Graduation is in eight months and time seems to be blowing through my fingers. I feel like life is in fast forward and it freaks me out! I’ve been asked the same question over and over again,
“What are you going to do after graduation?”
I answer, “I’m not sure, but hopefully I can tell you in six months.”
Too bad time is not a piece of loose fabric that dances in the wind where I can catch it and toss whenever. Having faith that God has a plan for my life makes time slow down just a little bit. I can think of four major points in my college career where I trusted in God greatly. These memories keep me grounded and help me appreciate each day as a journey. They give me confidence that I am right where I am supposed to be.
Appreciating what matters. Before school started my freshman year, I was enrolled in a two-week summer intensive program at Loyola aimed at helping high school students get used to a college academic environment. I didn’t know anyone, didn’t have a roommate, cliques were already forming, Chicago was a new city and I didn’t want to be in the program in the first place. I felt miserable. As a senior in high school, I thought I knew it all and was so mature.
Five things college has taught me…
Listen. I learned a lot and felt God’s presence more at work when I stopped talking and thought too much.
Forgive. I’m still trying to forgive others much faster.
Eat. I take advantage of free food on campus. Lord knows we have to buy groceries.
Do service work. I try to do it when I have time and it is so rewarding.
Speak up. I’ve made it more of a goal to stand up for myself and speak my ideas. You’ll never know who’s listening and will do the same thing.
This program was a wake-up call. After crying and wanting to just feel something familiar, I decided to email friends back home. I realized that they were also having difficult transitions from high school. This gave me comfort and I prayed on it. I asked God to help me not forget who I was in the midst of change and to feel empowered. I appreciated my family even more and my relationship with my dad got stronger. God deflated my big head, exposed my insecurities and helped me to appreciate what matters the most – family.
Picking a major. From freshman to junior year, I kept flip flopping about my major. From double majoring in the theater/psychology, theater/advertising and public relations, to theater with a minor in communications, I was interested in a lot. I’d asked God many times what I should do with my life. Through questioning and stressing myself out, God gave me enough strength to try many things.
I enrolled in a few advertising classes, and followed a drama therapist and saw how theatrical techniques could serve as therapy; neither was my calling. I even became a first grade art tutor and saw I didn’t have as much patience working with little kids as I thought.
Then God gave me a greater strength to solidify my decision to major in theater and audition in Chicago. After being rejected, called back and cast, I built up a much tougher skin. Today, I often think that all of the stressful, flip flopping, and times of not being cast in a show helped me to have more faith in myself. This is — and continues to be — part of my journey with God. I try to remain open and try new things while God steers me into the path that makes me feel most fulfilled.
Letting go. Going to college wasn’t the only change in my life. I know that for a lot of us, going to college meant breaking up with our boyfriend or girlfriend from high school. After this happened to me my freshman year, I had to learn over time to be thankful for the good times and to let go. For choosing to participate in a relationship that made me intoxicatingly in love and feeling the happiest in my teenage years, it wasn’t easy thinking about how such a great love came to an end.
I struggled with the question, “Why did God give me the gift of falling in love just to take it away?” I knew I wasn’t the only one of my friends going through this, but it still hurt like hell. I learned to let go, and understood that God put him in my life to learn something. I believed that someday God would introduce someone else into my life but that I needed to focus on myself for a little bit.
Now I’m 22, acting in Chicago, graduating in May and I’m with someone new. From letting go of first love, God taught me a great lesson and, three years later, I have appreciated the journey to my second. Some things fall apart so that better things can fall together.
Post-graduation. Quite honestly, I’m much more excited for my future and refuse to be filled with anxiety. What helped was that I studied abroad and was removed from theater, my family, friends and country. I did this to deepen my trust in God and to see how I am without doing theater for a bit. I saw him in many unique churches and even with me on the plane ride to different countries.
There were times when I didn’t know if I’d make my plane at 5 a.m. in Barcelona, catch pneumonia from a flooded tent in the cold nights of the Sahara desert, or run into some unwanted attention in the empty streets of Naples. Those were times when being adventurous pushed me out of my comfort zone. I learned so much about being human rather than being an actress.
Now when I feel anxious about my future, I refuse to get too stressed. If God can put me through a flooded tent in the Sahara, I can be calmer and open minded about obstacles to come during the school year and after.
(Camara is majoring in theater performance, and working toward a minor in communications at Loyola University in Chicago. Her home parish is Our Lady of Good Hope, Milwaukee. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)