Dear UIS Graduates,
There's no way to begin this without sounding cliche and ridiculous, you've heard this a million different times in a million different ways, but hey, what's one more? Congratulations! You have officially made it through high school. You all make me feel that much older, thank you very much, and I can only blame your good-lookin' tan selves for that. I grudge.
In all seriousness, your year has been loaded with different presentations and celebrations, dedicating a slice of Ukarumpa love to you and your fellow seniors. You've heard lots about "transition" and at this point, you're just waiting for it to actually happen. You've been to your senior banquet, and laughed til your face hurt as the adults comically portrayed you and your friends. You conquered your last Sports Day and you completed your final highschool exam. You, and your parents, have been preparing for this moment your entire highscool career.
This is a letter I feel led to write because in the spirit of so many goodbyes and terrified excitement, I want to encourage you.
You are going to be okay.
And well, college is weird.
As many of you know, I graduated from UIS a year ago, and even though that feels like a lifetime ago, I was staring into the very same oblivion as you are right now. Please know that this letter is for you, and anything I say is meant for encouragement and blessing. I wish you all the very best, and I am so proud of you.
You have endured the Wailing Wall, packed more bags than you can count and signed all of those yearbooks. You have been on top of the Uka-world for a year, and each of you have had opportunities to touch the lives of the people on- and off-center. You have made memories in places that not many other people on the planet can top - your life has been rather extraordinary.
Now, you are facing the end to a chapter that you thought would last forever.
For any graduate, there has always been a level of bittersweet, but for Ukarumpa grads in particular, graduating highschool is the least pressing issue. Walking across that stage literally means you are crossing boarders - it only hits you later that you actually, genuinely finished highschool for good. Goodbyes are at the forefront of everything you've been doing. The lasts are far more pressing than the hellos after the Kodiak.
If your anything like me, you will learn to hate highschool dramas scripted between those dastardly months of June and July. To them, goodbyes are within the next few months. To you and me, goodbye are sometimes forever. If you are committed (which I reccommend you are), you will see alot of them again, but it'll never be the same. Life happens. Over and over again.
Meliah?! Wh--negative?! I thought you said you said this was going to be encouraging. You lie.
Hush, you. I'm getting to it.
Your whole life is just about to change - more than you could have ever imagined. And this is not something to dread or attempt to plan out. You want to know where you are going at this point, that is something I am willing to admit to. And how long, if at all, your family is going to be in-country with you. There are the details you can't just assume them to completion, financial aid, housing, friend visits and a number of other things should keep you busy for a good part of your summer. But don't you dare try to plan out your life to a T.
Life throws wicked fast curve balls.
Of course, there are some things in life that are gonna suck and if it throws you off track, you're gonna hate it. But think about, college is a catalyst for opportunity. Not all curve balls are bad. If they are true to their name, they will still affect you in big ways. Throwing your best laid plans 'til next Thursday isn't unusual, and for the sake of your sanity, you need to be okay with change.
Be adaptable. Flexibility is probably the most important characteristic you can develop during your first year as a college student/independent employee. Roll with the punches. My mom and her vicious humor would remind me of this concept most every day when I was little. Taught me to be very resiliant to the rolling and the punching. Yay, Mom.
And besides, God has His own plans for a reason.
His actually work.
To wrap this up, I'd like to give you a list of things that will make your life as an independent a little less scary. (*= college bound graduates)
1. Flying away from Ukarumpa is gonna hurt. But it will pass. I promise. The all-telling, wise sage of my childhood (aka Winnie the Pooh) says, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard".
2. Call your mother. Even if she's across the planet, figure something out. She misses you more than you can ever know.
*3. Buy one of those mattress cusion things. They will save your life from many sleepless nights and festering bed bugs.
*4. Go to those opportunity fair things and talk to as many people as possibel. And save business cards.
*5. Invest in your academic advisor. They usually know what they're talking about. They will also help you figure out what the heck you wanna do.
6. As far as America goes, I have not found a second-hand store that is super awesome. I loved Kainantu, but trust me, GoodWill is on point.
7. Get a job that you'll enjoy. Sometimes this isn't possible, but sometimes, it is. If you follow rule number two, you'll have ample opportunities. And get as far away from cleaning toilets as possible. If you have to, that is what you must do, but there is almost always a better option.
8. Remember to make time for you (hobbies, quiet time, etc).
9. Netflix is dangerous. Stay away from it as long as possible. And if you can't resist, God rest your soul (I'm in the same boat).
10. Gossip Girl, Grey's Anatomy and New Girl aren't actually addicting.
11. #10 lies.
12. Learn to drive in your home country as soon as possible. Even if you have a PNG license, it's more different than you think. It'll help you in case of an emergency, but it will also help you feel more like an adult.
13. Find something you love, and stick with it.
14. Find a church you can call home. You won't know what you want until your on the hunt. It may take time, but it'll be worth it.
15. Facebook your friends and mentors as much as you feel you need. Don't be excessive and so clingy you can't move on, but don't hang them out to dry either. It's a tough balance once life starts moving again, but if you do, it does the heart lots of good.
Well, there you have it folks, my letter to you has finally closed. I hope you enjoyed it and took at least 142 words I said to heart. Aha. Kidding. just take one, if that's what you needed, I am as honored with one as I am with 142.
I can't wait to hear from you and all of your adventures. Be safe and be great.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6: 33