I’m about to graduate from Auburn in May. What a weird statement that is to type. Quickest four years of my life. It’s the first time that I feel really reminiscent, it’s a little comical how different the freshmen version of me is from the senior version.
I didn’t come into Auburn confident, I came in quite humbled with no friends. I’m not sure if I knew what I was getting into by going to a school where no one from Tifton would be, it sounded super glamorous to be doing something different. But I was in no way prepared for what was to come.
Sorority recruitment wasn’t easy for me, but I sure didn’t make that known to anyone for a long time. I got a bid from DZ, but I was sure that I wasn’t cut out for being in a sorority. I immediately decided I would stay in for a month or so, try to make some friends, and drop.
Isn’t it funny how we make our own plans and the Lord just laughs.
And as you probably know if you know me, that’s not what happened. Not even close. Didn’t start off strong though, at our new member retreat while we were in a pool this girl looks at me and goes “Hey I’m Mattie! Don’t think we’ve met yet.” I had to remind her that we had met and that I had ridden in the same car as her for 45 minutes to this retreat. I got over that bitterness though because then we ended up being roommates for 2 years.
But we’ll come back to all of that.
I slowly started making friends freshmen year, but when I say slowly I mean slowly. It was hard. I didn’t really have to try to make friends for the first 18 years of my life, I grew up with the same 55 kids. I wanted to get really involved at Auburn. I told some people about the different things I wanted to be involved in. Many of the conversations went like this “Well yeah you should definitely try but you don’t know enough people. Only people in XYZ sorority and are from Alabama will get that.”
I was a little stunned, did people really believe that you had to have these certain connections in order to be a part of some of these organizations? And better yet, was that really true?
I’ll never forget my favorite conversation freshmen year, it went a little something like this:
Me: I think running for Miss Auburn would be so cool. I would want to do all these things if I were in that position…
Before I could even finish, I was interrupted by this girl that laughed and said: You’ll never get to do that. You don’t know the right people, you’re not in the right organizations.
I think she transferred, but I hope she’s doing good.
Needless to say, I was a little discouraged freshman year. Was I really not going to be a part of anything because I didn’t know the “right” people and wasn’t from the “right” place? That lit a small fire in me, knowing that people thought I couldn’t accomplish anything. I had faith that Auburn was better than that.
So I went after everything that sparked an interest in me. My first Auburn interview was tragic. Going into the interview, someone would walk you in and introduce you. The guy asked for my name and where I was from before I walked in and I told him. He proceeded to ask if he could just say “Mary” and I told him that wasn’t my name? He didn’t really listen. I walked in and was introduced as “Mary Veazey from Tennessee!” I sat down a little puzzled and their first question for me was “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” I looked at them and said “Well, my name isn’t Mary it’s Mary Spencer, and I’m from Georgia?” They laughed and I cried internally. Callouts on Cater Lawn were also tragic, they STILL called me Mary Veazey.
and so began the constant explanation of having a double name.
One of the best things to happen to me that year was getting plugged in at a church. I hadn’t really ever experienced any other churches than my home church, so it was the first time I really felt like my faith was my own. As the year progressed, I started really seeing Jesus for who He is and the relationship He desired for me which has completely changed my life and what I see my purpose as.
That summer after freshman year I worked at a Kanakuk Kamp called K-Kauai. Very humbling moment once again, I was a Kitchie. I had never worked behind the scenes like that before. We slaved over the kitchen and serving others all day and got little recognition for it. Which was good for me, my little heart needed a humbling summer like that.
Flash forward to sophomore year, and I felt the Lord reaaaally tugging on my heart about being the New Member Educator for my sorority. I was like hm maybe not, would love to do that but I want to live off campus my junior year… and pretty much before that conversation had ended with the Lord He had shut literally every door except the possibility of running for New Member Educator. I knew deep down I had wanted that position since the beginning of freshman year. And then it happened. All of a sudden I was preparing to have 10 kids in the spring and 80 in the fall.
I was a little fearful of being in this position. How would I deal with girls wanting to drop? How would I speak truth into them through this very hard first semester of college that they would inevitably have? Would they even like me?
And it was hard but the best thing to ever happen to me. I saw daily how the Lord had made a way and a plan for this position and if I’d only be obedient He’d be faithful to see me through this season.
One day toward the beginning of junior year (aka when the madness began with 80 kids) I got a little mad with the Lord. I very distinctly remember saying “I have no time to study for my test tomorrow, I have no time to do anything I have for school, why would you call me to do this but not allow any time for rest or for school?”
I’m not joking when I say 10 minutes later I got an email saying my test had been moved from tomorrow to the following week. Another moment of being humbled knowing the Lord will provide, even in small ways like moving my test.
By October of junior year, I felt very satisfied with how everything was going. I loved being New Member Educator. Then, in a crazy turn of events the nomination for Miss Auburn happened. That was far from being on my radar and when it happened I was shocked. I was terrified for that first interview, wasn’t excited in the slightest.
But I was so honored that DZ had nominated me that I knew I had to just go through with it. The night before my interview I had a 102 fever. In that moment I wanted to just back out. It would be understandable. I was terrified of interviewing. But then I woke up the next morning with no fever? I couldn’t believe it. So I went to the interview. Then, the next night at callouts my fever had returned. Shocked when my name was called, even more shocked that I would have to interview again the next day, but it happened. I woke up that next morning and once again, my fever was gone? I was so confused.
