College has taught me a lot of things, but really important to me it has taught me a lot about myself. And that just continues to be unfolded….
Some freshmen come into college knowing exactly who they are, what they want to be like, and the personality that they want to display… well, that wasn’t me. And the thing was, that I didn’t even realize that. I came into Hope thinking that I was an introvert… for anybody that knows me now, they would laugh at that statement. Heck, I do. I am FAR from an introvert as far as personality tests go. I LOVE PEOPLE. I love being surrounded by them, I don’t like being alone too long, and I am constantly getting involved in things that make me meet new people. It’s fantastical.
If I had to label what I am, I am a completive and reflective extravert (cause I still need some alone time to figure out who I am and to be still). That is just one example of something I learned about myself, one of many. A tool that Hope Career Development Center provides, called StrengthsQuest, really helped me discover more about me during my freshman year. In this test, you have to answer questions within a certain time limit that deal with your personality. By the end of the test, the program will have generated your top 5 strengths out of 35.
I came in as math education major and dropped it after the first day of Calculus II. It’s not that it was super hard, I just didn’t enjoy it, so I knew “Math Ed” was not for me. So there I figuratively swam in the realm of the “undecided” major. I had some idea of other possible majors, but I just kept getting hit with waves of confusion. My dad realized I was in this “lost state” and suggested that I take a test that he had heard about during Orientation, the “StrengthsQuest.” I decided, what the heck, and signed up. I took the test and received my top 5 strengths: Discipline, Responsibility, Harmony, Belief, and Connectedness. They didn’t really mean anything, not until I meet with an employee at the Career Development Center that specialized in StrengthsQuest.
I learned a lot through that meeting and reflecting about it (and myself) afterward. I learned that my strengths shined through in executing skills, shown by my Discipline and Responsibility. I had tangible proof for myself that I was actually trying to put Jesus at the center of everything, as shown by the combination of my belief and connectedness. But most importantly, I learned that if I wanted my strengths to be at their top notch, then I had to BELIEVE in the purpose and mission behind what I was doing. That helped me choose more of a major, because I now knew it had to be something I believed in and its purpose.
Now here I am with the same majors and still really enjoying them. Something I wasn’t really enjoying lately was myself. Some of that was due to my summer. Summer was hard for me. I took a toll on my faith and on my personality. For most of the summer, I didn’t like me, which is a hard thing to live with. I came to school starting my sophomore year with that baggage. It was good to be back at Hope, yet I still was completely healed nor at peace with myself. I keep striving to get back to the second semester freshman “John Luke” that was on fire for Jesus and knew himself…but I didn’t know myself, and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get back. I had an uncomfortable “soul” ache and a division from God, but I didn’t know why.
In one of my classes this year, employees from the Career Development Center came in and we talked about the StrengthsQuest. I asked the question, “If someone takes the test again, will their strengths be different or basically stay the same?” They answered with the latter. For me, that answer wasn’t good enough. I knew I needed for myself to take the test again to see if, in fact, I hadn’t changed that much or if all the baggage and challenges I had this summer and the beginning of the year, had taken its toll and changed me. So I retook it….and low and behold, my strengths changed. I still had “Discipline” and “Belief,” but lost my other strengths. Instead they were replaced with strengths that I didn’t understand nor pictured with who I thought I was. The new results of my test made me feel even more broken and confused than I already was.
Now at this point, some of you may be thinking…”That is a lot of dependency to put a computer-generated test.” Well, it wasn’t that. What I needed from this test was to be affirmed that I had changed, and it did just that, but the problem was, that I didn’t know how to handle that.
But thankfully, good has come out of this. I realized from this test, that I was so confused and distraught because I was searching for the “old John Luke.” Well guess what!?!?! THAT OLD JOHN LUKE WAS GONE! I was searching for something I could not find; I was lost, lost in my faith, lost in myself. I. Was. Lost. With that enlightenment, I realized that healing from my baggage wouldn’t come from looking back and seeking the past, but looking forward and trying to understand the new me. The new me has some of the “old John Luke” in me still, but I have changed and I must now work with that. I now know I am on the upward scale of healing, and what a joy that is.
College is a time of finding out who you are, through both the sorrows and the joys and that is something I can thank God for.