Best Of live

Stages of Life: My College Years

I thought I would join a sorority.

Meet a bunch of girls who would become my lifelong besties–you know, those 10 girls that eventually make up your bridesmaids, all with gorgeous smiles and matching light pink dresses. I imagined I would be in the front row at the football games, face painted, chanting our university fight song. I thought I would pull all nighters, date an athlete and have stories of the glory days.

But then I arrived at college, unpacked my dorm room, waved goodbye to my mom and aunt with tears in my eyes, and I knew immediately that college wouldn’t be everything I imagined. But I tried anyway…because I thought it had to be that way, and because I wanted my mom to know I was okay, know that I was normal.

I remember calling her from a USC baseball game one time, to tell her that I was sitting right next to Matt Leinart and that I was having the time of my life.ย  But it was a lie.

I was at the game. And I was sitting next to the famous USC quarterback. But it wasn’t fun for me.
And I didn’t know how to tell her that. I thought she would be disappointed.

I didn’t know how to tell her that I enjoyed sitting alone at our campus coffee shop, people watching and listening to Norah Jones in my headphones while writing in my journal.

I didn’t tell her that I couldn’t relate to the girls I thought I would be my best friends.ย  Not because I didn’t like them, but because I was at a different place–I was working things out in my head, dealing with the loss of a close friend, questioning my lack of faith, searching for my purpose in this life, trying to figure out what was next.

And that meant I spent more time alone.
More time with my thoughts.
More time with the few close friends I made.
Some were teachers, some were staff members, some were co-workers.
And each taught me a bit more about who I was,
and about who I was becoming.

This was my college experience.

It was long walks on the beach,
jogging in the rain with tears in my eyes,
curling my toes in the sand,
serving coffee to sleep deprived college students,
taking time to breath, and filling up nearly 10 journals with my hopes, dreams and fears.
Jack Johnson was the sound track of my summer, Norah Jones and Sheryl Crow mended my broken heart and Aniย DiFranco made me feel like a rebel.

I remember the day I got the courage to tell my mom about the college memories that mattered most to me. And I remember what she said…

I knew, Ashley…I always knew.

And then she smiled–the kind of smile that told me she was proud of me.
Proud of me for finding my own version of happiness.
And she has supported me with every “happy” decision I’ve made since.

*you can read about my experience in high school here.

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  • Reply
    Lauren @ Me&Mine
    October 27, 2011 at 6:33 am

    love this! it makes me look back on my college experience a littler easier. thank you

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 6:34 am

    I love how you can capture all of those experiences and feelings in your writing. You are gifted.

  • Reply
    [email protected] A Little Bit of Ray
    October 27, 2011 at 6:35 am

    I know what you mean! I thought I’d become lifelong best friends w/ my roommates. It didn’t happen. They didn’t like me. They left me out of the things they planned. They yelled at me for leaving a few dishes in the sink. They left passive aggressive note around the apartment. It was an awful 4 months. After we moved out and were in different apartments they treated me much better and our relationship was somewhat mended. One of the girls admitted she was jealous of me. I lost weight while she gained, dated a lot, etc. I had an eating disorder at the time… my weight loss was not something to be jealous of. I’ve kept in touch w/ a few of them but nothing like what I thought it was going to be. Thanks for sharing. Oh and Ani DiFranco rocks(and I felt like a rebel listening to her too)!

  • Reply
    nicolette @ momnivore's dilemma
    October 27, 2011 at 6:40 am

    I did the rah-rah sorority thing for two years of my four. It wasn’t “me”…but the school I attended {u of I @ urbana} was and still is the biggest greek school in the country. The sorority thing led to a bar job which put me thru schooll.

    College was a time where I dreamed of California, film school for screenwriting, and fell in love twice. I made a few close girlfriends that ten years after graduation, we still are close.

    Being a city girl in the middle of a cornfield wasn’t really my thing…

    Did I make the right choice? Like you, who knows…but ultimately it was a period of life to get to know ourselves a wee bit more.

    Just like this blogging and SAHM is. Just on much less sleep and a LOT more coffee…

  • Reply
    nicolette @ momnivore's dilemma
    October 27, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Funny. We must be closer in age than I thought, as I went to about ten Ani shows when I was in college from 97-01…lol…

    “I walk the plank, and I’ll walk with a smile. If I’m gonna go down, I will do it in style. You won’t hear me surrender, you won’t hear me confess. You’ve left me with nothing, but I’ve worked with less…”

    Going to dig those old Ani cds up from storage this weekend.

