TRANSITIONS. THEY ARE ALL around us, although many times we either don’t see them or we don’t recognize them.
Like it or not, things are always changing.
Those changes come to mind at this time of year as school begins for another term, with schools that have been sitting empty for nearly three months now teeming with children – some of them heading to school for the first time.
For others, they are beginning milestones in their lives. You may have a child who will come home today (Thursday) and happily announce that they have finished their “last first day of school”. Other seniors that I know are also happily going into their final year of high school, and many can already tell you how many days it is until graduation.
For them, I have some advice:
Don’t wish it away.
For every 12th grader going through “Senioritis”, there are dozens of adults who wish they could go back and take it a little more slowly and enjoy that final year of school.
It goes quickly enough, with senior pictures and being measured for your cap and gown and all of the other senior activities. One week leads to another, and suddenly it’s Christmas Break; then Spring Break; then you’re off to the Senior Picnic and sitting at Awards Night.
Life is a pretty quick ride, anyway, and whether seniors like it or not, this is their final year of “childhood” in many respects, because after this the world awaits.
That’s pretty challenging in itself, so enjoy things while you can.
That said, the senior class of 2012 is also facing transitions.
Many are packing and heading off to college for the first time, and as the car gets more crowded and the days click off, sometimes thoughts of excitement for college can get overshadowed by the fear of the unknown.
Our students embrace the idea of college, but there’s also something safe about the familiarity and comfort of home here in Switzerland County.
It will be okay, so just go.
I remember leaving for college. Maybe it was because it was so long ago, but moving to college wasn’t as big a deal then. I drove myself and my roommate and all of our stuff to Hanover; after bidding my parents and brothers goodbye and heading south.
For those starting college soon, you need to know that this is also very hard for your parents.
They literally brought you into this world. They’ve sat up with you at night when you’re sick or scared. They’ve worried about how to pay for the things you need; and they’ve loved you when it didn’t seem that they even liked you.
Parents are used to being responsible for you. They’ve been who you’ve gone to with your problems. They’ve calmed you down with “middle school drama” happened; followed by “high school drama”.
In short, they’ve taken care of you. And – whether you realize it or not - they’ve done a pretty good job.
So as you leave, whether it’s off to college or to the military or to your own apartment and your own life somewhere else; give your parents a little slack. Mom might hold that hug a little longer; dad might suddenly leave the room so you don’t see his emotions.
You need to know that they love you, and always will. As parents, we raise our kids to be independent and be about to care for themselves and fend for themselves. Well, you’re now at a point where you are capable of doing that, but it’s hard for us to let you go and “test your wings”.
You see, as you transition to adulthood, your parents are also transitioning into life without you lying on their couch and eating their food and sleeping till noon and doing your chores and generally being their kid.
For those going off to college, or to the military for that matter, here’s a secret:
“Everyone is just as scared as you are.”
Everyone around you in that freshman dorm or in that barracks is away from home for the first time, too. They have left their families and schools, just like you; so don’t feel like you’re alone. Take a deep breath, knock on the door of the dorm room across the hall from yours, introduce yourself, and see what happens.
I think you’ll be amazed that the kids behind that door are a lot like you, and they are looking to make new friends in a new environment. You’ll find that you have the advantage of having a built in conversation starter:
“So where are you from?”
“Never heard of it.”
It’s at that moment that you can share all about your town and the people who live in it; and before you know it you’ll be going off to the cafeteria together and sharing some microwave popcorn and watching some television show and there will be new people of importance in your life.
I had a high school teacher - Rich Allen – tell me once that, “The friends you have in high school are fine, but the friends you make in college are the friends you’ll have forever.”
I never thought there was a lot of truth to that, but as I finished college and got married, nearly all of the men standing next to me that day were college friends. Most of the people I stay in touch with now are college friends, and I guess Mr. Allen was right.
So don’t be afraid to allow your life to head into a new direction. You have the chance to be whatever you want to be, so go out there and do it.
Then come home and tell us all about it, because we will be thinking of you and praying for you and missing you; but we know that you’re having the adventure of your life, and we wouldn’t take that opportunity from you for anything in the world.
So get out of here and make us all proud.