It’s still the middle of the school year for most students. But I know from experience that the anxiety about the future can start long before graduation day. I started dreading growing up way before the college hunt began, and I think it contributed to my anxiety, especially by senior year. College played out differently for me. I turned in my final paper on Saturday morning, and I’m more sentimental than anxious. Well… sentimental, tired, and thinking about sports anime.
Sports anime usually center on first-years, but their upperclassmen get screen time, too. They gain our love and, depending on how long the show runs, they graduate, leaving us with a mixture of pride, sadness, and eagerness for what’s ahead. Take Daiya no Ace, for example. When the third-years retired, I was sad. But I felt proud of them, too. Kris-senpai accomplished a lot during his time on the team, even though his playtime was cut short by an injury. He was especially influential for Sawamura and Miyuki—without him, they wouldn’t be who they are now. Then there’s Kominato Ryousuke (that’s the older pink-haired brother, if you’re bad with names), Yuuki Tetsuya (the captain), Tanba (the old ace), and several others who have inspired kohai and viewers alike with their dedication and skill. We’ve been shown flashbacks of their first year on the team, and we know they weren’t always the reliable senpai. They grew as players and as men. Now, they’re preparing for the next stage of their lives. Even if they don’t continue playing baseball, the lessons they learned in leadership and perseverance will continue to help them. And they still come to their kohai’s games and cheer them on.
We miss the upperclassmen, but it’s exciting to watch the younger players step up. Miyuki and the other second-years are adjusting to their new leadership roles, and the new team is starting to come together. Eventually, another crop of first-years will come in, and they, too, will grow during their time on the team. Just as Kris inspired Miyuki and they both taught Sawamura, so will Sawamura inspire and teach new club members—albeit in a very different way. And the cycle will continue. Because as important as their time at Seido is, it’s only three years of their life—two and half years of baseball, really—and then they move on, better for it.
I see the same thing happening in my own school. At the beginning of the semester, I had to adjust to the fact that most of my upperclassmen were gone. Some found jobs on campus as admissions counselors and whatnot, but even they operated in a different sphere than I did. It was strange. I’d think I saw someone studying in their usual spot in the library, or passing me in the hall—and in reality, they were miles away. They weren’t there to give me inside information on professors or tell me not to stress about a class. And… I actually didn’t need them. Instead, I gave inside information to my underclassmen. I told them exactly how much to stress about the big classes in our major. I tried to reach out to freshmen girls and encourage them, like my upperclassmen encouraged me. At the same time, I watched other underclassmen—those only a year or two below me—take on leadership roles. All this felt natural. Now I’ve graduated, and that feels right, too.
The past three and a half years were amazing. I’ve grown as a writer, as a person, as a Christian. I’ve learned how to love people and to be loved without expecting anything—not even a time-consuming friendship—in return. I’ve gained confidence. I’ve learned to like poetry—even some of those poems with a lot of flowers and “boring” nature elements—and how to write it. As a freshman, I had multiple breakdowns every semester. This last semester, I had no breakdowns. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about other people, and I’ve made great friends. Most of all, I’ve learned how to give myself to people with whom I might not be able to sustain a relationship beyond Facebook (if you’re reading this, guys, know that I want to have you in my life, but I don’t know how this post-college friendship thing works—I was just barely getting the hang of it in the college environment).
My time there is up—I’ll return for an event or two, but it’s basically up. And that’s okay. Other students will continue to grow there, and I’m excited for them. Despite all the late nights studying, my Christian university was a place of spiritual rest and learning. I’m not supposed to spend all my years there. I’m supposed to grow up and use what I’ve learned to serve both the Church and those who are not (yet) part of the Church. I don’t know exactly what that will look like, but that’s okay.
It can be scary, facing the unknown. Five years ago, when I was about to graduate high school, I was terrified to grow up. I never had senioritis, because I never wanted to face adulthood. I’m still not thrilled about the unknowns and responsibilities ahead. And yet… it feels right. I’m excited.
Why am I saying all this? My blogging philosophy is to share what’s going on in my life under the assumption that others have similar experiences. It’s easy to say that it’s natural to grow up and move on with our lives, especially when we talk about sports anime characters instead of ourselves. But some of us still get nervous. I was nervous enough just leaving high school—so what’s changed? Part of it is that I’m more mature and confident. And I’m not struggling with thought-twisting depression and anxiety like I did in high school. But most of all, I realize that I don’t have to have my life figured out. I have plenty of people to ask advice from when it’s time to make decisions. So instead of focusing on what I don’t know how to do (like pay bills), I focus on thanking God for all he’s taught me over the past few years. I trust that, wherever I go next, he’ll use me to serve others, and he’ll use the situation to help me grow.