For about as long as I can remember, I’ve been dying to grow up — ironic phrasing, I know. In elementary school, I couldn’t wait to get to middle school, where I would finally have a locker and multiple teachers. The idea of class periods sounded like the coolest thing I had ever heard of. I was so excited for high school, where I had assumed, for some reason, that life got easier and would play out as if I were Gabriella Montez in High School Musical — minus all the singing. Around my junior year, when I realized this was absolutely not the case, I anxiously awaited the day when I would graduate with all of my best friends and move on to the out of state adventure that is college.
High school graduation day is momentous, promising new adventures and an “onto the next” mentality. Although the summer before moving to California was difficult and felt like the end of a massive chapter, the new beginnings on the other side felt promising and concrete.
This excitement for the future typically morphs into fear around halfway through college, or at least that’s what happened to me. Where am I going to live? Where am I going to work? Did I pick the right major? Should I be wanting to get married, or am I still too young? Am I going to graduate on time?
We live our entire adolescence in fast forward, so excited to get to the next new beginning. That is, until the next new beginning is simply the rest of our lives. It is unexpectedly daunting at such a young age and feels like we are stepping into completely uncharted territory. School is over; it’s time to enter the workforce. No more dining plans, set housing or easy places to make friends and meet people. Sounds magical, right?
In times like these, I always think of John Mayer’s song, “Stop this Train,” which beautifully articulates this sentiment through a winding narrative of his realization that life moves at a ridiculously fast pace and, sometimes, it feels like it would just be easier to stop the train, get off and run home — which, as we all know, is impossible.
The panic at the idea of starting my life stems from an age-old problem that we all share: growing up is scary and the unknown feels so, well, unknown. For as long as we have been living our lives have been structured around family, school and a concrete set of rules we had to follow. After college, this disappears and we are sent off to create our own paths.
“Stop this Train” reminds me that although I may crave a pit stop on the journey of life, and may wish to return to simpler days when my biggest worry was about who was going to ask me to prom and what my summer job would be, I can’t stop the train. Life moves at a fast pace, and with graduation swiftly approaching for many seniors, we have to realize the beauty of new seasons, even the ones that seem particularly scary and uncertain. So, although it might take a leap of faith to stay on the train, full speed ahead, we can embrace the uncertainty and jump into the next season of life knowing that God’s grace and provision will follow us wherever our lives may lead.
“Singing, stop this train/
I want to get off and go home again/
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in/
I know, I can’t/
‘Cause now I see I’ll never stop this train.”