The Independent College Woman

1:30 AM

I sympathize with Bilbo Baggins, running off into the blue with a contract and without a pocket handkerchief. I feel I've run off into the blue myself, though goodness knows I've left behind more important things than Kleenexes. (Though, to tell you the truth, a box or two of those things might do me some good. Not really for colds, but for when I spill edible items or knock over flower vases all over my sticky notes and notebooks.)


In one sense, I don't mind running off into any color of the rainbow. I like a slight change of pace. I like rolling off the couch and taking a trot through a different part of the world. I just prefer to snap my fingers when I've tired of strange people, exhausting experiences and foreign worlds. Ever notice how the car ride home always seems five times longer than the car ride there? Or perhaps you don't, and that's just my homebodyness. Yes, I'll say it, proud and clear: I like my homebodyness. I prefer the company of Bergmanns on Bergmann furniture in a Bergmann house on the Bergmann homestead. Sure, sometimes they don't understand the nuances of John C. Calhoun's view of equality and how that ties into sectionalism and contrasts Northern progressivism, but so what?

Back to running off. Wait! One note before proceeding: theoretical physics allows the possibility of wormholes -- not as likely for visiting the future but certainly for visiting the past. This connects to my comment about traveling at the snap of fingers, you know. My logic's improving by the day.

This reluctance to leave my hobbit hole caused many a stifled laugh when college students lauded the independence of college. Independence! You mean late nights staying up all by oneself and only by oneself eating up a bag of ranch Doritos -- er, sorry, I didn't mean to reveal my personal life all at once. By the way, if you, as an independent college woman, are in sole charge of your pantry, do remember to check expiration dates before kickstarting a midnight feeding frenzy. Wheat Thins taste odd otherwise. This, of course, has no basis in my personal experience. I just heard it from a friend of a friend of a friend of a -- well, I'll work on perfecting my dishonesty later. 

Obviously, having grown up with many people in a large country house in the middle of somewhere, I was authoritative on the subject of independence. Obviously, a cog in the family unit was worth much more than an independent agent anywhere else. Obviously.

Right -- no, of course, I didn't know that. (I tend to hold opinions on things I know nothing about. What other opinions are there?) When I ran off to college, I was curious to see if independence held any more value now that I actually experienced it. I imagined a dramatic fanfare with the dramatic voiceover peddling The question you've all been waiting for! Will Bailey prefer independence over family? Will she be able to authoritatively determine this question of independence for every other conservative homeschooled young woman? Stay tuned!

Unfortunately, that was the wrong question to ask...because I haven't experienced independence yet. What! 

Yes! I haven't. I belong to a vibrant church community. I belong to a fun, sometimes serious, fantastic group of friends. In short, I belong. I am loved. I love others. I ask for advice and accountability. I don't feel like an independent agent for anything, because here, at Hillsdale College, is where I'm supposed to be.

Do I always like it? Well, no. I ran shrieking with joy and ecstatic relief out of my dorm room last Friday and silently sang songs of freedom during the car ride home. (Lies. I did the whole awkwardly-asleep-against-the-hard-window-until-the-car-stops-suddenly-and-gives-me-whiplash thing.) I curled up next to my mom and told her I didn't want to go back. 

Because let's face it, I'm a Bergmann. I love these people. I always will love them more than anybody else. Nowhere else can really, truly, honest-to-goodness-ly seem like home-home.

Before this post descends into another ramble trying to figure out just how to classify myself -- as primarily a Bergmann or primarily a Hillsdale student -- let me cut the chase and get to the point. (Notice how I properly used that phrase -- it's paradoxical and ridiculous to cut to the chase.)

Independence from family has been good on many different levels. I haven't always liked it. Actually, I don't recall an instance where I've liked it at all. In any case, I needed to leave my Bag End and journey off into the blue. At home, I cultivated my Baggins side, if you will -- the things about me that I always knew, the things about life that always were. At college, I discovered my Tookish side. I discovered what's off the charts of Bergmann-ville. I discovered where my prejudices were, my biases, my assumptions about life and people and God. I figured out what exactly it meant to be me, Bailey -- not within the context of carrying on a family name or family values but within the context of serving an infinite God with an all-encompassing kingdom call. 

That kingdom call and that me-ness still involves my family and my identity found in that family. I never want to lose that. In fact, I find myself often crying, "Everything weird about me would totally make sense if you only knew my family!" I'm a Bergmann -- one among many.

But I guess I'm also an independent college woman. It's not so bad, really. After I'm done hiking through the blue, I can always come home. I'm not so independent, after all. 

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2 impressions

  1. love how you incorporated LOTR into that. MADE. MY. DAY. annnnd i just adore how you can so seamlessly fit random bailey ramblings and somehow make it all work. #mywritinghero

    LOVE YOU!!

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  2. Aaahhh I so agree!! I love my family and how we all "get" each other and how it's just comfortable. And I love my youth group because we are a close-knit group, almost like family. (In fact we call each other family sometimes.) Going out and meeting strange people is not my thing.
    I love your writing by the way!

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