“Plaat! Wake up.”

Several years ago, I wrote an essay titled “Wake Up” which chronicled the details of my fraternity experience, seen through the eyes of a young man who was desperately searching in all the wrong places for truth, love, and identity. As a profanity-laced essay navigated through the experiences many can only wonder about, the paper received an A-. As the paper was publicly read in this class, since peer review was part of the grading process, I will never forget the kind words of a young woman who dared to encourage me. “Aaron, I’ll be praying for you” were her words, give or take. A firm believer, she provided encouragement through the quarter and showed an outside source of love that cut right to my soul. She had stunning eyes. Stunning. She is now married and pregnant with her first child. She left a mark on me that I carry with me to this day, as her encouragement and prayer were a critical support to me during a time where I was horribly lost in an unseen world.

Sitting here, procrastinating from studying for my last final at OSU, I think of the individuals who have helped shape, educate, and train me during these years. There were many people who went the extra mile to show love or bring harm during these times. Some people deserve vacations. Others deserve hell. Deep wounds were created during these years, that have only now begun to find healing and solace as I realize these college years are soon to be a memory seen through the rear-view mirror. It has been a wonderful ride.

Who I am now is a different person than the boy I was, just fifteen years-old who stepped foot into MP 1000, late for his first class at The Ohio State University. It seems as if a lifetime has passed since that first day. In these years, life has brought forth many experiences that have completely shaken my world view. To think of what has happened in these years is quite a trip. However, it’s not necessarily important to reflect on the past, but to press onward towards the future. What does it hold? For the first time, I answer “?” and am pleased with this answer. You see, great things do not stem from the roads travelled by the majority, but through those who live a life that is unique and open to the crafting of the Creator. He knows the desires, dreams, and goals within my heart. I walk in the blessing and abundance of His eloquently-designed DNA that constitutes Aaron Plaat. I to trust the future journey will be directed by His hand, tred by my feet, and freely offered by my hands at His feet.

The next steps are not promised. However, they are promising. I am grateful for the opportunity to have received a quality education, even if it was stretched out over way too long of a time period. There you have it.

If I were to grant words of wisdom to an incoming freshman, this is would it would look like:

Learn how to study smart; it’s not the hours you spend, but how you spend them. Avoid Greek life. Stay single. Work a student job in lieu of student loans. Maximize your scholarship applications. Don’t mess up your GPA the first year, or you’ll spend 3 years trying to recuperate. Explore ideas cautiously. Seek mentorship in addition to your education. Stay physically fit. Don’t stress about small details. Don’t put yourself in a mold. Know when to lead and when to slack/follow. Have healthy concern for your future, but not at the expense of your present; the future will present itself. Find a small group of strong friends rather than an entire pack of fair-weather friends/drinking companions. Discover your heart, identity, and passions. Then pursue them.

I’ve always written a blog titled “Zero Hour” at the midnight hour of the night before the first day of a quarter (soon to be semester, AU ’11), detailing the thoughts and emotions going through my mind while preparing for a fresh start. This, however, is something quite different. My life is not receiving a fresh start. Rather, it is receiving its start. This path will not be easy, nor do I hope it to be. Instead, I hope to discover challenges others have brushed aside, convictions shirked by the masses, and dreams only few individuals dare to conjure.

Take a leap.



  1. March 30, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    As someone who will (hopefully) be a college freshman next year, I am grateful for these words of encouragement. I don’t think I stumbled onto this by accident. I will learn to study smart. I’m definitely avoiding Greek life. I will try to stay single. And I’m going to college to discover my heart and a few good friends, so that goes without saying. Thanks for the kind words.

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