If you’ve been keeping up with this little series, I have shared my early years as well as my high schools years. Both were hard to share but also so freeing. I’ve been avoiding writing this one today for some reason. Freshman year of college was hard for me personally. A lot of transition, living in a new dorm, meeting new people constantly, and no sense of “normalcy.” Through the years, I’ve found that’s true for many people. Fun fact, I went to USC my freshman year. Many people don’t know that, so I typically use it as my “one fact you don’t know about me” haha. Freshman year in college honestly was a ton of fun – but most of my weekends were spent in Clemson, so I truthfully didn’t give USC much of a chance.
Let’s start from the beginning. I lived in South Tower at USC, an all girls dorm, and met many girls on my hall. During the week, my time would be spent with the girls on my hall, with my friends from home who went to USC, or with my friends still in high school. When I applied to USC & got accepted I was so excited – but what I didn’t take into account was just how many of my friends were going to different schools. I went into my freshman year expecting everything to essentially stay the same, but nothing was the same. I was living in a new dorm room that didn’t feel like home, I lost a piece of my identity. I grasped at anything that felt “normal,” and this created a feeling of not being in control. I felt so isolated. All I wanted was to feel in control.
At this time, the relationship I was in during my senior year of high school continued throughout freshman year of college. He went to Clemson along with my big group of friends, so almost every weekend was spent in the upstate. If I wasn’t in Clemson, I’d go to the USC home games with my little crew of friends at Carolina. I grew up a diehard Carolina fan, so it felt so weird to go to Clemson and bring myself to actually cheer for the Tigers haha. It felt so foreign but I grew to love it – even if it rained every single game I went to that year.
With my past of an eating disorder in high school, I found some relief from it towards the end of the summer before college. I was so focused on enjoying my time with my friends & filling every day with something fun, I couldn’t fixate on myself. I continued working at at the Bodyshop that summer, and then once school started I had to figure out something new. I didn’t really know what to do as far as working out once classes started. I tried going to Strom Thurmond, since it was a part of my tuition, and enjoyed some classes there. I didn’t love it, but it got the job done per say.
But, one of my best friends loved training for half marathons & I agreed to do one with her. During the week we’d run with a running club as well as do our long runs on the weekend. At this time, I was still eating next to nothing (roughly 1000 calories) and running a minimum of 3 miles a day. To be honest, I agreed to train for a half marathon because I just wanted to be able to “eat whatever I wanted” without gaining weight. It was such an unhealthy view and manifested into an even deeper spiral with my eating disorder.
Eventually, running 3 miles every day wasn’t enough in my mind, so I started running 5 miles per day and still eating the bare minimum. I was so tired all the time and my body was in a constant state of fatigue. To drive home how unhealthy this was – the guy I was dating at the time showed up at my dorm on a random week day afternoon to surprise me, and all I could think about was how I wasn’t going to be able to run that afternoon. I was honestly distraught over it rather than being excited about the surprise. After one of our long runs, I developed a stress fracture in one of my feet. Looking back now – I truly believe this was the Lord telling me to slow down, telling me to rest and to trust Him. At this time, I still had not met the Lord, so I honestly didn’t understand the lesson being taught at the time. Also, I had to wear a super cool grandma shoe for a few weeks & it was definitely a fashion statement.
Aside from running and spending most of my time in Clemson, I joined a few intramural teams with my group of friends at USC. In the fall, we played co-ed volleyball and then played co-ed basketball. I deemed myself the team mom / photographer because I honestly wasn’t any good at either of those sports haha. Plus, I loved taking photos and always, always had my camera. Even now, I am still so thankful for my group of friends at USC. They truly did love me so well & I had so much fun with them. Although USC didn’t feel like home, being with them helped ease this hard transition.
By the fall of this year, I had already decided I wanted to transfer to Clemson. In order to transfer, you had to have 30 credit hours, so I had to finish out my freshman year before I could transfer. I spent the next few months traveling to Clemson, feeling lonely, and trying to understand who the heck I was. One highlight was taking a tour at Clemson & feeling so affirmed in the decision to transfer. My friend Paige (who was at Lander at the time), and I decided to transfer together and be roommates, so we took a visit up to Clemson to figure out where we wanted to live. I remember this day so vividly, I felt like I could breathe. It just felt right. The only downside was that this moment happened early fall, so I still had many months to go before my season at USC was over.
Since I felt “forced” to stay at USC, I felt trapped and so unhappy. I cried all the time and felt like my heart was in a completely different place. I couldn’t workout due to my stress fracture, my energy was at an all time low, and all I wanted was out. This continued for months and months. Almost up until the time that the school year was over, I was completely checked out at USC. I didn’t try to make any new friends, I didn’t rush, and I didn’t branch out and do anything that would have given USC a chance. The only positive was that I made a 4.0, something I could be proud of and excited about, and I had a lot of fun moments with my best friends at USC & friends at Clemson.
When the school year ended, I moved out of my dorm as fast as I could. By this point, I was mostly living back at home to grasp back onto anything that felt normal. So, moving out was fairly simple. I celebrated my 19th birthday with my friends and everyone moved back home for the summer. Everything felt normal again.
However, that relationship I was in came to an end at the start of that summer. So, I was single for the first time in 2 years (or 3.5 years if you count the relationship right before). As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t know how to be alone when it came to dating or attention from guys. Soon after summer started, I was in another relationship with a really nice guy. However, it was super unhealthy and involved a fair amount of “partying” on the weekend. I was never big into being a party girl, but this summer is one in particular that I’m honestly just not proud of. I made so many bad decisions that just weren’t me. I was trying to be someone I wasn’t.
Even with things seemingly back to normal for the summer, I lost my identity again. I spiraled into this unhealthy state of grasping at a new identity. I knew there was something still missing, some huge piece of my heart and soul just felt empty. I had to hit rock bottom at some point, and this was my rock bottom. Looking back, the Lord was moving. He was working on my heart, He was preparing me for what was to come. Everything changed, I mean everything, when I transferred to Clemson my sophomore year. The Lord’s goodness is so evident & he radically changed my life this year and I can’t wait to share His faithfulness in my next post next week.