Classes have commenced, activities have begun to get back in rhythm, and my schedule fills up more every day. However, as I began my third year in August, I made a pact to myself and to a few girlfriends that we would do more "new and fun things" both at U.Va and around Charlottesville. The pact began and has stayed in place as we explored the farmer's market, went to art museums at Charlottesville Fridays after Five in the Downtown Mall, and U.Va commencement activities including Rotunda Sing which brings dozens of the University's acapella groups to the Rotunda. However, of all of the adventures that have taken place thus far this year, the most bold and distinct would have to be Aqua Caving.
I joined Greek InterVarsity this year in hopes of getting to know a different group of people within the Greek community. Bringing various sorority and fraternities members together to discuss God, religion, spirituality, and life in the Greek system, Greek I.V. provides an outlet to discuss deeper issues and ideas with a group of new people who share similar experiences at U.Va. So far, the group worships have included amazing speakers talking about friendship, life transformations, and finding what their purpose is both at school and in life. It motivates and regenerates me every Wednesday night to go and live intentionally, which is why when the opportunity to go caving in a remote area of western Virginia presented itself, I jumped.
Driving to the cave, I didn’t know what to expect. I was with two of my best friends, daringly standing by me and my “new and fun” idea. We arrived and were directed by the lifeline staff members to wear our fleece and layer up- it was going to be dark and cold with water that would feel like ice. Ten minutes later, after hiking into the woods of some unbeknown Virginian hillside, we came to a small opening in the ground. We slid into dark, freezing water that came up to my neck. I reached for my friend who grabbed my hand, and I realized I was feeling actual “fear,” something I can honestly say I haven’t felt in a long time. It was a rush of letting go of all control and the anxiety that was to follow. I was out of every element and comfort zone that my college life has afforded me, stranded in a cave with no way out but a mile forwards.
After two hours of climbing rocks and wading through bitter cold water with only a small headlamp to help one see, we reached high rocks and deep water. Lifeline is an organization that helps students to grow spiritually, mentally, and emotionally as they experience nature and the outdoors. It combines adventures and inner analysis and helps participants to let go and just experience. Knowing this, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the leaders told my group that we were each going to jump off the rocks into the questionably deep water, all in the pitch black. One by one, we each took a leap of faith and let go of all control. As a college student who likes to control and overanalyze every situation, jumping off a cliff in the dark is not my cup of tea. However, as I stood on the rock by myself, I felt free. I felt like I was about to jump into a world without my brain meticulously examining and planning. Letting go of control in that cave has helped me to evaluate how I control my life. Although I know how much planning and intentionality my days need, I know going into this year that I want to be intentional about the right things. I am putting effort into my classes not for the grade but in order to learn, to challenge my mind to examine and create. I am putting most of my effort into my friendships and into being a good friend and person. I am using my time in a way that is fulfilling and will make memories. College is not a time to waste; it is not “the best years of your life” like so many say. College is the biggest challenging time of your life, it is a transition from child to adult, a time for you to grow and discover yourself. College should not be wasted; it should be embraced and enjoyed to the fullest, because schools like U.Va have so much to offer- they can challenge and guide you with the people that surround you and the activities and adventures they present.