Many know that college is a place to grow and evolve into the person you were destined to be. That idea is beautiful and lovely, but what about the person you have become over the past 18 years? That person has values and beliefs that are not worth giving up just because a new chapter has started in your life. In college, we will hear new perspectives that contradict what we once believed. Whether in the classroom or on State Street, people may try to convince you of their correctness. Although I am a fan of listening and learning new things, I am a bigger proponent of having the courage of your convictions. Here are three simple things you can do to ensure you will not lose yourself in this college scene and validate the beliefs that make you who you are.
- Spend time meditating on your beliefs
In order to face these new, different ideas, you must have an established belief in your heart. To be faithful in your values, you must revisit them again and again while on campus. This may look like waking up in the morning and affirming the things you know about yourself and the world to be true. For me, it is praying and spending time in the Bible to assure myself that my heart is in the right place.. As a strong believer in scripture, Psalm 31:25 comes to mind, “Be strong and take heart”. This reigns true for everyone; that it will take strength to stay committed to your ideals, but there is beauty in being steadfast. It is important that you dedicate time to know who you are apart from campus.
- Read (lots of) books
Yes, you read this correctly. Read books in addition to your class load. Reading many types of books allows your mind to explore different areas, including the reasoning in your beliefs. The ability to gather information on your own values is so incredibly accessible in this generation, and we have to take advantage of it. It might look like downloading your preferred religious text on your phone or ordering a book to build your knowledge on Amazon Prime and having it at your fingertips in two days. In reading books, we learn to think on our views in scholarly ways, not strictly emotional. Taking the time to read shows a dedication to educating yourself on beliefs and increasing your validity on the subject. Reading books on your belief establishes your truth only further.
- Make good friends and live in community, always
The opportunity to make lifelong friendships will be one of the best parts of your college experience, and it will also be influential in it’s sustainability of your value system. The people you surround yourself with over these next four years, especially your first year, will be a big part of the person you become. In friendship, we share our ideas and deepest thoughts; so having people to affirm the beliefs you have is vital to your growth. In community, your beliefs can be validated to only grow stronger. That community can be found in the campus organizations you join or your place of worship in Madison; and it is in these spaces that community cultivates its true meaning. In community and having good friends, the convictions you have will be instituted in you and become the truth that you need.
As we face many new ideas, it is important that we know who we are and what we believe. Your beliefs are not elementary or naive but a crucial part of who you are and wish to become. Do not let go of these values, but hold on tightly, because many things will try to take them from you. In having the courage of your convictions, you are unapologetically unmoved and unshaken, because of the beautiful truth that you profess. Stay encouraged.