We Are Westmont 2012
Our community here at Westmont is made up of a wide array of different experiences, backgrounds, and identities. This session is geared at taking a deeper glimpse within our community to reflect on who we are as a Westmont community. The goals of this session are to encourage awareness about student diversity, to encourage students to be themselves, and to own their stories. We hope to spark conversations around tough issues like race, gender, faith, and history.
Name: Sam Fearer
Hello class of 2016, and welcome to Westmont. My name is Sam Fearer, I am a third year, and I feel very lucky to be able to share with you today.
The next four years will be an opportunity for you to become the person that God has already created you to be. To be in college is to be in the midst of great minds, challenging concepts, differing beliefs, and the joys and struggles of learning to live in a community. Apply yourself, and the benefits will be great. But as you already know, nobody experiences growth without rising up to a challenge; and this next year will be challenging in many ways. The important thing for us to keep in mind when we face these challenges– whether they be social, academic, familial, spiritual, or intrapersonal– is this– and I’m going to give you a catchy rhyme here (don’t you forget it!)…– is that you “can’t grow if you don’t go.” And what I mean by that is that you are going to need to embrace the practice of stepping outside of your comfort zone this year.
Without a motivation to face the uncomfortable, we all default to what makes us feel most secure. And for me, that default was biking. Within two weeks of living in Page, I began to second guess myself. Did I really want to be here? Classes intimidated me, and so did friend-making. It seemed like everyone was having a blast, hanging out with their newfound friend groups. How could this have happened?? I was alone in a sea of people with lifelong bonds in just two weeks!! I felt like I didn’t know anybody and I, essentially, wanted to run away. So every day after classes were over, I would run away. Rather than engage in the uncomfortable interactions necessary in adjusting to a new crowd, I would hop on my bike. I would ride until dinner, eat, and then hole up in the library by myself. And although there was nothing inherently wrong with this routine, I was hurting inside… because I wanted to grow. I wanted to acclimate and develop with the people around me, and to allow myself to become the person God had intended me to be. But I was too afraid to. Needless to say, my freshman fall semester was a hard one.
If you’ve ever felt loneliness before, you’ll understand me when I say that something had to change. Near the end of Christmas break, I made a decision– I was going to stop running, to end my daily dependence on avoidance, and to face what fears I had. And I returned to campus with a new understanding– that it wasn’t all going to be easy. If I wanted to fill God’s potential for me, I would need to trust him, and to trust him in my discomfort too. The realization began a long chain of intentionality; forcing myself to seek new opportunities both socially and academically.
This new mindset came to fruition last spring when I studied abroad. Hearing about Istanbul 2012, I made an enormous leap and decided to step out of my comfort zone by choosing to sacrifice a preset track in order to study what really interested me... Making friends with Turkish students, visiting the Seven Churches of Revelation, and standing at the base of the Sphinx and Great Pyramids of Giza… no dollar amount could buy that semester back from me. It challenged me academically, socially, globally, and spiritually. My “risky” decision allowed me to better embrace who I am inside, and to explore avenues of thought that I had never placed much focus or importance on before. And of all the seasons of life I’ve known so far, it was my most growing experience yet.
Now, you may not have the desire to study abroad as a sophomore (though I wouldn’t discourage you!), and you may not view biking or studying as escape methods like I did. But we all have them; and despite our differences, I believe that my story relates to you. God already created you to be someone by the end of your time here—don’t hold yourself back! Get out there and apply yourself. Go to the beach with your section even if you hate sand! Join a game of Frisbee on the lawn even if you don’t know how! Take a class that sounds interesting, even if it is isn’t within your track! As long as you jump into uncomfortable situations with eagerness and faith in the Lord, rewards will come. I can’t tell you exactly what the next few years will bring, but you can rest assured that his plan for you here is good.
Though I still ride my bike today, I no longer use it as a crutch. Rather than running from the unknown, I have changed my approach. Finding myself in discomfort, I put my head down and work, thanking God for the growth I can anticipate to come. In this next defining year of yours, I would invite you to join me. Have an eye for the future, a mind for the present, and above all, a heart that trusts God. He sees beyond our discomfort, even when we can not. And lastly, remember that awesome catch phrase from the beginning…, “you can’t grow if you don’t go”.