So, it’s here, week 1 of the rest of your life. I’m talking about college. You walk around, dressing to impress, eager to pitch the best version of yourself to a new crop of people. Never before have you needed so many self-descriptors ready to go at a moment’s notice to “wow” a crowd. But here you are, in college. Yes, everything is different. But, standing on the horizon of your next chapter, you know anything is possible.
Let’s be honest. Going off to college is nerve-racking. Whether you’re excited about it or shaking in your shoes, leaving high school is new. New means different. Different implies change. Most people aren’t big fans of change. But change isn’t always bad.
Change can be really good, in fact. Specifically adjusting to life after high school, a change of scenery – mixing things up and moving away from home – can reap long-term benefits. Now, do you have to move away and change your scenery after high school? No. But you might be glad you did. Here’s why:
1. A change of scenery helps you find yourself.
Moving away from home after high school gives you space to be independent. New and uncomfortable environments help you discover who you are and how you’re wired. Leaving Mom and Dad’s nest forces you to flap your own wings and fly. Let’s be honest: your high school hometown only has so much to offer. Sticking around too long limits what you know, how you live, and the type of person you become. A new environment allows you to experience more of what life has to offer and figure out what God has for you beyond the walls of high school. You’re free to investigate your likes, dislikes; what makes you mad, what makes you happy; what excites you, what frightens you; what interests you and what bores you to death, all the while discovering more about who you are and your purpose in this big world.
2. A change of scenery helps you explore adulthood.
A change of scenery forces you into unfamiliar terrain, forcing you to grow up and learn how to do things like: sharpen (or develop) social skills, build new relationships (while maintaining your current ones). Socially, college is prime time to practice describing the type of person you are to others, which in turn, teaches you a lot about yourself. You discover those qualities and values that matter most in friendships. Additionally, you learn how to navigate the tension between these new relationships and the ones back home you’ve had for years, the relationships you don’t want to lose.
3. A change of scenery helps you discover God.
Being away from college brings more autonomy than you’ve ever had before. Mom and Dad are no longer around to be your alarm clock, making you go to church, and telling you to finish your chores. The only one keeping you accountable in your relationship with God is you. You decide if you’re going to go to church when you’re going to read your Bible. This is the first step, an important one, in the pursuit of your own faith. How much does my relationship with God really matter? College is your first opportunity to find out.
No one’s forcing you to love Jesus. Faith is yours for the taking, or not, the choice again is yours. You decide. Will you to embrace your freedom in a God-honoring way? I pray you will. Distractions and temptations to disconnect from God during college abound (here’s a great article about that). College is a big transition, but it doesn’t have to drive you away from Christ. In fact, learning to own your faith can propel your relationship with Jesus in a positive direction that incurs more lasting benefits than you ever dreamed of.
In all of this, remember one thing: change is your friend. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not a big, hairy monster. On the contrary, change is good. It’s healthy. It’s new and different, yes. But the lessons you learn in this season will shape who you become in the years to come.
Never forget: only you can decide how you’re going to respond to change. Do you want to find yourself, explore adulthood, and discover God on a whole new level? A change of scenery after high school just might be your golden ticket.