Friday, May 4, 2012

The Third Lap is Always the Hardest

Back in seventh grade, the worst 9 minutes of every week took place on Wednesdays in the afternoon about 2:00. That was when we all had to run the dreaded mile in gym class. A mile isn't a big deal. I understand that. I played soccer for most of my life, so I was generally fine with running. But that particular year, I had these weird sharp pains in my achilles tendon that no one could explain, and I also for some reason got the worst side stitches imaginable. The main thing I remember is that the third lap was always the worst. The first lap I always felt fine. The second was a little harder, but I still kept my head up. But by the time I got to the third lap, I usually had stabbing pains in my ankles, and at times I would be coughing from the pains in my rib cage from side stitches. During the fourth lap, the end was in sight, so all was well.

By the time I reached high school, I figured out how to prevent side stitches, I'd played soccer for years, I ran for fun (worked out obsessively is more accurate), and I finished the mile first most of the time. That's not really much to brag about, though, considering there were fewer than 20 people in my class.

But regardless of how much I enjoy running now, I still remember how much I used to dread Wednesdays and particularly how much I hated that third lap.

Interestingly, people say similar things about the third year of college. "Oh, that's when everything gets INTERESTING," they say. Apparently most people get into their major classes at that point, work more, study more, and socialize less. Some people even say that because of all of the stress, people often have more trouble getting along with each other and often have friend problems and cause drama. At least, that's what most of my older college friends have told me. 

I like to say that every subsequent year after my senior year of high school is the new best year of my life. Freshman year was fantastic; sophomore year was better. Would junior year measure up? I thought my classes couldn't possibly be harder because of the almost inhuman amount of time I put into my classes sophomore year. So it couldn't be that bad, right? Junior year was hard... and I learned SO much. Can it still be considered the best year yet?

I think yes. I think yes because I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm fairly different from the girl who leaped from working at a summer camp in NY back to KY for round three of college. You know, I swear I learned more this year than freshman year and sophomore year combined. I made a list of all the things I learned last semester. I'm not going to do that now. Instead, I'm going to focus on a few main things I've been thinking about.

I've learned that there are certain people in this world that when I'm with them, everything is all right. No matter what. I haven't figured out what it is about them yet. There are only a few people I know who are like that, and I don't think everyone else necessarily feels that way about them. I'm not going to list who they are here. But I will say that I think they're a gift from God. The three I'm thinking of now are all close friends of mine, one of whom I met this year. Maybe they have the gift of peace or something. I don't know. But just sitting and talking with them is like breathing fresh air, understanding the right perspective, and resting in God's presence, all rolled into one. I love these people.

One thing about me is that I am very calculating. Sometimes that has negative connotations. But what I mean is that I like to analyze things, and I need to have ALL the facts before I make a decision. When choosing a college, that's what I did. When choosing a major, that's what I did. But more and more, God has called me to make decisions based partially or fully on faith. This has been what I'd refer to as "going out on a limb semester" for Melissa. At one point, I had no idea where or with whom I was living next year, I had to apply for a job without knowing whom I'd be working with, complete multiple projects that just thinking about literally scared me, and have some pretty hard conversations with people that I won't go into. I feel like God was calling me to trust Him. "No, Melissa—you can't have all the facts. Just do it," I feel like He was saying. For several weeks, I was praying about a certain issue, and all God would say to me was "Be still and know I am God." I did. And He worked things out in ways I would never have expected. God's ideas are better than mine. Maybe in another post I'll discuss one in detail.

I've spent a great deal of brainpower considering the concept of time. I discovered last year that when I was regularly sleeping for only four hours per night, I actually lived an extra day every two weeks than the average person. Obviously that wasn't healthy, but I still thought it was interesting. But anyway, time is really interesting. Ten years ago, I was less than five feet tall, I had never heard of the college I now attend, collecting Beanie Babies seemed really important, and we still had dial-up in our house. What do I spend my time doing? I've started examining every moment I live and wondering if what I am doing is the best thing to be doing. I've noticed how much time I need to spend sitting around doing nothing in order to recharge from the day. I've learned that I'm an an out-going introvert. Oxymoron? Actually, no.

Okay, now I feel like I'm rambling. But I wanted to get all that stuff out. My next few posts are going to be various stories about what has happened in my life recently. It's been kind of ridiculous, mostly amusing, and above all, totally unexpected.

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