100 Hours on the Interstate

You learn a lot in college. A lot about yourself. A lot about how to function as a real life adult. A lot about how to get by even when it’s hard.

I’ve learned a lot so far in Gainesville, and I’m sure there will be a post all about that before too long, but there’s another place over these last couple years where I’ve learned a lot, so now I suppose it’s time to give credit where credit is due:

Dear Interstate 10, this one’s for you.

It’s funny because you never really think about the roads you take to get where you’re going. They just exist to get you from point A to point B, they’re seemingly insignificant compared to where they lead. I think that’s a shame though, because a) if it weren’t for these roads, we could never get anywhere… or it certainly would take much longer and b) since August of 2015 I’ve spent roughly 100 hours on the interstate driving to and from school and that just seems like a lot of hours to simply be passing time.

So one of the last few times of the semester that I found myself on that lovely I-10, it happened to be nighttime, and let me tell you, there are definitely some spots in that 250-mile stretch of road I drive that could use some investments in lighting… but anyways, it was dark and, usually, I like driving in the dark. There’s less distractions somehow, it’s just me and the road and whatever music I put on my playlist for that particular drive. Despite my affinity for nighttime drives, though, there are always moments I get a little nervous, because no matter who you are or what your lighting preference is, there’s something about the dark that is so unknown and can overwhelm you if you let it. And as I was driving, I realized: life itself is a lot like the interstate at night.

It can get really dark and sometimes you’re surrounded by other drivers whose headlights lend a hand to help light the way. Other times, though, you’re alone and really wishing you could see just a little further up ahead. But instead you just have to follow the lines you can see and rely on the fact that you know just over that hill lies more road and probably (hopefully) another car who can shed some light. When this all first popped in my head, I figured I was probably reaching. I mean, if you try hard enough you can relate anything to be “just like life” right? But the feeling that I was on to something didn’t pass, so here we are, half a page into this thought and hoping you’re thinking it, too.

Lucky for me, even if you aren’t thinking it, you’re here and I’m here and I get to explain it either way.

Just like when you’re on the road, life usually has two seasons:

  1. You’re alone and maybe it’s dark and you’re not really sure what to do so you just keep going. You stay focused on what you can see and do and you rely on that, you lean into it because you know (or hope) that it won’t be like this forever. You tell yourself that things are hard right now, but that’s okay. You know what you’re doing, you’ve been here before. You focus on the lines, and you just keep going.
  2. You aren’t alone anymore. There are people around you loving you and guiding you and showing you that two is better than one. This season is full of community, it has other people who are hurting and tired and confused just like you, but this time, you’re in it together. You’re all moving forward and you’re each doing your part to make it a little easier for everyone.

It’s hard to argue that the first season is in any way actually better than the second, and honestly I’m not going to try to do it. The fact of the matter (and where I didn’t actually know I was going with this quite frankly,) is that life alone is dark and scary and even though maybe it’s doable, it’s way more nerve-wracking. We weren’t made to do this life by ourselves, and yeah, maybe there are times when we need to be alone or we prefer to be alone, but it isn’t sustainable. We were made for community and that’s where the second season comes in to play.

We were made to be with other people. To lean on other people and enjoy other people and to light the way for other people. We were made to need help, to find humility in realizing we can’t do it by ourselves, to seek the company of someone going through all the things we are. That’s what we were made to do, to help each other move forward in this life even when things are hard or scary or darker than we’d like.

It seems like these seasonal transitions usually come with transitions of all other kinds. When our day-to-day situations change, it’s easy to find yourself thrown back into season number 1: alone and nervous, not sure what the road up ahead will look like. For me, the transition to college was one where I found myself drowning in a season of loneliness. My very first semester, I was getting by, doing my schoolwork and grasping at the memories and people from home, not daring to reach out to anyone new because I liked what I had. But I was alone, and I’m not sure I fully realized it at the time, but every day it was nerve-wracking. The comfort in finding a community, which I soon realized come spring semester of my freshman year, was clearly a gift from God as he gently but quickly pulled me out of the dark, and suddenly the road was overcome with headlights. It didn’t necessarily fix all my problems, it didn’t make school a sudden walk in the park and it didn’t mean I was a ball of joy every minute of every day, but it meant there were other people doing life with me, all the parts of it: good and bad. And now, here I am a year and a half later with so much to show for the things the Lord did by guiding me to a group of people to do life with. So many of my days in Gainesville that were hard and lonely quickly became doable because now I know that there are people who understand both my need to unload all my stress and my seemingly constant need for another cup of coffee.

So, if you’ve made it here to the end with me, there are just a couple things I really want you to know. First of all, like me that fall of 2015, if you’re alone and thinking you don’t really need anyone, let me go ahead and clear that up for you: not true. We all need someone. We all need a couple extra headlights for those times life’s a little darker than you thought it would be. So reach out, and don’t be afraid. Good things will come, just keep your eyes on the road.

Second of all, don’t take for granted the hours you spend getting from here to there. Don’t ignore the fact that we spend so much of our lives arriving somewhere, and so little of our lives reveling in what it took to get there. So do a little thinking, make a really great playlist, and keep driving. Maybe you won’t think of something that grabs you enough to ramble about it on the internet, but maybe you will. You never know.

xoxo

Samantha


In no way would I consider myself knowledgable about music at all, especially current music because honestly I’m somewhat pop culture-deficient, but in case you were wondering what sparks my interest in those 5 hour drives, here you go! 

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