Nine months. Eleven classes. Hundreds of pages written. Thousands of pages read. Countless hours in the library. Much laughter. More than a few crazy escapades. Many conversations that have challenged how I see the world. A year lived in a community that has changed my life. It’s been another fantastic year at Bluffton.
So what have I learned this year?
1. Treasure the people with whom you share your life.
Relationships are the most important part of life. Period. If this year taught me anything at all, it is that life is about living in the present, loving the people God has placed in your life today, and being open and honest in your relationships. The greatest gift is now—the community, the opportunities, the emotions, the conversations of today. Spend time with the people you care about. Tell people what they mean to you. Cry hard, laugh harder. Be real and be honest. Tomorrow will come, but today is what matters.
2. Do your absolute best.
This year, I worked harder than I knew was possible and learned more than I even realize at this point. Just when I thought I was doing my best, I pushed myself to do more, and it paid off in ways I never could have imagined. I achieved things I did not know I was capable of, and I stand here halfway through college having already exceeded my highest expectations for my undergraduate career. Hard work pays off—I cannot wait to see what the next two years will bring!
3. Peace is a journey.
Last year, I came to believe in the power of nonviolence. This year, I learned that making a commitment to nonviolence is not a one-time event, but the first step of a lifelong journey. Furthermore, I learned that this journey is one that must be lived in and sustained by community. For me, this year has been an important part of my journey toward peace; I am a million miles from perfect, but I am better at embodying peace now than I was in August, and that is the measure of success.
4. Education can change the world.
In the fall, I studied education as a means of social change in my Social Justice & Social Change class. In the spring, I identified education as my primary gift and calling as a peacebuilder in my Theories of Peace & Conflict class. This entire year, I have learned to see education as a form of peacemaking; I believe that my transforming minds, we can transform the world for peace. This is a lesson that has transformed how I experience education and how I understand my identity as a peacebuilder. As I move forward in my education, I do so knowing that by transforming my mind, I am working toward the transformation of the world.
5. Make time for waffles.
To describe this year as academically demanding would be an understatement. I was known on my floor for long days and nights of reading and writing, but this year I also learned how to make time in the midst of academic chaos for things like Waffle House runs, pizza parties, and movies with friends. In the end, the crazy memories with my friends are worth more than that chapter of Karl Barth I read for Theology. After all, I have all summer and the rest of my life so spend time with Barth…my friends don’t fit so well on my bookshelf. So, make time for waffles. Make time for people. Make time for fun.