Dear Murray State freshmen –
I realize some of you grew up here. But I know many of you didn’t. So, welcome to Murray, Kentucky.
Throughout the years, this town has earned recognition as being a top retirement destination, a great place for kids, and one of the friendliest U.S. cities. Regardless, this town is different when the college students are here. The traffic is thicker, the restaurants have longer waits, and the stores are more crowded, but there also is a proud blue and gold spirit that runs deeply.
I came to Murray State 18 years ago. I say that and still wonder how half of my life – literally, another 18 years! – has been lived since I walked into my Clark College dorm room that I shared with a high school friend. Of course, that Clark College has been demolished. A newer one – which at this point is nearly a decade old – is down the street and another new dorm is planned for the vacant ground I once called home.
At that time, Murray seemed so very far from my Oldham County home. Four hours that separated my old life from my new life was exciting and terrifying. Now, the Louisville area is a weekend destination.
I lived in the dorms for four years – and loved it. I walked to classes, many of which were in Wilson Hall. Some of those days seem like yesterday, but, y’all so much has happened since. In recent days, as I’ve seen trucks loaded with your belongings turn toward campus, I’ve been reminiscing.
I came into college with a plan: Earn a print journalism degree and write for a big-city newspaper. I saw myself living in Louisville or maybe another Midwestern city. What I didn’t factor into the equation was falling in love – with my college boyfriend who is now my husband or more deeply with God.
I earned that degree, but, really, otherwise, my life looks nothing like I planned. I did move to Louisville for a year, and then to Lexington for a year after Greg and I married. But then we came back here a dozen years ago.
And you know what? I wouldn’t change my small-town life with my entrepreneur husband. I tell our family’s adoption story over and over because how God made us a family is full of faith and surprise. In so many ways, I’m more adventurous now than I ever was on Murray State’s campus.
What I would change goes back to those college years. I would have slowed down and taken more pictures.
(I know, that’s easier now. I had a cell phone I only used to call my mom because the Louisville-based number made it cheaper than long distance on the landline. Yes, the landline. Come on, this was 1997, the same year I got my first email address, which I checked once a day from a computer lab on campus. And speaking of pictures, please notice I’m holding a Kodak disposable camera on my graduation day. That’s May 2001, y’all.)
I wish I could tell my 18-year-old self to relax and notice God more. I would have stressed less and realized education is important but so little of it actually comes from the classroom. Listen to and learn from those around you. Hold tightly to your people, but hold loosely to most everything else. Yes, work toward your degree. Make plans, but remember that God may have an even better life awaiting you.
Yes, these may be some of the best years of your life, but, honestly, it gets even better.
A 2001 Murray State grad who never thought she’d call this town home but does so happily
I’m linking this post with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering.