Do you remember that part in the beginning of The Little Mermaid when Ariel said to her dad, “I’m sixteen years old, I’m not a child anymore”? And maybe when you were younger you thought, “of course, she’s not a child anymore, she’s all grown up!” But then the older you get you realize that Ariel was, indeed, still a child, just as you were when you were sixteen years old. Yes, that is exactly what it feels like to grow up.
This summer you have your grand sweet 16 party. This was meant to be the biggest milestone of your life thus far, so naturally, you rent the gazebo in the park, buy a giant, blow-up movie screen, and have a movie night in the city park. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” seems to be an appropriate theme considering it was and still is your favorite movie. You want it to be classy and sophisticated so you send out fancy invitations with an RSVP and everything. Little do you know, not everyone is as classy as you think you are… So your dream party turns into about a dozen teenagers, sitting in the gazebo, swatting at mosquitos, and you now wish you just had a simple movie night at home where there are comfy blankets, air conditioning, and no mosquitos to swat at. Whether the party was truly a bust or not, you still turn sixteen. Now you are three years in. You’ll be starting your junior year of high school soon. You already have a countdown for how many days you have left until graduation and I don’t blame you.
Now you are three years in; you’ll be starting your junior year of high school soon. You already have a countdown for how many days you have left until graduation, and I don’t blame you.
You joke about “senioritis” setting in early, but the more you joke the more you realize that it might be true. Try to keep up with your schoolwork as best you can. They say that junior year is the most important when it comes to applying for colleges, so you might even need to step up your game a little bit.
Even so, don’t stress about your grades too much, there are more important things in the world. Things like enjoying school and enjoying learning. Please remember to still find joy in learning new things and not just being another product of standardized testing and SAT scores.
I feel like those two concepts might be seen a contradictory (step up your studying game but also don’t worry about your grades) but in reality, you just need to find your balance. Work hard, but don’t put your worth in your grades. Study for that test, but don’t put it over your mental health. Read that book for class, but don’t wait until the last minute when you have to rush through it, start earlier so that you can enjoy it. There are many ways to find a balance between studying hard and not stressing out.
College is starting to become a bigger deal. The thoughts of getting into a school, picking a school, being happy with that decision later, and making sure everyone else in happy and good with your decision might as well be 500 pounds sitting on your shoulders. I wish I could tell you this every second you think about college, but you do not need to satisfy anyone else with where you decide to go to college; not your parents, not your friends, not any teachers. What you need to do is pray about it, ask God where He wants you.
Over the summer you will tour both A&M and UT. You won’t feel any special connection to either of them; there won’t be this message written in the sky or a feeling deep in your gut saying “this is your school!” and that’s okay. Those are not your only two options, so there’s no need to act like they are. You put so much pressure on yourself to go to a number one ranked Texas school that you feel like you’ll be letting yourself or your family down if you don’t go to one of them. Let me tell you again, that all you should be doing about it now is praying about it. You won’t ever feel satisfied if all you do is for someone else. Remember to look to God for the answers and don’t expect Him to write something in the clouds either. He speaks in whispers more often than sky writers.
So many long nights praying and calling out to God have resulted in this amazing trip you are able to go on. March 13, 2015, you and around 25 others will touch down in Heathrow airport to be a tourist and a witness to the people of London’s borough of Ealing. This is an amazing experience, getting to share Jesus with people nearly 5,000 miles away, of different nationalities and cultures. The ten days you are in London seem to fly by. You long to go back and laugh about it with your friends calling it a “withdrawal.” The people of London will always have a special place in your heart and they need your continued prayers of peace and salvation. After your trip, you will look up airline prices and departure times and picture how wonderful it would be if you could go back to London (which by the way right now it’s about $1,500 for a round trip leaving in May), every year social media will remind you of all the geat memories you had in London, you will refuse to delete all the pictures on your phone that you took in London- purely so that you can look at them anytime you please.
Like I said, you have a large heart for the nations and London has a special place there.
After trying real European coffee, you decide to make it your life goal to become a coffee expert (more like snob). You start taking your coffee black and talking about the roast of the beans. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, but that’s okay. Soon enough you’ll catch onto the basics of coffee tasting and you’ll be able to have an actual conversation about it. Until then, just fake it till you make it.
Something you need to learn how to do is deal with your newly found freedom. Yes, you have a car. Yes, you are legally allowed to drive it. No, you do not get to go anywhere and do anything you want now. This is why you got your keys taken away within your first month of being a licensed driver. I’m totally going to quote Spider-Man here but “with great power comes great responsibility.” I get it, you have an appetite for adventure, but try not to go head first into total freedom on the open road. That means no midnight runs to HEB and no spontaneous trips to Houston. That also means that you have to get yourself to school on time. See this as prep for the real world, waking up on time and having to be adult-ish. The sooner you learn this, the better.
Being an adult comes with time and practice, you don’t mature instantly the day you turn sixteen.
Enjoy coffee, enjoy traveling, and enjoy being sixteen,