From a Somber Senior Year to a Frightening Freshman One
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From a Somber Senior Year to a Frightening Freshman One

What does next year hold for the class of 2020?

From a Somber Senior Year to a Frightening Freshman One

To the class of 2020,

Where to begin? Frankly, I am not quite sure where to begin because I never endured such a dramatic, screeching halt to a period of life that I could confidently say would last until a specific date in May. I'll start here with an inkling of wisdom from my high school football coach: "focus on the things you can control and waste no time worrying about the rest." As simple as it sounds, not a single person by being anxious and worrying can "add a single hour to his or her span of life" (Luke 12:25, ESV). This mantra was applicable to football because the game is so rapidly changing and consists of numerous unknowns. Likewise, but in a magnified manner, life for all people, but especially graduating seniors, just radically changed in the blink of an eye. Control what you can… your faith, work ethic, and attitude, amongst other things, and waste no time worrying about the unknown.

You had it all planned out… you would spend your spring break at your favorite vacation spot or at practice; you would catch "senioritis" and enjoy the gradually regressing workload at school; you would make lifelong memories with your teammates competing on the field, the course, the court, the track, or in academic competition; you would go out on top crowned a champion; you would suffer through one more seemingly never ending ACT or SAT; you would enjoy your last prom or celebratory dance; you would cherish the last moments with your family; you would decide on where to attend college or on what the next step of your life might be; you would walk the stage with your clique; you would, sometimes dreadingly and other times excitedly, write thank you cards to your support group; you would spend these last months living lavishly just as the classes before you did. You would. BUT you didn't. Eighteen years of anticipation shattered in a matter of hours. Like a vapor your plans were in front of you one second and vanished the next. How unfair?!

Welcome to life. This is most certainly a defining, fork-in-the-road moment, but how are you going to let it define you? On one hand you could dwell in the onslaught of negatives and wallow in search of consolation, yet on the other hand you could consider this series of events an opportunity… a preface to the seemingly lengthy but realistically brief novel known as life. Welcome to adjusting on the fly, to embracing the word "flexibility," and to living life with a future that's merely a rough draft because you now know that the eraser, the curly fry-resembling deletion symbol, and the margins of your paper will all be utilized more than once. Being only a year removed from my senior year, my life isn't exactly chock-full of these winding roads and dramatic obstacles, but I can tell you that the learning curve will steepen rather quickly. Just consider these events a jump-start on the rest of your life. Take full advantage of this time in learning how to properly and boldly manage conflict instead of running from it.

As my first complete (¾ complete?) year outside of high school draws to an end, I decided to rewind a little bit and tell of some knowledge I garnered via experimentation. I remember seeking out every ounce of advice and help from older people that I could find during my last few months prior to leaving for college. I understand that some people will not attend college next year, which is completely okay. Even if you don't fall into that category, the following tips should assist you in whatever the next step of your journey might be. For those who are searching for any amount of information to quell your fears about the future, here are a few things of the things that I learned within a month of leaving home:

Expect to start over. This is such a different lifestyle, but a beneficial type of different!

The biggest lesson I have learned thus far is the importance of embracing your new identity as a relatively unknown person. This was and still is extremely difficult for me. I went from attending a high school where I was extremely "popular" and knew almost every person I saw to being back-slapped in the face as college abruptly arrived. I was immediately surrounded by 25,000 people- absolutely zero of whom I knew well, and only a handful of which I had ever met. This identity I had in being liked and receiving attention was suddenly swept away as I became just another drop of water in the vast ocean. While stepping out of my comfort zone was not always the most enjoyable, the growth drastically outweighed the risk. My eyes were so blinded to my false identity and I'm so thankful God revealed my lack of control and his totality of it. This transition was Him telling me that it's time to step out of my comfort zone, to grow, to chip away at my reserved personality and to expand my horizons to the thousands of new people around me. Don't miss this opportunity. Consider this quarantine time a chance to begin brainstorming the ways in which you can break the boundaries of comfort and routine that you've nonchalantly confined yourself to.

Try new things and get involved on campus, but avoid overcommitment.

So difficult to do. Again, this is completely different from what you've known in high school. I went from being involved in everything one year to being involved in only a thing or two the next. Yet in hindsight, I'm thankful for this. I've always complained about "not having enough time" and "being too busy," so God decided to help me drop those excuses and change my viewpoint. He taught me how to just take a step back from the world and rest in His Presence. To just sit and worship and make sure my priorities are straight. It was Him telling me that finding an identity in a resume or in the feeling of being accepted is not okay. That my hope should be found in Christ alone and not the things of this world, even if they are beneficial things. This was difficult for me to accept, but I knew it was a chance to grow and to exterminate some of the thorns that might prevent me from bearing fruit. Branch out and do not be afraid to seek help! Don't allow your pride and stubbornness to convince you to solve everything without help. No matter where you end up, there are more resources available to help than you can imagine. Use these resources, especially the "free" ones that you're already paying for in your tuition!

Don't be content just riding the emotional wave (the mountains and valleys of life.) Enjoy every single day you're gifted with.

Just in case you have failed to figure it out yet, you will learn that the seasons of life and thus your emotions alter rather rapidly. You'll experience happiness, sadness, disappointment, celebration, anxiety, peace, stress, laughter, etc. probably on a weekly basis. The one who can battle these emotions through surrender to the King and constantly pursue joy and love on a daily basis will be much better off than the one who just rides this cycle. Emotions come and go, but the steadfast Rock comes and stays. The plans you make will be interrupted. Surely you have noticed this by now? There is an enormous difference in walking through the seasons of life alone and walking through the seasons of life with the One who planned your path and has already walked it. Flexibility is an extremely important skill that cultivates success. Leave room in your schedule to adjust to the detours that life has for you. Make the most of every opportunity, even if it is not the one you originally planned on being in. The mental and emotional stress of walking through life's highest points and lowest points repeatedly can be overbearing. I'm not advocating that you live a boring, monotonous life completely void of incandescence. Enjoy the highs while they're present and learn from the lows as you endure them. Just don't count on this emotional fluctuation to fulfill you… it never will.

Stop living a two-faced life. Be the same person at all times of the day. Don't put a mask on just to please society.

This can be extremely tough to do sometimes, but is an absolutely necessary part of maturity. Trying to compartmentalize your life is a burden and will put cracks in your foundation. Be the same person when nobody is watching you as you are when the eyes of the world are on you. Hypocrisy will drive people away from you faster than anything else. People desire to see consistency from you. When you are the same person every time you interact with someone, that relationship will develop much faster. Others are more likely to trust you, to find accountability in you, and to desire to be around you more when you aren't fickle and inconsistent. You should aim to be the person that you want to be around. Develop the qualities that you're looking for in friends, so that you can gravitate toward like-minded people. Once again, consistency is not easy, but life isn't easy either. Hold on. Keep fighting the good fight. "Run with perseverance the race marked out for [you]" (Hebrews 12:1, NIV).

Whoever may be reading this, I wish you the best moving forward. If you're still alive and breathing then you still have a purpose on this earth. How exciting is that?! Go live this life to its fullest while the opportunity presents itself!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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