The Semester that Changed My Life

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?

Write about that moment. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mind’s eye and write about that moment in your future.

(Author: Bridget Pilloud)


For me it was the year I spent a semester of college at The University of Montana Western in Dillon, Montana. Back when I went in 1993 it was referred to as Western Montana College. As far as college credits and courses go, it was a wasted year of school and money but it was also a monumental semester for me in terms of personal growth and for that, I cannot and will never regret my time there.

My initial reasoning for going to school in Dillon, Montana was a naive and rather stupid one – a boy. The reason was stupid – not the boy. He was going there and I wanted to be near him. Not that he gave a fig about me. I knew he didn’t, never did and never probably would but I couldn’t help myself. I had this innocent albeit naive hope he would someday fall in love with me and once my heart is set on someone it takes an awful lot to turn away.

Anyway, it was this semester of college that I truly found myself walking my own path-strange as that might seem given my reason for going to school there. The thing was that I made a set of friends so quickly and so easily that it shocked and amazed me. I had always been more shy and lacked confidence until that semester. All of a sudden, I was sitting with 12 girls at dinner laughing, joking and having fun. They liked ME! They. Liked. Me. That was something I wasn’t used to. We all looked out for one another. I never felt so included, so appreciated and so involved as I did that one semester.

Even though I haven’t SEEN any of my friends since that time (1993) – except for one, I’ve reconnected on Facebook with several of them and I am so grateful for that. They have no idea what their friendship meant to me and how much that semester changed me. I treasure them and that time and always will. It gave me a confidence and strength I had lacked prior to that year and the ability to see beyond some childish crush that was never going to amount to anything.

It took me several years after that to actually “get over” that boy and I’m glad I did because something and someone even better (more suited to me) was waiting for me at the University of Montana-Missoula(my alma mater). That’s where I met some of the greatest friends a girl could have and where I met my best friend and the love of my life – Jess. That’s where my intellectual soul was fed and inspired.

And that’s where my life truly began.

0 thoughts on “The Semester that Changed My Life

  1. I like the new layout and design. I also like how you recognize and treasure your wonderful time. Some people never do and so doing cheat themselves…

  2. Thanks, Mark. There was a lot of bad before that time and during – with my parents’ divorce. Montana was my escape from the insanity of my father. I felt tremendous guilt over leaving my mom to deal but I felt I had to get away. I am thankful for the positives during that time. It was hell at home.

  3. First…I love the new layout. Your site always has so much of you in it. I continue to be so grateful to you for displaying the picture in the header. I sent the link to my mom and she was just thrilled. We were talking tonight about the mood that the picture represented, and she said that it was “sweet.” That’s exactly what I was going for, as that is how I think of you. You’ve been such an influence to me and I’m so grateful we are becoming friends…we are friends.

    Second, we just had a conversation about this very type of thing at dinner tonight. Isabel is experiencing her first serious crush, and we’re trying to get her to understand that it’s normal, and that you don’t always end up with the first person that you have feelings for. Good grief. If I was with either of my first serious boyfriends…yikes! I would either be living in cowboy country or somewhere in Utah. The right person is out there, and I’m so happy that you found Jess. You seem to be a very good team.

    Isabel is convinced that this is the person she wants and other people just don’t “fit.” I know that she’ll have to figure it out for herself, but it’s hard knowing that she’s in for some heartache first.

    I’m tempted to show her this post and say, “SEE???? It’s not just your mother that’s experienced this!” Unfortunately, she will have to walk that road herself.

  4. Awesome posti! That was a great time – we really had fun and we were a pretty tight group. I’m so glad we are in contact again. I really do like you for you, then and now. 🙂

  5. This is magical to read and feel. And how glad I am to know that changing your mind and leaving that place brought you to Jess and the life that was waiting for you. There’s something about the acceptance and true friendship of other women that fill us in ways that men never can.

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