“It will be the best four years of your life,” they told me when I was applying for and getting into college. “You will have the time of your life,” they told me when I signed up and went through recruitment. “It will be the busiest but most fun season of life you’ve had yet,” they said as I was preparing to run home to my new sisters. “It will be the most rewarding summer of your life,” they said as I prepared to leave and call a new place home for nine weeks. And they were right, every single time.
Why is that though? Why does the time you spend in college seem to be filled with all of these “best” and “busy” and “fun” and “rewarding” moments? I’m not saying I didn’t believe I would have a great time during all of these experiences, but I definitely was hesitant to think they would top all my other experiences so far. But looking back on these memories I’ve made and the times I’ve had, I see it all from a different light.
I truly believe that the reason why my time in college, sorority life, sisterhood, and intentional fellowship has contributed to all of these best moments over the last four (and a half) years is because of the growth that I’ve had and everything I have been encouraged (and occasionally nicely volun-told) to do that have all immensely changed me as a person. This season of my life has been unquestionably focused on personal growth, and while this has always been an important value of mine, it has become even more important these past few years. Being in an environment designed for me to grow, being surrounded by women that are cheering for me consistently, and having the mindset of growth from the moment I walked into this chapter of my life has made it easy for me to strive for this value to have as much impact as it possibly could.
The dictionary definition of personal growth is the act of developing as an individual, including but not limited to physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and mental. This definition seems surface-level, and that’s because it is. Personal growth is something inherently individual, and it looks different for everyone. So how do you use this idea that looks so different to everyone to become the best version of yourself and have all those memories and moments I mentioned previously?
For me, it began with identifying my own definition of personal growth. What would help me become the best version of my very best self? I identified the areas that were most important to me: spiritual, intellectual, social, and physical. After I had those identified, I looked into how I could grow in each of these. Intellectual was simple- I was in college, and learning is part of that. Spiritual meant intentionally growing in my faith. Physical means taking more effort in caring about my body and my health. Social meant finding and delighting in my community (hello my Sigma Kappa sisters!) I also identified one more important value to me that I pulled from this personal growth area and that was leadership, though at the time I was unsure what that would look like exactly. This identification of the areas I wanted to grow in and even how to do it was the simple part. The hard part was actually taking action in these, and every day it is a choice I continue to make. Over the past four years and some changes, this is what my personal growth journey has looked like.
I’ve spent numerous hours in classes and training for different subjects and events and organizations. They have expanded my knowledge base, strengthened my values, and even expanded my viewpoint on numerous topics. Some of these are related to my major, others are for my sorority or even other student organizations I am part of, and one series of training was a fellowship that looked a lot at life after college, ente
ring the workforce, understanding the housing market, having financial responsibility and so much more.
Looking at the physical, I wanted to (and have) gone much deeper than just eating right and working out. Those are two very important things, but I wanted more. Eating right and exercising is kind of a requirement with my major in exercise science. Taking it one step further for me included listening to my body more, prioritizing sleep and rest, and making and attending some of those doctor’s appointments that we all dread from time to time. It also looked like not just doing what we’ve always done. Finding more foods that I could enjoy that were still healthy and trying a new workout that may be beneficial for me, even if it is different than what I learned and did in classes.
Social started with just signing up for recruitment and other campus organizations. It was important for me to remember that just being a member did nothing though. I had to be intentional with getting to know others and getting out of my comfort zone. Starting out, it looked like getting lunch in the student center and saying hi to people I recognized from my chapter or classes. It was also going on heart dates trying to find my best fit for a big. It looked like participating in meetings and classes so I could share my opinions but also hear others and find common grounds to explore further. Now it looks like me spending time getting to know new and younger members in my chapter. It also looks like drinking my morning coffee in the lounge area of my favorite professors’ offices and talking with them and peers. It looks like me clearing my calendar every Wednesday night indefinitely to get dinner during college night with my best friend. This and so much more have impacted my social growth whether it’s from expanding my network or deepening relationships.
Spiritual growth to me meant I planned out regular time to grow my faith. It meant making church a priority and finding a community group or bible study to be a part of. Now that has expanded even more. It shifted into finding a spiritual mentor who pushes me regularly to grow and seek the Lord more. It became leading Bible studies in my chapter and being a spiritual mentor for my sisters. It also meant leaving the comfort of my home for nine weeks in the summer of 2022 to go to KALEO with around 70 students that I didn’t know while we all sought to grow and deepen our relationships while sharing our faith with others. Summer of my life for sure!
I feel as though leadership has been part of each of the previously mentioned growth areas, but that it also deserves its own section. Coming into college, I had a very strong passion for leadership, but I wasn’t sure how to actually apply it. Then my sorority had elections and I had the privilege of being The Sigma Kappa Triangle Correspondent. Then older members pushed me to apply for our campus ambassador program, then my campus’s President Leadership Fellows, and so much more. Over the years I have been so excited to serve numerous organizations, some within the Sorority and Fraternity life sector (such as in my chapter where I hold our Vice President of Communications and Operations position and this internship with Her Sorority Journey). Some leadership roles I have held were within the ambassador program where I was honored to be the first ever vice president of the organization. I also have served other service-based organizations and my Exercise and Sports Science Department student organization where I serve as president currently. These are just a few of the leadership roles I have held, and there are so many opportunities that I have taken on that are titleless too. Leadership is not just having a position or getting to say that you are in charge of something, some of the most growing and rewarding leadership roles I have had were titleless.
I hope you can take all that I’ve said and decide just what personal growth looks like to you. Your journey does not need to look like mine, or anyone else’s. Your personal growth is yours alone, but after seeing for myself the impact that it has had and the impact that it has had on so many others, your personal growth journey will yield some of the most memorable moments of your life. Some days personal growth is beautiful and other days it will be hard, but don’t let those hard days steer you away from being the best version of yourself. The experiences that my personal growth journey has taken me on during my time in college have made me sure that I can say I walked into this chapter of life shyly from the back door and I am leaving confidently out the front door as the best version of me I could be.