Ten years ago I arrived on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to begin my freshman year of college in a new town with new everything.
I will let you all in on a little secret: Kathleen is not my first name. For the first 18 years of my life I was called Brittany. In 1997 my life was forever changed by the arrival of Britney Spears who was everything I was most certainly not (I was an extremely awkward, nerdy, not really pretty pre-teen) and my teenage years were haunted by the comparison. I hated it. I wanted to start over, I wanted to create a new identity, so I said, what the heck. My middle name is beautiful and classy and I’m going to use it. Ten years later people are shocked when they learn my first name and tell me I definitely “don’t look like a Brittany.”
In the ten years since I changed my name my life has undergone so many changes, too.
Back in May the priest at my church asked if I would re-launch our Episcopal Campus Ministry. It was kind of a weird full circle, I had been heavily involved in it during my own college years. How could I turn that down? I have so many good memories and I wanted to help create that space again. I think it’s important that those transitioning from teenagerdom into young adulthood should have space to grow and learn and challenge and change, even if they don’t show up 100% of the time. That space still needs to be there. Sometimes just knowing that it’s there for them can make a difference.
Last Saturday all those freshman memories came flooding back as we participated in the student move-in day “We Haul” wherein campus organizations help students move into their dormitories. A strange sense of deja vu set in when we passed by my old dorm room. This year my group had five volunteers–next year, hopefully more.
It is kind of a scary thing to start something over. Should we do the same things we did ten years ago? Should we try something new? Where are all the new buildings on campus? Is anyone even going to show up? What are we going to do with all this food if nobody shows up? I’m nervous, I’m anxious, I’m hopeful–it’s like I’m a freshman all over again.
Tomorrow our second on campus even takes place: The Blessing of the Semester. Who knows what they will think when we show up in front of the library to offer prayers and well wishes to all the students, faculty, and staff. Hopefully some will stop and participate, maybe take a flyer and show up for a meal. Maybe they will want to get involved. And maybe from all that, someone’s life will change for the better.
I’d like to request your prayers as this new endeavor is launched. Pray for me, for the students, and for all of the volunteers who are making ECM happen at MTSU.
Here’s to new beginnings!