I had previously promised no soul-searching, sappy posts on the blog, but in honor of #IUDay, I thought my alma mater deserved a special shout-out.
If you know me, you know that every time I talk about Indiana University, my words are quickly followed by big (happy) crocodile tears streaming down my face. People always ask me, “Why do you cry when you talk about IU?” And part of me wants to say, “I’m grieving the loss of my alcohol tolerance,” but the real reason is that without my experience at IU, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I almost didn’t end up at IU. I had my mind made up to attend the University of Missouri, and at the last minute I changed my mind for a boy because I was weak and hadn’t quite developed into the boss bitch you see before you today. PSA: NEVER FOLLOW THE BOY, HOW FUCKING CLICHÉ!
Freshman year was tough for me, and I had submitted an application to transfer. My mom begged me to stay at IU for one more semester, so I did because moms know everything. At this point, I was feeling extremely lost. Nothing about my experience was what I envisioned college being like – I hated my major, I wasn’t making friends and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to take the bus. I was also dealing with a handful of personal issues that left me feeling absolutely destroyed. One day, I decided to go to church, because when food and shopping can’t help you, it’s time to turn to Jesus.
I should probably preface what I’m about to tell you with a little background information. I’m a huge believer that from the day we’re born, our destinies are already set in motion. In my head I think of God putting all your major life moments in a treasure box with your name on it and storing it on a big shelf in heaven made out of clouds. (No, seriously.) I believe you can take different paths to get to your “end goals” (as I call them) but ultimately, everything you experience in your life happens to prepare you for what’s in your box. Long story short, everything happens for a reason.
Anyway, I’m in church and I kneel down and silently say to God, “You have to send me a sign that everything’s going to be okay, because I don’t know if I can get through this.” This next part is where the tears normally starting coming. During the sign of peace, the woman next to me leans in, gives me a huge hug and whispers, “I promise it will all be okay.” Every hair on my body stood up, and I burst into tears. She apologized for upsetting me, but little did she know she did far from upset me – she was my sign. I call this my “come to Jesus” moment. Everyone needs one.
After that I changed my major and found my home at the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. I got involved on campus and as a result found lifelong friends within those organizations. To occupy the rest of my free time, I got a cool job that came with an even cooler boss (Hi, Ali.) And most importantly, I learned a lot about myself during my 4 years at IU. I learned that it’s okay to be alone. I learned that it’s okay to fail. I learned about my own self-worth. I learned that you do not find a happy life, you make one. I also learned that if a homeless man is holding your hair back while you’re puking in the alley between Dunnkirk and Upstairs, maybe it’s time to call it a night, but that’s a whole nother story.
I cry when I talk about IU, because without the people I met and experiences I had there, I know I wouldn’t be me. IU gave me the confidence I needed to be who I am today. IU didn’t just change my life, it gave me life.
When I’m done crying, the follow-up question I usually get is, “Why do IU people (yes we’re our own breed) love IU so much?” I might be biased, but I think we share this bond as Hoosiers that you wouldn’t understand from the outside looking in. We truly are a family. But instead of gathering for family dinners to eat home cooked meals, we gather at Kilroy’s for long islands and too many renditions of “Sweet Caroline.” IU is so much more than just college to us – it’s home.
So, thank you Indiana University for allowing me the privilege to be part of the IU family. There is nothing in this world that makes me prouder than being a Hoosier.
Happy IU Day!