Everyone faces something challenging in their life, and the time in college is no exception. It seems no season goes without its own sprinkling of massive hurdles that we must jump over. My own personal woes included my bane of poetry, British Literature that made me study like there was no tomorrow and a semester where I had far too many research papers for my sanity to remain intact. So I fully understand that academic life can prove exhausting. However, there can also be outside forces that make the seasons of college life miserable or distressing. Remember one thing, though: hang in there, because more than likely there is a beautiful season awaiting you on the other side.
I think the snowstorm my first year at Oklahoma Baptist University is one of those times that taught me that things will get tough. But it also taught me that they get better.
I hail from the Midwest, so I’m used to snow, but that also means that I considered Oklahoma the South. I believed that Oklahoma would not receive snow. I was wrong. That February, snow piled down on the university, and neither I, nor the university, nor the city itself was prepared. I laughed as I saw tiny construction bobcats trying to clear the snow away from campus, but my laughing didn’t last for long.
Our first snow day was fun, spent watching movies and seeing students take the lids of their storage tubs to sled with. Over the next few days, however, we switched to online learning, and feelings of isolation and loneliness started to creep in. Yet it only got worse. The City of Shawnee then informed us that several water mains had burst, and even if someone were to try to fix them, it was simply too cold for their efforts to do any good. That meant the water pressure was ridiculously low at OBU, equating to no water for the majority of the campus. No showers. No running toilets. No water.
The RAs began using snow to flush toilets, and after soon realizing these weren’t sanitary conditions, the school instructed everyone who could go home to go home.
Living six hours away, I had to wait until the morning to leave, and I watched the campus empty. It became a veritable ghost town. I called my parents and told them I was coming home. It couldn’t be worse timing. My grandmother had recently suffered a stroke, and my bedroom had become her recovery room. In addition, my great aunt and uncle had come to stay with her while my parents took my sister on a college visit in Florida.
That night, I tried to continue with my classwork by reading “Heart of Darkness,” a very depressing tale of meaninglessness by Joseph Conrad, and my thoughts sank even darker. Finally I thrust Conrad aside and tried to make the night lighter by moving my twinkle lights to the underside of my bed and creating a fort of sorts. You would think that relief would come when I got home, but that wasn’t the case. Everything felt a touch chaotic as I tried to stay on top of my schoolwork and manage meetings on Zoom in a household bustling more than usual. I felt extremely depressed, off-kilter and completely jarred.
I was struggling to balance a college workload while being home with extended family staying in the house and a grandmother in recovery. Coupled with the fact that no one was sure when the water would be fixed, the situation left me in a state of readiness to return. I was stressed and depressed all at the same time, but I tried extremely hard not to let my feelings impact my schooling. I longed desperately for relief and for things to get back to normal. I longed for rhythm, routine and people.
But it didn’t stay that way. Eventually the City of Shawnee was able to mend the water mains, and OBU’s water was restored. We returned to campus, and life began to feel normal again. Later on that year, I met three girls who I would house with the next year and started going to the same church as them. Being around this community lightened my spirits immensely.
The snow melted if you will, and the sun began to shine once again.
It wasn’t the last snow that I weathered out while there, and it certainly wasn’t the last trial that I faced at college. But looking back, I can see that even the hardest seasons can be weathered, and the sun will resume shining. I tell you this because college can be such a challenging experience, and it can be terribly hard to find your place as you shift from youth into adulthood. So be prepared for the trials, but not scared. It can truly look quite dark in the moment, but hang in there until the sun melts the snow.
The snowstorm I weathered makes me think of the tongue twister I learned a long time ago in theatre class with a more applicable ending that I learned recently. “Whether the weather is hot, whether the weather is cold, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not…”