School starting back is a weird time of year. Being someone who works with teenagers, it’s kind of funny to watch because you’ve got parents everywhere taking a sigh of relief that they no longer have to be responsible for their kids all day, but also running around like crazy trying to make sure they’ve got all their supplies and what not. Meanwhile you’ve got kids grumbling about the new school year, but secretly kind of glad they get to do something other than sit on the couch. Everyone has to get into new rhythms, and life just seems crazy. Here I am, a senior in college, taking as few class hours as I can, watching freshman sprinting to make it to class on time, and honestly just ready to be done with my degree. With the transition to a new school year, here’s my perspective for all the young’uns (especially those starting college) from someone on the tail-end of my school career:
Ferris Bueller was Right:
Who doesn’t love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? This movie is every kid’s dream. Tricking principals, skipping school, stealing cars, dancing in parades; everyone wants to be friends with Ferris Bueller. Of course if I want to skip school now I can just not show up and nobody really cares (don’t abuse that), but that’s the part of college nobody tells you about in high school. My favorite part of that movie, though, is the quote at the beginning of the movie, the justification for all the fun, and honestly one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received from film: “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.”
I think I liked this quote when I was younger because it justified having reckless fun, but I appreciate it now because it’s just so true. I am a senior in college, on the brink of having to pull my life together and fake being an adult for the next 50 years, and I look back at the past few years that I thought would never end and just wonder where the time went. Like I said earlier, I work with teenagers, and I have a group of guys that I met as 8th graders who are now getting their drivers licenses. That is terrifying. Life does not slow down, if anything it speeds up as you get older, so it actually is important to just take a step back now and then to appreciate where you are. For people in high school and college, you are never going to be at this point in your life again. That doesn’t mean you should go crazy, but take a second to enjoy where God has you, what He’s given you, and be thankful for the unique opportunities of your current life circumstance. I will never have the free time that I had my freshman year of college again, and honestly I wasted a lot of it on netflix when I could have been doing ministry, or helping people, or experiencing something new. Don’t waste the time you’ve been given in the place you are, every season ends.
Not Everything is Important:
One of the best lessons I have learned in recent times is to be willing to say “No.” I have a bad habit of wanting to make too many people happy at the expense of my own sanity. For a long time I would just say yes to things because I didn’t want to disappoint the person asking, or I wanted to be the person there for someone (even if they weren’t necessarily there for me), and I was under the illusion that I had the bandwidth to do it all. I was wrong. There have been seasons in college that I have been emotionally, physically, and spiritually unhealthy because I have not been willing to make space to take care of myself. I am not saying that it’s bad to help people. I love helping people, but it is important to set boundaries so that I don’t burn out. This generally means two things: I have to prioritize, and I have to say no sometimes. Your time is the most valuable resource you have, and you can’t get it back, so organize yourself enough to give yourself to what is important to you, and don’t spread yourself so thin that you sacrifice your health.
Don’t Over-Plan Your Life:
I’m all about planning. My tendency is to plan my life down to the minute, and not sticking to that schedule stresses me out. A lesson that I have learned over and over again, though, is that you can’t plan most of life. When I went into college, I had it figured out. I was an Architectural Engineering major, I was making connections to get a good job, I worked hard to get good grades and set myself up for a career and a pretty easy life. What I did not plan for was God calling me to ministry, changing my major, my family running into health problems, seemingly endless car troubles, and some of the best adventures and relationships of my life. I could not have imagined the place I am now 3 or 4 years ago. If you told me at the beginning of my freshman year of college that I was going to be a pastor I would have laughed at you. What God has taught me through curve ball after curve ball He has thrown into my life is that I don’t have to have my 10 year plan to be ok, because it would almost definitely change completely before I got there. I can hold my plans less tightly because the plans He has for me are better than the plans I have for me, even if I don’t always believe that whole-heartedly. You don’t control the future, so stop trying so hard and just figure out how to be faithful wherever God is guiding you.
I have been reflecting the past few days over all the amazing things God has allowed me to experience in the past few years. It is truly amazing how He has allowed me to explore the world, make great friendships, and just experience true freedom in Him. I have started a photo box to use as an ebenezer (a physical reminder) of all the good times and experiences that I don’t want to forget. My advice to the young person with nothing tying them down quite yet is to make memories, and collect stories. Take that trip that you’re not quite sure about, introduce yourself to that group of friends, live a life worth remembering.
*Note: I realize that none of this really has to do directly with school. That’s because the majority of lessons I’ve learned in college have not been classroom related. This doesn’t mean that school is unimportant, it just means that school is not always most important. Don’t sacrifice the chance to have a good education for a good time, but also don’t let school keep you from taking advantage of the place God has put you in this season.