Being on campus this semester, as a student at one school and an instructor at another, has caused me to reflect on my college years as an undergrad. Of the memories of that swarm to the surface, here is the one I remember best:
As I was frantically preparing for a day of studying (the handsome men on campus), my contact lens ripped, and I didn’t have another one to replace it. Opting against wearing my hideous glasses (and risk looking studious), I bravely set forth from my dorm to traverse the campus, sans vision. Immediately I thanked my lucky stars because walking towards me on the path was my tall, dark, and handsome man. “Hey, good looking,” I called out to him—only to discover a few steps later that it was not my boyfriend.
It was my professor.
Smarter people than me would have dropped out of school at that point, but I wanted to correct my error. “I’m so sorry, sir,” I quickly mumbled. “If I had known it was you, I never would have said that.”
Somehow, perhaps in a grand gesture of grace, my prof did give me a passing grade in his class; but the real lesson I learned was that even ancient, forty-something year old college professors don’t like to be insulted about their looks. The real lesson was that people are people—even if their age or gender is different than mine. I’m glad to say that I gained some much-need maturity that day.
I don’t remember all my blips of maturity, all the life-lessons that have made me into the profoundly more refined person that I am today (no comments from close friends please), but I’m thankful I had them. Sometimes, when I remember events from my past, I feel like I’m in the mind of another person. Was that really me?
Change and growth are essential for emotional and spiritual health; if we’re not moving forward, we’re stagnating. Pursuing maturity is an essential and worthy endeavor. Perhaps, though, it’s good to remember where we came from, to blush a little at our previous blunders. A little humility is worth far more than an abundance of wisdom.