Summer ’16

Have you ever been so afraid of leaving something behind, only to find out in hindsight that life had so much in store for you?

I feel like most people have experienced this to some extent, but in the month since I became a high school graduate I have never seen it shine this bright.

The morning of May 6, 2016 I woke up with my best friends and watched the sun rise on the grass behind the gates of my high school football field, and I cried. I cried because I was so scared of leaving that life behind. I was scared to leave behind the familiarity of those hallways, I was scared to leave behind the four years of memories I had made, and I was scared to leave behind the person I was at that school. I cried because I know I am horrible at dealing with change, and I just couldn’t fathom my life being any better than it felt on that day. I cried, and cried, and cried some more . . .

As it always happens, though, life moved on after graduation. I relaxed into a summer routine, and I didn’t necessarily miss my high school life. Slowly, however, my life started to move on in a way it never had before. My previous summers consisted of sleeping, eating, and maybe going to the pool every once in a while. I never made a harsh effort to get out of the house, to get a job, or just to hang out with my friends.

This summer has been different, though, and I don’t think I can exactly pinpoint why. It could easily be due to the group of friends that I have spent every single day with (and that’s not even an exaggeration, we call it our real-life snap streak), it could be that I now have a job that requires me to constantly step out of my comfort zone, or it may be that something in my head just finally clicked and said, “Hey. Get up. Do something. Life is awesome and you should do everything you can to find out why!”

About a week ago I found a quote on Pinterest that simply said, “Say yes to new adventures,” and reading that made me realize that’s what I need to do to keep my life moving forward as beautifully as it has in the beginnings of this summer. I’ve traveled, I’ve made an effort to be more outgoing, I’ve gone on plenty of night drives listening to new music, I bought Chacos (!!!), I’ve started riding my bike more, I’ve become increasingly aware of how beautiful the stars are, I’ve poured my heart into a blog post that reached almost 40,000 people, I’ve kept up with my journaling, and I’ve just really noticed how many absolutely wonderful people I have in my life.

On one of my bike rides, I distinctly remember the wind on my face as the sun was setting, and I could not get a smile off my face. I tried to formulate a tweet about how perfect life felt at that moment, but I couldn’t find the words. I think that’s a pretty beautiful problem to have.

Leaving a good portion of your life behind can seem daunting and sad, but please, please know that the future holds something even better, and so much more. Be brave, say yes to things that scare you, and live a life you have always dreamed of living.

Summer ’16, you’ve only just begun, but I already can’t thank you enough for showing me that there’s a beautiful life beyond high school. I wasn’t sure it existed.

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” 

By laurenstockam

Lauren is a graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.

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