Welcome and welcome back, Troubadour readers! There is such a freshness in the air right now, can you feel it? With the new semester, new students, new president and new chances to glorify God daily, the world looks bright.
Yet with all the newness this semester promises, some things will never change. School is difficult — academically, socially, physically (thank you, Ohio hills); no point in denying it. Through the challenges, you will discover so much about yourself and about life. I certainly have.
Without further ado, here are some strategies I’ve picked up along the way that I hope will help you thrive at Franciscan. I do have a word count to follow, so I’m going to stick with my top three tips for all Frannies.
1. Look before you leap.
Yes, I know this is a cliche. But it’s actually derived from the best advice I received freshman year. This one applies to everyone, but I’m going to direct it mostly toward the freshmen. My roommate freshman year, who was a junior, advised me to wait to join a household or start dating until after freshman year.
Though I know this is an unpopular opinion, I also know that I am so glad I heeded her advice.
So much happens freshman year. Most students are adjusting to a new location, a new schedule, new freedom and new friends, and this causes many emotions that we don’t anticipate. So many things change at once, and sometimes our response is to handle our overwhelming emotions by overwhelming ourselves in other aspects of life so we don’t have to deal with those emotions.
Jumping into a romantic relationship, for example, is not the right solution. Joining a household as soon as you can is not the right response. These are both things that so many freshmen do early on at Franciscan because they can, right? But they are both important decisions that need to be well thought through.
Take this time to get into the swing of things before you enter a household or romantic relationship. This also gives you time to find the household that is the best fit for you. And don’t even get me started on the drama that comes out of freshmen relationships! Look before you leap.
2. Get out of your own head.
I’ve just advised you to not bite off more than you can chew. But that doesn’t mean you should go to the other extreme and hole up in your room all semester either.
The devil works in separation. I learned this in college and wish I had known sooner. He wants you to feel alone, to feel unworthy. But you are so not! Whatever you are going through, I guarantee there is someone else hiding in his or her room going through the exact same thing.
When I get stressed, I tend to solve my problems by napping them away. Then I feel guilty, and I “punish” myself by staying in my room and ultimately getting nothing done. Which is exactly what the devil wants.
So, what should you do when you’ve isolated yourself? Get out of your room! Go do homework with a friend. There’s plenty of interesting talks and events on campus; take a break, and go to one. Maybe go on a spontaneous Dairy Queen run. Just don’t be alone. Sometimes you need to be alone, but you can’t spend all your time shut off from company — that is, if you want to stay sane.
Even if you don’t want to interact with other people, head to the dorm chapel. Fun fact: I had a rough freshman year, and going to the chapel really got me through it. I took my non-computer homework and went to sit with my “Study Buddy.”
Also, pray for grace. Jesus is overflowing with grace, and he wants to give it to you! Whatever situation you’re in, pray for God’s grace to carry you through it all.
3. Sometimes, you have to let go.
Again, I’m speaking from experience. I cling to my own ideas and plans, and I wrestle with God for total control of my life. But in the moments when I let go and finally open up my clenched hands, God puts something into them. Because in reality, all I can hold in fists clenched tightly shut is — nothing. But when I open my hands, God puts into them things bigger and better than I could have dreamed.
The best way I’ve found to do this is through prayer, specifically during the offertory. You know, it’s that time during Mass when the gifts are brought forward. But why stop with those material gifts when you can also offer Jesus your very heart?
Try saying a prayer as the gifts are brought forward. You can tailor it to your specific situation, but it can be something like this: “Jesus, I give you my heart. Do with it as you will.” Or you can substitute “heart” with “mind,” “plans,” “life,” etc. The point is, once you are willing to relinquish control, God will take the reins. And that makes all the difference.