By Amelia Krauss, News Editor
Late one Sunday night, I was walking back to my dorm after returning to campus from an out-of-state debate tournament. The campus was still and quiet except for the sound of my suitcase wheels rolling across the parking lot asphalt. As a freshman still getting acquainted with college life, I found the quietness of the otherwise active Union campus a bit eerie.
I was weaving my way through several cars in the parking lot when I spotted a man dressed in all black riding a bicycle near my building. The sight of a strange man hanging around the female dorms was somewhat disconcerting, so I quickened my steps until I reached my building. When I got inside, I grabbed my phone and scanned my contacts until I spotted the one I was looking for: safety and security. I hit send and waited anxiously for someone to pick up. After a few rings, I heard a man’s voice.
“Safety and security. What can I do for you?”
“Hello sir,” I said quite seriously. “I just wanted to let you know there is a suspicious man hanging out near the female dorms in the Heritage complex.”
“Can you describe to me what he looks like?” he asked.
“I can’t see his face, but he’s wearing a black jacket and a black hat,” I told him earnestly.
“Where is he right now?” the man asked.
I peeked through the blinds to see out the window.
“Right outside Pollard!”
“Uh, ma’am,” he said. “I think you’re looking at me.”
I remember this night — and the embarrassment that came with it — like it happened yesterday. It was one of those “if only I had known” moments. If only I had known that safety and security patrolled campus late at night, I would not have done something so stupid. Thankfully, it was an honest mistake that I laughed a lot about later.
But looking back, I realize that there are a lot of things I wish I had known as a freshman, some more serious than others. Despite some silly mistakes and missed opportunities, reflecting on such a definitive time in my life has allowed me to grow and garner valuable wisdom I would not trade for the anything:
Fear causes paralysis.
If you are not careful, fear will paralyze you. Do not let it stop you from pursuing your passions, getting involved and building edifying relationships with godly people.
Facebook is not for flaunting.
My freshman year I thought I was cool if I flaunted my life on Facebook to my friends back home. I wanted them to know I was having the time of my life. But I soon realized the more we focus on our own image, the less we are able to see how much we are truly blessed.
Journaling is life’s external hard drive.
Let’s face it. With all the tests, papers, meetings and events looming, we can only remember so much. Journaling is a valuable way not only to recall past events in your col¬lege life, but also to learn from mistakes and see the progress of your spiritual and emotional growth.
It’s called “university” not “YOUniversity.”
During my freshman days, it was easy for my focus to constantly be on myself. What should I major in? What class¬es should I take? Who should I date? It is easy for us to be so focused on ourselves during these four years that we forget about the world out¬side the confines of our dorm room. But the truth is, people abound who are hurting and in desperate need of encouragement, prayer and friendship. When we turn our focus on others, the big questions about ourselves don’t seem so daunting.
Prayer is not a prescription for solving tough decisions; it is a way of life.
So many times during my freshman year I would come to the Lord in prayer with a seemingly life-altering deci¬sion at hand. I would pray that God would guide me in those tough decisions, which was a good thing. But I did not realize that I was failing to pray for my friends and family, for this na¬tion and Union University, for the suffering across the globe. I was so me-centered that I for¬got we have been commanded to pray without ceasing — not just during tough times, but all the time. The Lord is not our genie in a bottle — he is our savior and friend.
There is wisdom in many counselors.
We are not meant to figure out life on our own. Seek wisdom like hidden treasure and seek it where it is abundant — in the hands of your elders. Get to know your professors, take advantage of campus ministries, hang out with the Residence Life staff, find a mentor and regularly commune with a body of believers.
Mom really does know best.
My mom is one of the wisest people I know, and it took me way too long to realize that I am never too old to ask her for advice. So talk to your mom or your dad, or grandparents, or whoever knows you best. You will save yourself a lot of heartache and you will make a friend along the way.
While all of these pieces of advice are good, sometimes you just have to live and learn. The safety and security ordeal is proof of that.
But this does not mean we can just live our lives haphazardly. As Frodo’s wise mentor Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” so eloquently said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Your college years are shorter than you think. Use them well.