  • Reply
    Delightful Deets
    October 27, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Wonderful post Ashley! Momma’s always seem to know the real us usually before we do, they are just awesome like that!

  • Reply
    carly @ masons roost
    October 27, 2011 at 7:02 am

    You always surprise me Ashley. I’d imagine a different experience for you too. A friend of mine was in a motorcycle accident and in a coma for 3 months. He woke up (with brain damage) the night before I left Hawaii to go to college in CA. It was the hardest year of my life. When I saw you had a friend that passed my heart ached for you. At the time I felt so mature and that I should be ready to be out on my own. Now looking back its very clear how little coping skills I had at that age.

  • Reply
    The Girlie Blogger
    October 27, 2011 at 7:27 am

    What a sweet story! Just when we thought we had it all figured out, we arrive at college and realize that we know absolutely nothing. College is definitely a place of self-discovery. And I think you made it out OK :O)

  • Reply
    Southern Gal
    October 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Your words here could have been my daughter’s. She didn’t keep me in the dark about it, but even if she had I would have known.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 10:47 am

    I absolutely love you. This was me in college too…totally opposite of my older sister who I thought I had to be JUST like. I’m glad you can look back on it positively as well…and at least you listened to some great music through it all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    This almost perfectly describes how my time at college is turning out to be…and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one. It’s hard not to look around and feel like I’m doing something wrong, because everyone seems to have more friends than I do, they do more fun stuff, they stay up late which I can’t do at all…some people are just more cut out for the “college experience” than others. And I’m fast realizing that I’m just not. Thanks for sharing your story…it’s really nice to read that there are others out there as well! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    i love how you write. it doesn’t matter if what you’re writing about pertains directly to me and my life or not, i feel like i can relate to you and understand what you’re saying and you understand what i’m feeling. even though i’ve never met you or talked to you! thanks for sharing your everyday with all of us.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I love how your words make me feel like I’m there. This was so beautiful and personal. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I was so happy when I read this blog post from you-that is the same experience i’ve had in college so far as well. I spend a lot of my time alone or with a few close friends and spend the rest of my time studying or working at a job that I love. I never go out at night or go to football games and I always felt that I must be missing out on something.. but after I had a brief stint in a sorority, I realized that the “college experience” wasn’t my style. Although my family often criticizes my lack of activity in college.. I know that I’m just in a different place and that there’s more people like me than they think. It makes me feel so much better to know that I’m not alone ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I just graduated college and I feel like my time there was such a sham! I think I tend to dwell on the negative but I feel like I should have studied more, partied more, gone to more football games, not have fallen into a destructive relationship 3 months into freshman year. I had fun and made some of my best friends, met my husband but I also made some stupid mistakes, lost all my high school friends, and wish I would have done a few things differently. But I think that every choice I made in college led me to where I am today and I’m happy for the most part. I’m not living my dream, but I’m still trying to figure that out…thanks for this post ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Maria-Isabel @Agape Love Designs
    October 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    That gave me goosebumps… (as do most of your posts!) ๐Ÿ™‚ Your mom sounds wonderful.
    And good for you for finding your own happiness… not what everyone else tries to tell you is happiness.

  • Reply
    Heather P
    October 27, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Your college experience sounds a lot like mine ๐Ÿ™‚ I loved it.

  • Reply
    Jill Burton
    October 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    My college days were scattered…a year away from home…a year at home, working full time and school full time, a summer overseas, a semester working full time, 2.5 years at a tiny Bible college living off campus, on campus, off campus…etc.

    Funny thing is, I never left college, I’ve been working at the same one for 18 years and the one before that for 4. I don’t feel my age…because I am around students ALL THE TIME. 8-10 students who work for me every year and I build relationships with them…encouraging them.

    Now my daughter is 15 and looking at colleges. And I pray, everyday, for her to choose the “right one” that will prepare her for her career, perhaps, but more importantly, to strengthen her faith, and help her build healthy relationships. She thinks college will be so much better than high school…and I remind her…that regardless of where she is living life, she is the one living it…and making choices today, will help her as she makes choices in college, and in life. Sigh…this parenting thing…so much. Thankful I don’t have to do it alone!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    This makes me feel so much better about being the SAME GIRL. I’m still that girl though. Without many friends, and not for lack of trying. Have you read my post:

    I think we have SO much in common. THANK you for sharing. AND for being a bloggy friend. At least we have that much right?

