I was flying to Dallas to put on an event for my new job and I pulled out my Moleskine mid-flight. While I felt cliché writing the words, I forced myself to write the words “What I learned in 4 years of college:” on one of the pages. As I stared out the window as we soared above the clouds, I tried to look back over four years of college and boil down the most important lessons I learned so I could share with others who were about to enter college, are in my same shoes, or need to be reminded. I jotted down a list of 13 on the flight. In no way is the even close to an exhaustive list, but, as I look over them, they define some of the most important moments of my college experience. While it is all to easy to write endless posts about each statement, I do not want to get lost in the meticulous explanations of rationale that led me to think why I do. I want to offer just enough structure and guidance for you to find yourself in my experiences, in hopes that something I have learned may resonate with you and offer a new perspective to view this season of life. Enjoy.
- People will walk in and out of your life. [Read]
- Know who to hold onto and who to keep open-handed. [Read]
- Get involved in a local church. [Read]
Live with people who will challenge you.
I lived with four groups of people throughout college. Freshman year, I lived with a roommate in one of the high-rise dorms on campus. He was a nice guy and we had a lot in common, but something just did not click. I do not have the story of becoming best friends with my roommate from my freshman year of college, and that is okay. I ended up meeting guys on the floor below me and ended up living with them sophomore year. The four of us lived in an apartment off-campus for a year. To be honest, it was not an easy year. I was really searching for a community to be part of during that time and looked to my roommates for that acceptance. Again, for some reason, it did not seem to click like it did before in the dorm. I could offer a hundred reasons to why it just did not seem to work for me but why it worked for them but that is not the point of this post. At the end of the year I moved into a duplex with another guy I met Freshman year and some mutual friends. We rented both sides of the duplex and planned to all be friends. This time the physical wall between our sides created a relational wall in our friendships. Finally, this past year, I moved with two of the guys (plus two more new guys) into a large duplex on the other side of town. This move helped create an environment that helped produce one of the most fruitful years of college. As I look back, it would not have been that way if it had not been for all the experiences before that were a challenge to live through. Freshman year taught me that just because you match up well on paper does not mean you will be best friends in day-to-day life; it challenged me to look outside of the people who I thought I would be friends with and meet new people. Sophomore year taught me I need people around me who follow Jesus and are not afraid to talk about faith; it challenged me to find a group of guys who really wanted to follow Jesus together. Junior year taught me that even if you live someone you have to make a conscious effort to be intentional to maintain the relationship; it challenged me to be intentional in all of my relationships and not take them for granted. Senior year taught me to enjoy the time you have with people and make the most of the moments you are together; it challenged me to slow down and be present whether watching TV, eating dinner, or just sitting around talking. In every situation I did not always see the people as a challenge, but looking back, I can see how they sharpened and refined me, each in a different way. If I had not lived with them, I would not be who I am today. If it were not for the challenges, I would still have a lot to learn. Challenges are hard, but they are worth it in the end.