I remember when I was a senior applying for college. I always knew I wanted to go to BYU because that’s what all the people older than me were doing. I remember the day very well–I was on BYU’s website and at the bottom of the website were links to BYU-Hawaii, BYU-Idaho, and LDSBC. I had heard of people who went to BYU-Idaho but I didn’t think much of it. Curious, I clicked on the link and went to the website.
I don’t know how much time I spent on the website, but it was enough time to look at pictures and to sign up for a welcome packet to be delivered to me. There was definitely a special feeling that I felt after visiting the website and I was interested in learning more.
When the packet came in the mail, that special feeling came back. I was drawn to this place. This random place in this town I’d never heard of named Rexburg in this state named Idaho I’d never even visited or frankly thought about. But I couldn’t mistake this feeling.
I remember talking late one night with my mom about what I should do in regards to where I should go to college. I knew BYU-Idaho was where I needed to go. It felt so right. I felt like it was where I would thrive the best. The spirit was so strong in my conversation with my mom that we both knew this was where I was to go to college.
So I only applied to BYU-Idaho. I was excited. It felt so right. I remember when I would tell my friends at church, they would say, “But why? That’s where all the rejects go. It’s the fake BYU.” etc etc. It didn’t matter though. I knew what I felt and I wouldn’t deny it.
Now, 7 years later, I can truly testify that it was by far the best decision I’ve made for my life. I have seen so many blessings and, excuse the cliche, but it has truly shaped me into the person I am today because ultimately, it is the place where I found true love.
I value education and I wanted to go to college to get a degree. But so many people told me after I graduated high school that I would run off to BYU-“I Do” and have lines of guys waiting to ask me out and in no time would I be married. (I’m not sure if they got my apartment number wrong, but I never saw those lines…)
Those people would say that I probably felt like I should come to BYU-Idaho because my husband was there. I mean, isn’t that what most girls do when they go to BYU or especially, BYU-“I Do”? Maybe it is. Although I don’t think it’s as many as we think it is. I know lots of girls who got married after their first semesters. But I also know lots of girls who didn’t. Some who even went their whole time at BYU-Idaho without finding a husband. Like me. I graduated over two years ago and I’m still single. In fact, I went through my whole time at college without even having a boyfriend (*gasp*).
“But wait!” you are probably saying. “Isn’t this your story of finding true love at BYU-Idaho?” Why yes, my lovely little reader, it IS my story of finding true love at BYU-Idaho. But it’s probably not in the sense you are thinking or maybe even hoping.
To be honest, I actually found multiple true loves. 7 years is a long time and during that time I have become almost a different person than that scared 18-year-old girl moving away to college.
When I first came to college, it was very hard on me. In fact, it was the hardest thing that I’d ever done up to that point in my life. Just so I don’t make this post any longer than I should, I’ll spare the details. But in a nutshell, moving away from home and adjusting to a new culture was very difficult on me. Especially as I am someone who has always struggled with depression and anxiety, this was a major trigger point.
I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t function. It got so bad that I decided to go home. It had only been a week into the semester and I went home. Yeah, that probably seems ridiculous to you, but to me it was hard. I went back home and although I felt like a failure, I made the best of it. I switched my classes to all online and I made some great friends.
Two semesters later, I went back out to try again and it was just as hard, but this time I stayed. I was determined to conquer this weakness. I was determined to stay out there. But for the majority of the semester, I struggled. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic attack. I couldn’t eat and I lost a lot of weight. Everyone was telling me to go home but I didn’t want to. To this day I’m not even sure what motivated me more to stay – the idea of conquering my fear or the idea that I would have to go through all the motions to actually pack up and leave. Regardless, it got me to stay.
I got help by meeting with a counselor each week. I tried medications but I kept having side effects so I would become discouraged. I sill couldn’t eat much or sleep very well and I would cry daily which made me more exhausted. I felt so weak and I was embarrassed and frustrated that I couldn’t seem to be a normal college student enjoying her freshman year.
