Time is an odd beast; it doesn’t seem to behave like it’s supposed to behave. When I was young, Time crawled along, each day a millennium. As I’ve gotten older, however, Time has changed, passing by at a speed which is constantly taking me by surprise.
I ran into this speed during the past week. There I was, tapping through Snapchat stories when I realized that a friend of mine from high school was at her senior sunset. The realization that my friends–who I knew as juniors–are now graduating seniors was a bit like a slap in the face. I was aware that time had passed–I’d finished my first year of university, after all–but watching snaps of people laughing in the sunlight, donning graduation caps, and watching congratulatory fireworks in the rain was a bit of a rude awakening.
I couldn’t help reflect on my own high school experience as I watched these stories play out. I’d enjoyed high school… but how much more had I enjoyed university! As I considered my own experiences, I couldn’t help but think of several things I learned over the past year, things I would’ve liked to be told before leaving home. They are as follows:
- It’s okay to miss the past–be it high school or home–but that doesn’t mean you should try to return to it. I left my house almost immediately after I graduated, going to my grandparents (much like this summer!) to earn money to pay the university bills. This was a blessing in many ways, but one of the unexpected benefits was that I went through the homesickness and mourning of my childhood before I actually arrived at my university. This meant that as my classmates were adjusting to just being away from home, I was able to support them instead of (aggressively) grieving myself. Nonetheless, because I grieved so far from home (my university is a short drive from my house), I was unable to revert. Many local students went home during those first few weeks of the semester, or constantly called their parents, or clung to fellow classmates they knew from home. These are understandable things to do, but they don’t help you assimilate to your new independence. Push yourself to meet new people and stay on/near campus. It can be hard, but it’ll help in the long run.
- Don’t completely alienate “home.” I call my parents every Sunday, without fail. We talk about what happened during my week and at home. I tell them what’s bothering me. They update me on my siblings’ lives and emotional states. For me, it’s been a great way to stay connected with my family while differentiating myself. Independence doesn’t have to cost you your relationships.
- Track your spending. This is important for life in general, and I while was blessed with parents who taught me to budget from a young age (though I wasn’t always good about doing so), it became extra important at university, for the simple reason that there is so much more to keep track of, financially. The method isn’t important so much as you don’t dig yourself further into unnecessary debt. (I, for instance, spend a disturbing amount of money on coffee.) Plus, if you keep track of how much you spend on books and tuition and such, you can eventually get a tax write-off. Yay!
- Don’t wear your lanyard around your neck, but keep it on you. Wearing your lanyard around your neck is a little like painting the word “freshman” on your forehead. Don’t do it. You need your keys and i.d., though, so stuff it in your pocket or bag.
- Try the stuff the school offers. I’ve learned to swing dance. I went on a blind date. I’ve met new people and tried new food and generally had a great time. In summary, don’t knock it ’til you try it. It could be an epic failure, but it also could make for a fun story and new friends. What do you really have to lose besides maybe some dignity?
Anyway. High school was good, but life after high school has been even better. Keep an eye on the past but still face forward. “Time stops for no (wo)man.”