When I decided in the spring of 2005, on a whim, to apply to and attend Bob Jones University, I had no idea what I'd be getting myself into. I was a little familiar with the school, mostly through some of the textbooks my Christian school used (there were some historical inaccuracies and brushovers) and the students who visited from the school (way too smiley.) But, for some reason that wasn't at the time at all obvious to me, I knew that I needed to be at that college in the fall of 2005. When I decided that, I was at a senior retreat for my class. I didn't know then that the man I'll be marrying in a few months was sitting in the same room, with his senior class. Later that year, because of a conversation with a good friend who also went to BJU (the only other person in my class to do so,) I met my now-fiance. It was more than I ever could have thought I'd receive simply for following an impression upon my soul. I never expected to even have many friends, as I'm not outgoing. But I have those too, thank God.
Everyone knows Bob Jones University is not without its flaws. It's become quite infamous lately, for what I think are grand missteps in judgement. It's also a place with many rules. Those I don't care about. I'm not here to really talk about Bob Jones University. It's the attitudes within a few in my generation (and older) that I encountered both at the school and outside of it that really cemented in my mind certain things I will not do when I am a parent.
I grew up in the 90s, as a normal kid. We moved around town a few times, but because I went to a private Christian school, I never had to change where I went. It was always the same place. Other than having to wear dresses every day to school, my childhood was not at all different than most other kids that grew up then. I devoured the Goosebumps book series, as well as The Babysitters Club. I don't think I owned many of the latter, and only one of the former. I also read the American Girl books (the ones that went with the dolls), but I didn't own many of them. The Bookmobile coming every 3 weeks was my own private Christmas; we didn't even have to go to the library, because it came to us. I loved that. I got my fill of BSC and Goosebumps, as well as other scary books for kids. I liked the spooky stuff. Seriously, the 90s was a great time to be nine years old. Before we got cable, a weekend trip to my Gramma's house in Virginia was a treat, because she did have cable, and therefore, we could watch SNICK on Saturday night. My favorite was the still-scary Are You Afraid of the Dark. I loved that show.
Until I was about eleven years old, my mom stayed home to take care of my little brother. When he went to kindergarten, she went back to work (she's a nurse.) This left me with the responsibility of us kids staying home alone every day, which was fine. We watched Kids WB and Fox 50 Kids. Animaniacs was an extraordinary show. I watched three straight incarnations of Power Rangers, as well as this show with some knights in Ireland. I freaking loved Mystic Knights. That show rocked. And none of it was educational. Saturday mornings were much the same, because ABC had all the best shows by then. (CBS had my heart for a while, though, as did Fox, which played Peter Pan and the Pirates.) Disney's Doug wasn't as good as the original, which aired on Nickelodeon. Still watched it, though. My best friend (who also went to my school) lived up the street, around the corner, and up this insane hill that probably wouldn't be so bad if I gave it a whirl at th age of 25. I biked everywhere in my neighborhood, exploring every nook and cranny to my hearts content. I finished 6th grade, started shaving my legs, and started junior high. I remember being a Britney Spears fan, back before she sorta lost it. Seventh grade was marvelously awkward for me. After that year, my best friend moved away, and we moved out of our neighborhood and across town. Another friend transferred, and the only link was a phone number (we didn't get internet until later that year), and a dude whom I'd known since 5th grade and whom I had declared to be my mortal enemy. Sort of. (Same dude was the friend who went to BJU. Funny how things turn out, ain't it?) It was a lonely year.
High school was better. Actually, it was pretty great. I was still an introvert, so I was the quiet one, but who cared if I could get away with stuff in my school. 9/11/2001 was at the beginning of my freshman year, and it was pretty scary because North Carolina has its good share of military bases. At some point in that time frame, I transitioned from my rather conservative peach eyeshadow and pink lipstick to smudged eyeliner in blue, green, or purple, and dark lipstick in red, purple, and sometimes silver. Blush was not something I was a fan of. Pallor was my friend. I liked books and stuff with bows and arrows in them, but I was also a girly-girl. The US invaded Iraq in 2003. 2004 brought Green Day's American Idiot, so that was awesome, but we also worried about the draft starting up again, and whether women would be drafted as well, if it came to that. I graduated in 2005, at the age of eighteen, and started preparing to go away to college.
I was not prepared for what I'd face from other Christians, since my upbringing in a Christian home had been so so very regular.