Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How I Met Your Father, Part 4: College

{In case you need to catch up:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3}

AHHH it's actually turning out to be kind of embarrassing sharing this story, but I've started it and so now finish it I must!

Off I went to college at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. I was starting a new life at precisely the sort of college I’d dreamed of attending ever since I went on that retreat my junior year of high school. I knew no one going in, which was actually a very exhilarating prospect for someone who had graduated high school with many of the same people she’d started kindergarten with. I couldn’t wait to see what the next four years would hold! 

Now I gave the disclaimer last time, and I want to re-emphasize it here. As you read this, I really don’t want you to get the impression that I was pining away for a guy during this time in my life. Definitely, like any single girl, there were times when I hated being single, but, as you’ll see, I grew to love it. My primary priorities were my relationship with Christ, my family, my friends, my studies, Tri Chi, and all the fun I could get into while savoring this time in my life. My schedule really didn’t leave that much room in it for a guy anyway, if I were perfectly honest about it. 

As for Chris during this time, I didn’t think about him all that much -- I mean, he was a high school guy, and now here I was surrounded by college men! We had lost touch, and I assumed I’d probably never see him again. But in late-night serious conversations with my close friends in the dorm, I’d be lying if I said he never came up on occasion. I’d talk about how I had never dated anyone before, but that there was this guy that I once really liked who had seemed pretty perfect for me... and what did it all mean? What was their analysis of the situation? Did he like me? If he did, why didn’t he do something about it? He wasn’t shy, after all! He was incredibly outgoing -- that's one of the things I admired so much about him!

During Christmas break of my freshman year in college, I was asked to return to BHS to participate in the annual College Forum, which was a school assembly featuring a panel of college-aged alumni discussing various aspects of college life. The forum was sponsored by the National Honor Society, which I knew Chris was a member of. (Gracious, I sound like such a nerd... but then again, don't I always!) You’d better believe I was looking the best I was capable of looking that day! The whole time I was there, I was nervous about seeing him. When it was over, sure enough, he found me and we caught up a little bit. We didn’t talk long -- the only thing I really remember is that I asked him where he was going, and he looked confused and said, “Football practice -- wanna come?” “No, I mean to college,” I said. His answer was Samford, which had actually been my top pick at one point the year before. 
This must have been the night after the College Forum, because here I am with Rachel and Lindsey at the house I grew up in, wearing the same outfit I remember wearing that day. Y'all, I'm pretty sure flannel dress pants were considered cool at the time! It was one of my favorite outfits! :) 
After the assembly, I was hanging out with some old high school friends. One of them asked me if anything had ever happened between Chris and me. “No!” I said, taken aback. This girl didn’t know about my feelings for him. “Why is that?” “Because he was like in love with you last year,” she said. “What?!” I asked. “I asked him if he was going to ask you to prom (because I had seen you two together and it was so obvious that he liked you) and he acted all shy and changed the subject.” Excellent. Now was a fine time to be hearing that story! This information also made me a little miffed. Seriously?! Weren’t we too old for that kind of thing? He acted all shy and changed the subject?!

When I came back to town that spring, I wound up going to Bartlett’s graduation with a bunch of friends who decided to go together on a whim. I’m pretty sure it’s much smaller now, but at the time, Bartlett was a huge school. There were many people I had wanted to see but could never find in the crowd afterward. However, I immediately ran into Chris! We talked for a minute, but not for long, since it was, after all, his graduation night! He told me that was that he was still planning on attending college in Alabama and majoring in math. My friend Rachel (one of the very few who knew anything about anything) asked me if I wanted to get a picture with him. She convinced me that if I asked Melissa and Jamie (who knew Chris from being on the newspaper staff together) to be in a picture with Chris and me, it wouldn’t be too obvious. So I did. Here’s what she got:

Soooooooooo cheesy!

Old buddies at BHS graduation 2002: Me, Rachel, Jennifer A., Jennifer W., Meredith. Also, please note Melissa and Mrs. Kathy sneaking around in the background on the left - ha!
Meanwhile, I was loving my life at OBU! Everything about college life was way better than I had ever dreamed it would be. I loved my classes, I loved my friends, I loved being a part of my social club (or sorority, for all you of you not familiar with OBU culture)! 

Before I continue, you should know that OBU has a very unique environment, which I now think is actually not all that unique among Christian colleges -- somehow, you wind up with the notion very early on that you’re going to meet the one you’re going to marry while you’re there. At OBU everyone jokes about the “ring by spring or your money back” guarantee. (By the way, I did NOT get my ring by spring, and I sure never got my money back - ha!) But there’s this mindset that’s in the background of everything you do -- this pressure to find the right one and to start making plans for marriage. This isn’t an entirely bad thing. Many of my friends DID meet their husbands at OBU, and their stories are beautiful and inspiring and perfect. And I’d much prefer a mindset that errs on the side of marriage as opposed to one that errs on the side of the sort of ridiculosity that goes on at most colleges. But it can for sure be a bad thing when marriage becomes your expectation. Early on in college, I think that marriage had somehow become my expectation, probably because I had just gotten caught up in that culture. I was overly idealistic and naive, and it is a blasted good thing I was not in a relationship during this time of my life. I just wouldn’t have been mature enough to handle it! God knew exactly what He was doing when He didn’t allow me to meet anyone who was a good match for me during this time. 

