Wow, four years.
Looking back at my freshman self, I get pretty emotional. I keep envisioning this 18-year-old girl who was struggling for acceptance and trying to achieve this unrealistic idea of perfection. It was exhausting. I was naïve, lost and did whatever it took to fit in with everyone around me. There were some incredible times, where I laughed until I cried, and other days where I was crippled with the feelings of loneliness and rejection. Girls can be cruel, and sometimes you just have to follow your own path, and listen to your heart.
As I’m writing this, I can’t help but think back to Taylor Swift and one of her first songs “Fifteen.” I remember listening to it on my way to high school, the first day of freshman year. There was such fear not knowing what would happen when I got out of the car and walked through those doors. I had high expectations for that phase of my life, and again coming to Auburn in August of 2013. This song still resonates with me as I’m ending my college career, now that I’m able to reflect deeper on the meaning of those lyrics.
Like fifteen, when I turned nineteen I thought I was mature and ready to handle anything thrown my way. I fell in love too quickly and got wrapped up in a relationship that ultimately failed. To this day, I still struggle with the memories and backlash from that situation. If I could go back in time right now, I would tell myself to breathe and slow things down. When you’re nineteen and someone says they love you, you’re most definitely going to believe them. But there’s more to life, and when you’re finally about to turn twenty-two, God’s plan becomes much clearer.
At nineteen, love had no boundaries. I feel like most of us have experienced this kind of feeling once or twice before in our lives. We’ve all come across someone who, no matter how hard we try to deny it, has total control of our hearts. Then one day, that feeling may unexpectedly go away, and you’re consumed with deep sadness and confusion. The relationship becomes a memory and you can’t seem to pick up the pieces. We’ve all dealt with some form of darkness in our lives, and this was mine. It was the first time I lost control and felt like there was no way out.
But now, as I look back and think about these past four years, I don’t know if I would change anything. All the heartache and unbearable pain taught me a lot about the circle of life and that some things happen for a reason. These lessons molded me into the fun-loving, dedicated and confident woman I consider myself today. All the high points, beach trips, sorority functions and books full of photographs from over the years still bring me joy. Time flies by quickly, so don’t blink and soak up every moment of life’s precious sunshine.
We all make mistakes. We cry, we lie, we hurt. I’ve learned that forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. It’s realizing that our individual happiness is more important than any of our current or past burdens. One thing I know for sure is God only closes doors, to show us that he has something even more beautiful waiting for us around the corner. So keep pushing forward, because there’s nothing to regret.
Auburn, thank you for these memories and bittersweet goodbyes. It’s been one wild and adventurous ride.
Madison (the much wiser me)