Ya know, I've been learning a lot up here at college. I've been learning about biology, government, music, myself, and a whole other bunch of good stuff. After all, you're supposed to be learning at college, right? But lately, I've been learning a principle that hasn't been taught in the classroom, and I think it's the most valuable thing I've learned thus far:
Open Your Mind.
Up to this point in my life, I haven't really had the need to look at the big picture. All I needed to do was worry about maintaining my GPA, planning the next school event, having a healthy romantic life and keeping track of the relationships of others, increasing my religious faiths without really exploring nor caring about the beliefs of others, etc. As long as I had my dominion over my high school life, there wasn't a need to look at what was going on outside of Snow Canyon High School. Life was mine to control.
But now, everything has changed. Suddenly, everything isn't in a straight line in front of me. I came up here thinking I could go through college with the same frame of mind I had in high school. Boy was I wrong. To quote my mentor Vernon Parent "Going to college is like going from being a big fish in a small pond to a little fish in a vast ocean." (I did inflate that language a little bit, but I figure Vernon still deserves the credit =P) I've definitely had to adjust to that change in many ways. One big one is learning to accept diversity. I talked a little bit about that diversity in my last post. There was very little of that degree of diversity back in high school, and coming up here was a big shock. I just learned about stereotyping and prejudice in my social psychology class, and I won't lie, I fell victim to implicit prejudice when I first arrived. It was easy to see people who I had never encountered as an "out group." This is something I've had to learn to embrace with an open mind. These people are just the same as me. They may have different skin and speak a different language and worship another God, but innately, we are the same. That was a big opening of my little bubble.
Another opening I've had to make in my mind is to religion. I just submitted my mission papers today (woot woot!!). I've been preparing fervently for the next two years of my life. But, having my beliefs back home were easy. 90% of the people I knew shared my beliefs. Here, probably only 50% of my new friends do.Yeah, I know, its not that big of a difference, but I've never had the opportunity to strike up a conversation about religion with a complete stranger of another faith. And I've been doing it without the need to impose my beliefs on them, but just so I can learn what they believe. I've even experienced quite a bit of prejudice for believing what I do. I still stand very strongly in what I believe, but opening my mind so I don't view those who don't share my beliefs as "different" has been one of the coolest learning experiences I've had so far.
The hardest way I've had to open my mind is with the second principle I've learned up here:
Anybody who truly knows me knows that I get attached to people or beliefs easily. Because of that, high school was basically my entire life when I graduated, and coming up here and leaving it behind was like cutting off a limb. Coming up here meant saying goodbye to my family, my accomplishments, my past life, my friends....I know that sounds selfish, but I felt like I left a lot of myself behind when I arrived at USU. I knew the best way for me to embrace college was to put the past behind me and open my mind to the future. That has been my greatest trial thus far. I can't explain how much I miss my family back home. I struggle to keep myself sane when reflecting back to special memories with special people. Above all else, I miss so many of my friends that are now across the state and will soon be sent across the world. I grew attached to all these things the past 18 years of my life. Yet, what I've learned is this: I must open my mind. I miss high school with a passion, but I can't let that attachment distract me from my new college life. Letting go of those emotional ties is something I don't do easily. But I'm learning how to open my mind to the future and the world around me now, and I'm learning how to let go of the past to the degree that it is still special, but not keeping me from my potential.
ANYWAYS! Sorry to go on a deep rant like that. BUT! To put it all into English: Friends, I miss you. A lot. But I'm learning so much up here and growing in ways I never thought I would. My mind is being opened to new things on a daily basis, and I feel myself becoming the person I was born to be. So...Be Strong, Stay True, and remember: Jump On It.