During this very difficult time, while I was alone away from my family and from everything I knew and loved, it forced me to rely on my Savior. I had to make a decision if I was going to try to do this by myself (which wasn’t actually possible) or if I was going to seek help from my Savior, my best friend, the One who knew EXACTLY how I was feeling and how to comfort me.
I learned that He is there to carry us along the stormy paths of life. No, maybe the circumstances won’t change, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t there holding our hand and helping us along the way.
I craved any way to feel peace and love and attending the temple became a place where I could feel at home. I started going every week that first semester and to this day I still try to go every week. Developing a love for the temple and making it a priority in my life helped me to become closer to God and gave me the much-needed strength to get through another day.
Being thrown into a new place that I had never even visited with people I didn’t even know was a test of my faith. Growing up I always had my parents to comfort me and I probably relied on them more than I should have. But when I decided to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it has made all the difference in my life. Having Him as my foundation changes everything and gives me the strength and power to do hard things.
Throughout the rest of my college years, I still struggled here and there. I had relapses where I felt I went back to where I was and I became discouraged. But I had to remember what I learned: that He is always there to help me. And that feeling that I needed to be here never changed. Even when it got hard I still never doubted that I was supposed to be at BYU-Idaho.
People would continue to tell me that I probably felt that way because my husband was here and I just needed to be patient. I’m not going to lie that it came to my mind and part of me hoped that was the case. I’m not sure why though – maybe because then it would make it all worth it? Maybe all the pain and heartache I was going through would be made up by the joy of finding a future spouse and running away into the sunset with my Prince Charming?
But that’s not what happened. For me, I needed these other experiences to get me to where I am right now. I value my experiences at this university so much. I wish I could convey to you how much this place means to me.
I became my own person. I became someone who was more confident in herself. I became someone who learned to trust and rely on God.
Being at BYU-Idaho changed something in me. When I would feel alone or discouraged about life, I tried to recognize His hand in my life each day. When I started doing that, I became happier. I also would appreciate things around me more. I started noticing the people that were put in my path that helped me. I would be so grateful that I was at a university that offered not only an amazing education but also an amazing environment that fosters discipleship and growth.
I gained so many friendships and have met many wonderful people. Many who will no doubt be in my life forever. I’ve had at least 50 roommates since I started college and I have learned from each one of them. People really are so good and we all have something to offer.
When I graduated, it was really hard to leave. I grew to love this place, but because of my struggles, I felt I didn’t get to fully experience the college life like so many other people did. Well, I think God knew that because, less than a year after I graduated, I was offered a teaching position as an adjunct professor. Ha! If you had told me that my first semester, the whole world would have heard me laughing. But what a wonderful privilege it was to help give back to a place that means so much to me.
BYU-Idaho is not like other universities. There is something different about this place. The professors love and care about their students. I value the education that I received, but I feel I got more than just an education. I know for a fact that I was meant to come here to find myself.
Now as I move on to other opportunities that, sadly, are taking me out of Rexburg, I will always take a special part of it with me.
When Ricks College became BYU-Idaho, President Henry B. Eyring talked about the graduates of the university:
They will be natural leaders who know how to teach and how to learn. They will have the power to innovate and improve without requiring more of what money can buy. Those graduates of BYU-Idaho will become—and this is a prophesy that I am prepared to make and make solemnly—those graduates of BYU-Idaho will become legendary for their capacity to build the people around them and to add value wherever they serve.”
No, so maybe I didn’t find my true love in the romantic sense of the phrase. But I think it’s safe to say that I did find true love. Love of learning. Love of people. Love of the temple. Love for myself. But most importantly, the love of my Savior.
One day I will find my other true love and these experiences will help me to be a wife and mother. But until then, I will continue to take what I have learned and spread it to the world because, as a (proud) graduate of BYU-Idaho, it is my duty.