I have learned a lot of things about a lot of things since I graduated from college at 21. Another appropriate title for this post would have been “of shoes – and ships- and sealing wax.” Today, however, I would like to give you some things that I have learned since college, that would have changed how I approached college. I like to think of these as things that I would do differently if I had it to do over again (I don’t, thankfully) and that I hope I implement into my life much better now. I like to think of these not as regrets, but as lessons for the future.
I would smile at more people. I would know that if someone wanted to ignore me, pretend they didn’t see my greeting and walk on the other side of the hallway, that could be their problem, not mine. I would continue to greet them with a grin, regardless.
I would be unashamed of the random notes I sent to people through college mail.
I would follow my heart more when I felt strongly about praying for someone. I would be willing to put myself out there and ask them if there was something I could be praying for.
I would ask people who never acknowledged my presence in classes how their day was. I would assume that people who ignored me were only shy. I would ignore signs of rudeness and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Seventy times seven the benefit of the doubt.
I would hang out with people I didn’t understand, even if that meant hanging out with people who really rubbed me the wrong way sometimes.
I would have been friends with the guys who thought I liked them. I would have known that their emotions were their problem, not mine. I would know that I had done nothing wrong in befriending them and that I had nothing to be ashamed of if I was uninterested.
I would have called people out about their claims about social justice and loving African babies when they couldn’t care less about someone who was failing Psych 101 or who cried in chapel all alone.
I would have been unashamed of the necessity of working through summers rather than going to exotic locales on mission trips, knowing that my praise and prayers and quiet acts of kindness were just as precious to the Lord on this continent. I would have stood up in meetings and told about my mission experiences as a barista and believed that it was just as valuable.
I would have stood up for the misunderstood more often, even when it got me into trouble. I would have looked the pain of twisted assumption in the face and kept my chin up, knowing that sometimes doing “unto the least of these” was not glamorous or easy.
I would have trusted that the Lord had a reason that I never felt like I fit in. I would have known that even the people who looked blissfully fit in worried about fitting in.
I would have rejoiced in my body, the way it was, rather than worrying about not being a size 6. I would have known that I will never be a size 6 and that God loves me just as much as the girl with the self-control to starve herself.
I would have relaxed about my grades and lain in the sun a little more often. I would know that a stellar G.P.A wasn’t going to stave off the coming heartbreaks and loss and eventual “lack of resources” in a grad school department. I would have known that life was made up of moments that are both smaller and much greater than those I spent in class.
I would dance across the lawns and never stifle my laugh, even if people gave me that face. I would know that my joy was not something to be ashamed of, because joy can be hard to come by in life.