Thoughts on Graduating College.

University of Valley Forge had a great ceremony for graduation on Friday. It was so nice to see the smiles on my family and friend's faces and get to say our goodbyes and celebrate one last time. In fact, the weekend was so busy filled with celebrating that I didn't get to finish this post until today. So all though this should have been posted Friday, I'm posting it Sunday evening. Enjoy!


I really cannot believe that I am already here. I finished four years for my undergraduate. This afternoon I will walk across that stage in front all of my peers and family, shake the hand of the president of Valley Forge, walk off the stage, snap a few photos and then be finished.

All the late nights in the library, all the piles of homework, going to the grocery store at 2am, having that third cup of coffee at 11am, taking a nap at 2pm, then doing it all over again... all that will be left behind after I walk off of that stage. All the tears of frustration and confusing questions about my major, all the awkward encounters with people and little arguments with friends, all of it will be left behind after I walk off that stage. We'll snap a few photos and give a few hugs and then it'll all be over. How weird is that? Something that you've been waiting for for at least 4 years is now over in a matter of 2 hours!

I thought that to wrap up my college experience, I would share a few things that I learned and some thoughts that I've been having about the whole season of life I am about to leave. Writing this post is going to be a little tough, because I'm sure that I will shed a few tears when I think of the memories (good and bad) that were made over the course of the last 4 years.

Wait on God. Just take a moment and breathe before making a decision. Say a prayer, asking for guidance and patience. There were so many times that I found myself making a decision without asking for guidance and it never really brought me to where I needed to be. I've learned that God is always good and always has the best in mind for us so we need to trust him, even when we don't understand or if it takes longer than we expect.

Persevere. Don't give up. Not on your classes, not on the people in your life, not on yourself. Keep trying and keep pushing yourself to be the best you can be. Sometimes people will give up and blame others or their situation but that doesn't fix anything in life. School gets hard, life throws curve balls, and growing up is stressful and weird sometimes. Don't give up on yourself or whatever it is you're striving for. Stay strong!

Keep your health in mind.  The freshman 15 is a real thing. That doesn't mean you need to suffer from it! Stay away from pizza 4 nights in a row and french fries for lunch every day (I had to force myself to get salad some days... fries are just so good guys!) There are plenty of options, even as a poor college student! Buy fruits and veggies and make use of that mini fridge. Stop by the salad bar every once in a while and choose water over soda! (seriously is makes all the difference).

Just because someone said so, that doesn't make it true. College is a time when you meet new people. People that can be really similar to friends and family at home, or really different. You might find your kindred spirit or the love of your life! But I can guarantee that you'll meet at least one or two people who just aren't your cup of tea, and in fact they might even remind you of it. I'm not sure why, (and you'd think I would have some sort of clue being a psychology major) but there are mean people in the world. Just because someone says something about you or to you that gets you down, doesn't make it true. 
I am a firm believer at trying to be empathetic and understanding, but something I learned this year is that if you constantly try to analyze everything and let yourself get hurt by every negative person in life then you'll just be really sad and downcast. Nobody has time for that! Find the truth, find the joy, and live life to the fullest. Don't let some snide comment or hurtful remark get under your skin!

Comparison is the thief of joy. This one was big for me. The past 4 years, I was an insecure little girl trying to learn how to be a confident, strong adult. I would like to say that I'm finally there but there are definitely days where I look at someone's job or someone's blog and think "Man I wish I could get there." Thinking like that only discourages me though. I need to remember that I am in a season of life where I am figuring things out like marriage, and life after college, and getting a real-world, full time job! I need to embrace where I am and not let myself compare my GPA or my bank account to others'. God has placed me where he wants me and everyday I am learning, which excites me! With hard work and self-affirmation I know that I can get where I am going without comparing myself and creating unnecessary road blocks.

