When We Were Young

By Anthony Walsh

Flash back to May 15th of last year—the day of I graduated from high school. Right before I get out of the car to meet up with the rest of my class, my mom asks me a question,

“Are you excited?” 

My immediate answer was,

“No, not really.”

That was really how I felt about a moment that is very special for some, but just wasn’t for me. I gave that answer to my mom because I was too caught up in the future. I was too focused on beginning college, leaving my hometown, and writing a new chapter of my life.

I didn’t understand the significance of a graduation ceremony. If someone had simply told me, Hey, you graduated high school and you’re going to college, I would’ve taken that over a ceremony and a diploma. I felt this way because I felt like I didn’t deserve it.

After all, it was just high school and I had so many so many years ahead of me. I had to be focused on the future. To me, graduating high school didn’t prove anything to the world and there was so much left for me to accomplish.

Right before our graduating class lined up to process into the auditorium, we were congregated in a renovated basement that was below the auditorium. Not surprisingly, everyone was divided into their respective cliques and I was only talking to my two best friends throughout high school.

There were more than a hundred people in the room and I was only talking to two people, but I was okay with that. Over my four years in high school, I grew distant from lots of people and I couldn’t understand why.

So, by senior year, I lead myself to believe that high school was over now and those relationships were all in the past. I had to stay focused on the future.

I would get to go to college all by myself, meet new people, and put my life into my own hands. It was incredibly exciting what the future held. Even during the summer when I would get super bored and couldn’t find anything to do in my hometown, I would always reassure myself that things would be better in college.

Now that I’m one semester and some change into college, it’s been tough realizing that the future I was so focused on didn’t turn out to be what I expected.

I thought I wanted to move away from home, but it’s difficult not seeing your family everyday. I mean, imagine not being with this kid every day:

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I thought I was covered entirely by the Zell Miller scholarship, but I was way wrong and there’s no way two middle-class parents with five kids can help me pay for college. I thought I knew what I wanted to do as a career, but now I’m a little skeptical about what my future career will be.

For a long while, I started to reconsider all the decisions I made in choosing to go to college and choosing this one in particular. I would constantly ask myself questions like, am I supposed to be here? Am I doing the right thing at the moment? I would ponder on this stuff for hours on end.

But, what I learned from all the self-reflection I did last semester was that maybe I’ll never find the answer to those questions or that maybe the answer is a little bit down the road.

I learned that maybe I will make mistakes frequently because I’m young and I’m just figuring things out. I learned that not everything is certain right at this very moment and I have to live with that.

Most importantly, I learned that I have to embrace my youth and the fact that I don’t know what the future holds. A lot of things are uncertain and that can either be the most terrifying or exciting thing to learn. So, I’ve got to try and be excited about it.

Stay focused on the future, but don’t let it consume your every action and thought. Embrace your youth.

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