The First Year
So that was it. You’ve thrown your cap in the air, the whole gym goes crazy – applauds, cheering and laughter – you did it. You look around at the peers you spent 13 years with, some you’ll never see again and others who will become simple acquaintances. A moment you thought would be far, far into the future has just came and ended and now the rest of your life is at the turn of the next page.
The first year after you graduate high school is a real defining time in your life. Your life is finally and entirely up to you to steer it and once summer ends, a lot of eyes are suddenly on you. Almost every life-changing decision you have to make is thrown upon you at once and a lot of changes take place.
Everyone is waiting to see who you’ll turn out to be outside of the high school hallways, outside of structured sports and after school activities, a world outside of parental supervision.The lower-classmen that said their goodbyes, the class above you that already had that pressure, and especially family and community members are waiting to see – what are you gonna do, and are you gonna fall or fly?
You don’t realize it while you are living your new adult life, but you do whenever you return home. Your first weekend back, thanksgiving and winter break, and any other chance friends, relatives and acquaintances have to ask you 20 questions in detail about your new life. “How’s school?”, “What are you majoring in?”, “Do you have a job?”, “You joined a sorority/fraternity?”, “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?”
You realize it as you tell them something they don’t approve of. Whether it be you going straight to work, moving in with a boyfriend/girlfriend, changing majors, transferring schools/taking a break from school, ect. You realize it as you witness your close friends go through a big change or make a big decision and hear the rebuttal from others upon that decision.
It’s important not to take this too seriously, because you also realize that no matter what you do there will always be those that don’t approve of your decisions.
“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.”
For me, this came in several different instances, starting with my choice of college – yes my boyfriend and I were to be attending the same university, and no we didn’t base our choices on each other (although it was a huge plus). I was going for business and he was going for engineering, and no we weren’t gonna live together (lord forbid, even in the 21st century).
A new decision came my way when I started debating on transferring to the University of Oklahoma (OU). Unknown to many, I returned in the spring without the people who were by my side the most in the fall, making it a hard transition. My best friend and roommate didn’t return for several reasons, leaving me alone in our dorm for the new semester (I’ve never felt so alone in my life). Shortly after the semester started my boyfriend was unable to attend classes, therefore had to withdraw and was now living 15 minutes from campus. Mid-semester I learned that one of my new best friends and hall-mate who I had grown closer to than ever was transferring schools in the coming fall, I felt like everyone was leaving me at once.
As the semester continued and I dove into my new major, I learned that Midwestern State University had less to offer me than OU, one of the top mass communication programs in the United States. I was starting to wonder what was keeping me at the university I chose. So after much consideration, I decided to go ahead and apply and make decisions later. In the meantime I was gonna wait on an answer from the university, visit, and plan what I could for the coming year.
One of my high school best friends, Ashley, attends OU so I took a weekend out of my spring break to go visit her and tour the school. She gave me a tour of the entire university and most of the town. OU is a stunning campus. It was SO different from the small university I was used to and the city of Norman, Oklahoma had so much to offer.
The end of the semester was nearing and still no answer from OU. My friends were making housing plans and getting their schedules done for next year all while I was still waiting. I eventually went ahead and made a schedule for if I ended up staying at MSU because it was taking so long, but my friends from both universities were wanting me to make housing decisions and I couldn’t make any until I knew where I was going.
Eight weeks later, I finally received my acceptance letter from OU, but by then it was too late to make new plans. I missed the boat for scholarships, and out of state tuition is insane. I had no plans for housing and I didn’t have the time to check on what classes would transfer from MSU, nor could I make a schedule at OU without going to a counselor there first. Although, as the weeks passed slowly, I came to realize that Midwestern State University is probably the best place for me at this point in my life. I’m moving into an apartment with my sorority sisters, its close to home, I can do the same major in Midwestern’s program, and I received a scholarship especially for my major at Midwestern. I really have no good reason to leave, but a lot to stay.
“I am sure that God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for them to wait.”
Again, I received and am still currently receiving those disappointed looks and questions from friends, peers, and family as to why I’m not going to the University of Oklahoma. It’s never ending explaining why to those that ask, but I’ve come to expect it knowing everyone is watching.
It’s almost hard to believe that I’ve been out of high school for a year now, but this is me gladly giving the pressure to the new graduated class of 2016 along with some advice:
- Don’t let others control your decisions
- Base your decisions around you and nobody else
- Chase dreams, not people
- Don’t worry about reaching everyone else’s expectations of you, set your own goals and go after them
- Stick up for the friends that do fall, things aren’t as easy as they seem
- The road less traveled does make all the difference
- Let people know instead of assume, you’ll be glad they heard it from you and not “a little birdy”
- Live a life that YOU are proud of