Nevertheless, She Persisted
I can remember it like yesterday. I tried to keep cool as I walked with my parents and Connor to their car. My stomach sinks all over again just envisioning that walk. Every step toward that car, the shorter my breathing became. They all squeezed me tight and got in the car to head back to Mason.
Surely I wasn’t going to let my new roommate and first friend see me bawling as I came back into my freshly decorated dorm. After all, I had only known her a few hours. That didn’t last long, an overwhelming feeling of suffocation and panic took over my body as I realized they were really gone. I remember texting Connor to come back and he laughed (thanks, Con) and simply said, “We can’t, lol you will be fine we love you,”.
I don’t think I ate for a week. My days seemed to fly by as I filled my schedule with community service in Knoxville and of course the infamous rush that eventually led me to Phi Mu. Cheer was taken out of my life rather abruptly when I didn’t make the UT cheer team (twice). Then, life lesson number two kicked in and I learned that building friendships like the ones I had in high school that I spent years building, wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. Best friends were going to come and life would hit them and some would part ways.
I made it three months in Knoxville. The longest I’ve ever been away from home in my life! Thanksgiving eventually lead me home and it is safe to say it was one of my most grateful Thanksgivings ever!
Things were coming together with time. I was loving my classes, I enjoyed my first ever UT football game which ultimately led me to this sweet, Tennessee girl in the sky box with a family who would eventually treat me as their own. Man, how the Bryant family saved me! When I was sick, they knew just the doctor, when I wanted to go home, their doors were open and when I needed my gal pal, Ashlyn was my constant. A handful of girls have been the truest of friends to me and I love them immensely!
I have come to learn that my education wasn’t hard. No, it wasn’t the 18-hour course loads and sometimes frustrating professors that would have kept me from graduating. Not even my advisor forgetting 20 credit hours was stopping me. There is just something that happened to me when I went to college. The most invigorating parts of my life happened the last four years and it almost makes me feel like I should have a B.S in Life.
I hit so many peaks and valleys that were for the first time ever – truly mine to navigate. I had a long distance relationship back home that plenty of people had opinions about. I had started over completely with a new social life and finding new friends. My grandmother was diagnosed and later beat breast cancer. Cheerleading wasn’t in my life. I missed my brother’s football games. My little sister was growing up and I wanted to be there to tell her everyday what a beautiful person she was growing into! I had friends drop out of school, pick up and move and of course I had some blow-out, fall outs.
I eventually stopped crying when I said goodbye to my family. At least until I could do it in the privacy of my Jeep. I did learn to love my drive to Knoxville. Each year of school would empower me to set new goals and achieve more milestones. I would come to find my people in Knoxville. I made this University mine. I know in my heart that this is where I was meant to be for these four years. So, to anyone setting out for college, just breathe. Take in your months left at home not with sadness but with gratitude, know where you’re going is intended, trust your heart and enjoy the freaking ride.
Eventually, your four years will be up. You’ll find yourself reflecting and if you’re anything like me you will be near speechless at the changes and lessons. My feet are grounded on this earth and ready to officially make their imprint. I know who I am, I know that I have completed this milestone and I am certain that the years will keep getting better.
I cannot believe it, but I made it. I am graduating from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I will walk that stage on May 12. My grandma who walked this campus twice will be there, all of my grandparents have been my anchor both in faith and in life. Bubba, Pappy, Grandma and Grandpa are solely responsible for talking me through my most emotional times. It’s a super power of theirs, I swear. My momma will be there, who has taken daily calls for four years full of both laughter and tears. She’ll probably cry because if anyone truly knows how I feel about graduating…it is her.
Really she and my dad should be walking across that stage with me. All my siblings will be there and I pray forever and always that they surpass me in every way possible. I hope they get excited about their future school and I hope they know they are the best roommates and friends I will ever have. My dad will be there, the man who wrote me letters filling me with confidence when I tried out for the cheer team not once but twice.
He will probably be videotaping me but I wish he would turn the camera on himself because without him there is no doubt that I wouldn’t be the same woman I am today. Sass and Doc will be there (Connor’s parents). I love those two with my whole heart and can’t thank them enough for supporting me like their own.
Connor will be busy playing baseball in North Carolina, but don’t worry he didn’t even get to walk at his own graduation! I cannot wait to live in the same city as him, even if only for a short while.
If you have kept reading to the end, thank you! This post is more of a reflection piece for me. I don’t know if I will forget the rollercoaster of emotions that I have experienced in college but incase I ever do, I hope this letter will always bring me back. I have so much to be thankful for. When you fear tomorrow because you feel so blessed today…you’re in a pretty good place.
Rocky Top, it has been fun…
“The will of God will not take you where the grace of God will not protect you”