Senior year melancholy is real, y'all. When I was in high school, I was so ready to be done, to be out. I was pretty much chomping at the bit. College is a little different, though -- actually, a lot different. I am so excited to be applying for graduate school; I am overjoyed at the opportunity to continue my musical studies at a higher level. But I have many memories here in Lubbock, and there is a lot of beauty in this town and in this school to me. So, as you may expect, I am experiencing the typical senior-year bittersweetness. At the beginning of the school year, it was pretty bad. For a couple of weeks, I walked around knowing that these were the first of the lasts. This is my last fall as a student in Lubbock. This is my last year as an undergraduate. On Friday night we had our last first choir concert of the academic year. We can measure our entire year in choir concerts: Kaleidoscope, Fall, Carol, Spring, tour, Scholarship. It's like the recycling of the seasons. The fact that I've just experienced my last Kaleidoscope Concert as a student is slightly surreal (but thankfully, I can retire the green top I've been wearing every year).
In fact, that's how I can describe most of what I'm feeling: a sense of surreality. There have been days I've walked across campus in a haze of wonder. How can this be the end of my time here, I wonder? How can I be reaching the end of the fullest, most beautiful four years of my life?
If I'm truthful, part of the melancholy is born from a fear that I will never experience this kind of beauty again. I'm faced with a lot of different worries: what if I don't get into graduate school? What if I somehow, some way, get nodules on my vocal folds (though that's a pretty extreme fear)? What if I can't get a job singing? What if all my dreams come to nothing? Here, I can live out my dream to my heart's content. What if, when I leave, I can no longer do that?
I didn't know I had these fears until I started writing this post. And I don't think they're fears we consciously have. They simply lurk beneath the surface of our hearts, waiting to overtake us.
Maybe life change is painful because we fear that when change comes, we'll be left with nothing. We're leaving behind everything we've ever known, and we have no idea what's on the other side. It could be utter loss, for all we know.
But here's the deal about adventure: it always involves change. That's what adventure is: a whole lot of change. I cannot be adventurous without allowing change to take place in my life. In fact, change is going to come whether I allow it or not. But I get to control my response to it: am I going to fear it all my life, longing to hang on to what I know, or am I going to welcome it with open arms? You see, my response to the fear determines whether or not this is really an adventure. I get to pick.
As I inch daily toward my graduation date, I get to choose my response to my fear -- and I want to choose faith. God has never not come through for me, and I can trust Him to always, always, always come through again.
Of course, I keep talking about the fear. But y'all, I'm ecstatic. I have told a few people recently that I've been preparing for this moment, these auditions, for three and a half years. And now I finally get to do it. I get to take the next step in the dream. Sometimes the next step looks like a step into nothing. But it's the next step, and I must take it, because this is my adventure, and to not take the next step is to stagnate and not really live at all.
In the end, I think that's the choice we get: this is the next step. It looks like stepping off a cliff and hoping that someone will catch you (spoilers: He will). We get to choose whether to try to hold on to what is, or to take a deep breath and embrace what might be. The second option is choosing adventure: embracing the scary thing we cannot help but do with courage and trust and faith.
May we not shrink back and forget what it is to fully live. May we see the Next Step and joyously take it, because this is the next part of the adventure. All the while, may we trust the One Who always comes through for us. He's never failed before. He will not fail now.