Confessions of a College Control Freak

Hi, everybody! I’m Emi, a sophomore digital media production major here at Dordt, and I’m new to the Dordt Life crew this semester. I like dogs, Bunsen Brew cinnamon rolls, and writing unnecessary commentary about myself in a blog post that is most certainly not a bio - but, I digress. I do actually have something of substance to share with you today.

A long time ago, in a dorm room far, far away, I was a control freak. By a long time ago, I mean last year, and by far, far away, I mean West Hall, but again, I digress.

I remember the summer before I came to Dordt, I kept reminding myself that I had to be on top of things at college. “College is for grown ups,” I told myself, “grown ups get things done on time, don’t get behind on anything, and they definitely don’t get overwhelmed. Not ever.”

Little did I know, speaking to myself in this rigid, unforgiving tone was anything but helpful in preparing me for my collegiate career. I mistakenly thought that the only road to academic success was the one paved with straight A’s.

This constant urge to be perfect quickly flooded every aspect of my life. My existence became nothing but strict checklists, immovable daily schedules - the whole nine yards. At first, it was incredible. I had absolutely everything under control, and I felt like I could handle whatever life chucked at me. That is, until life chucked some things at me.

The main problem with this mode of thinking is that you simply cannot prepare for everything that is inevitably going to come your way. It’s a heartbreaking way of operating day-to-day, and it does nothing but squeeze joy out of what ought to be some of the best years of your life. So, if my story sounds anything like your current situation, I have a few things to say:

1. Your inherent value does not lie in a grade letter.

I cannot stress this enough. Your gift of worth comes from your identity in Jesus Christ, not that Core 140 paper that you bombed last week. If you are going to strive at anything, I beg you to work on fully grounding yourself in Christ.

2. If you must plan, leave room for the un-plan-able.

Life is just plain unpredictable. If you welcome grace into your personal daily goals, you’ll find that some anxieties just melt away along with your unrealistic expectations.

3. Exercise your spontaneity muscles.

One of my fondest memories of my fall semester freshman year was when I agreed to drive with a couple friends to a Taco Bell that was twenty minutes away. It was a Wednesday afternoon in one of the busiest weeks I had that semester. To this day, I am unsure of what possessed me to tag along on this hour-long escapade when I had so many things due the very next day, but I’m sure glad I made that decision. It was this kick of spontaneity that got me through the rest of that week. I really needed that reminder that it’s okay to have fun; to go on tex-mex adventures with people I’ve only known for a month. I also needed the reminder that I had friends, people who were on my side. We were all stressed, but the friendship we shared pulled us through it.

It took me a year to realize, but - surprise, surprise - being consumed by the goal of perfection is not freedom in Christ. Of course, homework is important and you should make an effort to do it to the best of your ability. Academic success is important, but it should never be the king. Do not allow a midterm to reduce you to a desk-ridden robot.

My vision for my adult life was way outta line. I spent too much time trying to get everything under control because I thought adults were supposed to have everything together. But, actually, a big factor in personal maturity is recognizing that some things in life are simply out of human control. So: take your time, allow for mistakes, give it another try, then move on. Let your hair down. Get some burritos on the cheap. Love Jesus with your whole heart. Repeat.

- Emi