During the past few weeks, it has been difficult not to become wrapped up in this fact:
I AM NOT GOING TO BE A STUDENT THIS FALL.
For the first time since I was two years old, there is no back-to-school shopping for me, no class schedule to tweak and perfect, no locker to decorate, dorm room to move into, or friends to reunite with. My life is great, I’m not going to deny that, but I would be lying if I told you my heart did not hurt a bit when I saw the 1,000 Facebook updates of friends going back to college and celebrating another year together; or the picture my Mom sent of my little brother and sister in their snazzy new school clothes. Walking past the school supply section in Walmart and knowing those bright folders, colorful pens, and beautiful new organizational tools were not meant for me was somewhat devastating. Blacksburg is my college town. It is me who organizes her binders, folders and book bag meticulously. I am the one who enjoys color-coding her schedule to perfection and carefully contemplating when to take classes, when to work, and when to plan my many meetings. How alarming, that NONE of this is mine anymore.
It hit me though, during my visit at the University of Missouri (Mizzou), that although I am not a student, I have much to learn this year. I was watching a Virginia Tech vs. Michigan tournament volleyball game in Columbia, Mo., where the site of Hokie colors and Hokie cheers literally made me almost cry, and my self-pity reached its lowest low. The next day, I went to a downtown church where the theme was “Backpack Sunday” and the sermon, announcements and prayer were all focused on those going back to school. All I could think about was, “When is this back-to-school nonsense going to end?!”
But in reality, it is never going to end. There are always going to be kids and adults heading back to school in the fall. Maybe one day I will be one again…but until then, I have come to understand that my education will continue, even when I’m not sitting at a desk, staring at a chalkboard, taking notes…or pretending to take notes… I’m in my own “classroom” this year, on the road. This year, I need to LEARN how to be okay not always being in control, and to be successful even when the environment I am in is not ideal. I need to LEARN what I need (i.e. workouts, healthy eating, personal time, a connection to my home, etc.) and how I can actively seek that. I need to LEARN how to accept and embrace being alone. I need to LEARN all things Sigma Kappa, from reporting to motivating, traveling to communicating. Finally, I need to LEARN what I will be doing nine months from now, and how and when I should begin seeking this.
Sigma Kappa Sorority has given me quite the opportunity this year. The opportunity to change lives, positively impact the young people of our country, see different places and understand different cultures, and finally, this sorority has given me the opportunity to grow. I often think about how my college career was shaped by Sigma Kappa’s four values: friendship, service, loyalty and personal growth. Now, working for the organization, those values are still challenging me to be a better person. As I embark upon the journey of a 2012-2013 leadership consultant, I am constantly reminded that everything happens for a reason. And although five years ago I would never have seen where I am today, I am forever grateful for the areas of my life that Sigma Kappa has touched, and the constant encounters I face that challenge me to personally grow.
Here are a few highlights of my travels thus far:
My dear friend and fellow American Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Nicely put, Henry.