By the time this blog publishes, I’ll be done with my second year of college. Freshman year, and sophomore year, completed. Half way done with undergraduate school. Now, I could get sentimental (and that will probably happen anyway), but I wanted to do something I haven’t seen done.
Before going off to college, I was sent a packing list to help my transition. It had the basics covered. The list suggested things like flip-flops, a mini fridge, notebooks, a Nerf gun, and a calendar. All sound advice, don’t get me wrong. I found it useful and packed accordingly. This college-sent packing list supplied me with enough false confidence to be able to walk into freshmen year with enough ignorant optimism that I didn’t have a worry or a care in the world. That, however, is when I learned that a well stocked closet and a fancy mini-fridge would NOT solve all of my problems.
Do you want to know the biggest lie you will ever hear about college? The hardest thing about college is the school work.
I have found this to be incorrect.
The school work is hard, yes. It will kick your teeth in and have you staying up all night just to complete projects that were probably due the week previous. But it’s not the world of academia that will break you. It’s everything shoveled on top of that glorious pile of assignments and GPA.
It’s not college that’s hard, it’s life that’s hard. Once you get to college, you discover that school would be seriously easier if you didn’t have finances, family, relationships, work, and your own health to juggle in the process. No amount of walking through the supermarket to pick out the best equipment will help you with that.
That being said, I’ve made my own packing list for college (or possibly life in general) that you may find helpful.
#1. Mental Camera
You’re going to need to take some mental snapshots to remember the good times. They go fast, and these are things that you won’t be able to catch on the press of a shutter-button. The things you feel are sometimes more important than the things you see, and they can be the first things to leave you. Don’t let those moments get away. Fight for them.
#2. Second Wind
Whether you’re in Physical Education class, or simply need to run across campus to turn in a paper, you will need to keep breathing as you run. If you leave your second wind at home, then you’re distance will be halved, and that paper will be late.
This also applies to your mental second wind, as you will tire from projects, papers, and readings that will constantly attack you from all directions.
#3. A Verbal Shield
To protect you from the gossip and hurtful comments, and to stop yourself from saying really dumb or annoying things. You should get the shield that works both ways to best prepare for your inevitable conflict concerning your everyday linguistic problems.
#4. Personal Change
Um… never mind. College comes with enough change to last you a life time anyway.
Like those things they put on horses so they don’t steer off course to eat the yummy grass, or get startled by the strange people just to the side of them.
Eyes front, soldier. Stay on target, and stay focused.
#6. A Vocational Map
But make it a dry erase one. You’re probably going to have to change it as you go.
#7. An Umbrella, and a Raincoat
Times will get tough. When the rain rolls in, just raise your umbrella, throw on your coat,
and keep on walking down the path.
Also, you can share an umbrella. Never forget that.
#8. An Extra Bag
You’re mental baggage can get pretty heavy. It sometimes helps to split the contents up into a few different containers or bags so that you can evenly distribute the weight.
#9. A Trust Fall Friend
So that when life tips you over, there’s someone who has your back to pick you back up.
#10. First-Aid Kit for the Heart
Sometimes that friend doesn’t actually catch you, and you’re left alone on the ground. Just bandage up that broken heart and keep right on walking.
#11. Adventure Boots
Because there’s always time for an adventure, and you will require the right mental attire to get the most out of it. Adventuring is tricky business, so you’ll need some tough boots that will stay tried and comfortable.
#12. Patience Pocket Watch
When it’s required, pull it out and take a deep breath. Your patience will be tested, and sometimes a different clock than the one with all of the alarms set on it is required.
#13. A Mirror
You need to be able to remind yourself of who you are. This mirror needs to go beyond the potentially unflattering skin level, and needs to be able to reflect who you really are.
#14. A Chill Pill
Because drama is overrated.
#15. A Trash Can
You’re already carrying a lot of junk with you. Get rid of it, and throw it away. When you receive more junk from someone else? Get rid of that too. You deserve more than to be crushed underneath a pile of waste and trash. That’s no way to go.
#16. A Hand on your Hip
So that you can link arms with fellow travelers with you as you walk down the road. They might not hold on for very long, but life’s always better arm in arm.
Also, I’m told that the goal is to find someone who’s always gently holding onto your arm as you both walk towards something greater.
#17. A Letter and a Stamp
To send to someone you care about to tell them how you really feel. It might be an apology, it might be a thank you note, or maybe even just to say “Happy Birthday.” Text messages are nice, but just aren’t the same.
#18. A Mini-Fridge
What can I say? They do come in handy for snack time. I’m not sure how it’s suppose to be metaphorical though…
#19. A Pack of Cards
Sometimes, you just have some time to kill. Pull out some mental puzzles or games to keep you sharp and (at least mildly) entertained while you wait. Whether you’ve got a group of James Bond going, or you’re just cruising along with Solitaire, its always better than getting distracted while you twiddle your thumbs.
#20. Your Sword
When the enemy comes at you, you’ll need something to defend yourself. Luckily for you, your Father gave you the perfect weapon to keep yourself alive in times of trouble. This sword needs to have the law of your Father written deeply on it, and you should always keep it at your side. I’ve seen both lions and bandits hide in wait for those who walk around unarmed. The worlds a dangerous place. Be prepared to fight.
. . . . .
Well, there you go. Twenty items that you will need for college. Bring these things, and you’re experience will be a smooth and prepared one.
Now, keep in mind that you can’t find any of these items in the supermarket. You’re going to have to search for them in places that most will not go. Some of these items are rare, and require a special person to easily get them. However, some are given to us and readily at hand.
Whether you’re going to go off to college, joining me for junior year, or just going about life outside of undergraduate education; walk wisely in the Lord, and remember that he will make your pathway straight and comfort you always.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.