We’d all like to forget those years—somewhere around junior high—where all of our pictures are polluted with braces, bowl cuts and glitter jeans. We tried out the sliver glitter eye shadow and the boys went a bit overboard with hair gel. They were the awkward years, and we’d all rather pretend they didn’t happen.
Looking back, I can excuse my performance fleece phase, or even my huge highlighted bangs, but I still can’t seem to figure out my duct tape phase. Yes, duct tape. I put it on everything from belts to Bibles, and there is no good reason why. Now, it’s painfully obvious I must not have had any friends, or else someone would have stopped this tragedy. But don’t worry, Polo’s and Sperry’s rescued me from my duct tape dilemma.
But whether it is fashion or just growth in general, it takes distance to travel from one place to another. Within that time, growing pains occur and stretch us in new ways, some that will stick and others we’ll take note never to do again. After three years at Belmont, I think our school might be experiencing these same pains. We’re growing, moving away from what we once were, and setting our sights on what we want to be.
I’ve heard it said by a few students that Belmont tries to embody whatever you want it to be. For prospective students seeking a music business school, Belmont won’t emphasize the Christian atmosphere, and for those seeking a small Christian school, Belmont puts on its “Jesus hat.” But the end result is a chameleon identity that sometimes disappoints students. Belmont is growing, and in a lot of ways it seems insecure in its identity. It tries on new labels and, just like my awkward duct tape phase, this too shall pass. In the meantime, we all must patiently wait for Belmont to come into its own.
There was always that one kid in high school that tried to be everything to everyone. By senior year, he was nothing to anyone. In the same way, I think some students come to Belmont and never see its promises delivered. Belmont can’t be all things to all people, yet our university is expanding – bringing more people and promising more things. In the end, we might look more diverse, more put together and more established on the outside, but if we can’t deliver all the things we promise to those on the inside, does it even matter how we appear to the world?
I asked my mom once why she never purged my closet of my Salvation Army t-shirts and duct tape suspenders. She shrugged and replied, “I was more concerned with who you were than what you wore.” It makes you wonder, at the core of our school, who Belmont is and if it looks the same inside and out.