Dear Class of 2018,
Stop listening to unsolicited advice from adults and for 90 seconds, listen to yourself.
Seriously. Stop reading this and take 90 seconds to listen to your own voice and not mine.
Done? Good. Feel better? You should.
I know that you have spent all of senior year sitting in classrooms listening to unsolicited advice from teachers, in advisors offices, listening to unsolicited advice from guidance counselors, at the dinner table, listening to unsolicited advice from your family, and finally, in arenas wearing square hats listening to unsolicited advice from your class valedictorian, your principal, and some guy from the school board that you’ve never heard of.
I know you have been drowning in well-intentioned input in where to go to school, what classes to take, what to get involved in, who to room with, how to set yourself up for success. I know that information has been stressful, self-contradictory, and tempts you to just put your hands over your ears to drown out the noise.
I have watched you struggle to hear your own voice through the cacophony of other voices. I have watched you burst into tears when asked what it is you want — because you just don’t know anymore, because somewhere in all of your heartfelt desire to be who your parents wanted you to be, who your school wanted you to be, who your coach wanted you to be, you never made space to figure out who you wanted to be.
And now you have to figure it out. Hundreds or thousands of miles away from home.
So don’t let me be one more voice, telling you who you should be, or what you should do, know only this: you’re going to do just fine, and the best is yet to come.
I called my mom crying my sophomore year of college crying because I was trying to choose between 2 internship offers for the summer. I was stuck in this idea that I was setting myself down a path that I couldn’t turn back from, that there was a right and wrong decision, that I had one path that I was called to and I needed to figure out every single step exactly right.
As though God’s ability to work in and through my life, God’s ability to do God’s work in the world, was somehow contingent on which internship I chose. As though there was one right answer to who I was meant to be.
The only wrong choices are the ones we let someone else make for us. So, as you head off, stop listening to us so much. Take a class that your dad doesn’t think is practical. Join a club that your mom would side-eye. Go visit a church that isn’t Methodist. I promise I’ll still love you. We had our 18 years to shape and mold every hour of your day. It’s your turn.
You won’t mess it up. You’ll do just fine. The best is yet to come.
Now stop reading.
Get after it, Class of 2018. I can’t wait to see who you become.
Director of Youth Ministries