I’m very close to yet another graduation. May 14 will mark my third. It’s easy to assume that because I’ve spent so much of my adult life as a professional student that I’ve learned a lot. If that’s what you think, well…you’re right. I do know a lot. At least, I know a lot more than I did 10 years ago when I was counting down the days until my high school graduation. Now, I’m counting down the day’s until I graduate from my Master’s program. All the counting (77 days!) and the random Facebook messages announcing the coming together of my high school reunion have left me ruminating on what it is exactly that I have learned over the last 10 years. So, specifically to any of my youth who may stumble upon this blog, I offer a compilation of those things: the 17 things I wish I’d known at 17.
1. I wish I’d known that I really would use math later. (I should have paid attention in Statistics class.)
2. I wish I’d known that the high school friends that you still know 10 years after high school may not be the people that you expected to know. The friendships that become the most meaningful are the ones that surprise you.
3. I wish I’d known that the seasonality of those other friendships didn’t devalue them. It actually made them wonderful and good.
4. I wish I’d known that I’d value my college experience more for the friendships formed and the lessons I’d learn living with people than for what I actually learned in the classroom. (But, I’m glad I did known to take my college education more seriously than I did high school. I actually learned something in that Stats class.)
5. I wish I’d known that “the good Christian boys” can still break your heart.
6. I wish I’d known that the dissolution of of friendships over the seasons of life can feel like the same kind of heart break.
7. I wish I’d known that it’s really easy to make really stupid decisions about how to deal with the heart break, even if you pride yourself as someone with their head on straight.
8. I wish I’d known that the heart break, though painful, wasn’t actually the end of the world.
9. I wish I’d known being honest with my friends and leaning on them even just a little bit would help ease the deepest of hurts and enliven the deepest of joys.
10. I wish I’d known that it was actually okay to talk to my parents about…everything.
11. I wish I’d known that I didn’t have to look like I have it together all the time.
12. I wish I’d known that it’s possible to find a job that’s more than just a job IF you’re ear is consistently turned to hear from God about it.
13. I wish I’d known that having your ear turned to God sometimes means following in a way that looks foolish and feels risky…and it’s okay.
14. I wish I’d known that other people’s approval didn’t actually provide fulfillment or lead to feelings of success.
15. I wish I’d known that having questions about my faith didn’t make me a bad Christian. I wish I’d known that having the courage to ask those questions, with a heart truly seeking to known God through them, could draw me closer to Him and strengthen my belief.
16. I wish I’d known not to waste so much time trying to be “right” all the time. I wish I’d known that it could get in the way of building relationships with people and therefore serve to actually get in the way of my witness.
17. I wish I’d known that at 27 I’d be writing a list of things I wish I’d known at 17 much more of aware of what I don’t actually know. And I wish I’d known that would usher in a feeling of…freedom.
How about you? What do you wish that you’d known at 17?