“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” Psalm 139:14.
Before my family moved to our new state, I spent the summer in a college dorm with four (to ten) college kids. I say four to ten because there were five people that lived there, and on average, six or more people coming in at any given time. Everyone was blonde. I still think some were clones. I won’t say I’m twice their age, but I could have been their mama for sure. What would have possessed me to take on this adventure? The price was right, first of all. It was within driving distance to work. And most importantly, it was the only thing available. As I packed up the last of my things last night to take to our regular house, and bid my rental duds and fond farewell, I reflected on this time fondly.
Ahh, college dorm, how do I love thee, let me count the ways:
1) You were close to work.
2) You were within budget. For the most part.
3) You had wifi.
And then there were all the things I didn’t necessarily love about you, but your presence forced me to count my blessings. Like:
4) Door locks. Your constant flow of traffic in and out of the place made me appreciate the beauty of a door lock. In fact, the fact that no one ever locked the door at all made me appreciate the beauty of a door lock.
5) Maintenance. The time your dishwasher ran throughout the entire wash cycle while literally FLOWING water onto the floor and made the entire house smell like spaghetti-o’s made me thankful that I didn’t have to pay the service bill.
6) Clean bathrooms. The fact that my bathroom was the one that visitors used so I could and often would come home to who-knows-what lurking in the commode made me… well. It didn’t make me anything except stand up to the fact that I wasn’t cleaning it. Why not, you ask? Because I am a grown-up and not the maid.
7) School spirit. The frat parties in the center of the quad at 2 am helped me to learn both the school fight song and chant, since they were repeated quite often, and loud enough that I couldn’t sleep. But I know them all now, so hooray, and go team!
8) Exercise. Your sauna/gym area was relatively safe enough for me to practice for an upcoming dance recital and I was only kicked out by other gym members wanting to use the space four times. Which was, truthfully, every time.
9) Basic math. As in, how a 10-person couch never had enough room on it for me because at any given time there were people draped across it who would not move to save their lives. Instead, it made me seek out and fall in love with the coffee shop around the corner. This same coffee shop where I came to love their Brunette Frappe (way better than a Blondie, I might add), and taste my first raspberry spritzer, (like a fruity Sprite but much lighter and nowhere near as chemical-y or sugary-tasting.)
10) A normal bed. Two weeks after moving out, it hit me that I no longer needed a trampoline to get into my own bed, that I no longer had back pain from sleeping on what was arguably the worst bed ever made, and that my feet, which looked like toes sticking out of a water balloon the entire time I stayed there now look like actual FEET. And ankles. And I can see a bone. Shut the front door; thank you, Lord! (I have a theory on how they got so puffy but I won’t go into it here.)
11) Focus. Most importantly, thankfulness that this time away from my family, stuck in the dorm room forced me to focus on writing where I wouldn’t have had that if we’d have all come over together to our new home.
Here’s the thing. In all honestly, my roomies didn’t like me. They wanted the other roomie to find them a young, hot, boy to spend the summer with. Clearly I am neither young, nor a hot boy. Although I was very sweet, didn’t fuss about the 2 am comings and goings, and didn’t ask to be invited, I still didn’t fit in with their lifestyle.
And I wasn’t meant to. I wasn’t there to for that purpose. I wasn’t there to make friends with new roomies and get myself invited to their frat parties.
When I left, they literally didn’t say two words hello, or two words goodbye, even though they were there. On the 10-person couch with no room for me on it. At first I was aggravated. Who doesn’t answer when spoken to? Hello?! HELLO! Didn’t your mamas teach you respect? The hubs says that they chose to hold a grudge all summer because they didn’t get to choose who their roomate was, and that’s okay. (And it’s possible they could have just been embarrased about the bathroom and whatever is poking up out of the paper towels inside the commode. I doubt it.) But then I stopped. Was there anything to be aggravated over? Not really. What I was reminded of the most this summer?
Be You. No matter what, be you.
I know that as a writer, people are not going to love everything I write. My book isn’t going to be for everyone. My articles may not make the entire reading population fall down on their knees and weep. I may speak at an event where no one claps. I may say something that hurts someone’s feelings or be politically incorrect, or quote the wrong statistic, or misquote a scripture. It happens. That’s just life.
No one is going to love us all the time… except God. As long as we’re growing in Him, and doing what he asks, that’s all that matters. For those girls in my dorm apartment to like me, I would have had to change, and I’m not willing to do that. No matter who you are, you shouldn’t feel the need to embrace someone else’s lifestyle just to belong. You simply need to find the place you fit in. Maybe it’s a coffee shop, or a bookstore, or Home Depot, or the movies, or a mom’s group, or your youth group, or a music group, or painters, or in the park with photographers all taking a photo of the same weeping willow.
Do that thing that makes your heart sing, and then go hang out with others whose hearts sing at that thing too.
They’ll get it.
They’ll get you.
And you will belong, because that’s how you were made. On purpose, and FOR a purpose. So don’t worry if you find yourself in a dorm full of girls who don’t “get” you. Seek out those who do.
And no matter what… be YOU.
Because YOU are Be-YOU-tiful just the way you are.