“Is your life a story that someone would want to read?”
Last week before the rest of the Compton clan arrived in Greenville, my sister, Georgia, and I enjoyed a late-night dinner together, catching up over some locally celebrated Greek-American eats at Olympian Grill just down the road from Furman University.
It was family weekend, and, giddy at being reunited since our precious Charleston summer came to a close, we shared the past two months of our crazy and fun and stressful and sleep-deprived college lives with each other.
Then she turned sober on me.
“Jessica, you say you’re trying to keep a balance, and you’re making time to talk to your friends far away that you care about. That’s great. You say you have friends on campus. But really, do you? Because it sounds like you’re just doing school work to me.” Even before I made my defense, the prosecution had set down an eerily accurate verdict. Probably that annoying telepathic soul sister connection.
She was not accusatory. She just regurgitated the facts I had shared and made a concluding observation. Still, it was convicting.
“Welllll, that is a topic of potential debate. You know, G, I’m trying to prioritize. School work doesn’t rule me the way it used to – I don’t take it quite as seriously. But I still want the A, I’ve conditioned myself to work for it to the best of my ability for the past fifteen years, and I’m taking a butt-load lot of classes.”
Wow. That’s not the strongest argument. You’re pretty much summing up what she just said. I took another stab.
“I don’t know, there’s just a lot to be done. I tell myself people matter more, and they really do. In my heart, I am third. Jesus first. People next. Then me. But that isn’t necessarily reflected in my life every day. I just don’t have time to make any new friendships. Maintaining the ones I already have is more important. I’m a senior, I’m already a quarter of the way through my last year, and, honestly, I’m just trying to keep trucking along, keep my head above the water, and maintain some sanity. It’s too much effort to make dinner plans with people…”
She just sat there, letting me condemn myself. “Oh, Jess.”
But what am I to do? I signed myself up for this, and I’m trying to take it in stride. It really is hard, though! Some weeks feel like I’m on an unending date with my books and word documents and classes, interrupted only by 20-minute periods of scarfing down sustenance and surface-level interactions with my classmates. And deep down I ask myself the same thing Georgia asked. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? This is not the life I was made for.
I was made with an intelligent mind, and I was made for greatness – if that can be said without being pretentious, I really do believe that, but it doesn’t equate to making good grades and checking off tasks in an agenda. I was also made for people – to help them and listen to them and serve them. I was made to worship an enormously good God. I was made with a smile to bring joy to the world. I was made with a heart for mountain trails and new adventures, for sharing and writing stories, for loving and being loved.
Last night I set up a dinner date with one of my freshman residents that I have wanted to get to know since the beginning of the year. We sat down for an hour and shared the past two months of our crazy and fun and stressful and sleep-deprived college lives with each other. It’s a start.