False Summits


I just took the test that concludes my journey into Arabic.

I still have other finals to take this week (writing, reading, and the dreaded OPI), but this translation test was the big kahuna: Four hours of deciphering newspaper articles that I'd never seen before. I so vividly remember my very first day of Arabic classes when Ustaaz Doug taught us the words for "he," she," "you," and "hi."

You know what it feels like? It feels like I've been climbing in the Himalayas this whole time, and I've been going and going and going and working like crazy to bag a foreboding peak.

And here I am. Looking out over everything below me thinking I DID that?!? And although I'm proud of myself, I'm also very humbled because now, from this vantage point, I realize that the goal I'd been reaching for this whole time was a false summit. It's not over for me. Life does not end at this study abroad.

The thing is though, I get a buzz off this. I love false summits. I am the World's Most Annoying Hiker (ask Brock) because I never want to turn back. Just one more corner! There might be something really cool around there! Just this one last hill! What if it opens up into a sweeping valley with deer eating wildflowers and scratching their antlers on aspen trees?!?

I enjoy false summits because they psyche me out. They make me push past the exhaustion and dig deep so I can finally get where I'm gettin'. And digging deep has a way of teaching you about life and God and all the uglies and pretties about yourself.

This is a good gauge of whether you studied the right thing in college (learning about the uglies and pretties of yourself, I mean) It's important to not confuse a good major with a difficult major--just because a major challenged you doesn't mean it challenged you.  Did your major make you re-evaluate yourself? Not your opinions or interests. You. You as a soul. Studying what you love is important, and I did that with political science. But I'm grateful for my Arabic minor because the lessons I've learned from it--particularly this last semester--have been life-altering. Between political science and Arabic, I feel like I got the perfect mix of learning about my interests and learning about my character.

It's been the year of false summits for me. I left BYU behind for good in April, but still had more credits to finish.Then came August, when I completed my internship in DC (and a B.A. in Political Science along with it). But again, there was still more to do. And now here I am in December: wrapping up my two-and-a-half year journey into Arabic and my entire college experience in general. It feels like I've finally reached the top, but I've been on the trail long enough to know that's not true.

The only thing that's weird now is not seeing the next summit--false or otherwise--in the distance. It's a white-out and I can barely see three feet in front of me, let alone three years. (Or hell, even three weeks!) Come January, I'll hit the trail again toward whatever and wherever it is, but it's nerve-wracking not knowing which direction to take to get to . . . someplace.

The call to prayer is happening outside my window right now.

Maybe I should start there.


  1. It is crazy when you reach the end of college - nothing is planned out for you from that point out. So where do you go from there? To your knees, as your implied. =) And then God can let you know which route is the best for you. Good luck on your finals. You're amazing!

  2. I LOVE this post! Could not have put it better myself. I totally agree with the need to be stretched and challenged not just mentally but also from the depths of your soul. I feel like my experiences in college (in and outside of the classroom) have taught me more than just *stuff* but more importantly taught me who I am and what's important to me. And girl, I totally understand the white-out feeling. Just keep climbing, you'll spot a new summit soon enough. And another one soon after that.


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