Up until this year, I had lived in the same house my entire life. I changed schools just three times in eighteen years and learned to drive in the same parking lot that I learned to ride my bike. Nashville seems like it would be pretty big but as I’m sure you know, its really not, especially if you live in Green Hills. My comfortable childhood of familiarity was wonderful but left me completely oblivious to how often life changes, how quickly we are forced to adapt, how many people make up this world. Obviously I knew all of these things but I’d never experienced them as reality…in other words, it turns out I didn’t really know them at all.
Going to college served as my personal culture shock.
It was terrifying but wonderful, necessary but shocking, and ultimately joyful. Having now emerged on the other side, I can’t even begin to express how weird it is to be back in this city, away from the place with which I was finally beginning to fall in love.
They say that when God closes a door, its because He’s opening up another. But in my case, it feels like He’s yanked me away from the doors I was just beginning to discover. Why did I have to leave Richmond right when He was showing me why I went there in the first place, right when He was not closing, but opening so many new doors, introducing me to some pretty incredible people?
I’ve been back almost a week now and I’ve had a lot of time to ponder that question. I’ve walked through Hillsboro village, still amazed at how many people are willing to line up in front of Pancake Pantry and still enthralled by the Fido culture. I’ve run on the Boulevard at an absolutely absurd hour of the morning. I’ve had coffee with friends whose stories of their college experiences are vastly different than my own and eaten froyo with sweet Adelaide. In writing and even in reality to some extent, it all seems the same.
I don’t think I realized how much I would grow this year because I thought I already knew myself pretty well. I had a firm grasp on what a good life looks like and how I would attain that life in Virginia. I thought my growth was pretty much done.
A camp friend gave me a quote by Carl Rogers at the end of last summer, a quote about growth that has taken on a whole new meaning for me:
"This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the fainthearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one’s potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life. Yet the deeply exciting thing about human beings is that when the individual is inwardly free, he chooses as the good life this process of becoming."
Looking back, I’m so thankful that I had no concept of what it means to become and of how much stretching this process really involves. Having been launched into the stream of real life, I’m already amazed at how much work it takes to make the decision to be who you want to be. I spent a lot of time first semester writing vigorously and praying, wondering why the heck I was in Richmond, Virginia. I had no idea, looking back, how influential these times were in preparing my heart for the wonderful second semester that awaited me. For the wonderful people- Meredith, Abby and all the rest I’ve talked about- that would touch my life. It was a transition, for sure, but a necessary one.
And now I’m in yet another period of change. Lots of people tell you about the transition that college is but no one warns you about moving home. Nashville might appear the same, but my experiences this year have given me a new view of my hometown. I hope that this summer, I can come to better appreciate the place in which I grew up. Maybe that’s the new door and maybe that’s why I’m here. Hopefully our Fido dates will help make it clearer. ;) Love you dearly.