Once upon a time, like many other freshmen in college, balance was something I really struggled with. I had no idea what I was doing or really who I was as a person. I was learning how to manage difficult classes, relearning how to pitch and figuring out how to take care of myself.
That first semester of college, I identified as just a softball player and I didn’t feel like a very good one, at that. I was a late recruit who went from the best player on every team I had ever been on to the bottom of the bullpen totem pole. There were so many activities I could get involved in at the University of Kansas but I was just another athlete struggling at practice and wheezing my way through weights and trying to please everyone I encountered.
At KU, freshmen athletes meet with mentors in the leadership branch of the athletic department on a weekly basis. I usually filled my full hour with tears. I was so unhappy during the fall of my freshman year and I internalized that sadness to an extreme in order to put on a facade of positivity. I’d talk to my mentor about whatever topic was assigned for our meeting, but I could barely get through the meetings without breaking down when we’d talk about my goals, my friends, and my family. My sadness wasn’t because I didn’t love my school or my teammates or the game of softball; it was the opposite actually. I just purely didn’t feel like I belonged.
One week, I explained to my mentor the feelings I had about not being at the right school or doing the right thing and she was horrified that I felt that way. We talked in depth about all the things I could accomplish at Kansas if I put my mind to them and determined some achievable goals. She was the first person that helped me understand just how wonderful the athletics support system could be and she suggested that I write something encouraging to myself in plain view to remind me that Kansas is exactly where I belong. With that advice in mind, I went back to my dorm and wrote in a small purple marker on a sticky note in the corner of my white board above my desk, “You belong here.”
Fast forward 3.5 years, and here we are. Playing softball for Kansas with a few accolades under my belt, graduating the Journalism school in May with honors, a member of Student Senate, in a sorority, and no longer unhappy with the person I am. Recently however, I’ve been stressing about a lot of things that are genuinely uncontrollable. As of a few days ago, it’s officially April. April means that I only have a month and a half left to walk down Jayhawk Boulevard as an undergrad, play in a jersey with ‘Kansas’ across my chest, and be only a short walk or drive away from all my friends and family. April also means, “Shit, it’s April and in a month and a half I could be moving to a TBD location for a TBD job for a TBD salary with TBD roommates at a TBD apartment, etc.”
Last week, however, our Sunday game against OSU was rained out and I was able to go to church with some of my good friends in Lawrence on Sunday morning. It had been a stressful weekend so far with softball, classwork, and my job hunt. Seeing as we typically play on Sundays, I realized this may be the last time I’d have the opportunity to get to go to church for the rest of the school year. I thought about using our off day to get caught up on school, sleep in and run errands instead of attending church, but I went and I am SO glad I listened to the still small voice that convinced me to go.
The message this week was centered around Ephesians 2:19: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” (NIV).
Through this passage, the pastor translated the content of the verse to, “You belong here.” When those three words appeared on the projector screen in front of me, I almost started crying because, with three words, my college experience had come to a full circle.
No matter what my life will look like in a month and a half, I still will belong wherever I am, I just need to trust God’s plan for me. God will love me as much on my bad days as my good days and it’s important to not fester on the uncontrollable and temporary. It doesn’t matter where I’ll be in a month and a half because no matter where that will be, it’ll be exactly where I need to be, and I needed someone to remind me of that.
After church, just like freshman year, I took out a small purple marker once I got home and wrote, “You belong here,” on a sticky note and placed it above my desk.