Who knew that in 2006, the first fall that I started college, I would take such a journey as I have and not come across my last fall in college till 2013? I look back upon the last seven years, not with discouragement or regret, but with wonder at all that God taught me and all the places He brought me. Don’t get me wrong – I’m certainly excited to be finishing my last year of school [finally!], but maybe this little story o’mine can encourage all of you contemplating your future that not everyone’s story has to look the same. Oh believe me, the high school counselors wanted my story to fit into the neat little packaged box that every graduate had to fit into.
But somehow, I knew in my heart that that wasn’t where I was supposed to go. They were certainly worried about me … worried that I wouldn’t be successful or make it far in life – but tonight I look at my life, and I absolutely could not be more content with how “successful” my life has been. Maybe not according to society’s terms, but who really cares what they think? According to God’s terms, I have everything I could need.
So here we go … a little walk down memory lane to commemorate all the years of decision-making, adventures, and life pathways that led me to the spot I’m in today.
2005, age 17
I graduated from high school at age 17, a year ahead of my same-age counterparts. I had a scholarship to George Fox University, and my counselors certainly put the pressure on me to follow everyone else’s suit and go to college that fall. But much as they tried to convince me, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. And I figured – why waste time and money in school if I didn’t know what I wanted to do? So I took a year off from school, assuring them that I’d go back when I was ready, and decided to work and do CYT shows.
2006, age 18
I was right … I did return to school when I was good and ready, and I began at Spokane Falls Community College in the fall of 2006 – because it was cheap and close to my house. Yet I still wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to major in. I had a vague idea that teaching might be a good profession, but I was not at all certain. And then – right at the end of that fall – I got hired to work full-time at CYT in my dream job – and school was done for me. At least for the rest of that year.
2007, age 19
I had told them when I got hired at CYT that I knew I wanted to return to school the following year and also go to Capernwray Bible School in the spring of 2008, just so they were prepared. However, I worked for some very gracious and kind people who allowed me to work my school schedule around my work hours and still work for CYT. So back I went to the Falls for fall of 2007 and winter of 2008. In the fall, I was sure that I wanted to be a teacher, so I started taking classes towards that end. After that quarter, I became a little uncertain of this path, and decided that maybe theater was the route I should take – hence the Classical Acting class that I took the next quarter. And then – it was spring of 2008, and I was off to fulfill my dream of two perfect months in England, where I feel like I finally discovered who I was …
2008, age 20
This was the only fall that I didn’t return to school. The whole school year of 2008-2009, I took off, working full-time at CYT, buying a car, and praying a whole lot about the specific path God wanted me to take with my life. I felt torn between going into film acting and going into education. One seemed rather more exciting and passion-fulfilling while the other seemed like the “safe alternative” – the “practical career.” Yet after a year of struggle and changing my mind half-a-dozen times, I remember a definitive point of decision-making. The song “All Along” by Remedy Drive came on the radio, and I was brought to tears knowing that all along, the passion had been deep within my heart for teaching, and I had been simply running away trying to find something more glittery to fulfill me. But God is faithful. He always brings an answer to our prayers through the long night, even if it seems like it will never end.
2009, age 21
And so back I returned to the Falls in 2009 – actually with an online Astronomy class over the summer – and then a full-load of teacher classes in the fall. It was perhaps a bit too overwhelming juggling that difficult quarter with working at CYT, and I came to the end of it, wondering if it was really worth it all. Why did I want to submit myself to such exhaustion as school provided when I was already happily employed at CYT? I just wanted to do theater for the rest of my life and forget about pursuing a degree. So, yet again, I took a quarter off, began voice lessons, and also began one of the most amazing journeys in the world – the one as HYPE Adviser.
Yet smack-dab in the middle of January, I began to get frustrated with myself and my inability to finish that which I had started. Something snapped, and the comment of a friend about teaching made me realize that yes, indeed, that WAS what I was made for, and I needed to go back and just commit until I finished once and for all. And with that, I made the final decision – to finish out my last year at SFCC and transfer to Eastern. [Although, quick side-note: isn’t it funny to think that in 2009, I applied and got accepted to Western? I was all set and ready to transfer over there and live with Kelsey … until I realized that I couldn’t leave CYT …]
2010, age 22
Thus began my last year at SFCC … with only 12 credits a quarter [and two of them being piano classes to fill out my credits]. I think it was a much easier year, partly due to lower credits, and partly due to the determination I had set my mind on to finally finish there. And with that, I got my AA in Elementary Ed, Direct Transfer to Eastern, in the spring of 2011.
2011, age 23
Words couldn’t express my excitement at finally starting “real” college the fall of 2011! That first quarter was so much happiness … going to school with close friends, sharing a theater class with them every morning at 9am, loving every class I took, and traversing the beautiful campus of Eastern shrouded in the mist and colors of fall. A perfect introduction to university life … and although the winter quarter threw a hiccup my way with an English class I had to take before entering the teaching program officially, it was all in God’s perfect timing.
2012, age 24
Last fall was the one most unlike any other where I actually got to live on campus. What an adventure it was to live in a dorm room, have a roommate, meet new people, and experience all that I only ever dreamed of with campus life. I also continued through the teaching program, till the spring when I finally got the call that I was placed in a classroom in an elementary school right across the street from my house in Spokane! AND it was in the fourth grade – exactly what I was hoping for. Certainly signs that this was where God wanted me …
2013, age 25
And here I am … at the last fall of a college year before me [at least as an undergrad]. And already having spent close to 60 hours in the classroom within the past three and a half weeks, I know for sure and for certain that God wants me to be a teacher. Everything about the classroom, the students, and the learning process excites me, and I can’t wait for the years of education ahead of me.
So! What did I learn from this whole process? Here are at least seven of the lessons [one for each fall] that I very much need to remember:
1) It’s okay to take time to process. Don’t let other people rush you or pressure you into something if you feel uncertain about it.
2) Dream big, but don’t be afraid to let your dreams change. Maybe even more than once.
3) Sometimes your passions might be hiding and it might take some experience for you to fully realize what they are.
4) And sometimes, you just need to make a decision and stick with it, accepting that not every part of it will be sunshine and rainbows all the time.
5) Always make room for the art in your life that will feed your soul. There was a reason I wanted to minor in Theatre … and even though it’s been an uphill battle to meet all the requirements, it’s been worth every step of the way.
6) Don’t be afraid of the detours. Sometimes that which we think is holding us back or throwing us off course is exactly a time when God needs to teach us something or take us on an adventure [case in point: HYPE coming into my life right when I quit school for the umpteenth time].
7) No matter what, life is not a race. College is not a race. There’s no guidebook that says you must finish at a certain time, a certain age, or in a certain place. There is always time, and life is more about savoring each step of the journey instead of sighing impatiently till you get to the end.
I might feel excessively ready for graduation in June of 2014, but I know that even in this last year of college, there will be new experiences I need to enjoy, friends to be made, and things I need to learn before I’m done. And all along the way, I need to remember more than anything:
“Delight in what you do, and what you do becomes delightful.”
Happy Last Year of College!