“You don’t know.”
Those are the words I used to explain everything to my parents and my friends from my old school. So many things can go wrong when you’re a boarder, miles away from home. Especially when you’re also totally new to the school.
I arrived at boarding school my sophomore year, and it seemed like everyone already had their own group of friends—or, you might even say, their own clique. The first day of school, I had no idea where to sit. Everyone sat with their friends, and it seemed like there was no room for me. I sat by myself the first day and felt like I didn’t belong.
I realized that the problem wasn’t the school, or the dorm, or even the people. It was me.
For weeks, every time I called my mom I would tell her, “You don’t know how this place is. It’s nothing like I thought it was going to be.”
My mom suggested that I think of ten things I’m grateful for. I thought that was absurd; how was that going to help anything? But since I didn’t have a better idea of how to feel better, I decided to make the list after all. I came up with a few things: my mom and dad, being adopted, how the education at my boarding school is really good.
After I shared the list with my mom, she asked me what the main reason was that I didn’t like my new school. I told her it was a place where I felt like I couldn’t be myself, while everyone else could be.
I paused after saying that and sat in silence for a few minutes because something had hit me. I’d suddenly realized that the problem wasn’t the school, or the dorm, or even the people. It was me. I was the one who had arrived without an open mind. I was the one who hadn’t let anyone in. I was the one with the bad attitude, the one who wasn’t open to change.
That really made me think. I realized that although I was missing home and my best friend, I hadn’t left love behind. Love is God, and since God is everywhere, then I must be able to experience love everywhere. God’s love was there for me at boarding school if I was willing to be open to it.
God was showing me all the good that was right in front of me, just waiting for me to accept it.
I saw that the whole time I’d been feeling alone, God had been there, giving me nudges about how I needed to change, how I could think differently. God was showing me all the good that was right in front of me, just waiting for me to accept it.
After that realization, and with a little help from God, those three words “You don’t know” changed to “Guess what?” when I was talking to my friends and family about all the exciting things I was doing at boarding school. God’s goodness isn’t limited to one place, so it was fun to see all the ways I could find it at my new school—sometimes in ways that were obvious and sometimes because of a nudge from God. I even made more friends than I thought I would.
This experience was both a spiritual and a life lesson for me. It taught me that when it seems like things aren’t very good or aren’t going the way I want them to, I can ask God for help to see the situation differently. God is always with us, helping us recognize more of His goodness, which is present everywhere. Having this expectation of good has made me more open-minded and more willing to accept change instead of resisting or fearing it.