10 Struggles We Experienced in College
My fiancé and I got the opportunity to speak with some college students the other night. We decided to walk them through 10 struggles we went through in college in hopes that we would help them get through some of their struggles and just provide a space to be real and honest and vulnerable with them.
The night was amazing.
And now we want to share those 10 struggles with you. The 10 struggles we’ll walk you through include finding your identity and purpose, fitting in, being overwhelmed and burned out, priorities, rocky relationships, impatience, getting over fear, friendships with other guys, the pressure of friendships, and intentionally living with God.
So… it’s struggle time… here we go…
Struggle #1: Identity and Purpose (Madison)
One of the first struggles I knew I needed to talk about was identity and purpose. I really struggled with my identity coming into college because I came from a high school where everyone knew me. Coming into a place where I’d have a blank slate was kind of scary. I even considered transferring - I seriously called other schools as I was a freshman here and asked about the process. I was that afraid and worried.
I remember telling myself that my attitude was most of the problem. I needed to choose to have the right attitude and just dive in and get involved with things I was passionate about, things that were important. Once I made that decision to have the right attitude, my whole experience changed.
So my advice dealing with purpose and identity is to make time for what’s important. Make time to get into the Word and journal or talk to God. Find a church you can call home. That’ll make a huge difference.
Remember that your identity and purpose is in Christ. He can turn your unfortunate situation or perceived limitation into a blessing.
Struggle #2: Fitting In (Tyler)
One of the struggles I knew I needed to talk about was fitting in. For me, I felt like I fit into my friend group and felt like I had the respect from a lot of people… but I wanted to fit in for the wrong things.
I lived with an awesome group of guys in a house, and I was on the football team with a lot of people which instantly gave me someone to always be around. I was thrown in with a ton of guys who had similar interests as me right away. The part where fitting in got me was that I wanted so badly to be successful and to be known as one of the football guys. I wanted people to recognize me for being a talented football player.
What I’ve learned since then is that we should strive to stand out rather than to fit in. Stand out and SET THE EXAMPLE as a young Christian who is fearlessly pursuing the Lord.
Struggle #3: Overwhelm & Burn Out (Madison)
Another thing I really struggled with and still struggle with is finding worth in what I do rather than who God created me to be. I get caught up in accomplishments, accolades, to-do lists, and schedules. But here’s what God says:
It’s not about what we do… it’s about who we are.
It’s hard to understand this, though. The world makes us feel like we’re not good enough. It’s easy to compare and fuss about what we don’t have because it’s so easy to see what others do have. When we begin to feel this emptiness, we try to fill ourselves up… and a lot of us fall into the trap of thinking this fulfillment comes from tangible things: awards, recognition, trophies, money, looks, achievements. But God doesn’t care about those things.
God doesn’t care about those things because He doesn’t look at those things. He looks at the heart.
Luke 10 says this:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Don’t be Martha. Don’t worry about all the doing. All the achieving. All the show. Just be with Jesus. Don’t forget to be still.
Struggle #4: Priorities (Tyler)
I loved football, and I still do. But my issue was that I made football my first priority in college.
I wanted to be the reason our team was successful, and I wanted to be someone who elevated the play of others around me. I don’t regret a second of the hard work I put in, but what I do regret is that I allowed football to become the only thing I thought of and put maximum effort towards.
This verse here from Matthew 6 is one of my favorites and one that I have to remind myself of: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Madison will talk next about our rocky relationship. I skipped out on a camping trip and small family vacations with her because I said I needed to be back for Sunday football workouts that weren’t even mandatory. Madison and I almost broke up because I wasn’t giving her enough energy or showing her enough love because I was pouring it into football. I wasn’t really making her a priority to begin with. And I certainly wasn’t making God a priority. But once I did, everything changed.
Struggle #5: Rocky Relationships (Madison)
When Tyler and I started dating it was amazing. We fell head over heels for each other.
But then that school year ended, and he went back home. I did the same. It quickly turned from this amazing thing to something I was crying over.
I remember talking to Tyler on the phone, just crying and telling him how I felt, how I felt that he wasn’t giving effort, how it felt that he wasn’t really invested. And at one point he told me: “Football is my #1 priority, and I’m not messing that up.”
I was the one to tell him I wanted to break up. I was ready to be done. I was tired of crying to my mom. I was tired of riding a roller coaster. So I called him and told him. But then Tyler stepped up. He fought for us. He was the one to say, “No, this is what I want. My actions and attitude need to change, and I’m changing them. I want this.”
We moved way past that point and have gotten a lot stronger since then. But has it been all sunshine and rainbows since that point?
But what truly set our relationship in a new direction and what truly laid the foundation for our healthy relationship we have now was putting God at the center.
Every relationship has some bumps and bruises. It’s not all smooth sailing. But believe that your trials can turn into your testimony. Because even though you go through valleys, they’ll lead you to some beautiful mountains.
