Sitting in a media center full of high school seniors last Friday, I remembered the air of uncertainty that acts as a staple in the minds of most 18-year-olds. In the midst of college searches, final days at home and wondering what’s next, these seniors reminded me of what it’s like to question every part of who you are with the blind hope that it’s all going to work out somehow.
Working at East High School as an Advancement Via Individual Determination tutor, I find myself talking about dreams in a new way, making sure each student knows they are capable of becoming exactly who they want to be.
While I’m constantly inspired by high school seniors’ excitement to grow and move into their next phase of life, I’m reminded of my own undergraduate reality, one that was filled with doubts far bigger than what my once senior self understood.
After high school, the world felt colder, less accepting of those who are afraid to accept themselves first. I remember sitting in my college dorm room for the very first time, unsure where to go or who to talk to. After previously knowing my place in the world, I was left to figure out what my life would be like now, dealing with the aftermath of the first adult decisions I had ever really made: going to college. As the blind faith I’d been accustomed to wore off, doubt took its place, testing me in ways that I’d never thought possible.
While there are plenty of difficulties that follow in the wake of uncertainty, it was through those moments I found myself the most, acknowledging my doubt and defying it anyway.
Self-doubt can be all-consuming, but so can self-belief. The seniors I work with remind me that even when encompassed in self-doubt, finding self-certainty again can sometimes be as easy as closing my eyes and trusting faith.
While I’ve had my share of self-doubt in college, these doubts have forced me to answer the questions about who I am and who I want to be.
Working through these thoughts, understanding how I relate back to the younger versions of who I once was, I realized that maybe what these seniors need to hear is that doubt is what allows us to form belief.
The two entities — believing and doubting yourself — don’t have to represent forces of good and evil that control our lives. The more I’ve come to embrace my doubts as questions rather than judgments, the greater my self-belief has grown, lessening my fear of the uncertain in the process.
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We are all going to have moments of weakness and uncertainty. That being said, I decided to start looking at my life in a different way, embracing the chaos with faith rather than dividing the two as fearful enemies.
It’s these moments I feel grateful to the students I work with, forcing me to question my place in the world through the ways I choose to explain it to others, and reminding me that carrying a constant faith in the outcome of my future doesn’t need to fade away like other high school memories so often do.