Dear Eighteen-Year-Old Me,
Hello there! It's me, your 33-year-old self. It's been nearly sixteen years since you graduated high school and began preparing for college life. I know you are very excited to see what the next chapter of life would hold. I'm sure you are a little nervous venturing out on your own, especially knowing your parents will be 10+ hours away. Of course, you have been somewhat prepared for this having spent the majority of your summers away from your parents visiting relatives. It's just one more new adventure!
I know that you are not sure what you should study but have signed up for the engineering track at the suggestion of your parents. You will end up taking many more math and science classes than you end up needing for graduation when you finally find majors that best suit your wiring, but there will be a big upside to having taken engineering classes (specifically Statistics for Engineers). You don't know it yet, but that class will profoundly and positively impact your life.
If I could truly go back and offer you some advice before you begin your time at N.C. State (which you love, by the way), here is a part of what I would want to say.
Just because someone shows interest in dating you, it doesn't mean that's a relationship you need to pursue. I know you've only really dated one person thus far but not all relationships will be as positive and healthy as that one was. You need to work on deepening your relationship with Jesus and seeking him. God loves you dearly. He has a purpose for you that he will fulfill. Whether or not you end up with a spouse, God's plans will be better than anything you can imagine. If you have the desire for a husband, give it to him in prayer and trust him to provide in his timing. God is faithful and trustworthy.
Marriage is supposed to be a reflection of Christ and his church. Any dating relationship you have should be characterized by respect, love, grace and selflessness (from both of you). Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself when considering a dating relationship. Does he love God? Does he attend church? Pray and read his Bible regularly? Is he involved in a Christian group, Bible study or other activity to deepen his relationship with Christ? (Experience will tell you that behavior is the best indicator of what someone believes.) Does he treat you with respect? Does he listen to and value your opinion? Does he try to push physical boundaries? Does he desire to see you grow and succeed? Will he encourage you in your relationship with Christ?
It is very important for you to answer the questions asked above about yourself. You are young in your faith and have a lot of growing to do. If you seek to grow closer to God and join activities that will encourage you in this way, you will flourish. Ask God to help you find these things. He will provide some amazing friends, connections and experiences.
I know that I cannot go back and change what you will experience, but I hope that what you learn can help other young women as they prepare for their own college career. To that extent, I wrote a book for college-age women (info below). I hope that they will learn from your experiences and avoid some of your mistakes. I have some sorrow and regret over choices made during college but, praise God, he has brought good from it!
Don't worry, you will have a fabulous time and meet some great people that you will still keep up with when you're my age (mostly thanks to the invention of Facebook that is not yet an idea in Mark Z's head). Your mistakes will not be fatal. You will learn, grow and change. You will become much more confident and self-assured as you age. You will also acquire a lot more responsibility so enjoy your relatively tether-free time in college!
Between Us Girls: Navigating College Life as a Christian Woman
Will you head off to college soon? Or perhaps you've already started at a university and found the going a little rough? Have you prepared yourself for all that you may experience, both on-campus and off? Do you know how to strengthen your faith and locate resources to help draw you closer to God? Between Us Girls: Navigating College Life as a Christian Woman can help you prepare for campus life. In this book, you'll learn about...
- Strengthening your relationship with God
- The importance of finding a Christian group on campus
- The different types of guys you will encounter
- What to do if you mess up
- Potential stumbling blocks to your faith and your relationships
- Straight talk about sex
Through reading candid, real-life stories and advice from Christian women about their time at college, you'll discover that you're not the only one facing challenges and struggles on campus. Even more importantly, you'll learn about great opportunities for redemption, success, and a rich adventure with God.
If you are interested in obtaining a copy of Between Us Girls: Navigating College Life as a Christian Woman, please email me at mybyrdlife at gmail.com. Copies are $10 each. Shipping is $3 (free if you're local and we can meet in person). Thanks!