With my son turning eighteen, my thoughts went back to 1984 when I turned eighteen.
The difference between life in 2021 and 1984 is huge.
In 1984 people still drove stick shift cars, left home without a cell phone, and didn’t care if there was Wi-Fi available at their destination. As an 18-year-old, I would leave for high school at 7:30 a.m. and sometimes not make it back home until 11 p.m. if I had an away volleyball game. My parents considered no phone calls meant that I was where I was supposed to be and safe. If I wanted to contact a friend or schoolmate, I had to talk in person and make plans or use the phone. Personal computers or printers did not exist, so it was all done by hand if I needed to send an invitation or say thank you. If you wanted to apply for a job, you needed to fill out an application by hand at the place of employment. To grocery shop, dine out, or work, you needed to leave your house. At eighteen, I had the world figured out, and I was sure I knew quite a bit about life.
Fast forward to 2021, and Wi-Fi is everything! If my son didn’t have a computer and Wi-Fi, attending school would be extremely difficult. Books, assignments, and communication with teachers are all online and only accessible through Wi-Fi. Cell phones are necessities in high school because no one uses a phone to make plans – it’s all through texts or social media – even with some teachers. Applying to jobs, colleges, or volunteering is all online – there are no more applications to be filled out by hand. And groceries, restaurant food, and work can all be ordered and delivered to you without ever leaving home.
But some things are still the same.
Turning eighteen means the end of public schooling and the beginning of adult life. It means discovering what path you want to take next and the fear of the unknown. What if you make a mistake, change your mind, or fail at the path you choose? Or there isn’t a choice, and you get what life defaulted to you? Just like in 1984, or any year, some 18-year-olds confidently know the path they have chosen and set out to complete their goals. But, on the other hand, some 18-year-olds don’t know their long-term goal but decide just to take the next step on their path to discovering what the next step will be after that step.
Whatever path any 18-year-old chooses – even if they are confident – the path can be challenging.
At eighteen, I decided to go to Cedarville College (University), a small Christian college. I had no idea about a major, so my parents suggested something practical, a secretarial degree. I faced loneliness, homesickness, and challenges during college, but I knew I was where God wanted me to be. However, after I graduated, I didn’t know the next step. I knew what path I did not want to take, but I had no idea what was next.
Fast forward, and now I am living in South Florida, sitting at a Panera writing a blog post. How did I get here? Kicking and screaming at times – but ultimately accepting that this was the next step in God’s plan for me. As I look back, I can see I’m where I am supposed to be.
Friends, are you contemplating what the next step in your life is? Our family is in transition, and each of us is wondering about the next step. Unfortunately, we don’t have a magic ball telling us the future, but we have a relationship with God, who prompts us and puts opportunities and ideas in our path which leads us to the next step.
Praying for you as you discover your next step.
The Small Town Girl