Thursday, December 6, 2012

Guest post: 5 Years Have Taught Me?...Certainty.

**The eighth installment in my '5 Years' collaboration project. Michelle Dulmes is my featured blogger this week! She is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin at Sheboygan, studying Accounting.
Michelle and I met online earlier this year while blogging for a scholarship website called
Michelle attended Cedarville University for a year where many of my high school classmates attended so it was like I already knew her when we met. Not many people can point out Cedarville, Ohio on a map, you know. :)  In her spare time Michelle likes speaking and studying Spanish, composing music, philosophizing on life and baking! Her story is centered around faith so I hope you will be open to reading and learning from her experiences during the last 5 years. Muchas gracias por compartir tu cuento, Michelle! :) ***

5 Years Have Taught Me?...Certainty. by Michelle Dulmes


Okay, okay. Enough of that.

In case you’re unable to infer, I am a numbers lady. These little guys are my best friends (because, c’mon – bizarre vocabulary words just don’t quite cut it…), and these particular fellows each have something to say.

In order of appearance:
-these past five years as a percentage of my life
-dollars spent on my formal education in that time
-dollars I’m projected to yet spend on post-secondary instruction
-dollars I currently owe the government
-times I’ve changed my major
-pieces of scratch paper filled with physics equations for the semestre
-all-nighters pulled this past year alone
-credits I’ve taken in four semestres (not including six that did not transfer)
-occasions I’ve seriously been asked if I was albino
-the digits of pi I memorised for extra credit on a physics final, in addition to the 8 cakes I baked for the class to consume after the same 3-hour final

(On a side note… I was going to code this in binary, and perch in my little butterfly chair located in the genius corner and tap my fingers in delight, watching y’all struggle. However, the underdeveloped social portion of my brain gently poked me, and reminded me of this strange phenomenon commonly known as the ‘jerk move.’)

Before you all think I’m completely crazy, let me introduce myself.

I am:
-a baker
-a composer of neobaroque classical music
-a mathematician/physicist (at heart; field of study no longer)
-a musician (pianist, flautist, vocalist (classical soprano/alto/tenor))
-an amateur philosopher
-an empath
-a writer
-organised, and
-slightly obsessive compulsive (this list is alphabetised, for kicks and giggles)

I’ve found that names really aren’t quite accurate descriptors of the substance that embodies them. However, in case you happen to be wondering for some reason, my name is Michelle.
But most importantly, I am a follower of Christ. If you consider nothing else significant, consider this. Because of Christ, I have a story to tell. Because of Christ, I have strength to stand on moral conviction. Because of Christ, I have said moral conviction. Because of Christ, I value others in a way I can’t even fully explain. Because of Christ, I love deeply, share others’ pain, and give impulsively. And because of Christ, I learn from my mistakes, seeking wisdom in response.

And a little bit of that wisdom is what I’m here to present in narrative.

Scroll up and look back at the descriptions of the numbers I mentioned. Each number relates in some way to education (save the albino statistic, but you’ll have to forgive my randomness). There was no accident in what I chose to include. Not only has school been my full-time job the past 5 years; if it were not for school, I would be even more life-stupid than I already am. (I know what you’re thinking. ‘Life-stupid?’ Answer: Yes. The bulk of my intelligence lies in scholastics; that is the most straight-forward manner in which I can openly declare a lack of common sense. This plays massively into what I have gained from experience – further details to come.)

Two lessons I have learned really stand out when I look back at the previous years: the necessity of placing your confidence in someone outside of yourself, and the importance of consciously solidifying your moral standards and principles – making them your own decisions, not the regurgitation of another human’s viewpoint. Even though the first one is super important also, the second one is more relevant, and is a more recent lesson learned, so I can tell it most vividly.

Clears throat and steps up to the podium.
Taps microphone.
Awkward silence.


That is the closest representation of my entrance onto the high school scene; a shy homebody with no one to really call my friend. I feared the older students. I disliked my obnoxious classmates. I respected my teachers, and I loved my books.

And I was surprised by all of the wrong I saw.

Born under a pew, and raised in Christian schooling all my life, I was highly sheltered. I only saw the good in the world – the nice kids, the respectful adults, the helpful teachers – that when I saw otherwise, I was shocked. Now, even though my eyes were opened to the real world this little tiny crack, it still was a Christian high school, and was a fantastic little cushy world to reside in.

The four years I spent in that high school challenged me academically, but didn’t put a dent in the moral lessons I would learn in college, which is where the story really begins.

My first year of college, I attended another Christian education system.
(Can we say sheltered?)

Being the shy little thing I am (I’m way wittier on the ‘net than I ever am in person upon first meeting), I made two good friends that first year – one of which was my roommate, the other, the roommate-less sweetheart next-door. To make a very long story short, I ended up involving myself in an online relationship that I kept absolutely secret and hid from everyone because I knew it was wrong, my roommate quit speaking to me after the first week of second semestre, I turned to anorexia for confidence, and shut out everyone who tried to befriend me.

Sure, it was tough. But it still wasn’t the real world. I didn’t see anything horrific, terrifying, or bewildering in that first year at the Christian post-secondary school, but I made so many poor choices that were directly against what God would want for me, that I learned to ignore the prodding of my conscience in certain areas. I became indifferent to God’s character and love – an awful position to be in.

And it was from there that I transferred to a public university.

Now, I wanted attention. Not only did I come off a break up, I also came off a year functionally alone on the friend front. Anorexia gave me a confidence in my physical appearance that I had never experienced before, so I decided to use that to my advantage after I saw the stares I was getting the first day of school already. I looked good, and I *knew* it – it feels so good to be wanted (all the more so when multiple people want you at the same time).

I began to dress in a manner unsuitable for the moral standards I previously claimed to have held, and agreed to things I never would have even thought about had I continued to have been sheltered. I’m not going to give out any further personal information, but my actions looked no different from those of the individuals I surrounded myself with.

God knew me, though, and when I failed miserably, he brought a solid Christ-following friend into my life. She flat-out confronted me about my actions, and told me they were not reflective of a Christian. That was the first time I sat down and really thought about what I had been doing. After a few hours spent alone with my thoughts, I finally admitted to myself that she was right.

At this point, I knew I needed to make a choice. Either I choose to follow God and give Him my life, or I choose to take life into my own hands and bulldoze my own path in my very finite wisdom and ‘excellent common sense skills’....

The choice was clear. I needed to give up my control – to relinquish my hold on my life. I screwed up so many times when I took the reins and lived by my own power. I can’t say it any simpler than that. The mistakes I made brought me to the point where I needed to address how I was going to proceed – either I believe and act on that, or I reject and go my own way. Without confrontation, your beliefs aren’t truly yours; without a struggle to define your view, your ‘religion’ is just a regurgitation.

If I can be of encouragement, I would urge each one of you to really question; to really understand why you believe what you do. This was a huge turning point for me, and it only fully finished playing out 2 weeks ago! The healing process will be ongoing, but I know what I believe, and I know who I look to for strength.

Just a few thoughts from a random girl you’ve never met. Take ‘em or leave ‘em.

With love,

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