  • Reply
    karla @ bluegrass jewelry designs
    October 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Great post. There are things in college that I absolutely loved and there are things I wish I could change. But then I wonder if I would change them, because what if changing those things would alter where I am today. And where I am today is a wonderful place to be. : )

  • Reply
    Melanie Cantelmo
    October 27, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I had a rough time in college. I ended up getting pregnant halfway through and switching to a smaller university so I could finish. I didn’t fit in at ASU but when I switched over to ottawa, I had deeper relationships, smaller classes and a better time. I felt like a failure for so long because I didn’t have that college experience. I agree, we need to be thankful for our own set of happiness.
    I love your blog!

  • Reply
    Kendra Mc
    October 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    This made me tear up. Mothers always know. No sense in hiding. But I guess, we don’t learn that until its years past.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    i can relate too…college was not what it “should have been”. but i look back now and am thankful and actually fond of that time in life. thanks for sharing – i am loving your blog and your heart!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ blessings to you today friend!

  • Reply
    Stephanie Sloan
    October 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Moms are the best. Of course she knew….they always do.
    Maybe the best thing was, that she didn’t say anything. She let you have the facade you felt you needed, she let you have the room she knew you needed. She knew you would work it all through and that faith and life would bring you right to where you needed to be. <3

  • Reply
    Erin Carr
    October 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Cheesy that this post made tears come to my eyes, I know. I guess because I have my own kids now so things hit me harder than they would otherwise. Your mom sounds really great and I really hope that as my kids grow up and go through life, I can be the kind of mom that knows them better than anyone and always loves them and encourages them no matter what they decide to do. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love reading your posts like this one. So thank you!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Your story gives me goose bumps plain and simple. It sounds like it was a hard time for you in college…and losing a friend on top of everything that goes along with college is hard enough already.

    Your life experiences that you share are so strong. Basically,

    Thank you for all that you share.


  • Reply
    October 27, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I’m finishing up my college years now (after a couple years break) and my experience was a lot like yours, especially at the beginning. Thanks for this post.

    And Ani? Still one of my faves.

  • Reply
    I am LOVD
    October 28, 2011 at 2:17 am

    Discovery of self happens at different times for all of us. You’re lucky, you got a good first glimpse in college. Some are still trying to arrive at a first glimpse of their authentic self. And once you catch a glimpse, you discover that time changes you into another person appropriate for a new season in your life and it’s time to re-discover yourself. Isn’t it wonderful we don’t stay the same all our lives.

    In case you are interested:

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 2:40 am

    so thankful for momma’s who support you and love you no matter what.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 3:29 am

    i love this post. i didnt join a sororiety either. mostly because of the expense… and since my parents didnt really support it, they told me id have to pay for it myself. i felt a little left out at times, but realized that was so not me. i had amazing college years. met some good friends, and most importantly found the love of my life. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 5:38 am

    This made me cry. You write so beautiful, your passion is felt. I look forward to your posts each and ever time. As always thank you for sharing.

    xoxo, Misty

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Thanks for posting this! It helps to know that there are others who feel the same about college. I’m a very reserved person, I talk to few people in my classes and I didn’t join anything, but sometimes it does make a person feel like there is something missing. I guess its really just that we are still trying to find ourselves figuring out our place in this world. I hope that I still have a memorable experience and that all my hard work and stress pays off. Thanks again this was very encouraging to me =)


  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for writing a post about this. I’m currently a sophomore in college struggling with the same exact thing. Literally everything you wrote describes me exactly. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share something so personal; it showed me that there are other people like me who are feeling the same way and that it does get better. Thank you for being so inspiring and uplifting!