Later on, after a series of circumstances involving relationships that didn’t work out and situations involving guys who didn’t actually take the initiative to pursue a real relationship but would much rather prefer to hang out or otherwise attempt to test the waters without bothering with the commitment of an actual relationship... I became rather jaded about the whole thing -- which was actually rather healthy now that I look back on it. I think I needed to be a little jaded at that point. The dating scene in reality looked nothing like I had envisioned it back when I first started thinking about it all during that retreat I went on my junior year of high school. It started to feel like many of the girls I knew who were in relationships at that point had taken matters into their own hands and made it happen, which just wasn’t me. I decided I was actually far better off being single, and for the first time in my life I really started to be totally comfortable in my singleness. I began to see the fact that I hadn't dated much as an asset rather than a liability. I made it my mission to fully invest myself where God had me at that time in my life, and to live my life to the fullest without worrying about guys. I knew God would work it all out if that was what He had for me. 

Junior year Shelby. While working on this post, I showed Chris a bunch of pictures from that time and asked him to pick his favorite, and this is what he picked.. ha! I'm wearing a friend's hat here and being poked in the face... and yet this is what he picked. **BY THE WAY, please disregard the date on these pictures. Really I have no idea why my camera was thinking it was 1992/1993... all I can figure is that, in typical Shelby fashion, I messed something up and then didn't want to waste my time straightening it back out again.
Remember Xanga from college days? My Xanga still exists, although I have set everything to private so that nothing I wrote a decade ago can come back to haunt me! I remember venting a little on the subject my junior year, and I think this kind of sums up my state of mind on the matter going into the summer before my senior year. I’m leaving a little of the context in so that it will make sense:

Anzywayz, I am verrry excited because I have now joined the step team!!  Yay!  pastedGraphic.pdf  I kind of had to because we're going to do one of the routines at Panama City with Beach Reach, but I have been wanting to anyway!  This is all so cool to me because over Christmas I really prayed quite a bit for intentional ministry opportunities this semester, and wow has God ever blessed me in that area!!  It is incredible, the opportunities that have just fallen in my lap -- I haven't had to seek any of them out!  Which is how it's gonna be when the right guy comes along, I just know it... because I refuse to seek him out!  I hate it when girls go after guys, and you won't catch me doing it either!  Sorry, I have seen a little too much of that lately and had to vent!  Guys need to be MEN and take the initiative and pursue girls.  I have the feeling a ton of guys are gonna graduate and regret that they settled for pushy, aggressive girls and let girls get away who were too classy to pursue them and who held out for guys who weren't afraid to.  But that is a whole nother Xanga entry.  pastedGraphic_1.pdf  Maybe.  And the good news is that for me personally, I am content right where God has me until He takes me somewhere else!!  pastedGraphic_2.pdf

For the record, I think that’s the most angsty I ever got on my Xanga site -- ha! I remember reading it and re-reading it before I posted it to make sure I wasn’t saying something I’d regret. (Besides “anzywayz,” you know.) I mean this was raw for me and Xanga, y'all! ;) 

Just for kicks and giggles, since she was just in town, here are Becky and I junior year at a Tri Chi crush dance! I found this when looking through old pictures today. Fun times indeed!
That summer, I was working at Varsity and being on-set at the filming of Walk the Line (so much fun!). I was a bridesmaid for the very first time in my life in my dear roommate and sweet friend Jane’s wedding. I was also attending a pretty sizable citywide Bible study at Highpoint Church here in Memphis called the Loop as I was able, usually with Rachel.
Jennifer and me that summer in Florida, right before she got engaged!! 
Me after coming home from a long day of filming for a '50s scene in Walk the Line. Mom said they made me look like I was 35 years old! Of course that sounded ancient at the time!
With Jane at her wedding... oh how I love that girl!
I should note that I rediscovered my old high school journal that summer, and I came across some entries I made where Chris had made a cameo. (Or maybe more than a cameo, but who’s counting? :) I remember something clicked in my head that no guy I knew of at the time was anything like Chris, and that I wondered where he was and what he was doing. (You gotta remember this was before the dawn of Facebook, at least for the OBU network!) I actually wrote out a prayer in my prayer journal that I still have somewhere, just asking God that He would reintroduce Chris back into my life if that was in fact His will. Yes, I felt crazy praying that, but I prayed it regardless! After all, I’ve prayed crazier things than that, I’m sure!

With Rachel in that era
One particular night toward the end of the summer, Rachel and I were at the Loop and were walking through the crowds when it was over. We turned down a side aisle, got to the end of it, and almost ran right over Chris!

To be continued...

{Part 5}

1 comment:

  1. I'm becoming a regular celebrity on here! Next time I'm going to send you a "skinny Becky" picture for the blog ;-) Also xanga. I die. Whew, was that a trip down memory lane!