The worst/best freshman year ever

My freshman year of college did not go as planned.

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I’d spent a lot of my senior year of high school praying for direction. I knew I could go to a name-brand college or university, but I also knew that following the crowd or making a decision based on others’ expectations of me probably wasn’t going to result in the best answer for my future. Throughout my life, the best answers have always come when I’ve listened for God’s direction, as I’ve learned to do in the Christian Science Sunday School. So when the idea came to attend a local community college, and I felt the familiar peace that I usually feel when I’m hearing God’s guidance, I trusted that it was the right thing and enrolled.

But I still had a lot to learn.

I had it in my head that community college was just a steppingstone to a university, and even though I felt it was the right place for me for the time being, I figured I probably wouldn’t enjoy it.

I was having such a different experience than all my friends from high school who were attending four-year colleges and universities.

Looking back, I realize that was kind of inconsistent thinking. While I sincerely believed that God, being Love, always loves me and gives me so much good, I also found myself believing that good wasn’t present right where I was but was somehow waiting for me after this step.

Sure enough, the first part of the year was rough. In a community college setting, you aren’t living on campus, so it’s difficult to build community. People come for class and then they go. So it was really hard for me to find friends. Also, I was having such a different experience than all my friends from high school who were attending four-year colleges and universities. They were all joining sororities, having such a great time, and posting on social media about it. Meanwhile, I was living at home and feeling lonely and sad. 

I knew I could pray about this, just like I had about my college decision. But for a while I was really stuck in the comparisons game—comparing my terrible first year of college with everyone else’s picture-perfect one. That fall, I fell into what almost felt like a depression.

But I was also talking to my Sunday School teacher about how I was feeling, and with her help I slowly started to see things differently. For one thing, I realized that I had complete power over my perception of my college experience. I had been choosing to focus on the fantasy that I felt I was missing out on: a freshman year that looked a certain way on social media, included certain people or opportunities, and, overall, was just more appealing than what I actually had. 

God was making His goodness, care, and love evident to me; I just had to be willing to look for them.

On some level I knew that a social-media-based fantasy was skewed. But my Sunday School teacher helped me go deeper to see that I really needed to trust God with my college experience, just as I had with the decision. Because God is good and is everywhere, always present, good has to be everywhere—always present in my life. God was making His goodness, care, and love evident to me; I just had to be willing to look for them.

When I let the fantasy go, changed my perception from a superficial to a spiritual one, and put my trust back in God, I started making friends and feeling motivated. Lots of opportunities started opening up for me. I found new passions. I even changed my major to something I’m really excited about and probably wouldn’t have discovered if I hadn’t been attending this school.

I found I could have community. I made quality friends and have relationships with them that are sweet and meaningful. And I’m growing into a clearer, more mature concept of my identity that’s more God-based and less and less comparisons-based. I can say today that I truly have never felt more like myself in my entire life.

My freshman year of college didn’t go as planned; it went even better than planned. Once I accepted all the goodness, love, and opportunities that were right there for me the whole time, I had an amazing year, which I’m so grateful for. I also discovered—once again—that I really can trust God to give me the best answers for me, and to take the best care of me.

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