Loneliness in College

-Hannah Richards, contributing writer

As a Mississippi College Scout, I’ve had the pleasure of asking hundreds of people about how God got them to our school. I’ve heard almost every type of story in the book. I’ve heard stories about changing majors and switching schools and feeling the call from Christ to come to this school. It’s always a reaffirmation of my faith when I hear how God has worked in their lives, but it always causes me to question my reasons for being here.

You see, there has been many a night where I’ve sat in a dorm room that feels much more like a prison, searching through clouds for some spark to cling to that can remind me of why the Lord had called me to this place.  I’ve asked, “Why has He arranged for me to be in this place, with these people, for this season?” Each day, I felt my heart was tugged closer and closer to home.  Each day, I missed the mountains and the sunrise and the faces and voices just a bit more. But each day, I was also reminded that I’m not called to Tennessee right now. I was called to Mississippi and to this school and these people. But more than anything, no matter the knowledge, I still want to grab my keys and drive home. I want to flee this place and its humidity and its huge expectations and its lack of rolling hills.  I want my phone calls with my mother to be in-person conversations, and I want to take the open spot in my best friend’s apartment. I want to run from what I know I’m called to and towards a more reassuring place—a place where I’m home.

But none of that matters—why? Because I’m not called to rolling hills or easy mornings. I’m called to struggle and cling and hope. I’m called to dwell in the valley of desperate joy and not in the mountain place of fleeting happiness.  I’m called to pray and wonder and be taught faith and perseverance.  I’m a child of God called to lift my hands in prayer and to stomp my feet and clap my hands to the beat of His drum, fully comprehending how horribly offbeat I am.

I will no longer pretend I’m called to only happiness.  I will no longer pretend that life isn’t hard and that struggles aren’t real.  I will be honest and say that just because I’m following the plan doesn’t mean I like it and doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Most of all, I will proclaim the fact that just because I didn’t see the sun rise, doesn’t meant it isn’t shining. It just means that the rain is watering some beautiful flowers…. whether I’m there to see them bloom or not.

So here’s the good news for you, my readers. Here’s the ninth inning home run, the last-second touchdown—you aren’t the only one who is suffering from loneliness. You aren’t the only one questioning the direction of the Lord. The worst thing we can do is to pretend we have it all together. Never forget that simply because everyone else can answer “yes” or “no” doesn’t make your “I don’t know” any less valid. You’re learning and you’re growing so give yourself grace in that process. Reach out to the girl you always pass in the hall and smile at shyly. Maybe she needs someone just as badly as you do. Or maybe she has fifteen friends and you become one of them. But know that you’re not alone. You aren’t the only person who left for college, picturing everything as sunshine and roses, only to arrive and wonder why you were in such a rush to get here. Life is hard; let’s stop pretending it isn’t. Let’s stop pretending that we are all confident in our position and start remembering that sometimes, we all need help. Mississippi College is a wonderful place full of people who are blessed by the Lord and strive to honor him in all they do. But that doesn’t mean that living here is ever that easy. Know you aren’t alone, and together college isn’t that scary.

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