Ever since I was a kid, I longed for adulthood. As a little girl, I politely declined swinging on the monkey bars with the other kindergarteners, opting to converse with the teachers. I played “school” with my dolls, imagining what it would be like to call the shots—to teach instead of being taught. In middle school, I wore blazers and a sleek bob.
Freedom dangled before me as my older siblings crossed each threshold ahead of me: staying home alone, driver’s licenses, extended curfews. Then, the ultimate mark of adulthood finally came: college. The place where tastes of high school freedom and responsibility tripled overnight. My siblings packed their suitcases and left behind rooms filled with their childhood memorabilia, and I waited, very impatiently, to grow up too.
I waited, very impatiently, to grow up too.
For me, high school was four years of watching the clock, my foot tapping an anticipatory rhythm on the floor, while waiting for the final bell that signaled the start of adulthood. I flipped through many chapters of my life like I was cramming for a reading quiz—skimming for the big picture that’ll get me to the ending.
Then, college came. I loaded whatever would fit into my mom’s Jeep Wrangler and trekked 22 hours across the country to adulthood. I exhaled and four years raced by.
Throughout each year of college I felt I was becoming someone dramatically different—someone who was more of myself. The freedom and responsibility that once glittered in my dreams was now reality, and it was just as I hoped. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to love where my feet were planted, to build roots and press into my reality. For the first time in my life, I stopped trying to read ahead to the end of the book.
For the first time in my life, I stopped trying to read ahead to the end of the book.
My senior year of college came in the middle of pandemic uncertainty. After a spring semester spent in lockdown and a quarantine summer, fall was a whirlwind of reunions. However, as the calendar days slipped away and the job search began, I was once again confronted with growing up. I’d always welcomed transition eagerly, deeming it a stepping stone to something greater. But when the fall semester ended, a series of lasts began, and I found myself desperately trying to pump the brakes.
I’d spent 22 years wishing away my youth. Why was I now struggling to move on?
It dawned on me that this was the first time that the next season didn’t sound better than what I had at that moment. I was living in what felt like a hundred answered prayers; the idea of leaving was gutting. It felt almost disloyal to move on. Yet, my college expiration date was rapidly approaching.
Whether you’re graduating from high school or college, changing jobs, entering motherhood or marriage, transition is inevitable. I have a lot to learn and ample space for growth, but there are three lessons that have served me well as I have navigated transition.
Grieving a season of life is normal and healthy.
Even if you feel ready for what’s next, moving on means leaving something behind. It is natural for a sense of loss to linger as you transition. Process through the good and bad of the season you’re leaving and allow it to take up proper space as a chapter of your life. Let tears wet your cheeks and friends sit by your side.
If leaving something is hard, it means that it was important to you.
I have said this about every season of my life: gratitude changes things. Instead of being resentful that a monumental season of life is coming to a close, recognize what a privilege it was to experience it. Take time to reflect on how you grew, the relationships you built and celebrate the person you are at the end of it all.
Instead of being resentful that a monumental season of life is coming to a close, recognize what a privilege it was to experience it.
Choose to see abundance instead of scarcity.
I have experienced life stages I couldn’t wait to leave and ones I wished would last forever. In both, I struggled with a scarcity mindset where I believed goodness (contentment, excitement, joy and growth) existed only in small increments in specific settings. However, the reality is that it can exist in every season. Trust that a new life stage will bring renewed perspective and unique gifts. They always do.
A lot of my life was spent waiting for the perfect combination of settings, friends and age to create my idea of an “ideal life.” As I reflect on college, I realize it was less about a calculated synergy and more about contentment. I have learned to find a reason to love every season—to show up both when life seems thrilling and when it feels impossible. To keep counting answered prayers and investing in the people in front of me. I have learned to balance profuse contentment for the here and now with anticipatory excitement for what’s to come.
Here’s to the beautiful reality of a life full of growth. May we have the courage to keep climbing and the wisdom to grab a hand along the way.
Have you ever grieved a season of life coming to an end? How have you learned to embrace change?
Image via Sarah Kehoe, Darling Issue No. 16