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Live and Learn

Summer has the ability to be a very transformative time in a college student’s life.  We get to take a break from school as usual and have the opportunity to do something out of the ordinary for a few months. I would almost venture to say that for me personally, my summers during college have been more influential than the actual semesters.  
The summer after my freshman year I lived at home and worked at a surgical clinic where I had worked the last two summers of high school. It wasn’t the most adventurous summer of my life, but I did learn things about myself. First, I learned that I needed to take better advantage of my summers. Not that living at home is a bad thing.  It’s not. But I needed something different during my summers. I needed to do something other than what I did during my high school summers.  
Last summer I did an internship at Interfaith Compassion Ministry in town, and it was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I learned a lot. I learned that I’m not the only person in the world with problems and that my problems often pale in comparison to those of others. I learned a lot about the effects of unemployment and the plight of a private non-profit. I came out of last summer a less judgmental person.
Another wonderful part of last summer was getting to live in Oxford. Oxford in the summer is awesome. Traffic is practically nonexistent, and building relationships with people is just easier. Between my internship and getting to interact with other people that I don’t always have time for during the semester, I felt more well-rounded going into my junior year.
Now, this summer is drawing to a close. I did another internship this year. I’ve been working at the The Orchard in Tupelo which is the church that planted The Orchard Oxford, and once again, my summer experience has in many ways been more valuable to me than anything that I’ve learned in classroom. So, here’s what I’ve learned this summer:
1. Listen. And listen without judgment. I’ve met and had conversations with a lot of people this summer, and if there’s one thing that I’ve learned it’s that listening is important.  But listening isn’t nearly as effective if you can’t do it without berating the person you’re listening to in your mind. Sometimes people just need to talk, and often during those times, judgement is the last thing they need.
2. Love. Again, without judgment. Everyone needs love, and everyone has a reason for the way they are today. If someone seems cold or rude, there’s more than likely a reason for it. Very rarely are people just mean without there being some reason in their past for it. It’s hard to love people sometimes, but honestly, there’s nothing more rewarding (in my opinion) than love. It’s also important to love yourself without judgment.  If you hate yourself, odds are some of that spills into how you deal with others as well.
3. Calm down. I’m an anxious person by nature. I have been since I was a kid, but I’ve learned over and over again that worry is just plain unhealthy and often unnecessary. Avoid it. Worrying isn’t worth your time and can often keep you from just living your life.  
4. Enjoy. Soak up every minute of your summer experiences. Let yourself fully engage in each moment, and try new and different things.  
The semester will be starting before we know it, but summer memories will stay with you. Have fun these last few weeks of summer and learn as much as you can outside of the classroom.