Grades are in, library fines are paid, and textbooks have been turned in (hopefully). Graduation season is upon us! I have the privilege of working with college students on campus at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, and we are launching a dozen or so students out into the real world. It hasn’t been that long ago since I was in their shoes, and my heart is tender towards these young adults who are looking forward to the future with excitement, yes, but also with some trepidation.
Here are a few things I have learned over the years that I hope will help those who may be fearful of what’s next.
- Life does not peak in college. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people describe college as “the best years of life.” I remember hearing that and thinking to myself, if college is the best time of life, then that is an early peak and a long decline.It is the wrong perspective. The best years of your life will be the ones lived in obedience to the call of God. Adulting is hard for sure, and you will look back on your college days with longing at times, but if you are purposefully pursuing God’s will, you won’t regret one moment.
- The American Dream is a lie. The world teaches us that happiness lies at the end of a road that includes a degree, a job, a spouse, a house, and some tiny humans playing in the yard. All the things you’re “supposed” to do in life can become a heavy load when your life isn’t following the prescribed path. But, good news! You don’t have to care about what your life “should” look like. You don’t have to feel less than when you see your peers hitting milestones that the world says are good and appropriate. God’s plan is so much bigger! Don’t be afraid to ask Him what He wants for your life, and then follow Him wholeheartedly.
- You need a church home. Wherever you end up after graduation, please find a church. Whether it’s the church you grew up in or someplace brand new, find a church family. Searching for a church is hard, but stick it out, and you will find it to be home for you in ways you didn’t even know you needed.
- Don’t wait for people to make friends with you. Making friends in college is easy, as everyone lives within walking distance and people always want to hang out rather than study. Once you leave the security blanket of having friends within reach 24/7, the world can sometimes feel cold and lonely. If you want community, reach out. Don’t wait for someone to reach out to you. Instead, be the initiator.
- Learn to enjoy your own company. The best advice I received my first year out of college was to become my own best friend. I loved the communal college experience of being around people all the time, but suddenly I found myself alone…a lot. I had to learn to be comfortable in just my own company, and once I did, things got much better.
Leaving college and launching out into the world can be intimidating. You will fail, you will get lonely, and you will get homesick for what you left behind. But, Jesus walks with you each step of the way, reminding you that He has been faithful before, and He will continue to be faithful. Step out into this next season full of faith and courage and with determination to make an impact on this Earth for the kingdom of God. Jesus is worth it!
Corley Shumaker serves as Assistant Campus Minister at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Arkansas State University. She loves Red Wolves football, nail polish, and flowers. You can find her on Twitter at @corleycline.