This past weekend, I visited the university I attended. I’d been back there several times since graduating, but this time was different. I walked around the whole campus, showing J (which is what we’ll call my husband/your stepdad) the places I lived and frequented. Walking those familiar sidewalks brought back so many memories, most of which saddened me.
J doesn’t understand why I disliked college so much. He asks if I had some kind of traumatic experience or something. I didn’t. And in fact, most of the time I thought I was having fun. But truthfully there was this constant ache deep in the pit of my heart throughout my entire time there. I wasn’t happy with who I was. I felt like I never fit in with my peers, even my closest friends. I was constantly searching for approval from my friends and from boys. I was so wrapped up in a state of insecurity that I became someone other than myself.
I tell you this because I never want the same to happen to you. Insecurity is perhaps the cruelest, most devastating emotion a person can experience. It’s completely natural for everyone to have insecure moments now and then, but it becomes a problem when it takes over the majority of your thoughts, when you spend more time worrying about what other people are thinking of you than you do anything else. Such mental domination eats away at your insides.
The other problem with insecurity is that it’s a vicious cycle. If you’re worried that your friends don’t like you, for example, after awhile they’ll see that insecurity, which is never attractive, and they really won’t want to be around you. So your fears become a reality, which makes you even more insecure, and the cycle continues. This is what happened to me, and it caused a lot of damage.
This weekend I tried to think about what I should have done differently. Was it just that I didn’t fit in at that particular school? If I went to a different college, would it have been better? Perhaps. But that excuse feels like a cop out, because I believe we’re meant to make the best of every situation.
After much thought, it dawned on me that, during those four years of my life, I stopped pursuing the things I was most passionate about, the things that made me who I was. I strayed far away from my faith, for example. All of my life I had been actively involved in church, except for when I was in college. Also, writing became more of a chore than a hobby, because the only writing I did was for school. Everything I spent my time on was other people’s interests and hobbies, not my own.
If I could do it all over again, I would have gone to Campus Life or some other Christian group. I would have worked for the school newspaper. I would have been a part of something bigger than my inner circle of friends, a part of something where I could make a legitimate contribution, which therefore would have boosted my confidence. I would have smiled more and made more of an honest effort to invest in other people’s lives instead of being so consumed with my own sense of worth.
Daughter, please remember these words when insecurity starts to get the best of you. Don’t ever stray from the things that make you, you. Pursue your passions, use your gifts, and recognize your value by doing so. Surround yourself with people who will build you up, and be the person who builds other people up. I don’t want you to look back on a major part of your life and feel sadness and regret, like I do when I remember my college years. I want you to look back and be proud of the person you became during that period of time. I want you to look back and smile.