Despite the fact that I normally like to mull over my posts for a few days before I publish them, this post isn’t getting that treatment. There isn’t time. In 48 hours I should know where I’m living next year. In 48 hours, for good or for bad, the anticipation will be over and a giant question mark will be removed from my life. And it’s the anticipation that I want to write about. The venturing into the unknown, the bend in the road, the moments right before the moments that direct the course of our lives.
We’ve all felt it. In high school it was waiting for the drama director to post the cast list for the spring play. It was the waiting for SAT scores and college acceptance letters. It was the road trip to a university halfway across the country and the moment right before meeting new roommates. It was the intense emotions in the weeks leading up to our wedding and marriage. It was standing in my first classroom, looking over the yet-to-be-filled desks. It is jumping every time the phone rings during a drawn-out job hunt.
It’s the intense heartbeat and the conscious effort to breathe normally, wondering how your life will change. It’s watching first a calendar and then a clock, but not being sure if you want time to speed up or slow down. It’s double checking to make sure your phone works and refreshing your e-mail page 100 times a day to make sure you don’t miss anything, even though that’s totally not necessary. It’s knowing that you’ve done all you can, and now your future rests on variables entirely out of your control.
All you can do is hope, pray, wonder, and speculate. Then you try to stop speculating, because it doesn’t help anything and you’re driving yourself crazy. You’re probably driving everyone around you crazy, too.
Or maybe not. Maybe you wait in silence, because talking about it makes it seem more real, more intense, and more out of your control than ever. You’re careful. You try not to hope too much in order to avoid a bigger let-down if things don’t go your way. But you really want a certain result anyway, despite everything. You want that role, that acceptance letter, that job, that placement. But it’s out of your hands, and all you can do is wait.
We all have a reason to wait and a bend in the road that we can’t see around. My nomadic life has probably given me more questions and ventures into the unknown than most people my age, but we all experience them at some point. And you know what I’ve discovered?
We get there, and life goes on. I’ve experienced elation and devastation Sometimes I got the part in the play, and then I was crushed when I didn’t (senior year!). I was accepted into one college and wait-listed for another. I met my roommates that first day freshman year, lived with them for a month, and then decided it wasn’t working out. My new roommate became Maid of Honor and is still one of my best friends. Marriage has been different from what I anticipated, but amazing nonetheless. Six years and five cross-country moves later, we’re still going strong. Teaching has also worked out differently from what I envisioned, primarily because of those five cross-country moves, but rather than suffering, I have grown. I’ve discovered ambitions, dreams, skills, and talents that I didn’t know I would possess when I first stood in that empty classroom. So I will survive these remaining hours of anticipation, and then we will move forward on the path laid before us, wherever it may lead.
At first I wondered if this topic fits in this blog. I mean, the main reason I want to write about anticipation because I’m currently feeling it. So I didn’t know if I just wanted to write to get some of the intensity of waiting out of my system, or if it really fit into the theme of preparing teens for life.
But then it hit me.
This is life. This is emerging adulthood. A series of question marks, bends in the road, trying to figure out where to go, what to do, and banging our heads against the wall because of all the unknown variables. How many teenagers are trying to research colleges and careers right now without really knowing what anything is going to be like? How many high school seniors are watching that graduation date approach with the same feeling of anticipation of the unknown? And how many drama kids are waiting for the cast list to go up, wondering if they made it?
I survived. I’m still surviving. You will, too. I promise.