Lessons from the first semester.

Less than one week left! It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that going home for the break will be totally wonderful. I want to spend as much time as possible cocooned in a chunky blanket with a book. That’s my only real goal at the moment, and I’m feeling pretty good about that.

Reflecting on what happened, what I learned, how I felt after any new experience is usually a good way for me to process, especially when I get to the end and start feeling frazzled and crazy. My brain gets stuck in the future, and mapping out what I’ve learned helps me slow down.

If you have any other tools or practices you use for reflection, tell me in the comments. I’d love to hear them.

We adapt pretty quickly to new environments. I guess this is most easily seen in retrospect, as most lessons are. College didn’t feel like a speedy adjustment, but for picking up and leaving home to go live in another place with new people and a new schedule, I was surprised by how soon it all felt normal and routine. IMG_20171207_202752_226-2.jpgRelationships take time. At the beginning of the semester, it felt like most people already had a core group of friends, but in reality, most everyone was nervous and uncomfortable and maybe a little lonely. Solid relationships take time to build because they’re the stronger, sturdier ones.

Needing time alone is okay. We’re all built differently. For me, high-energy social situations are enjoyable for a little while, but then I need to leave and spend time alone recuperating. That need for quiet can make me feel guilty or out of the loop at times, but it’s pretty deeply ingrained in my personality. And fighting with it makes me tired, so this semester has been a process of learning when to accept social invitations and when to respectfully decline to get that needed rest.

Fellow introverted friends, I highly recommend Quiet, by Susan Cain if you ever need validation for needing rest and alone time. 20171207_124236-1.jpgWanting to be home and homesickness aren’t mutually exclusive feelings. Sometimes home just sounds really good because it means bear hugs from dad, taking showers without flip-flops, and a fully stocked pantry complete with baking essentials and stashes of chocolate. 20171210_110322.jpgThe city is my new favorite background for snow. The city gets quiet and cozy, and the next day, even though the snow on the sidewalks and roads starts to get slushy and nasty, the trees and buildings where the snow has accumulated still look pristine. It’s nice.

Discomfort can do more good than ease. When I’m comfortable, I get complacent and distance myself the Lord. I’m in the process of understanding and accepting (albeit not super joyfully) that struggles, even suffering, draw my focus back where it should be and remind me I’m not in control and that that’s a good thing.

“Consider it pure joy, brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  –  James 1:2-420171022_122743.jpgLosing fitness isn’t something to feel guilty about. I cut back on structured exercise and running a lot this semester. I still felt some guilt, but I’ve been trying to combat some of it by thinking about what’s most important to me. Being super fit isn’t something I want to be a top priority because that means its taking the place of something else that’s more important.

Study breaks are an act of self-care. The same goes for work breaks, writing breaks, research breaks, teaching breaks, and almost any other tiring, time consuming task.

Take a walk. Eat a snack. Talk to a friend. It’s scientifically proven to boost brain power, and it’ll make you feel more sane.

That’s all I’ve got for you. Hope you’re weathering the week.

Linking up with Amanda for thinking out loud.

What are your takeaways from this fall?


18 thoughts on “Lessons from the first semester.

  1. Love these–sounds like you’re being kind to yourself as you grow and change in your new normal. When I was in college I struggled with feeling out of the loop a lot. I wanted to stay in and watch movies and not go to parties and tons of social events and I think a lot of people didn’t relate to that.


  2. Absolutely love your reminder about how discomfort and trials often bring us even closer into the love of the Lord and into knowing Him more. Even though I wouldn’t often wish for trials, every single one God has brought my way has been such a gift from God.

    And it is amazing how quickly we can adapt to new environments, and yet at the same time, how the relationships in those new places take time to develop and nurture.

    I think alone quiet time is so important especially in a bustling noisy world; it is hard to quiet my heart before the Lord but I’ve found such refreshment in just dwelling quietly in His presence in prayer or reading or just being totally quiet. It’s hard though. O_O


  3. Introverts unite!! 😉
    Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on so much by needing that time to myself to think and be by myself, but I’ve learned to just be ok with it. Silence and being left alone to my own self is something that I not only crave but thrive off of – I can’t feel guilty for that! [even though sometimes I do]


  4. The picture of the city in the snow is beautiful. And all of these lessons are so insightful. It’s amazing how quickly we adapt to new environments. I’d never thought about how wanting to be home and homesickness aren’t mutually exclusive feelings, but in thinking about it, I can see how it’s true. There are times when I feel like I MUST go home NOW, and other times when it’s more of an “oh, I miss my dog, I’m excited to go back soon.” And losing fitness. Yes yes yes. It feels a little strange that fitness is no longer at the top of my priorities, because it was for so long. Sometimes I worry about becoming apathetic about it. But then I remind myself that no, I’m not being apathetic about it, it just is taking the place it needs to take in this season of my life.
    Thanks for sharing these, Vangie. ❤


    1. I like how you phrased that last part. “It just is taking the place it needs to take in this season.” The inconsistency and fluidity of life’s seasons is another thing that makes living hard but often in a way that fosters really beautiful growth.


  5. This is my favorite part of blogging – or just journaling if that happens to be one’s medium. Taking the time to reflect. I think it’s the best/only way we can really feel clear and grounded about where we are in our lives, what we have done and what we are learning. I never feel more present than after I write out things I’ve learned.

    In fact your question, and my immediate struggle to find an answers, has told me I really want to sit down and write about this myself. I need to take a look at my last half year and really see what I’ve done and what I’ve learned. It will probably give me some compassion for myself, too. Thank you, for this reminder.

    Can’t wait for you to be home for all those Dad hugs and books on the couch ❤ ❤


    1. I hope you get a quiet block of time for reflection. This fall has been quite the whirlwind for you. It’s hard to look back and see the messy parts all over again, but it’s nice when we get to see the little triumphs and bursts of growth too.


  6. Looking back and reflecting – on a year, a month or sometimes just the past week – truly is something we should probably all do more often. Because you’re definitely not the only one who gets so focused on the future and what all still needs to get done that you don’t see what all you did accomplish already.
    I’m happy to hear you settled into your new home – not sure if you’re already at the point where you felt like you had two “homes”; it took me a while after moving away to study but then it did feel that way – well after your initial (understandable) anxiety about it. Building steady friendships does take time, for some people more, for some less. Us introverts obviously fall into the former camp.
    Your reflections once again prove that you’re – as cliché as that saying probably is – wise beyond your years. The one about discomfort is particularly standing out to me. Something to think about more in my own life.
    For now, I hope you’ll get lots of hugs, time cozied up reading good books and all around soak up the Christmas spirit at home.


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