And I can tell you right now I did not speak one single time during that interview… The Lord literally did all the talking. I had never had an interview like that, without fail in every interview thus far at Auburn I had tripped over my words at least once, stuttered, sometimes a combination of several little mess ups. I didn’t stutter once this time. I felt so strange when I got done, I couldn’t believe how it went.
I still didn’t expect much though, I was intimidated by the other 19 women that were interviewing. I had never been more nervous in my life that night, I wanted it so bad. When my name was called, I walked up the Cater steps in complete shock. I couldn’t process it. All of that was a blur and then when I walked back down the steps I burst into the ugliest tears. I didn’t stop crying for three hours. It’s funny now, but I was so shocked. And then when I got over the shock I became fearful. I had never done a campaign before. I had no idea what to do. Could I do this? How would this happen? And then I cried some more so nervous about doing this. A million fears ran through my head, but I knew the Lord had something in store for this.
And he did. It’s funny because once it all really started happening I remembered how I prayed earlier that year that the Lord would bring me new friends, I had gotten really comfortable in my community of friends. Didn’t expect him to bring me friends through this. Some of my best friends now were met through this process.
Can we pause for a second and talk about how easy it is to get power hungry at Auburn? Heck, i had experienced moments of wanting things and positions solely to glorify my name and make my name known. and the Lord just would shut those doors.
I was worried about that throughout this, I was worried that I would get caught up in wanting to make my name known. I had so many fears for this, but I knew the Lord had worked in and through everything I had done thus far, why would I doubt that He wouldn’t use this for His glory?
And He did. I saw the Lord clearly work in me through this. My confidence up to junior year had been pretty fake, I could put up a good front of this confident girl but it wasn’t real. Through New Member Educator and this the Lord showed me how He had made me perfect in His eyes and how the lack of belief in that was restricting me from being all that He created me to be.
It’s funny, because freshmen year of course I hoped to have lots of friends and to be a part of all these great organizations and crazy moments, but I don’t think I really believed that it all would fall into place. Thoughts ran through my mind of transferring freshman year, that maybe it would be easier at a college where some of my hometown friends would be. But the Lord kept begging me to just stay in His plan and He would provide.
Another one of those moments was toward the end of my junior year. I so desperately wanted to intern in Nashville in the music/entertainment scene over the summer, but it didn’t look like it was going to work out. I was trying to trust that the Lord was doing exactly what I needed. I started feeling a little ungrateful, I had gotten a couple of offers for the summer, but none of them seemed to align exactly with what I wanted to do. I knew they would be great no matter what, so I was trying to trust that. I accepted an offer on a Friday, and then I get an email that Monday if I had found an internship yet. It was with an entertainment PR firm in Nashville. I did about 20 somersaults in the Student Center. I interviewed with them later that week just to see what would happen and, per usual, the Lord came through.
And so began the best summer of my life. Are we seeing a pattern? Continual doubt of the Lord and then Him coming through. I laugh and apologize every time for doubting. Hoping soon enough I’ll learn my lesson.
His provision throughout my time at Auburn has far exceeded my expectations. Why I am shocked by that I don’t know. I’ve realized I cannot doubt the Lord because without fail every. single. time. He comes through and then some.
I guess what I’ve realized is how bothered I am by the fact that I pretended like it was all okay on social media for a long time. My freshmen year looked fun! It looked like I was extremely happy. But there were many, many nights that first semester that I spent sobbing, feeling alone and unsure of who I was.
I never ever wanted people to know that I wasn’t enjoying college. I was supposed to be. I was excited to be in a completely unfamiliar place. But that wasn’t so exciting when reality set in.
Freshman year is a really insecure year for just about everyone. It doesn’t look like that, but even that popular girl from Birmingham is struggling. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’ve come from, being in a new place and figuring out how to balance everything and figuring out who you really are is rough. Let’s not downplay that.
I think the past few years at Auburn have been a reminder that the Lord doesn’t call us to be comfortable. I’m still uncomfortable here sometimes, but that’s a part of being a broken person in a broken world.
And I feel like I’ve needed to share all this for a long time because maybe it looks like I have it all together and that college has been a breeze but in no way has it been. I’ve changed my major four times. I’ve questioned changing it probably 5 more times. I’ve gotten some really hard nos but some really great yeses. My anxiety has hit an all-time high and it’s also hit an all-time low. I’m a little fearful of what’s to come after I graduate, but then I’m reminded if God could allow this little girl from Tifton to fulfill all that she wanted and more at Auburn I know He will not fall short of that for the future.
and so whatever season you’re in, whether you’re a high school senior preparing to go to college next year, a freshman in college a little lost, or a senior about to graduate and start a job, get married, or anything in between, there’s hope in knowing the Lord will not remove His hand from your life. He will provide even if it sometimes feels like this moment has no provision. Fear has no home here.
side note: as I’m sitting here writing this blog in Ross House, I’m listening to a playlist and the song “Fear is a Liar” by Zach Williams just came on. You can’t tell me the Lord doesn’t have a sense of humor.