To the girl who is leaving her college campus

As I am finishing up my last final and about to officially end my junior year of college, it is a bittersweet moment looking into the future. Although I know the next season of life is going to be one that is new, exciting, and I am ready for wherever it leads me, I am also kind of sad to be leaving my sweet campus and the people I have called home for the past three years. So, as I get ready to head home for the summer, I’m not 100% ready to fully reflect on the past three years as a whole, so this last one will do.

Fall semester was for sure anything but amazing. Considering I moved in and got COVID 4 days into the school year, it definitely put a damper on the remainder of the semester. I struggled with roommate relationships after that, I was holding onto a situationship that wasn’t the best to say the least, learned how to be okay in the quiet and lonely, and went back to therapy. (Just want to say that therapy shouldn’t be a taboo thing, we all need help and therapy is super dope!!) 

Anyway, while last semester was probably the darkest season of my life thus far, there was also so much light to come out of it. I found myself a  best friend who lived 3 steps from my bedroom door, I branched outside of my comfort zone, spent time with new friends, found girls who will always let me sleep in their beds when I needed a place to go, started learning my actual worth, and had the best birthday of my life. So while it sometimes seemed like there was nothing good in life, there was so much light and joy around me I just had to say ‘yes’ to experience it. 

And now this semester has been my favorite of all of college, even though we are still doing online class and in a pandemic. I got out of a toxic environment and placed myself in one full of so much love that I didn’t even think was possible. I have had the time of my life doing line dances in the bar, going to shotbooks, spending Tuesday mornings in the library with my girls, and eating lots and lots of Mexican food. I know I am a completely different person than I was in November and I am so grateful for that change. The most basic quote is “old keys won’t open new doors”, and that is so true! If I would have let myself sit in the hurt and stay there and not try to change how I was, then I would not be at all who I am today. Sometimes it takes the hard and the hurting to truly see who you were meant to be.

I read a quote online that said, “I am learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things not meant for me.” And boy oh boy if that isn’t true. Payton a year ago could not let go of someone or something, even if it wasn’t contributing any positivity. The Payton I am now is completely different. I am someone who knows what I am worth. I no longer settle for anything less than the best. Honestly, I used to think that was kind of pretentious, like why do I deserve the best? But I am worth so much more than I can even fathom, so why would I not deserve the best that the Lord and the world has to offer me. Be selfish in your choices and know that if something doesn’t seem the best, you do not have to stay in it. There is such a beautiful life the Lord has planned for each of us, so why aim for anything less?

This past year has been a rollercoaster to say the least, and while there were definitely times where the light was nowhere in sight, the wait was definitely worth it. My junior year was nothing like I had imagined in the slightest, but honestly I wouldn’t give any of it back. Even the hard and heartache taught me so much about myself that I would never have otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to relive it at all, but it definitely taught me so much about my character that I needed to learn. As I begin to pack up my college bedroom, I am so grateful for the experiences I have encountered this year. I am so grateful for everyone who held my hand along the way. I am grateful for my family for supporting me through all my ups and downs. I am so grateful for where I am today.

So, to the girl who is leaving her college campus, I hope you are grateful for your experience. The good, the bad, the ugly, all of it. Even though there are days when I wish I never had to go through my last semester, there are beautiful days like today where I am able to reflect on all the lessons I learned. If you are leaving college I hope you take the memories with you, check in on your people, and know that even though the past may have seemed like the best years of your life, there is still so much ahead.