College Planning for Dummies

College planning for dummies. I’d like to investigate such a book if it exists because I think I qualify for the level below dummy, as in I’m not sure the book could even remedy my ineptness. I only wish I was joking…

I won’t bore you with the details, but within the past year, while finishing out my associates of science, I’ve gone from pursuing dentistry, to chiropractic, back to dentistry, to my fallback, physical therapy, and finally to my actual major, which you’ll discover shortly.

Several years ago my grandma had a knee replacement, and after I tagged along to a few of her therapy sessions I became intrigued with the art of restoring people to health. I wasn’t completely in love with it, but I knew medical fields make a good career and I do believe PT is a critical part of recovery, so I stuck with it. Besides, I had all of the prerequisites already, so why not?

I was so frustrated with deciding on a major that I had barely considered which college to attend, so literally only months before the next semester started I began college searching. I applied to at least four schools, changed my mind weekly, and finally because I just needed to decide I landed on Olivet Nazarene University, the most highly recommended to me. The decision started to solidify and in early June my mom and I left last minute for a two day new student orientation event. It was okay, not exactly the living situation I was expecting, but what’s college if you don’t experience a little claustrophobic dorm life?

I got my classes, paid my fees, decided on my roommate, and was all set to go. But even greater than the so-so dorm situation was my disappointment with the choir. My mom has always awed me with the experiences and trips she had being a part of her college choir at Judson University, and over time it became a dream of mine to do the same thing. I didn’t really like Judson when we attended a friend’s senior exhibit a while back, but the lure of the choir stuck in my mind. Olivet’s choir is fantastic, I’m sure, but they don’t travel across the United States and the oceans like Judson, and while that’s not what I’m going to school for I still want to squeeze absolutely everything that I can out of my “college experience.” That’s what I’m paying all the money for, right?

So a month before classes started I applied to Judson. I visited the campus and signed up for classes, and a week later my mom and I drove there to move me in. I bawled. My mom was leaving me, I suddenly felt so unsure of my major, and I didn’t see the point of going to school if I wasn’t passionate about what I was studying. “All the time in the world” was suddenly gone and I was up against a brick wall. There wasn’t any more time to mess around. I prayed, cried a lot, and scoured my brain for an answer. What did I love to do? The only thing that continually prodded my mind was writing, something I had considered before, but also had been discouraged about by others who feared I would end up starving on the streets as some measly journalist.

I was miserable, though. I didn’t even want to be at school, a place I usually thrive, and it was eating me alive. I shared my insecurity with one of my friends, and together we saw God work as the next workshop we attended was about exploring majors and discovering what you are truly meant to do. Saturday, two days before school started I went to the registration office and officially left Exercise and Sports Science to become an English writing major. I was jittery with fright, but the excitement that gripped me assured me that God hadn’t steered me wrong. I was giving up two years of laboring through difficult science classes, but it suddenly didn’t matter.

Too many applications, tears, and indecisions later, I can now say that I love my classes and my school and I don’t regret a single thing. I didn’t take the conventional route, per usual, but I know that God was forcing me to rely on His plan and that every indecision and stressful event was for my good. I completely understand how terrifying it is not knowing what you want to do with your life, but in my experience, needing to have a plan brings way more stress than relief, and I am convinced of the the truth from Woody Allen: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” He is in control. He will provide. That is all we need to know.

The Case of the Absent Internet

It was a Tuesday night around 8:30 and my car sat parked in front of the Wyanet library, windows down, and hardly a breeze to be found. The air hung hot and heavy as I wiped a bead of sweat from my forehead and hunched over to peer at my computer screen sitting quietly in the passenger seat, casting an eerie glow to anyone who might be taking a nightly stroll.

The question read, “A bush baby, an African primate, is capable of leaping vertically to the remarkable height of 2.3 meters.” Fascinating! Please, tell me more. “To jump this high the bush baby accelerates over a distance of 0.16 meters while extending the legs.” Attaboy. “The acceleration during the jump is approximately constant. How many bananas must he eat in order to have this kind of kinetic energy?”

Alright, I made that last part up. I think they really wanted to know something about his velocity, but it’d been a long day, and I had no patience for jumping monkeys and physics. I went to school from seven to 3:15 and then attended a cross fit class at five (which was awesome, by the way! Please go check out crossfit56!) before finally coming home. Then, when the supper dishes were washed I headed straight for the library, because a test the next morning called for some quick, late-night homework finishing.

