I bolted upright in my bed as a thought sprinted through my mind. It had suddenly hit me that, unless I go on to get my master’s degree, this is my last year of school. Ever.
This way of life I’ve become so accustomed to over the past 16 years is quickly coming to an end.
I’m a week into my senior year of college and I don’t quite know how that happened. The past three years have sped by at lightning speed, yet they were packed full of growth and adventure.
While thinking about what to write for this column, I looked back at a column I wrote when I was a senior in high school. Here’s an excerpt:
“There are lots of things to worry about between now and next August. I’m worried I won’t get along with my future roommate…. I’m worried about keeping good grades. And I’m worried about using community style bathrooms….
“Yet, I am excited for so many more things. I’m excited to make new friends, even though I will never forget the ones I have now. I’m excited to learn more ….In general, I’m excited for all of the new experiences that come with college.
“My life has changed so much since I was that young freshman walking into HHS for the first time. Now I understand what all of the seniors before me meant when they said high school would fly by. It literally does.”
There are so many things I want to tell that 17-year-old version of myself. I want to tell her that community-style bathrooms are really the least of my worries. That the following two years will be full of tears, loneliness and hard decisions. That my life will change more than I thought possible. That there are so many wonderful memories ahead. That college is going to fly by, too.
I’d be lying to say I’m not scared and anxious as I think about getting a job, moving out on my own and entering the “real world.” What will the 25-year-old version of me have to say when she looks back at the worries consuming my senior year of college?
The unknown future is scary to think about and exciting to dream about. But I’ve decided it’s something I’m not going to dwell on. At least not just yet.
As Hagrid puts it in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.” The time for me to start applying for jobs and paying back student loans is coming, and I’ll meet it when it does.
Senior year is the most precious year of a student’s life, whether high school or college. It’s our time to cherish the moments and people we thought would last forever and prepare for the new adventure that’s knocking at our door. So why waste this year in fear and worry?
That night as I sat wide awake in my bed, realizing the school chapter of my life is coming to a close, I was reminded of Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I used to think it was impossible to feel peace about a future I didn’t have planned out. Now, people ask me if I know what I want to do after I graduate, and I don’t feel fear when I say I’m not sure yet.
All I know right now is that, even though for the past 16 years school has seemed like the whole book, it’s really just the beginning. With God as the author, I’m prepared to turn the page to the next chapter.
But first, I have a senior year to enjoy.