original post date - august 11, 2018
#400Mag - More Than Degrees
Halfway through college, sheesh. Time flies. In this post, I talked about my experience as a student at Claflin University and things I learned through my freshman and sophomore years.
Alright so here we go. I'm creeping up on my junior year of college and I can't believe I've been here for this long. Part of me feels like I just moved in, but it already feels like I have a foot out the door. My time at Claflin has already been filled with its fair share of ups and downs, but I feel like an upgraded version of the person I was when I stepped foot on campus two years ago. I'm not completely different necessarily, but I am better, and I know my glow up isn't finished yet. And I feel like that’s what college is partly about. Growth. Yes, we all came here for a degree, but college offers us so much more than a degree if we are smart enough to take advantage of it. This is a time where I've noticed people see a lot of growth within themselves as they prepare to be out in the crazy world we have no choice but to be part of, and it’s up to us to change it for the better.
If you don't know, I go to the oldest and boldest HBCU in the state of South Carolina. I love this school. I will say, when I decided to come here, I didn’t think I was gonna like it. I knew nothing about HBCUs, nothing about Claflin, and I DEFINITELY knew nothing about Orangeburg. I thought I was just gonna lay low, do my time, get my degree, graduate early, and go right into somebody's medical school. I had a plan and I was gonna do my best to stick to it.
Thank God I was wrong. As much as I can get frustrated being here, I love my school. One of the things I love the most is the familial atmosphere. You don’t get to choose your family, but at the end of the day you love them and you (hopefully) wouldn't trade them for anything. Deciding to come here was one of the best decisions I could’ve made for where I am in life. Over the past two years, this school has become part of me and I'm gonna rep it wherever I go. This environment has fostered my growth in a way that I once only thought only happened in the movies or to certain people. That being said, being at 400 Mag has taught me more than just information I need for my degree and career goals, and I just wanted to share a little bit of that with y'all.
1. Everyone was not raised how I was. I never thought I'd be grateful for how strict my parents are. I had lots of rules and at times it felt like I had to ask for permission to breathe. Now, I can appreciate that they just wanted to make sure I had my head on straight. I've seen plenty of people wild out at the taste of new freedom and finally being on their own, and I've also seen people who are still coddled by their parents. Nothing is wrong with either, that's just not how things have worked for me. I've always known that not everyone has the same value system as me but being at Claflin has really showed me that’s true. I know my morals aren't strictly because of my parents, but they planted and watered the seeds. Now is just the time where the flower has started to bloom.
2. Claflin showed me how to network. Claflin got like the City Girls and started showing me how to network. In high school, it was something I always heard was important and I tried to do it, but I've never saw young people out here finding their own opportunities. I still have to work on getting more comfortable with it, but I definitely keep working at it. Going to conferences, seminars, and meeting different people that can help me get to where I want to be in life is a skill that you can't put a price on, so I'm still working on the net worth part of the verse.
3. The Hilltop ain't Hillman. Like HBCU students everywhere, I started binge-watching "A Different World" right before school started. I always heard it was a good show, so I figured that was the perfect time to watch. I thought I was gonna come here, meet the Dwayne to my Whitley, have study dates, and the rest was gonna be history. Again, I was wrong, but that was okay. I learned that guys being older doesn’t make them more mature. I don't know why I thought that would be the case, but I've always been into older guys, so I was hoping it was true. I've been taking steps towards learning how to have fun being a young, single, twenty-something, so this year is gonna be interesting. We'll see how this goes.
4. Student leadership in college is for you and your fellow students. Since freshman year, I've been involved on campus. My initial reasons for getting could be perceived as a little selfish, but they've definitely evolved. I first came to Claflin with intentions of staying in my room and minding my business, but I decided if I was gonna be here than I might as well make myself useful. I'm a worker bee and I like to help where I see its needed, but I don't like to have all the attention on me. I'm very introverted, so I prefer to stay behind the scenes. Where did that leave me? Boom. Student Activities Board. I heard they were the hardest working group on campus, so what did I do? I got in where I fit in and I've been rolling with it ever since. I went from SAB to SGA and now I'm back on SAB, and I’m honestly glad things happened the way they did. I did run for another position in the SGA, and I lost, but now I’m grateful things happened the way they did. I can serve my student body while also being able to make myself a priority without everything that came along with my SGA responsibilities. I definitely see student leaders in a different light than I did when I got here, and I respect them immensely. It's a lot to give yourself to a campus that isn't always appreciative or understanding, and in my experience, doing all of this with no stipend in return. It's a lot of work, but I don't know what I would do here if I wasn't a student leader. With some people who go after and win these positions, you can see they’re in it for the clout they think will come with it or the padding they think it may add to their resume. In others, you can see that they truly just want to serve. I don't need the recognition that comes from being a face of the campus. I'm good with knowing I'm doing what needs to be done and doing it the right way. Claflin is all about cultivating visionary leaders, and I wholeheartedly believe being a student leader has pushed me further in that direction.
5. I'm stronger than I thought I was. If I've learned anything about myself since being at Claflin, it's that I'm more of a boss than I thought I was. Freshman year was different because I saw how independent I was and identified areas where I still need to grow, but I made it through without wilding out. Last year was just rough. I knew Sophomore Slump was real, but I didn't think it was gonna be that real. At some points it felt like everything that could wrong was going wrong and it was hard to keep it together. I was going through things physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally. I lost track of taking care of myself even though I was working toward achieving my goals. My mental and physical health suffered. I was constantly stressed about money when I didn't have to be. I just wasn't happy for a really long time, and it took until this summer before that started to change. My Superwoman Syndrome got the best of me. I've always felt the need to take care of things myself and didn't like asking for help out of fear of being weak, and my mama didn't raise a punk. This has only gotten worse as I've gotten older and it's a lot harder to keep myself in check. The thing that took the most strength was making myself realize I can't do this own. Being at Claflin has let me get connected with other people like me who can support me and people who aren't like me and offer new perspectives. I've noticed that I've become more independent, more unapologetic about being myself, I've tried new things that I never thought I'd be doing (like this blog), and I've put myself in a position to be stretched in and out of the classroom. It really is true that God won't put more on you than you can bear, because every time I've thought I was going to break, I came out stronger.
These are just some of the things I've learned, and this definitely isn't all I had to say. I'm pretty sure that the things I talked about aren't just things that happened because I came to Claflin, but I know they definitely wouldn't have happened how they did if I wasn't here. I'm so grateful and so proud to be a Panther and I'm excited to see what these next two years have in store for me. This summer was amazing for me in terms of getting back to building a healthy relationship with myself. I'm in a new phase of life as I type this post, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about what's coming. I just have to remember that to get something I've never had, I have to do things I've never done. My goal here was just to encourage you to be open to wherever you are in your life. Trust your process and trust the timing. Get out of your own way. Know that you can always learn. If you've stopped learning, then you've stopped living.
Since school is starting soon, I wanna do my first giveaway. It's not big (hopefully they will be one day), because like a lot of y'all, I'm on a college budget, but here we go. Two subscribers will get $10 each just to help with a little something they may have going on. Another thing college has taught me is how to STRETCH some money chile. All you have to do to be entered is 1) subscribe, 2) be a college student at any level (doesn't have to be at Claflin), 3) share the link to this post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and tag me, and 4) when you share the link, tell one thing you learned from your college experience. The number of times you share will be the number of times you're entered in the giveaway. I'll announce the winner a week from today. Hopefully this giveaway will be the first of many!
Thanks for reading!
Live life. Be great. Flourish.