A Letter to High School Seniors

IMG_3338Dear High School Seniors,

Life is hard right now. I know. I remember.

First of all, you’re 18 years old and you’re suddenly responsible for some life-altering decisions. I don’t know about you guys, but decisions have always been hard for me. I remember scouring college websites and trying to imagine myself walking the sidewalks and sleeping in the dorms. It’s all anyone’s asking you nowadays: “where are you going to school? What are your future plans?” and most of the time you don’t have an answer and you feel like you’re coming up short.

And then there are those of you who don’t want to go to college, and it hurts when someone asks, “where are you going to school?” because you think people should really stop assuming that college has to be the next step. I agree with you.

So you’ve got these choices. If not school, then what? If school, which one?

As if those decisions aren’t hard enough–just choosing where you might want to go–for some of you, it’s where you can afford to go. I remember the sinking feeling I had when I found out I could’ve gotten a better scholarship with just one more point on my ACT. I remember seeing the numbers for housing and food and tuition and, even though I knew they were big numbers, I couldn’t comprehend them. I couldn’t make them real to me. For some of you, those numbers don’t matter because you’ve got savings or trusts or scholarships or grants–be thankful! That’s an amazing gift. For others, those numbers are evil, a constant reminder of what you might want but can’t have. Be hopeful! You’re in the majority.

But deciding your next step is only skimming the surface of all you’re going through. Maybe saying goodbye to your friends and family will hurt. A lot. Or maybe, like me, you’re excited to finally be on your own and have a fresh start. Perhaps you’re nervous about the academics or living with a roommate. You might be afraid that, since you’re living at home and commuting, you’re missing out on this fairytale college experience.

Maybe you think that there’s a right and a wrong choice, and the thought of making the wrong one keeps you tossing and turning at night. Or maybe, like I was, you’re trying out the whole “God thing,” trying to follow Jesus, and you’re frustrated that it seems like He’s silent. You think maybe He doesn’t care, or that He’s testing you in some cruel way.

I don’t have any answers for your fears and anxieties. I faced them, too. I dealt with the disappointment of being wait listed by a school I thought I really wanted to go to. I felt torn between a private and public school. I’d be lying if I said my decision wasn’t affected by my boyfriend.

You’re not alone. Please, please, remember this. There is no “wrong” decision you can make that can’t be altered. You decide you don’t like the school you chose? Transfer! I did it. Twice. It’s not as bad as you think. Want to be a faithful follower of Jesus in school but afraid you’ll give in to peer pressure? Don’t! You have the power to say no.

I remember creating a lot of these fake truths to myself before I went to college. “If I decide I don’t like the school I chose, then I’m a total failure and made the wrong choice and now I’m stuck” or “If I don’t know the exact career I want then I’m going to be so far behind. Everyone else seems to know what they’re doing!” Here’s a dose of comfort for you: I’m a senior in college and I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

I don’t know what your exact fears are. But I do know this: where you’re going, God is there. When you make mistakes, God is eager to show you grace. That pain and fear you feel? Jesus feels compassion for you.

My prayer for all of you seniors is this: that you won’t see your future as a big, scary mountain you’re facing by yourself, but a path of hills and valleys that you won’t be walking alone. I pray that you’ll be asked “how are you?” more than “what are you plans?” I pray that you will be able to see how far you’ve come and be thankful for that, knowing full well that the God who brought you this far will continue with you, whether you know where you’re headed or not.

Love,

Someone who survived scary decision-making

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