By Katie Kohls
As we start back up at school, we leave our families at home. Our parents, siblings, pets, and friends get left behind as we head back to classes, exams, studying, and school friends. I remember my freshmen year was full of dread heading into second semester. I commuted so I didn’t have great friends. I hadn’t found my niche at UF. I had friendly acquaintances, but no one that I hung out with outside of class or that I could talk about things other than class. Needless to say I wasn’t thrilled about another semester of the same thing.
At the beginning of my second semester, I took a chance. I received an email from my adviser about Inklings, a reading group that read the novels of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien aloud. I liked The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, so I thought I’d try it. I didn’t really know anyone in the group. I was scared, stayed silent, but enjoyed listening to the novel being read aloud. As I grew more comfortable with the group, I noticed that while most of them seemed to know each other, they weren’t exclusive. They were more than willing to include me and talk to me as long as I was willing to talk and be a part of the discussion. For the first time in a long time, I saw conversations about ideas, concepts, literature, and other references instead of just classes, people, and partying. It was intriguing and refreshing.
I became closer to some of those people and began to hang out with them in other settings: watching movies, game nights, attending Bible studies, and checking out Revive. I have become very close to those people and have met so many more amazing people. I have found my Findlay Family. Many of my Findlay Fam members and I are connected through our faith. I have never been happier or felt more loved, and they helped me find my faith. As I enter into my last semester at UF, it is bittersweet. I get to move on to new things with a hope for the future, but I have to leave an amazing community of faith and friends. At one point I had wanted to fast-forward through college, and now I’m hesitant to leave.
But the point of this column is that I didn’t take any chances my first semester. I was scared and lonely and didn’t know how to connect with people I saw briefly in classes. It came down to taking a chance. It felt like a tag-along at points, but they got to know me and I got to know them. So this is my challenge to you, whether you are a freshmen like I was or are an upper-classman who hasn’t really felt connected to others or you just want to make some new friends: take a chance. Take a leap of faith and try something new, especially if it scares you. Go alone or bring a friend, but do something new.
I hope all of you find your own Findlay Family whether they are in your dorm, your program, in Henderson, in a group, or even through your faith. To be loved and accepted for who you are, to
laugh until your sides hurt, to have someone to support you through the tough spots, and to be pushed to grow and become a better person is what I hope for all of you. I extend an invitation to you to the gatherings I attend if you’re unsure where to start. I am the current president of Inklings (see what can happen) and I’m always at Revive on Thursday nights (look us up). Otherwise find your people, find yourself, and have fun. Take a chance, and it just may change your life.