Senior year. Whether you are jumping for joy at the thought of being done with college forever, or already internally cringing when an adult asks what your plan for after graduation is, it happens to all of us eventually. Unlike high school, after we walk across that graduation stage amidst the flashing of cameras and excitement of family members, many us may be unsure where our paths will lead us next. This year will be full of changes. From parting with friends who have become like family, to moving to a new town where no one knows you name, to moving back home, it is important to realize that this unexpected journey has already been mapped out by the Creator of all. So take some time right now to relax, sit back, and let me pass on some wisdom of my senior year survival guide.
1. Be content.
“For your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”- Matthew 6:8
“To the God who is able to do immeasurably more than you can ever ask or imagine.”- Ephesians 3:20
As I was praying for God to show me what He wanted me to learn and experience in this coming season in my life, one word kept coming to my mind, contentment. If you think about it, many of us are not content in our day to day lives even when we have so much to be thankful for. It can be all too easy to dwell on the negative, like being unhappy doing spreadsheets in your internship instead of being grateful for the opportunity, or being annoyed when your mom makes you help her make dinner, instead of realizing how lucky you are not to worry about food. We all do it.
Learning to be content doesn’t mean always being happy. It means fighting the battle every day of choosing praise over complaints. It means accepting that everything isn’t going to go the way you want it to, but trusting God anyways. It means seeing the good when you’ve recently experienced a whole lot of bad.
This coming year is going to be an onslaught of “Just landed the perfect job” and “We’re engaged,” social media posts. There might be days where you feel like you can’t even check Facebook because you are sick of everyone else getting good news. Do not fall into the trap of comparison. God made us all with completely different gifts and life plans. Just because Suzie lands her dream job in October and you have to move back in with your parents after graduation, doesn’t make Suzie more loved or better than you. Who knows, Suzie might land that job, but end up absolutely hating it, while you end up waiting at home and landing a job you’ve always wanted.
So choose satisfaction. Choose praise when you get rejected from another job and realize you have to move back home. Choose praise when you worry about never getting married or worry if your boyfriend is ever going to pop the question. Choose praise when everything in your once perfect life seems to be spiraling out of control.
No matter how many resumes you send out to hear no replies, how many times you ache to have a date on a Saturday night, or how many times you stain your bed spread with tears from it all being too much, God has not abandoned you. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and He is the same in your period of waiting and the same if this year leads to you getting everything you’ve ever wanted.
Ask God to grant you contentment during this time of uncertainty and to show you the ways He is working in your life that you never noticed before.
2. Don’t be overwhelmed.
“Peace I live with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”- 1 John 14:27
“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”- Psalm 61:2
College in general is a time of stress and juggling a million things. Trying to fit in a meal date here, while doing a meeting there, and doing your homework in the time cracks in between it all. As a person who barely has enough room to fit her activities on one page of her resume, I can relate to doing too much. Though it is great to be involved in many activities and avenues while in college, you don’t want to spend your senior year making up for lost time. You don’t need to try to go on every mission trip, lead every organization you’ve been in since freshman year, and then sign up for a new activity that sounds fun.
Take a deep breath. Don’t try to cram every memory, project, and fund raiser into the first month of school. Though we are told to savor every moment of senior year and continually told how it is going to fly by, nothing is ever that quick. You still have 9 months to make the most of your senior year, so relax and enjoy being involved and enjoy your friends. Pray that God will give you wisdom and discernment to say yes to the right things and no to those things that are getting in the way. This is your last year to be a college student, so sleep in those days you don’t have 8 ams, say no to going out to stay in and watch a movie, and don’t read all the miscellaneous things assigned to you.
Find the balance between school, activities, and friends that you can handle. It really is true that you can’t do it all, so don’t burn yourself out trying.
3. Don’t check out.
Kind of piggybacking off my last topic, don’t check out this senior year. It’s hard to invest in new people, new campus groups, and new things when you feel like you barely have enough time to spend with your friends, but don’t check out. Take the time to do that mission trip you always wanted to go on, join that group that always looked like fun, and get to know those people in your major you always thought seemed cool.
Likewise, don’t skip out on meetings and plugging into those activities you’ve always loved. If you are on a sports team or in a sorority, take the time to talk and get to know those freshman. You never know the way you can be used to mentor them or how God can use them to bless you.
Whatever you choose to spend your senior year investing in, do it wholeheartedly. Do it lovingly. And do it without any regrets.
4. Be intentional.
“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”- Proverbs 27:9
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”- Luke 5:16
The hardest part of anyone’s senior year is saying goodbye to the friends and loved ones who have helped you to transform these past three years from that naïve freshman into the senior strutting across the stage to grab her diploma. Be deliberate in all your relationships. You might graduate and move to a new town where you don’t have any friends or family. Take the time this year to invest deliberately in the friendships that you want to last beyond college. Make meal dates, friend dates, and weekend hang out times. Tell your friends that you love them and really want to spend the time growing with them this year.
Invest in your parents. They are the ones who have taught you everything, and no matter how much you feel like you are independent since starting college, you still need them. Truly soak in their knowledge and learn everything you can from them. For me that means letting my mom teach me to cook when I really hate it, or allowing her to buy me things I need to for my house for Christmas over clothes. It means asking for advice instead of rolling our eyes when we receive it. It means watching Lost with my family every night this summer instead of holing up in my room watching Netflix. It means taking the time on breaks to put away our cell phones and plug in to our families.
Invest in our savior. College is the best time in our lives, because we have four years to selfishly and unapologetically focus on nothing but ourselves. We get caught up stressing out in all we have going on and our classes, but really we are stressed because we don’t have time to work out or hang with friends. None of our decisions really impact other people. God is the only one we can rely on when our life is changing like crazy. He is the only one who understands how bad we feel to be sad that our best friend got a job when we didn’t. He is the only one who gets how scared we might be to get engaged or to leave college never having a boyfriend. He alone knows how we are going to feel and how to comfort us. The real world is going to be scary and unknown, but we can’t properly tackle it without God’s help. That means laying the foundation before we get there. That means taking the time each day to sit before His throne and lay our burdens on Him. That means listening to His call and choosing it even if it isn’t what we had in mind. It means learning to be His servant and realizing we are not our own.
Each of these relationships are important to our growth, but only one can sustain us for all time. Choose intentionality this year.
5. Don’t cry until it’s over
“Don’t cry before it’s over; smile because it happened.”- Dr. Seuss
My last bit of advice is harder said than done. I would consider myself to be a fairly easy crier. I cry every time Hillary Duff gets humiliated in A Cinderella Story at that pep rally, cry when I’m overwhelmed in the shower, and cry when I skin my knees. I am more than prepared this upcoming senior year with tissues in case I get struck unexpectedly with nostalgia. Don’t live like that!
Embrace all the little and big moments that senior year has to offer. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Likewise, who of you by crying and bemoaning senior year ending can add days to it? So try your best not to dwell on it ending, but live in the present every day. Don’t waste your weekends wallowing in your dorm room with friends, go out and have fun.
I have decided to try my best to not cry until I walk across that stage to get that diploma. That might be unrealistic, but I can tell you I don’t want to waste my precious college memories stressing about them ending. I have plenty of time to cry when it actually ends.
So seniors, go out and build the kingdom this new school year. You have 9 months, let God help you make the most of them.