When I first got to campus last year, I was very overwhelmed. This was something…
Having grown up here on the West Side of Madison, I had one primary aspiration out of high school: to move away and reinvent myself. I mean, it was the end of 2019. Nothing big was about to happen, right?
Flash forward two years, and my recently-transferred self was looking for a community here on campus. Having heard the news, Erica reached out and invited me to apply for Pres House Council, explaining it was a great way to get involved with the church community. Nii Addo also encouraged me to come visit before the end of the semester for their casual Wednesday hangouts called “Midweek Communion.” Those emails are dated April 8th. The next Pres House email I have is from September 14th, from Nii Addo, which reads, “Jacob, super sorry about the delay on this. The council application is attached!”
But here’s the thing I need to be extra clear about — that “delay” was entirely on me. Nii Addo’s application link was the exact same as the one Erica sent months before. I delayed my involvement in Pres House Council because I wasn’t ready the April before. Reflecting on our motto, “Bring All of Who You Are,” I could bring none of myself at that time. I was stressed about my end-of-the-year exams, I had only recently gotten a vaccine, and the thought of opening myself up to a larger community again terrified me.
It was only after I moved in mid-August, spent a service in that back corner (despite Erica encouraging “all those in the corners” to come sit up with the regulars), and volunteered at a couple of welcome events that I realized this place would be a good fit for me.
And even then, “Bringing All of Who I Am” constantly was evolving. Whether it was my ‘Coffee Nalgene’ phase, my puzzle phase, my Pres House monk phase, or even this current phase, Pres House has supported me through all of it. And knowing this, my parting nugget of wisdom is this: “Life moves pretty fast here at Pres House. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Now I’ll admit to having stolen that line from Ferris Bueller, but I think it has some real value. It is crazy to me that all of my fond memories of this place have happened over the past two years, and I am jealous of the soon-to-be second years with almost their full college future ahead of them.
That said, I don’t want to impose any sort of expectations with my rose-tinted glasses. I think what my advice comes down to is this: Take semester-long risks to explore new parts of yourself. “Bringing All of Who You Are” instead of “Bringing Who Think You Are” can be challenging but also rewarding. I know that might sound pretty daunting, but remember, “Life moves pretty fast” here, so if you realize after a semester that you don’t like the risk you’ve taken, then that’s okay. And if you ever want to vent to someone who is soon to have an outside perspective about what you’re learning, I know of at least one person (raises hand) who would be glad to talk. And with that, cowabunga, and Amen.
Jacob is graduating with a B.A. in Computer and Data Science and a Certificate in Education.