Love is a choice, and when you make it it's the best one there is. If you've been following my blog, or if you know Mark and I in real life then you probably know the gist of our story. We dated for almost three years and then spent a little time apart working on out relationship with God individually and trying to just grow a little and mature. Sometimes it's really helpful for a couple to take time and focus on what God is calling them to, to see if they're meant to stay together and that's what we did. Thankfully, God's plan is for us to be together and I have such a joy and peace in my heart about it now!
Throughout the whole experience there is one thing I learned that I think a lot of people need to hear. Love is a choice. Yes, you can feel an emotion and you can love things and people and places, but to fully and selflessly love someone you have to make a decision. The kind of love that two people who want to get married have for one another is beautiful, but it isn't enough to keep a marriage going. There needs to be kindness, sacrifice, and understanding. A marriage is a beautiful thing, but it also requires hard work and patience. I am so excited to make the choice to love Mark selflessly everyday. The past 4 years have taught me a lot about love and selflessness and the patience and grace required to have a life filled with them. God is so good and patient with us as we try to learn these things, and for that I am thankful!

Life is a mess, but we've got our source of Strength. I can't stress enough how often there were days when I would go back to my dorm room and cry from being stressed or angry or worried about finances or just plain tired. A lot of tears were shed, and that doesn't just go away as I get older. I'm realizing that life is hard. This world is a mess and there's not much that I personally can do about it except pray and try to give it all to God. After all, he is my only source of true peace and strength. God knows what he's doing and some days I have to remember that. Graduating college and moving on to a new place in life won't change the way life works. It won't get rid of sickness, unemployment, to frustration with other people. Life is just that way, but we need to make the most of it and find God in every situation. 
Maybe it's good that I didn't have time until today to post this because in church this morning, my pastor said, "if you're going to look for the negative and the demon behind every corner, you'll find it! Why not start looking for God and joy?" I thought that embodied this point perfectly. We don't have to seek out the bad. We don't have to try and find things to complain about. Life can be good, if we choose to focus on the positive! People don't enjoy spending time with cynics and grumpy complainers (that's another lesson I've been learning too...I used to be a terrible complainer). 

Well, now that I've racked my brain for a few tidbits of "wisdom" that I learned over the last 4 years, I think I'll sleep for a week! It's so good to be done with school... for now at least!

If you'd like to read some more thoughts from another college grad, check out a new post on Oakmoss!


  1. One of my favorite posts ever by you, Natalie :) Thanks for sharing all that wisdom and your experiences. Congrats on graduating!!! You have such a beautiful future ahead of you!

  2. This is beautiful.
    I especially agree with the points about trusting and waiting on God, love being a choice, and that sometimes, no matter what we do, people are just going to be mean....and that is ok.
    My boyfriend (now hubby) through college and I learned a lot about our own selfishness through our relationship- BUT it constantly helps us to see the love and patience we have for each other, and more importantly, the forgiveness God has for us.

    Kristin // The Peculiar Treasure

  3. Yes to all of this. But especially the ones on comparison and God as our strength! Congrats on graduating :)

  4. Thank you Bonnie :) You're so sweet and I am so blessed to have been able to meet you and enjoy your company. Thank you for the encouragement!

  5. I'm graduating in just five days and these are all ringing true with me! It's so crazy that I'll be packing up and moving on so soon- I feel like I just got here!

  6. Natalie, this post is AWESOME. Usually I find myself just skimming other peoples' blog posts, but I read every beautifully written word of this. I'm about to be a senior, and I agree with all of your sentiments (although I'm sure they'll evolve even more to hopefully where you are thinking now once I'm also walking across the stage!). I absolutely love the quote your pastor shared. That's going to be my motivation throughout this week to be looking for joy always and keep God at the forefront of it all! Thank you for writing this, and MAJOR CONGRATULATIONS, girl!!!

  7. Thank you Erica! Your congratulations mean a lot :) I'm glad that this post spoke to you and that you were encouraged! Best wishes with your senior year!!

  8. Isn't it such a strange feeling?

  9. French fries for lunch everyday.... I can't help but think you had me in mind when writing those words hahahahaha. I love you, Natalie, and your words are so beautiful and fresh.
    I miss you bunches <3

  10. Congratulations on your graduation!


  11. Such a great post and congratulations on graduating college! I know college is not an easy road - so glad you persevered. If you seek the Lord, He will definitely guide your path...Go sleep for a week and recuperate from being tired...
    I can identify with some of you mentioned even as a wife and mommy. Thank you for a great post!

  12. I miss you too Amy! And I was mostly thinking of myself when talking about the fries....although you were my partner in crime ;) Love you! I'm so glad that we were able to become friends this year.

  13. Thank you for reading :) I'm glad that you enjoyed it and yes, I hope to sleep in for a few days!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts