Every year my summer vacation holds a unique meaning. I can trace back as far back as the summer before sixth grade. While most students were panicking about the prospects of starting middle school, I was excited to get a shiny locker. My parents kept asking me, “Are you ready for middle school?” and I assured them I would be just fine. Before my little sister could even formulate a question, I pointedly reminded her that I was going to middle school and she wasn’t coming. I was more than ready for middle school.
I also remember the summer before ninth grade. My entire family started worrying about me entering the great big dangerous South Gwinnett High School. My aunt told me to stay focused on my studies and I promised her that I would not lose my place on the Honor Roll. My parents kept asking me “Are you ready for high school?” and I told them I was unconcerned. My uncle tried to warn me to stay away from boys but I did not have it in my heart to tell him that he was almost two years late to my first kiss. Everyone was trying to prepare me for this great transitionary period in my life, but I was ready.
This year, summer vacation started early for me. As a senior in high school, I earned the privilege to exempt most of my finals so I did not have to come to school the last two days. I thought this was a blessing. I thought I was ready for the summer before college. I was ready when I was eleven years old. I was ready when I was fourteen years old. I was ready when I was eighteen years old. I did not cry at my graduation. I did not cry at my best friend’s graduation. I did not think I was miss any of my friends. I built this stone cold brick wall around my heart and I refused to accept the fact that I was a human being with feelings. It was when I was sitting outside of a Chick-Fil-A goofing off with friends, that I finally realized I would miss them. I’m not one to get emotional, but I could feel the tears forming in the crevice of my eyes. The irony of it all was when I tried to tell my friends that I would miss them, my words came out in a weird croak because I lost my voice.
The summer before college is more than transitioning from one school to another. For some students it means a move from one state to another. For other students it requires an accumulation of loans. However, for all students, the summer before college demands a change in mindset: a realization that we are expected to function like adults as we navigate through society, tough college courses and new relationships, while we carve out a path for our future careers. Once this epiphany takes place, it can become overwhelming.
If you asked me to describe the summer before college seven years ago, seven months ago or even seven days ago, I would say "exciting," but as I ponder the prospect of starting college in August, the idea seems downright scary. For the first time in my educational career, I am not entirely ready. I might cry while trying to finish my first college essay or get lost trying to find my dorm room, but that’s fine. I may not know how this college thing works, but I am determined to figure it out.
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