I read the article “Does College Kill Faith” in our Public Square this week with interest – and it made me reflect on my spiritual journey during my years in college. I wish I could say I was more thoughtful, more truth seeking and that studying the wonders of science made me ask the bigger questions. That sounds very academic, very noble and very mature. I was unfortunately, none of those.
I was just plain busy. I felt overwhelmed on most days with the changes that college brought to my life. I was a Chemistry major working three jobs to pay my way and desperately trying to have a social life. There was no time for religion or questioning the world’s big questions. I focused on just what needed to be done to get through. I certainly had no respect for my mortality during that time — I ran hard, studied hard, partied hard and slept little. I seemed to have little focus beyond how to get through each week.
I saw the college years as simply a passage to my real life — the life that was set to start as soon as I could get done with college. It was simply a time of progressing to the life that I had always imagined for myself. That life included a strict timeline that included completing 4 years in college, finding a man to marry, marrying the summer after college, getting a great job, becoming a successful business woman, and having 2 kids before I was 30. That was the goal. That was my definition of a successful life. I did not think much about whether all that would actually make me happy, or whether the nature of the work that I did would matter, or whether my spiritual being would need to be nourished. I had a checklist……and that was what motivated me.
It makes me wonder if we go to college too soon — are we ready at that age to really explore the glory of expanding our prespective? Can we really appreciate the opportunity to stop and study and think and question when we are so focused on starting the rest of our lives?
That was 20 years ago this year……seems hard to believe. And I will tell you that some of “plan” actually went the way I thought it would……but the happiness was usually found in the part of life that was unplanned. And certainly all of the spiritual journey came as I stopped worrying about the plan and starting living my life. Today, I am still plain busy but have become the seeker that I always wanted to be.