Tuesday, April 01, 2008

belonging

Happy April Fool's Day! March has past, and I only wrote one blog entry that entire month. I guess spring break was pretty busy, and then things have stayed busy since I've been back at school. I'd like to write about what's been on my mind a lot, the ministry my church is starting with women at a strip club, me looking to buy a house and all of the uncertainty and excitement that goes along with that, my romantic relationship and how that's going, and all the things that my pastor is preaching about dating and what I'm learning through all of this.

But the truth is, I could probably start a post about one of those topics, and wouldn't finish it today. Maybe I'd finish it tomorrow, or maybe it would sit as a draft for weeks and those weeks would turn into months and suddenly it wouldn't seem relevant to post at all. Looking today, I have 6 posts drafts just from the past 4 months. 6 posts that were started, never completed, and all but abandoned. Maybe instead of starting something entirely new, I should resurrect these posts from the past few months. I've chosen the most complete one to breath some life into. It was written January 25th, 2008. This was just a couple of weeks into this spring semester. Here it is:



Belonging

A couple of days ago, I wanted to write about how I was feeling more at home here, and how good that's been. But since then, I've found some more loneliness creeping in. I'll give writing about good things a shot, and maybe I can recapture how I felt two days ago.

When I came to TCU as a freshmen, I dove in headfirst, meeting people, getting involved in organizations, even serving as a welcome-type person for one organization! In some ways I was your typical college freshmen, eager to do anything and everything. In other ways, I was atypical. I was confident in my eagerness, confident that I belonged here and would feel at home, confident that I could hang out with seniors and be accepted. I think because of this confidence, I was frequently mistaken for an upperclassman. I don't really remember feeling insecure that first semester. Another freshmen that year (who is know one of my closest friends) later told me that she was intimidated by me when we first met. "Wow," she thought, "This girl already knows so many people and has so many friends, why would she ever want to be my friend?" Fortunately, her assumption was wrong. Sometime halfway through that semester I realized that despite all the activities I was involved in, despite all of the people I had to hang out with, I didn't have a close friend. Realizing that I was missing this and that the seniors I had been hanging out with would soon be graduating, I started praying for a close friend that I could spend college with. God soon answered that prayer, and that girl who had first been intimidated by me became the friend that I can't imagine spending college without. My second year, I developed close friendships with other young women who I still try to remain close to.

In addition to these close friendships, I also valued all of my other friends and acquaintances at TCU. I've never been one to put myself in a bubble, and I knew lots of people on that small campus, and lots of people knew me. Walking from my dorm to class, I'd probably say "Hi" to at least 5 or 6 people I passed that I knew. One friend walking with me one day was really surprised by this, "Dang!" he exclaimed, "You know everybody here!" For my first three years especially, I loved this atmosphere. I felt right at home and felt a deep sense of belonging to this campus. Perhaps I'm idealizing this time, because I do remember individuals and groups of people that I wanted to feel more at home with, and that I wanted to get to know better, but never did. I did experience rejection during that time, and it hurt, but I always I had friends to fall back on and I never felt like I didn't belong.

When I first arrived at this new campus, with over 45,000 students, I doubted that I ever feel that same sense of belonging. The first few weeks were very strange, walking to work and class from my parking lot and only being met by strange faces. Finally, I'd arrive at work and be greeted by a familiar face. I would often think that I saw someone from TCU. Not close friends, just once of those acquaintances that I always enjoyed saying "Hello," to. On this campus, strangers often say, "Howdy," to one another when they make eye contact. At first I timidly responded if I responded at all, but now I respond with a smile and an enthusiastic, "Howdy!" or "Hello!" It's not the same as seeing a familiar friend, but just making a brief connection with another human is satisfying.



