You may not believe me, but you are a very selfish, prideful person. I know, I know — a large part of your identity was being the sweet, humble Christian girl at your public high school. Still, you have no idea what you need to learn and what you are going to learn during your four years at Cedarville University.
One of your first opportunities to learn humility will be living with a roommate. Because you have two older brothers and no sisters, you’ve never had to do this before. At home, you could keep your room as messy as you wanted and go to bed as late as you wanted without having to accommodate to anyone else’s preferences, needs or schedule.
I know this is rough, but during your first semester at Cedarville you’re going to have to learn how to get dressed in the dark for your 8 a.m. class while you try not to wake your roommate. Many other times, you will be up later than your roommate and will have to try your best to sneak into your own room at night and get ready for bed as quietly as possible.
Another opportunity you will have to learn humility is within your own major. You’ve worked for school newspapers since elementary school, and have even had a fancy one-month internship at a professional newspaper in high school. Honestly, freshman Jen, deep down you think your classes are going to be a breeze because you’re already practically a professional journalist. Your senior self finds the fact you think so highly of yourself absolutely hilarious.
There are many things you are going to struggle with in your major, and many areas of journalism you have no clue about. You will always be growing, and as a senior you will know that you have definite weaknesses in journalism. Don’t get me wrong — you will still feel called to journalism in three years, but you will realize you are far from perfect.
You are very prideful in many other areas as well. You’re so used to feeling like you are one of the best students and best Christians in your public high school. Frankly, Cedarville is filled with good students and good Christians.
This form of pride will make you feel very insecure about yourself. So many Cedarville students will seem to have their lives together academically and spiritually, and this will make you feel envious and frustrated. A healthier way to react when you see someone who is strong in an area you are weak in is to ask for help, whether that be asking for tutoring, mentoring or a quick piece of advice.
Something else to keep in mind is that no one at Cedarville is perfect, even though they may look like it from the outside. Once you start building closer friendships, you will learn that you are not the only one at Cedarville with spiritual, academic or other personal struggles. Everyone at Cedarville is a sinful, fallen human being just like you.
Don’t be afraid to build those close friendships at Cedarville. As a shy, awkward introvert, I know the concept of community terrifies you — especially community with people from other parts of the country or world whom you just met. You will fall into the habits of eating at Chuck’s by yourself and turning down invitations for Bible studies or more casual social gatherings.
Part of this is because you need to work on your time management skills to make time to hang out with other people, but the other part of this is that you find that spending time with other people and making new friends is scary. It’s worth it, though. There will be times when you will feel guilty for spending hours talking or praying with a group of friends, but those are some of the moments at Cedarville you will remember for the rest of your life.
One of the other things that will freak you out about Cedarville is finding little theological issues you disagree with in classes, chapel or while talking with friends. While you agree with most people you talk to on the basics (the fact that we are all fallen and sinful, the fact that Jesus is fully God and fully human and died for our sins and was resurrected, the fact that one is saved through repenting from their sins and believing in Jesus,) there are smaller doctrinal issues in which Cedarville’s teachings may be slightly different from the teachings you grew up with. When you are challenged on one of these teachings, it will make you feel defensive and scared because you don’t know whether Cedarville or your home church and spiritual mentors have the coreect view. These are good opportunities to practice making your faith your own. In the end, these questions and doubts will remind you to trust what the Bible says above all.
Learning is a lifelong process, and it will not end once you leave Cedarville. In some ways, you will learn more from your doubts and mistakes than from getting it right the first time. Cedarville will challenge you in all areas of your life, but God will use Cedarville to help shape you into the woman he wants you to become. Through the good, the bad and the stressful, God will be with you every step of the way.
Jen Taggart is a senior journalism major and editor-in-chief for Cedars. She enjoys writing, listening to music and fueling her chocolate addiction.