It was a scorching day in the middle of August. The sun was beating down on my burnt shoulders, and I was petrified. What was I thinking? Why did I come here? These people were practically strangers. Why did they care if I did this or not?
“Mackenzie, look how easy it is!” yelled a crazy person before running and jumping off the highest cliff I had ever seen at Heber Springs.
After 30 minutes of uncertainty and extreme butterflies, the encouraging words from these new friends made a difference. Somehow my planted feet left the ground, launching me through the open air and high above the lake before being submerged into the water below.
That day was the beginning of countless lessons on friendship, faith and fearlessness that came from my freshman year at Harding. Many challenges and opportunities worked together to forge me into much of the person that I am today. Old fears were conquered and new interests emerged as unimaginable doors opened.
To all of those freshmen out there wrapping up your first week of college life, I encourage you to remember these three tips to make the most out of your freshman year.
1. Keep your eyes open.
You are surrounded by possibilities. Throw away any stereotypes you may have heard about a club or event, and experience it for yourself! Always be on the lookout for different ways to get involved including service projects, intramural sports or local small groups. Make conversation with that person that sits behind you in chapel instead of looking down at your phone. Make it your mission to encourage one person each day as some of your friends may struggle with the transition to college life.
2. Embrace the all-nighters.
Developing good study habits early on is a great idea, but I can’t say I followed this piece of advice too often. Did you stay at Sonic with everyone until curfew instead of working on that stack of homework? Return to your room, make a fresh pot of coffee and learn to embrace the all-nighter. Hang out in your dorm lobby or study room with friends. The work always gets done somehow, and the memories will be priceless.
3. Savor each day.
As tempting as it may be to visit home every other weekend, choose to spend quality time with new friends instead. Your investment will pay off in dividends in the years to come. Find creative things to do around Searcy, check out one of the many great hiking trails up in the Ozarks, or spend a slow Saturday morning at Midnight Oil. Each day is a gift, and your time this year is precious. Remember to always savor each day and thank God for the gift of being able to attend a university like Harding.
Mackenzie Lee (‘14)
Director of Missouri Safe and Sober