“Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice.” -Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

If you’re reading this right now you are a living, breathing, experiencing, learning, failing, thriving human being. You may be a student with your whole life in front of you, or you may be an educator who has touched the lives of many people. Whoever you are, you are here on this Earth right now, currently living out your own individual, unique story.

It’s so easy to feel insignificant, especially when you are just one kid out of thousands across the country, and you are applying to college. A lot of us in this school are feeling overwhelmed by the college process, and are facing the reality that we are starting over in a whole new setting, and more importantly, starting our adult lives. Everyone always tells you that college is fun and exciting, but no one jumps out of their seat waving their hands to tell you a story about how confused and scared they felt their second semester of senior year. This is period of time is the kind of part of a story that people would usually leave out, but times like this are what shape us into who we are. This time of our lives, whether you’re heading to college or not, is a chance to figure out who you are and what you want. Feeling confused and displaced is inevitable, and even though we may think it is bad, it isn’t.

I think it is important to realize that this is just the beginning, and that even though that sounds scary, it is actually the greatest thing ever. You have all this time to do all the things that you always said you were going to do when you were a kid. You also have time to do all the things you thought you would never do. You have all these experiences and enemies and relationships that lie ahead of you. Having a whole life ahead of us is something that all of us take for granted most of the time. Losing someone I love recently has made me put life into perspective and has made me realize that while life is scary, if we look back on our lives as a whole, the transitions and character development we have over time are the most amazing things that happen to us as human beings. Life itself as whole is pretty amazing.

It’s time for us to stop taking ourselves and our abilities for granted. Your story just as important as the person next to you on the Orange Line or the person ringing up your groceries. We take our own lives for granted every day, and we don’t realize how important and amazing it is to be alive at all.

When college comes around, it is going to feel really easy to get lost in the thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of students on or off campus. The adult world, college or not, rips you from a your bubble in your hometown and high school where you are surrounded by all the people who  you have known or have been following you on social media for four years, to being lost within the plethora of people and new surroundings. Meeting new people is apart of the making of your story. Meeting new people, forming new relationships, and stepping out of your comfort zone is what will shape you. When people look back at your life someday, all the good things they remember about you will stem from every small detail of your story.

Having a positive mindset about college and life after high school is the key to setting yourself up for success. Of course not everyone can control everything that happens to them, and constant positivity is a myth whether people will admit it or not, but going into your adult life hating it doesn’t seem like a recipe for happiness. Terms like “adulting” and the trend on social media of hating being a “broke college student” have grown more popular over time, and are conditioning us to hate our lives before they even start.

Being happy though the hardships of college and the transition from high school to adult life will make it so much easier on you when tough times come around. Keeping your grades up will be easier. Waking up for class will be easier. Going to your job will be easier. I’m not saying that being happy during this transition will always be easy, but you’ll be thankful you pushed through with a positive outlook on the future. Quality education alone is already something to value if you have access to it, but the experiences that come along with it are just as valuable.

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