I was so excited about going to college. Finally, I was going to get to pursue my dreams. I was going to become a teacher. That's what I'd wanted to do since I was about 5 years old, scribbling on my chalkboard and teaching "pretend" lessons to my stuffed animals. As I got older and began to baby-sit, I found I loved teaching little kids how to recognize colors or how to count to 10. My mom, a third-grade teacher, encouraged me to pursue teaching and was proud to know I would follow in her footsteps. So, as soon as I got to school, I felt confident about declaring a major in education. I felt fortunate to be so sure of what I was going to do.
Going to Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, was part of my plan. My sister and other family members had graduated from there, and I felt at home on campus. I believed the school would prepare me to be the amazing teacher I had always wanted to be. I never imagined things wouldn't work out. I hadn't considered that my plans might not be the same as God's plans.
Something Wasn't Right
Over the next two years, I faithfully pursued my major in education. But something wasn't right. As hard as I tried, I couldn't explain away the constant feeling of drudgery. I loathed writing lesson plans, and they often bombed in the classroom. I felt overwhelmed by being the educator, mentor and disciplinarian for each child.
Student teaching meant endless preparation and having to keep constant control over every aspect of the classroom. On the way to school to teach math to a group of third graders, I'd gaze out the car window and wish that I could be turned into a squirrel whose only worry is finding the next acorn. That's when I knew I couldn't ignore the symptoms any longer. Longing to be a rodent rather than face the reality of entering the doors of Cutler Elementary was a huge warning sign for me. It told me that if I continued to pursue teaching, I was going to be miserable for a very long time. My mom tried to encourage me to stick with it, but I was convinced I needed to drop my education major, a realization that left me feeling confused and unsettled. What had happened to my plan?
A few weeks later I decided to major in English. I had always enjoyed reading and writing, but I wondered how I could manage to fulfill all the requirements with only two years left before graduation. What am I going to do with an English major anyway? What if I'm not smart enough to be an English major?
I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, and I found that unbearably distressing. I cried. I got depressed. I hated feeling like I didn't have a purpose or any goals. What I hated even more, though, was that I wasn't in control of my future anymore.
In an almost panicky state of mind, I began to think, Where do I go from here? I felt so far from God. And I knew that was a big part of the problem. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I began to pray.
A Bigger Purpose
As I searched for God's help, a question began to form in my thoughts: Is college really all about me and the dreams I'd like to accomplish? Obviously not, since my dreams were shot to the ground. I felt foolish, selfish and out of sync with who God wanted me to be. Wasn't college supposed to get me in sync with who God wanted me to be? To allow God to mold and shape me as his own? Without any goals in mind, I began to find that my purpose rested solely in serving God one day at a time.
I thought my major determined my future, but God is much more powerful than anything I decide to major in. As an incoming freshman, my plans had blinded me, but when they fell through, my eyes became open to what God could call me to do, whatever it might be. From then on, I tried to see my classes as opportunities to explore my gifts, keeping an open mind and heart concerning the unique calling God has for me.