If I could tell you one thing about my 18-year-old self on the day I graduated from high school, it would be that I believed I was on top of the world. I didn’t think there was anything that anyone could advise, warn or teach me about that I didn’t already know. I was prepared for college, and, in turn, I was ready for life.

Man, do I wish I could go back to that day.

What I wish I could tell myself before I packed up my dad’s truck with all of my dorm room essentials is that it’s okay to over-pack. For the next nine months, Frances Crawford would become my home, so it’s okay to bring all the clothes I own, even if that meant having to cram a little to get them all to fit.

Before my college career began, I wish I had known that this was the ultimate avenue to accept myself. In high school, being “cool” meant pretending that you were already mature and knew all there was to know about being an adult. In college, maturity is accepting that there is a time to be mature and a time to let your silly side fly. More often than not, goofiness on display is a great way to find friends who love you for who you are.

I wish I had known that the small things I’d obsessed over in high school – boys, friendships, that one bad hair day I had on some Thursday where something important was happening that I can’t even remember now – would never even cross my mind, because I’d be too busy growing. I’d be too busy laughing. I’d be too busy making long-term friendships that would become my family, too busy learning that I loved things about my classes that I didn’t even know I’d be interested in, too busy waiting for all the good things to come in my future that I’d forget for a while about the pain of the past.

I wish I had known that I’d meet my Savior for the first time at Ouachita. I wish I could tell myself to hold on to each moment that someone would pull me aside and teach me about Christ. I wish I could grab my young self by the shoulders and say, “Lay aside your burdens, you have no idea about the joy that’s coming.” I wish I could go back and teach myself about Jesus in the times growing up that I now know I needed Him the most.

But the thing is, if I had known what was coming, I wouldn’t have been able to grow like I did. If you’re about to start your first year in college, please know that you WILL grow – it’s inevitable. If you’re about to start your first year at Ouachita, know that the growth you’ll experience will be absolutely influenced by the love of the Father.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that what I wish I would’ve known before college isn’t some secret about how to live a better dorm life, studying tips for a 4.0 GPA or how to land the cutest guy on campus.

What I wish I would’ve known is that there’s no way to prepare myself for the growth, love, joy, heartache and ultimately the entire journey that I was about to encounter, but that the biggest thing to remember is to truly cherish every second of it.

Delaney Bedunah is a mass communications and sociology double major from Wichita Falls, Texas

By Delaney Bedunah
August 16, 2017