Once upon a time, I didn’t go to Anderson University.
My story begins in fall of 2009, in the little town of Winona Lake, Indiana, at a little school called Grace College. Grace College was a magical, sparkly, rainbow world of happy Christian goodness, where you walked onto campus and immediately felt like you were being hugged by Jesus. I might be exaggerating slightly, but I was happy there. It was my “comfort snuggie.” Grace College was also home of an amazing School of Music which I was a part of- a School of Music that gave me a chance, even though I wasn’t exactly musician material when I first arrived. After being told by several other music schools that I shouldn’t even bother auditioning (people should learn never to tell me this. I don’t really do things like give up), this chance was a miracle for me. In short, for two years of my life, Grace College was the perfect place for me. But, then one day something changed.
In the fall of 2009, God spoke to me. He said, “You don’t belong here anymore. Its time to leave the Christian bubble. There’s more out there.” I replied something along the lines of, “You don’t really mean that, God. I am here to prepare for the real world. I’m not done preparing. I’ve talked to some of my professors and they agree with me. Plus, this must be ‘your will,’ because I’m happy here.” God didn’t give an answer to that. I thought I must have convinced him (note to self: trying to convince God that I’m right and He’s wrong is like trying to convince your dad that its okay to wear sandals without socks).
Still, I wanted to appease my conscious, so I met with a professor at Oakland University (a state college in Michigan), and explained to her my musical background. When she heard that I had not had classical training until college, she told me (before even hearing me play) that I was not cut out to major in music. I was hurt, but it was okay. I had my “Grace College snuggie” to crawl back into. “You can have your dumb ol’ sleeveless blanket, OU!” I thought. And, then I added an “I told you so” to God.
I continued to think this way until February of 2010, Grace College decided to close down the school of music. It feels silly to say, but I’m still not over the pain of the experience. Pardon the cliche, but I felt like the my world had ended. I don’t know how else to put it. But, I hate cliches, so let me try this again: I felt like God had come down from heaven and ripped my comfort snuggie away. And, now I was sitting there in the cold watching the non-music students walking around campus, and to me, they looked as happy as the families on the Snuggie commercials that go to the movies in their Snuggies and raise the roof. But, even though I’ve been to more than enough funerals to know that my life felt like one for the rest of that semester, I had decisions to make.
After researching several schools, the choice came down to two very different ones. The first, Anderson University: a Christian School, which, when they heard about our situation, offered to accept all Grace College students without making them audition. I wouldn’t have to deal with the rejection I’d felt at Oakland University. I could finish my Bachelor of Arts in Music degree, and they offered to be so flexible with my transfer credits that I would probably be able to finish a semester early. These all seemed like wonderful advantages, but above all else, the school reminded me of Grace College. It was like comparing the “Cuddlee” to the “Snuggie.” There wasn’t any noticeable difference. They both had all the fuzzy warmth of blankets with the added convenience of sleeves.
Then, there was Bowling Green State University. The only thing that attracted me to this school was the fact that they were one of the few schools that offered an undergrad music history major. I didn’t even know that one COULD major in music history until I saw it on their website, but as soon as I saw it I knew. I knew I why I had been struggling through music classes for two years, wondering if I’d ever find a job in “the business” that I could do without having to fight to keep up. I was supposed to be a music historian. That was something I could do, and do well. It was my “thing.”
And, still, my mind was set on Anderson. I was afraid to go try to audition for Bowling Green. I didn’t want another Oakland University experience. I was afraid to be told that I wasn’t good enough. I was afraid to have to make friends with people who had different beliefs than I. I was afraid to give myself the freedom of going to a school that held events like “Beer tasting” and “Sex Olympics.” I felt a bit like Jonah. God sent a storm to get my attention, he sent me a whale, he sent me a gang of pirates and a worm named Kahlil (that’s in the Bible, right? I know I’ve heard that somewhere), and still, I didn’t want to go to Ninevah. I was afraid. But, I went.
And, now, here I am at BGSU, and its the last week of classes. I am glad to say that I am not QUITE as stubborn as Jonah. I am very glad I came here. I met amazing people (and they don’t slap me with fish). I am getting an excellent education. I understand so much about the world outside of my Christian bubble, and I think this world is a beautiful place. I’d be lying if I said my life was perfect right now, and everything were easy, and that I lived happily ever after. Actually, its been the toughest semester of my life. I still struggle in my non-history classes, I haven’t made as many friends as I did at Grace, and my introversion and social anxiety have gotten much worse. Plus, my parents want me working (i can’t convince them that Music Historian is a wise career path), and when you work 35 hours a week and are taking 18 credit hours in school, you don’t sleep. Ever. But, for some odd reason, I have never once regretted this decision. I know this is where I’m supposed to be. As the Fray says, “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” There is comfort in that.