I recently had the pleasure of recording for the Longwood Alumni podcast. I was asked many questions about my time at Longwood, my travels, and my career. After I left, there was one question in particular that I couldn't stop thinking about because in the moment I don't think my answer was sufficient enough.
"How did Longwood prepare you for life outside of Farmville?"
It's a simple enough question. I even had time to prepare my answer before the interview. But, for some reason I couldn't quite find the words to properly explain how Longwood prepared me for life outside Farmville.
I've always been better at processing my thoughts with time and expressing them in the written form rather than verbally. Of course, it's not a simple answer but I'm going to attempt it again here.
My time at Longwood can be described as four years squeezed between the tears I had when I was left alone in my freshman dorm room and the tears I had when I stepped on the stage at my commencement ceremony. When I started, I was only 17 years old. I was nowhere near ready for what that year had in store for me. I didn't know it at the time, but I didn't even know myself. Better yet, I hadn't yet had the chance to learn who I wanted to be.
Even though I wasn't ready, I did it anyway. I went to class. I socialized on the hallway. I joined clubs. Four short years later, I completed a degree. I picked up a minor. I had professors I trusted. I had great roommates. I had a lengthy resume. I completed a research project.
Because of all that, I had the most important thing: friends. It may sound silly but I made a great group of friends with my peers as well as some faculty and staff. Friends that I laughed with, cried with, worked with, argued with, and supported.
So, how did Longwood prepare me for life outside Farmville? It some ways it didn't. There are parts of those four years that seem like a dream now. But, here's how it did: I learned to work with people, to think for myself, to speak up when I needed to, and to shut up when I needed to. I made mistakes and I learned from them. I matured from the shy, insecure freshman with no friends to an outgoing, successful graduating senior.
In the year since graduating, I made a point to meet more people, have deeper conversations, listen to my elders, and nurture important friendships. In a nutshell, Longwood prepared me to get the most out of my personal and professional relationships. I learned that I can't get anywhere on my own and, more importantly, that I don't want to. Longwood gave me a support system that I will have for the rest of my life.