Underneath this age is the heart of a child

It’s been three years since I graduated from FSU. I remember much of that day vividly, though I really didn’t journal about it. I remember crying when Philip and Stacy left my house the night before because I didn’t know what to expect of our still-young friendships. I remember pulling over on my way to Schoolfield’s graduation party and crying off my make up. I was suddenly unsure about the early graduation I’d so long anticipated. I remember an early dinner at Carraba’s and running from Wescott to the Civic Center after taking pictures. I remember the blisters that made for a painful walk across the stage. I remember a half-hearted visit to Stetson’s.

Then just as quickly as it began, it was over. I was a college graduate, young and uncertain of what was next. I had a graduate school acceptance on one hand and a whole lot of nothing on the other.

I don’t remember when I decided not to go to Alabama, though I remember the fear and self consciousness that held me back. And I can still vividly recall the night when I began to reconsider that decision.

I’d been a graduate for almost six months by then—I was actually one day shy of that anniversary. I knew I couldn’t stay in my current master’s program. I was clinging to memories that had passed and friendships that were changing.

Against that backdrop, a stranger innocently asked why I hadn’t gone to Alabama. Though I risk crediting that simple question with too much power, it was then that I began to take slow, tentative steps toward Tuscaloosa.

It was in a coffee shop in that small Southern city that I celebrated the first year I’d held a bachelor’s degree. That degree hadn’t gotten me far at that point—I hadn’t even decided yet to enroll in the master’s program from which I would eventually graduate. But I was finally at a point where I was willing to take risks (however small). I was only 21 years old.

I guess I have grown up a bit in the years since my college graduation. I’m more confident in my relationships. My friends are still terribly important to me, but I don’t base major life decisions on them anymore. Though they do provide a sense of security, I’ve seen how my relationships grow, change and encourage me regardless of what city and state I call home.

Now I have a master’s degree. I guess that’s the most obvious difference, but its significance is more in the gamble and passion that earned it than in the degree itself. Student loans and writing at the risk of rejection aren’t what most thrill seekers pursue, but they were big steps for a little girl who thought she had life planned out at age 20.

I’m where I dared to dream I’d be. When I took the GRE with little preparation and a runny nose, it was with the hope of earning an education and a job in Sweet Home Alabama. On this day three years ago, I was scared to take that chance.

I think the 20-year-old me would be proud of who her 23-year-old self has become.


Filed under Autobiography, Be true to your school, Faith, Insecurity

4 Responses to Underneath this age is the heart of a child

  1. alisa

    Maybe 24 year old you will learn to LOVE Tuscaloosa for all her glory.

  2. in three weeks it’ll be 4 years since i graduated clemson. ack!

  3. Rick

    Eh, 23, 24, what’s in a year? 😛

    Seriously, I liked this journal entry. I think this can have much impact for your brothers and sisters, and future family, as you progress in the name of Christ.

    I thought I’d share a song of mine with you in keeping testimonies in mind as a powerful investment of fellowship. I’ve been studying the Gospel of John since early last year, thinking of the struggles I have as a sinner and what I need to love for new life in Christ. I studied John 4:5-6 last autumn, and asked the Holy Spirit to help me see my struggles and learn well from the Scripture passage. I got to thinking about my need to love devoting my future family to the covenant of God. If I got married and had kids, I need to love leading my household in the Good News, with my testimony and teachings. And I need to trust that the Spirit of God will lead my children and future generations to Christ with my confession of Christ. He will bless relationship with them using my testimony and teachings for them in that tangible way. And they will have impact with their testimonies of the covenant to their communities. And I ended up writing a song from that meditation time. I’ve kept a written diary of my times of struggle and progressions since early last year, and I came to appreciate using my diary as a blessing for my future children from John 4:5-6. My future ancestors will learn from my progressions and struggles in my gift of my diary. And I reflected on that for the song.

    As a side note about songwriting, I don’t know how to read or write music, or play an instrument. But I can understand melodies, and am somewhat decent at molding them as songs with my mind. So at least this is a poem, albeit with a cappella foundation. Hopefully I can flesh it out to music in the future. I hope this is a help to you for future diary writings.

    I don’t have a blog site, but have AIM as the extent of my Internet geekdom (screen name: RMPalma). So now you know how to flame me. 🙂 I hope this finds you well.

    P.S.: Sorry I forgot to share this. The poem excerpt I shared the last time, and the cool story behind it, comes from this link: http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/g/m/gmovesmw.htm

    “So He came to a city of Sumaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.” John 4:5-6

    “A Book for All My Sons”

    In a Book of covenant
    With my child in time,
    I set my name with a cross
    With new offspring of mine.
    My binder of words, it speaks
    Of rage and rest I breathe,
    One accord across ages
    My descendants receive.
    By the Spirit of union,
    I leave my sins undone,
    Generations brought to rest,
    A book for all my sons.

    All my children I conceive,
    Their flesh and blood, I know;
    Their struggles with bitter hands
    Are flames of war I sow.
    My girls die for men of strength,
    My strength in bridges burned;
    My boys die for love of seed,
    For seed that I have yearned.
    By the Spirit of union,
    I leave my sins undone,
    Generations brought to rest,
    A book for all my sons.

    With my songs of my days as
    My gift for times ahead,
    I share in a seal of grace
    For rebirths from the dead,
    My kinfolks in baptisms,
    Their cities bound to peace,
    Resurrections from all fears
    With all despairs long ceased.
    By the Spirit of union,
    I leave my sins undone,
    Generations brought to rest,
    A book for all my sons.

    (written Nov. 28, 2004)

  4. TuscaPhil

    All of your “going through changes” and “growing up” stuff has inspired me to alter my name…I’m sure you’ll get quite the kick out of it.

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