I said I would speak about my personal downfalls and so here we go. Today will be raw and as real as it gets. In college one of the balances that many will face is the balance of what parents and administrators want along with the plan that the student themselves want. If you grew up in a home that I would call strict and a preacher’s kid you already know that the stress of keeping up with a certain image is key. Now before we go because there will be someone reading this thinking that I blame my upbringing or my church etc. for my story and I do NOT. I take full responsibility however in that responsibility the truth is the truth that we have to watch the pressure that we put on kids to become what we want and not support them as they find what they want.
So again freshman year was my most moving year. I really was trying to find my own but in order to do that I had to deal with the real me. Not the 4.0 person everyone else came to know. Not the highly responsible Toi that folks was expecting me to be. So as I was excited to get my college career started I had to hit quite a few pit falls and the first was going to be me hitting me. When I was younger like most kids I lied. Yes if I was afraid and wasn’t able to face my consequences I lied. When you become an adult if you don’t check those childhood annoyances, you can become an adult who lies too. Now again this is me being raw and out there. I have the full support of my husband by which this story affects the most. Anybody else you can continue to chew on the gossip and eat on. For those who have an ear, hear the message and the testimony.
In my freshman year going to school I was told to keep myself for marriage. I hadn’t even 3rd base with my high school sweetheart. Too scared that I would get pregnant or an STD. Got to shout out to my parents for making sure I was chase while under their roof. So as a preachers kid sex wasn’t discussed in open healthy ways. It was discussed in ways that would evoke the fear of God in your soul. However after keeping the fear going I decided to make my OWN decisions. My now husband and I had been seeing each other secretly not really telling our closest friends who knew anyway. We were a tight 4 some. So I’m sure they could see that he and I were taking our relationship to the next levels. It was quite some time before we made the decision to have sex. And let me be clear although it’s not anyone’s business but helps to set the stage of what I am about to say, it was I who set the encounter up. Yep I told him we were going to play video games at his dorm. Ha when I think of that now its quite funny. He was my first. He never pressured me in any way to have sex with him. We were taking things slow but I was ready. I made that decision not thinking of others but what I really wanted. So after the initial decision was made, it was clear that we were entangled with one another. However one day I made the most awful decision to lie. We had gotten caught by my roommate. Instead of just taking the embarrassment on the chin I lied. I made it sound without coming out and saying he raped me that he had forced me when reality he hadn’t. I quickly cleared his name but the damage was done. To be honest he shouldn’t have even dealt with me further but he said he understood why I said it. To say I was embarassed was an understatement but my husband he was humilated. I felt so sick to my stomach.
My parents weren’t as forgiving towards him. They took it as I stated and although I tried to clear things up with them they weren’t biting it. So we snuck around and still saw each other. He never wanted to be in the secret about our relationships which made it hard for us on campus as well. He and I dated until we hit a bump in the road that was unrelated to my lie. SO yes I lied. I was scared and just like a toddler who is learning I reverted to what I knew to keep my reputation in tack. However you know how this works, I wasn’t 4 I was an adult who knew better. I had to make it right with all parties. To this day for those who never knew and for those who thought they did that’s what happened in October 1999. Now its 2016 and I still have some folks who haven’t moved on. They aren’t my husband who I have been married to now for 4 years. They aren’t even my parents who love my husband. The ones holding onto it wasn’t even my roommate or close friends who were on campus. It’s literally a bunch of adults who I don’t associate with. Go figure. You see I learned to address me and my demons when I couldn’t hide behind my upbringing or church. I had to deal with me.
When you come out of the shadows there is going to be slander. Even now I have heard that I was bisexual which I have never been. I heard even from close folks that I had men swinging in and out of my house which wasn’t true and makes me think, man where was I to enjoy that? I’m not saying I was an angel after college but I always protected myself and attempted to keep things on the up and up. How could I not after that? So for all the lovely folks that think they know me they don’t. I have no problems speaking my truths. I have no problems saying my pitfalls. Here are the lessons for my college students and beyond.
- Never lie. Some folks will never see the truth in you. Even after making it right there are some who wrote me off. That is to be expected. I’m glad or the family and friends who can see your faults and still love you and accept you. We all got skeletons in the closet, so while the ones that I have come full frontal the ones that were speculating mine may need to worry about their own. I have done the work and continue to do the work to be upstanding for my family. If God and my husband who didn’t have to marry me and since we were friends first he knew about the very core of me and still loves me daily, all others can have several seats.
- Figure out what you want in life and don’t be afraid to go after that. No I’m not talking about sex. In my situation it wasn’t about my personal decision in having sex or not it was about worrying about others. My whole life up to a few years ago when I learned to say oh well, I was so caught up in people’s perception of me. Let me help someone who is struggling with that. Live life on your terms and have God be your judge. Do you see how people are STILL holding me accountable for things done in my late teens and 20’s. I could easily be brittle in my spirit and at one point I was. I had to learn that folks will view you from the mirror they choose. It’s not my job to convince. This is with accepting and taking my lumps for anything I have done. You don’t get to say don’t judge and still be the old you, you have to change and I have.
- Do not allow folks who don’t have a paying seat in your life hold you down. There are some folks who again have no personal dealings with any decisions that I have ever made. Think about that. The ones chirping the most didn’t have to bear my sins but guess what still acting like poor me I can’t believe she was young and dumb. We were all young and dumb. I do not regret not one decision made. I am happy it happened all of it. The ones I write about and the ones I don’t.
- Finance yourself. Parents hold your breath but I am about to help you and your student out. There are people who go through years of college for majors and lives that you as a parent want for your child. Please allow them to figure it out. Why go through 4 years of college pursuing a dream that doesn’t make them feel fulfilled. It is torture. Your child doesn’t need to be carbon copy of what YOU want. Learn to help foster them into the life THEY want. Student this may mean that you will have to finance your dreams. Things will not be handed to you. I worked 3 jobs and took a 19 credit course at one point to make sure I didn’t have to run to my parents for help. It wasn’t pride it was determination. I wanted to have what I wanted and knew their standards wouldn’t match mine so I made it happen. Was it hard? You better believe it. I even changed majors half way through and had to take courses in the summer but I graduated on time in 4 years. I refused to be on Penn State campus beyond 4 years so I worked my behind off. No hand outs. No nothing just tears, hard work, and sleepless nights. That same work ethic helped me to press through even with a sick child that was born early, go to work on 20 minutes of sleep and still provide with no real assistance. Again life is hard you make the best of it.
College doesn’t have to be hard but it will be challenging. Besides the academics you will face yourself. You will find out things that mommy and daddy can’t teach you. Experience good or bad will be the push that makes you great or makes you crumble. I decided even with folks talking that I was going to push. I thank my friend the fabulous 4 and my other PSU friends who kept encouraging me not to transfer. They are still some of the best in the world to me when it comes to awesome relationships. You know who you are I won’t shout you out. To my husband who saw my worth when others said don’t fool with her, you the real MVP. You stuck by me through it out and should we go left you know I will still love you. We are friends first and that type of love will endure even scandal. To my kids, know that I will be as open to you about what I learned in college just like my parents were with me about life. I didn’t live in a sugar-coated household and I don’t raise mine like it either. To the family and friends who have written me off, that’s your choice. I have love for all but I have changed whether you see it or not. That’s your lost not to be around an awesome woman like myself. I can’t change the past but I surely can learn from it and be better. To my readers, life is about choices. Make the best of them for you. If you too have things in your closet that someone wants to hold you to, own it and do a Kanye shrug. What you gonna do, cry forever? Not over here!!