  • Reply
    October 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Why did that make me cry?! It totally did.. xoxo

  • Reply
    October 29, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    As I write this comment I have tears in my eyes. I was so happy to read this blog post today. I am currently a college student struggling with the same idea of how I am suppose to like college. I came to this university with the same hope you did. That making friends would be easy but it just hasnt been. But oddly I am okay with that! I have a few close friends and that okay with me! I dont go to football games and stuff because, well I don’t enjoy it. I know that it drives my family nuts that I am that way. Reading your post today let me know that I am not alone with how I feel. and it is okay to not be “what I am suppose to be” Thank you for reminding me its okay to just be me.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Ashley, I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while, and never had the “time” to actually stop and comment…but this post stopped me dead in my tracks. I just want to say thanks….for being you, for being transparent, and for being a teacher and an inspiration to me. You’ve taught me that no matter our race, age, or class, we all, as woman share so many goals, emotions, desires….giving so much of ourselves to others, oftentimes expecting very little in return. This post brought tears to my eyes b/c of it’s truthfullness, and how I think that so many more of us relate to your actual college experience that the one that you imagined you’d have. We love you out here in this little bloggy world, keep being you!

  • Reply
    Lisa A
    November 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    This is a great post! I think I like it most because I had a similar college experience. Except I tried to ‘fit’ in to the college scene. I drank (got wasted) every week and missed some classes. I thought that was what college was all about. Then I realized that wasn’t my scene, that wasn’t me. I realized it was okay to not fit into that scene and it was okay to just be myself. Thanks for reminding me that not everyone fits into the college scene.

  • Reply
    Writing Workshop: Nativity | snipewife
    December 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    […] by Confessions of an Average Housewife) 4.) Share a story from your college years. (inspired by Little Miss Momma) 5.) Describe your least favorite meal growing […]

  • Reply
    January 4, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Thank you for this post, I love the honesty in your writing and how you live your life one day at a time. The good, the bad and the ugly. Makes me realize that we are all in the this great big boat called life.

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ My Girlish Whims
    January 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    such a touching post. as a new college grad i can appreciate this! my experience was different than i thought it would be too

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 1:54 am

    I love the honesty that you write with. You are so adorable and such a gifted woman. I had a different college experience than you but as anybody have gone through times where things did not go as planned. Thank you for being so courageous, humble and eloquent to share feelings that we all have experienced. It makes things easier to bear when you realize you’re not alone. I am a new reader of your blog and I love it! Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    10 Blog Post Topic Ideas - blog and biz tips, DIY - Little Miss Momma
    May 17, 2012 at 5:34 am

    […] The College Years: Look back onto key time periods of your life, and reflect on what they meant to you. ย For example, in this post I revisited my college years–and came clean about what college really meant to me. ย You could do this about high school, about childhood, about your parenting years, about your career years–whatever fits your story. […]

  • Reply
    August 12, 2012 at 4:42 am

    Ah, college. I don’t miss it one bit.
    I hated it… it was horrible. I have best friends from there and that is about the only thing I am thankful for during those years. I remember lots of pain and heartache and feeling so depressed that I just wanted to end it all. The worst time in my life, really. Thankful for who it made me though… thankful I’m past that stage in life!

  • Reply
    Courtney Kirkland
    August 12, 2012 at 4:47 am

    I had a similar experience in college. I did pledge a sorority and I loved it more than anything. But…I did spend a lot of time alone and a lot of time questioning things/myself/my situation. I still felt lonely and wondered if I was in the right place.

  • Reply
    August 25, 2012 at 4:35 am

    There are so many things I would love to say about this post, but I just want to say thank you. Thank you for what you wrote and sharing it.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2013 at 4:53 am

    I love this. I just found your blog, and I’ve felt compelled to comment on all 3 of the first posts I have read. You are an amazing writer. It’s like you’re my friend and we’re having a real conversation, so I need to comment back to you because that’s what you do when you are having a real conversation with a friend. Excuse me while I go and try to read every post you have ever written. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    February 19, 2014 at 7:28 am

    I am currently in college, and while I have been following your blog for a while and thought I had already read most of your posts, I just found this one. I just wanted you to know that many people my age follow your blog and Instagram and hope to one day have a family like yours.
    This post made me so happy because right now, college and sorority life aren’t what I expected. I feel like all my friends are having the best time of their lives, but I’m stuck feeling like I’m just waiting for time to fast forward, and like college like just isn’t for me. Your story of your experience gave me a little hope that one day I can have a family of my own and be truly happy and that it’s okay if college isn’t the best time of my life. So I wanted to thank you and let you know how much I enjoy your blog.

  • Reply
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