After a summer of constant travel and living out of a suitcase, I was ready to return to Abilene and adjust to life in my new college home. When I arrived at Villa-Villa Koolah, (I’ll love you if you know where we got that name) candles lit the living room, and my excited housemates greeted me with eager hugs.
The first week in Villa-Villa is something I know I’m going to remember. It changed my perspective and expectations for the entire year to come. Here’s a brief synopsis:
I mentioned the candles lit all over the room – what I didn’t mention was that all of the other lights were off.Â And was that just the Texas heat I had grown unaccustomed to, or was our house really degrees hotter than the outdoors?Â I ended up sleeping on top of my covers that night with a box fan placed inches away from my face on high speed. We were finally living in our first college home – financially independent for the first time, as well.
We kept the air conditioner off in 103-degree weather. We switched lights on only when we walked into a room and back off as soon as we walked out. My thrifty and clever roommates made a clothes-line in our backyard in an effort to reduce a threateningly large electricity bill. Dinner consisted of brown rice and a jar of salsa the previous tenants left as a housewarming gift (it was sealed, of course). I was also fairly stressed out, and school hadn’t even begun. It was my first few days working on the Optimist, and I was so anxious and overwhelmed I was on the verge of tears the majority of each day. Let’s just say things weren’t quite what I expected them to be.
I’m happy to say that after a week of all this, our fifth housemate arrived, saw us in our tank-tops and shorts standing under ceiling fans and drinking ice water, and declared that enough was enough. We decided that yes, we would have to live wisely – even cheaply – but practically too. Then, the first issue of the Optimist was printed, and I was still alive and in one piece!
Despite what probably seems like an exaggerated account of that first week, I learned so much in those few days I know was worth every night spent sleeping on top of the covers and walking through dark rooms.
First, there’s nothing better than sitting on the front porch with an iced coffee as the West Texas sun slowly sets, because it’s the one place in the house with a breeze. Second, friends are one of God’s greatest gifts. I don’t know what I would do without them to laugh with, listen to my insecurities, offer prayer and exchange encouragement. Third, this year is going to be hard at times. There will be months when I’m scrounging to pay rent; when I’m so overwhelmed with homework that I want to give up; when things are going to break and we’re not going to know how to fix them. I’ll learn from these years, however. They will teach me to lean on God in all circumstances; to forego that new outfit because there are more important things to pay for; to cherish my relationships and love others more than anything else.
So my advice to you as a new and exciting year begins is this: embrace it. You’ll love it at times, and you’ll hate it at others. You’ll laugh until you cry and probably never get enough sleep. You’ll wonder why you’re even here and what your purpose is. But these will be some of the best years of your life. Stay positive and pray a lot. Love your friends and call your mom once in a while. Go to class even when you feel like sleeping in. Conserve when you need to, and splurge every now and then. Study, study, study – but have fun too. Take advantage of this new beginning and run with it. I promise you won’t regret it.