By: Mary Cate Long

I have always been afraid of Change. My high school friends can recall (with some chuckles) a time that I actually cried in a closet at a little party celebrating our graduating from middle school. Why anyone would ever mourn the end of middle school is beyond explanation and just portrays how scared I was of Change. I didn’t want the life I knew to change, because I loved it the way it was.

Funny enough, though, I really never had to deal with a lot of Change growing up. I lived on the same street all my life (we moved four houses down the street in the heat of one Texas summer; I pledged I would one day return as an adult and buy back my childhood house because I didn’t want to let go of it). I went to the same small private school from kindergarten to senior year. 

Honestly, my whole life tended to be safe, a repetition. Wake up at 7 AM, school until 3 PM, sports practice until 5 PM, and homework until heaven knows what hour of the night. 

I loved it. I loved the sweet friends that I spent every day with at school. I loved playing soccer and pushing myself every day to be better. I loved coming home to my family.

So when the deadline to decide what college I would be attending for the next four years loomed just a few weeks away, no one was more surprised than me to find that I had chosen Pepperdine. Pepperdine, a university in California. Pepperdine, a school that is the farthest removed from everything I’ve ever known. Definitely not the safest option. I guess this choice was the first sign that I had grown into a different person than the girl crying over middle school graduation. 

No matter where you go, freshman year of college is debatably the single era of your life in which you experience the most amount of change in the shortest span of time. One day you are in your familiar bed in your familiar room, with the sounds of your brothers running around the house, with the smell of your mom making waffles, with the hug from your dad when he gets back from work… and the next day, you are waking up in a tiny little room next to a roommate you barely know in a place more than a thousand miles away from anything familiar. People don’t say “y’all,” and they get confused when you talk about queso. Or at least, that’s how it was for me.

But here is when I learned that you have a choice. You can either find a nice little closet to cry in and think about how much you miss the special golden moments from before, or you can move forward. You can embrace the future and find the adventure in Change, no matter how hard it may be at first.

This doesn’t mean that you forget about or disregard the past. You don’t forget those memories that made you feel like your were made out of electricity instead of bones. You don’t disregard the people in your past that unknowingly contributed their colorful chip to the mosaic of who you are. 

Cherish your past. 

But, above all, don’t let it get in the way of your present. Never forget to believe that the best is yet to come, if you let it. Each changing part of your life has so much to offer you. So take lots of pictures. If a moment was unusually shiny and golden, write it down so it can always live on. And then look for the next bright memories to come and never stop believing that they are coming.

This is so important, because life ultimately is a constant sequence of Change. It never stays the same for long. Simply put, I’ve learned this past year to embrace change as exciting rather than scary. I’d rather live in a world of adventure that pushes, grows and challenges me — and maybe even breaks my heart — than in a world that is safe and predictable. If you push past the fear, Change is a good thing.