It was a little cramped, so only my notebook fit on my lap, and I rolled my eyes as I envisioned my bush baby friend leaping for joy as I hopelessly tried to figure out how fast he needed to move. After several scribbles and probably a few grunts here and there, I entered what seemed like a logical number into the omniscient computer, but it smirked haughtily at me and flashed red for wrong again.

Then, to add insult to injury, my computer blacked out a few minutes later, apparently tired of dealing with the heat and my insufferable ignorance. Well, at least I can go home now.
Ok, so I realize I was being a little dramatic, but if you’re wondering why I was parked out in town, hijacking the library’s wifi, then I’d love to tell you about our wonderful internet. You see, my family pays an arm and a leg for a fair-weather satellite that is terrified of storms…which sent it into hiding about five days before my homework escapade.

Usually after the storm clears we will have connection again, but this time not so much. I had been patient for about three days, but then three out of my six classes were telling me to get on the internet to do whatever homework they assigned, and my frustration was building.

I am all for technology and the many capabilities that comes with it, but when did we become so dependent on it?! I can’t even take a class anymore that won’t force me to be on the internet at least half a dozen times, more likely about three times a week. What happened to books and pencils and paper?

On the other hand, the week of no internet taught me a few things, the greatest being that I need to stop taking things for granted and be a lot more thankful. Not to mention that I got way more sleep because the online world wasn’t keeping me up all night, and I had time to catch up on some of my latest reads as well. Oh, and I can’t forget that it gave me time to write this article!
Positives and negatives aside, I’m determined not to let anything hold me back or control me, and the incidence made me reflect on what things I might have a little too much dependence on, internet or other.

Just in case, though, get your passwords updated or you might find me lurking around your house some night!

Made Secure in Him

The billboard I’m driving up on, the magazine page I’m about to turn to, the isle cap I’m walking towards…is more than likely about to tell me that it can change a part of me for the better. I’ll probably read the ad and even consider it for a second or two, start to question myself and feel the slightest itch of disappointment, and if the ad makers are really good at their jobs my already shaky sense of confidence will begin to dwindle and I’ll reach the conclusion that I have to have whatever they are trying to sell me…

I’d like to then flash a smirk and shout, “Fooled ya! You think I’d fall for that nonsense?! No way, I’m just the way I’m supposed to be.” But unfortunately, I often fall for the trap a lot more than I should.

I look at those posters and think, wow, I wish my skin were that dark, or I see that beaming girl and think, if only I could talk that easily to people or make them laugh like she can. My two greatest insecurities smack me in the face and knock me silly, plummeting all of my incredible strengths straight to the ground…I suddenly have amnesia about all of the blessing God has given me, like my loving family, my bright mind, my long, blonde hair, my big, bright smile; All things that people complement me about over and over, but they suddenly elude me when the devil snares me in his sneaky traps.

Oh, how fragile our egos can be. How lacking faith in the one who created us and in His infinite love for each and every one of us. I used to think that I was flawed because of my pale, white-washed skin and because I wasn’t outgoing and great with words. I saw those as the things I had to change. But why would God give me those traits if they were “defective?” Did He go, “whoops, screwed that one up a little…oh well, I’ll do better on the next one.” God doesn’t make mistakes. Ever.

Psalm 139 is says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…My frame was not hidden from you when I was made…Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Just let that sink in for a moment. God carefully designed each and every little trait that we have, and He loves every one of them with a crazy, unbelievable love. None of them are mistakes. They make us who we are. They might not always be what we want or what the world tells us we should have, but they are perfect. We can have confidence in our differences because we are each uniquely God’s protected creation, wonderfully matchless and each having our own purpose.

My fair skin might be a glaring sight on the beach, but it might just be the one quality that connects me to another sweet soul, allowing me to share God’s wonderful love and giving them a sense of confidence and a beaming smile that can only come from resting in our heavenly father’s comforting arms.

God has done His part, but now it’s my turn. I must have faith in His flawless plan, and I must make choices that reflect such a faith and a love for glorifying Him. I cannot wallow in my self-pity, be jealous of another’s qualities, or become angry when my unique features are brought to light in less than admirable ways.

To put it in a different light…”Imagine this: You just painted the most beautiful picture you have ever painted. It is exactly what you wanted. You absolutely love it! The person you give it to constantly point out the flaws…How does that make you feel? God is the painter, and you are the person it has been given to.”

So my goal for us is to take that trait or two that just constantly eats away at us and pray, first off, God, you so greatly love this part of me. Help me to Love it too. And then consider…how can I use this to glorify my heavenly father? Why did He give me such a unique characteristic?

You know why I think He did? Because He obviously knew you would rock it. He believes in you, He loves you, and He’s got your back every step of the way.