New faces. Missing box labels. Lofty goals and currently un-lofted bunk beds.
It’s part of the transition process many Taylor students experience, whether it’s their first year on campus or their last. But in the midst of it all, three returning students are learning to find grace and peace in this time of transition.
“For me, something that's been helpful is not putting expectations on myself in the first few weeks of school,” senior Elise Boutell said. “I’ll kind of give myself permission to not go to chapel and to have alone time with God if the people are too overwhelming.”
For Boutell, grace and prayer have been integral to a healthy transition. Whether it was going to God to identify her priorities or living in the grace of self-care, Boutell found that emphasizing her relationship with Christ brings peace in the chaos of a new semester.
It’s why she came up with the idea to create a handbook for freshmen and transfer students, a mixed devotional and logistical guide to surviving that first semester at Taylor.
“Transitions are just hard on all relationships, and our relationship with God is especially complicated because you can’t see him,” Boutell said. “But it’s also especially sweet … and so just digging into that relationship and remembering His love I think is really important.”
Her hope was that new students will learn that from the beginning of their time at Taylor, and it’s a reminder that’s a part of senior Trevor Eckmann’s story as well.
A Personnel Assistant in Gerig Hall this year, Eckmann’s view on transition focused not only on the relational aspect of God, but on the lifestyle Christ models for us. When he described his growth in the transition process, Eckmann said he learned how living in the moment could impact both his move-in and his mindset.
“My sophomore year, my boss kind of called me out for being physically at work but mentally at Taylor,” Eckmann remembered. “And I realized that, you know, God's design for work is that we're supposed to be focusing on the right here, right now.”
It was a concept that didn’t come naturally for Eckmann.
And while he said he has learned to take a more relaxed approach to moving in, Eckmann acknowledged transition can still be a challenge for upperclassmen.
“Embrace the fact that it's going to be awkward and don't back away from that,” Eckmann said. “Everyone, especially people who are new as well, have way bigger concerns than finding small critiques in who you are as a person … they are a lot less focused on judging you than you might think they are.”
As sophomore Miriam Schaffer learned last year, you don’t have to prove yourself.
Instead, it’s about enjoying the time we share as students, even through the chaos. At the end of the day, students know themselves best. Some thrive in the quietude of morning devotionals, away from high-energy chapels. Others love the bustle of college life.
“You don’t need to say yes to everything,” Schaffer said. “You don’t have to prove yourself every single day. It’s okay to have off days. It’s okay to take a break.”
As for that pesky loft bed?
Schaffer recommended finding an extra hand. And a step stool.
Above all, however, she recommended remembering it’s okay to exist as you are.
“Enjoy your time, meet new people,” she said. “But make sure to take care of yourself. It’s okay to be alone and to do your own thing. It’s okay to be different. That’s what makes it more fun.”
Sometimes, you just have to embrace the chaos, awkwardness and uncomfortability of the moment. College life is filled with transition. But peace can still be found in the process — as many students are learning, they just have to live in the moment.