.
When people claim to have no regrets, I get a little suspicious because I believe regret is a real and healthy part of life, a part of life that the Lord uses to teach us in the way we should go.
If I could, I’d tell that 18-year-old girl to write down more of the parts of her days she loved. That she’d want to remember everything about the afternoons sitting out on Wyatt Lawn, or sneaking onto the roof of Hank, or doing dance routines and eating big cookie with a chorus of friends snuggled up all around the common room. I’d tell her to spend more face time with those fringe friends, the friends of friends who have something important to speak into her life if she’d only listen. I’d tell her to be honest with more people and be intimidated by fewer.
I’d tell her that she’d fall in love with Nashville in a strange way, one that will eventually push her out. Nashville isn’t home forever, and she isn’t a perfect fit, but one summer she’ll end up calling the Kroger on 21st “my Kroger,” making one-item trips for frozen pizzas and ice cream cartons, and living in Nashville will have snuck right into a sweet part of her heart.
It seems like every day now, the Lord does at least one thing to remind me of His provision for my life. Sometimes it’s a text from a friend asking if I want to come to a coffee shop or a play or just to dinner. Sometimes it’s a feeling of peace in the midst of job and grad school applications. Sometimes it’s a well-timed worship song to lose myself in, or a sermon that takes up pages and pages of notes. Sometimes it’s a book I get caught up in.
Sophomore year someone read me a quote that I want scrawled into the heart of every college freshman or freshman in life:
She moved about her days with wonder and ease, for her whole story had been told, and she was still loved.
These are the days, but so are all the other, not-in-college ones. How truly breathtaking to watch as the Lord walks me into wonder and ease for this final year, and then the rest of this life. My prayer is the same for each one of you reading this! I love y’all!