That was January 25th, this is April 1st. I was beginning to feel hopeful, beginning to feel like I could connect with others in this new place, beginning to feel at home. At that point, my friends from church, Travis and Amanda, and just started to invite me to hang out with them more, something they hadn't done at all last semester. I was beginning to feel more included, and meeting more people through my church. January 25th was the night of Travis' birthday party, when I first connected with Andrew, and saw a lot of life in him and wanted to get to know him better. Since that time, we've started dating, I've hung out a lot more with church friends and made lots of friends, mostly through Andrew, but I've also deepened relationships with people in my small group, gotten involved in a ministries that have led to more connection with women in my church, and have gotten to know more 2nd and 3rd years in my program better. Overall, I feel much more myself, much more comfortable, and feel like I belong both in my program and in my church. Even on campus, I see more familiar faces. Last week, there was one day when I saw three people I knew. Three people! This was huge, because usually it was exciting if I saw one person on campus that I knew. And to see three people, at different times, wow!

I'm feeling more at home here, and this is a really good thing. Still though, I spent a lot of Christmas break praying for a good Christian girl friend here. And, surprise! I got Andrew, which is great and wonderful and every day I'm thankful for what we have, but where's that girl friend I was praying for? I've met lots of girls through church, and couple of them I felt like I could really connect with, and maybe something more will happen with one of those friendships. It really does take time. I guess I could be more proactive, ask some of these girls to hang out instead of just waiting to see them at church events. I'm pretty proactive with spending time with families in my small group. Why is it easier to invite myself over to a family's house for dinner than to invite a girl to coffee or lunch? Maybe I'm used to friendships happening more naturally. Maybe I'm slightly prideful and want them to be asking me to do things. Maybe I'm complacent and stay busy and forget that I could use another person in my life. Part of me wonders if I need to a find a good close girlfriend here. I have Andrew, though I've never been one to substitute a boyfriend for friends. I do have lots of friends to hang out with, I'm never bored on the weekends, I have adults that I can turn to for good advice, and I keep in touch with a few of my close girl friends from back home and still turn to them and they rely on me too. Some of these close friends are going to come visit me over the summer, which will be awesome. Who knows. Maybe in three months I'll look back on this post and write a post that begins something like this:

"That was April 1st, this is July 1st. Back then, I felt like I was missing having a good girl friend, now I feel . . . "

3 comments:

Laura said...

haha I know...it's just so hard to meet chicks these days!

...kidding....only kindof.

But I'm so glad you're feeling better there.

Martha Elaine Belden said...

great post, kelly!

i'm so glad you're feeling more at home. and just remember, God doesn't NOT answer prayers. sometimes He just says "wait" and sometimes "no" and sometimes He gives you something you didn't even dare ask for (perhaps andrew was just that).

if you get to a point where you really, truly need a good girl friend down there... rest assured, the Lord will provide :)

if walled in climb up said...

That's crazy--you go from one school where there's a shortage of cool guys to another where there aren't as many girl friends to your liking. I felt that here, too. In fact, I can relate to a lot of your post. I think where you are in this post is very similar to the place I was in last semester--really nice boyfriend/date, but a deficit of meaningful female relationships (at least, those in person). What did I do? I went into class the first day of the semester absolutely determined to make friends. I just knew in my bones I could find the friends I was looking for. It worked! I was friendly to Mandy and Simone, and after knowing them for a week or two invited them to hang out! Mandy and I even have this rare sort of connection I do not find often. Simone and I have ridiculously similar interests. I see a theme here...confidence in oneself yielding what you're looking for. I'm really starting to believe that if you are confident that you will get what you need, you will. If you think that there are wonderful girl friends in your classes, at your church, spontaneously to be met at coffee shops, you'll meet them. And they'll exceed your wildest expectations. If you question yourself and your ability to make friends and expect everyone to come to you, you may be waiting a long time. This philosophy is similar in education. Children who are expected by their teachers to excel are research-proven to score higher and achieve more than children whose teachers have low expectations of them. This was proven in classrooms where the same teachers had positive and negative expectations of their students! (from The First Days of School by Harry Wong)

In short, I think it's healthy and natural have high expectations of life and dream big. People gravitate toward that. You feel better and happier when you live your life this way. All the while, it is important to be present in the moment and enjoy all the beauties life holds today.