Life after graduation looks different for everyone. Many students move on to higher education, others immediately join the workforce, and some travel the world. The University of Florida is where I moved on to after graduation and inevitably, life looks different. The foundations of my life is a trio of F’s: friends, family and faith. As I made the transition from high school to college, these three F’s were redefined.
Before college, most people have a preconceived notion that you should not be friends with your high school buddies when you move to a new school. While it is true that college is a perfect time to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people, I can tell you from experience that there is nothing wrong with staying close with your high school friends. The friendships I brought to college with me helped me get plugged into a church in Gainesville, were comforting when the homesickness set in, and continue to be some of my closest friends.
Then there’s the "meeting new people" part of college. This part can be hard, especially if you go to a school without anyone from your hometown. The friendships made in this period of your life are the most vital because this is where the most growth happens. I have learned that surrounding yourself with the wrong people can point you in a direction you do not want to go. But the same is true vice versa. Getting the chance to surround yourself with people who build you up rather than break you down and genuinely want you to be your best self is one of the greatest opportunities college offers.
The most important thing to remember when making new friends, in my opinion, is to think about who you want to reflect. Are the friendships you are forming helping you reflect Christ or are you striving to be something you are not in order to impress those people? I’ve been told that you become most like the 5 people you spend the most time with, so chose them wisely.
This foundation looks very different in college. While my family continues to be a constant support for me day in and day out, living in a different location creates a new dynamic. Being away from home means I do not talk to my brothers every day, my three-year-old and four-year-old cousins grow a whole foot every time I go home to see them, and my family cannot physically be there for me anytime I need them.
In college, you find new people that you can consider family. Family to me is the people who are there for you even when it is not convenient for them, you prefer to spend most of your time with, and know your heart better than anyone else. I can truly say that I have found this sense of family amongst the friends I have made at school. So cheesy, right?
Another way in which family is redefined in college is the dynamic when you are home. The longer I’m away the more I cherish time spent as a family all together. In high school, I would jump at any opportunity to leave my house and go somewhere, anywhere, with friends. Now, when I am home from school, I spend most of my time shopping with my mom, hanging out with my cousins, or talking to my grandparents on their back porch.
I will be the first to admit that I do not have it all figured out. College is the ultimate testing ground for your faith. My mom no longer wakes me up every Sunday morning for church, I do not take Bible classes with teachers who live out the truth of the Word, and college culture is a constant temptation.
The meaning of going to church is redefined when you live on your own. It forces you to evaluate your reason for going all of those years and whether or not it is truly your own desire. It takes courage to decide that you are going to make it a point to be involved in a church congregation during your college years even if it means sacrificing a late night out on Saturday. It takes discipline to get up every Sunday morning to foster your relationship with Christ.
As a graduate of LCS, the diversity of the people around me drastically changed when I arrived at a secular University. While I have made many friends that share my values and beliefs, I have also met many who do not. Does this mean I am not friends with them? No. But my eyes have been opened to the fact that everyone comes from different backgrounds and cultures and may not know or believe the truth about Jesus Christ. This can test one’s faith. With people telling you so many different ideas and theories about the world and sometimes even discounting what you believe, doubt lingers. The good news is that if this doubt is met with faith, God can do some of his best work through this doubt and growth comes as a result.
Quite possibly the biggest trial of faith is temptation, and college life is definitely not lacking in this area. With so many voices convincing you that the desires of this world are what you need in order to have fun and get the most out of the best years of your life, it is so easy to listen. While these temptations are not easy to avoid, it is doable with the help of prayer and people to hold you accountable for your actions. However, sometimes temptation does win and that’s because we’re human. The most important realization of faith in college is that our God is a gracious God and when we mess up He does not leave us in our struggle, He delivers us from it.
Friends, family and faith are foundations of my life that I saw a difference in when I made the transition from high school to college. College has the ability to turn your life upside down if you do not have firm foundations. By making good friends, appreciating the love of my family, and continuing to grow in my faith, I have been able to get the most out of life after graduation regardless of how different it may look.
Carly Knox is a 2015 graduate of Lakeland Christian School. She is currently a student at the University of Florida.