Struggle #6: Impatience for a Relationship (Tyler)
I’m kind of a hopeless romantic. That might not be the most “manly” thing, but I am. And before I met Madison, I was just impatiently waiting to have someone to love. I wasn’t looking for just anyone, and I knew I wanted to be in a serious relationship. I was sort of looking for someone that I might like, looking for someone that may have similar interests as me, etc.
But then I said, “Alright, I’m done looking for anyone. I’m just going to be myself and everything will work out eventually.” And as soon as I stopped looking, Madison came into my life.
What I learned through this is to take the time that you are single to work on yourself. To grow and to have your own personal development. Don’t waste your time being single just wishing for what “could be” if you had a significant other.
Allow God to work in your life, and trust in Him that He’s going to deliver on His schedule. And that’s sometimes hard to accept, but as soon as I stopped looking, God said, “Here she is, Tyler. I know you’ve been wanting someone, but I wanted you to go through and experience some things before I gave you exactly who you needed.”
Struggle #7: Getting Over Fear (Madison)
So the thing that really turned our relationship around was a change in direction, a change in attitude. It was choosing faith over fear. I invited Tyler to come to church with me. I don’t think he was particularly excited about it to begin with. But then he started coming consistently, and I saw his heart change. I always knew Tyler had one of the biggest hearts out of anyone I knew, but I saw him be sort of transformed. I could really see the Holy Spirit working within him. And as I watched his love for Jesus grow, I saw his love for me grow even more too. I saw faith replace fear.
He became more kind, more patient, more forgiving, more graceful, more… full of love. There’s just this sort of peace, joy, and love you feel when you invite the Holy Spirit into your life. I could see that in Tyler. And in turn, I could see it in our relationship.
So if you want to see a change in your life, if you want to see a change in your friend’s life or someone you love, I dare you to start praying for them. I dare you to open up your Bibles together. I dare you to get involved in a church and invite them to come along.
If you want to strengthen a relationship or a friendship and get rid of fear, you’ve got to make time for God. Having God at the center changes everything. Once I made that decision of choosing faith over fear, I trusted that God would allow everything to work out. He gave me permission to let go of the control and trust Him.
Struggle #8: Friendships with other guys (Tyler)
I loved my roomates. I lived with some of the best guys, but sometimes, even if you’re goofing off and just joking around with the guys, you start taking real shots at each other or saying things that get each other riled up. I’m okay with just having some fun, but there is a point where things could get taken too far… where things might be said that the person doesn’t quite realize is actually hurtful to you.
And I think, speaking from a guy’s perspective, we are supposed to be rough and tough and know how to do man stuff and protect our ground as men and stand up for things and be able to win in fights. That’s what society says about men.
But really, we need to be more Godly men. To be a model of humility and selflessness. To be understanding of feedback and be willing to grow. To be someone who sets the example. To be filled with the Holy Spirit and LEAD others to find God too.
Struggle #9: Pressure of Friendships (Madison)
Another thing I really struggled with coming into college was this pressure of feeling like I had to find my best friends for the rest of my life. It was super frustrating because I was going into year two, and I still didn’t have a “group” that a lot of other people have.
But truthfully, honestly, I was frustrated with feeling like I didn’t find “my people.” And what I came to finally conclude is that it’s okay.
I didn’t need to put the pressure on myself to find my best friends for life. All I have to do is single-mindedly serve Christ and be who He created me to be. The rest will fall into place.
I’m just me. A servant of Christ. My identity does not lie in friendships, in my relationship, in my circumstance, or in my triumphs or defeats. My identity is in Christ. And when I draw near to Him, when I get in the Word and just dive in. When I make time for Him, beautiful things happen.
So don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be what everyone else is telling you to be and what everyone else is telling you to have. Ask God to reveal to you who He wants you to be. And be that person. Be happy with that person, because the world needs a you. And you’re the only one that can provide that. And don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a community; it’s great to have a group of friends. But don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you if you don’t find them right away or for a while. It’s okay.
Be you. Be happy with what God gives you, pray for what God’s putting on your heart, and He’ll bring the right people into your life.
Struggle #10: Intentionally Living with God (Tyler)
I confidently say that all of the things I touched on come back to one real problem. I was not intentionally living with God. I knew God. I had grown up Catholic and went to church. But then as I got older, my family didn’t go to church as often, and then I got into college and I rarely went to church. I already had my entire day filled with football workouts and then film. I wasn’t going to wake up that early to go to church on Sunday.
But ever since I started going to church, I’ve finally got in touch with the Lord again. I’ve actually heard the voice of God. And it’s not a loud, thundering voice either. It’s a whisper that you have to be obedient enough to listen to. I wasn’t in alignment with God, but that’s only because I wasn’t making any time for Him.
God was waiting at the door. He wanted to open it for me, but I wasn’t willing to come in. God has me on speed dial, and He kept calling me, but I wasn’t willing to pick up the phone. I knew God, but I didn’t really KNOW God.
I want you to KNOW God. I want you to dig into Him, choose Him, make time for Him, and live with Him. I want you to see your struggles turn into strength.
With God at the center, we know they will.