Up until this year, I was under the impression that adulthood was just an automatic transformation a person makes once they leave the nest and go to college. I also thought that the farther I flew, the quicker the transition would occur. Even 2024 miles away from home, I am no closer to being an adult than I was my senior year of high school. I am, however, more adept in understanding the traits of responsibility, accountability, and forgiveness that come with maturity.
At first, I was worried when I realized that adulthood was not just achieved automatically, but being at Samford has pushed me to grow in many ways. Here, I have learned how to be responsible. I have learned when to say, "no, I need to study" and when to say, "let's try something new". Samford's balance of academics and activities encouraged me to better develop my time management skills so that I could do the things I desired to while maintaining good grades. In addition to responsibility, being at Samford had taught me how to hold myself accountable. In college, you do not have your parents to encourage you to stay motivated or to get you back on track if you begin to slack off. So, I learned how to have more self discipline because mistakes are not made without consequences, even when your parents aren't the ones delivering those consequences anymore. However, Samford's caring and nurturing environment allowed me to make mistakes and actually learn from them. I learned that it is okay to make mistakes and that there is always room for improvement, but most importantly, that improvement is in fact attainable with hard work and determination.
Finally, this first year at Samford has taught me forgiveness. It has taught me to forgive myself for my mistakes and to forgive others for theirs. Overall, my first year at Samford has taught me how to be more mature. I am still learning how to be an adult and I am by no means near adulthood, but I am one step closer. So, to next year's class I leave three pearls of advice: do not expect to know everything right away because knowledge is only gained through experience, it is ok to make mistakes so long as you learn and grow from them, and it is important to be a kid and forgive yourself for your shortcomings because as Ralph Waldo Emerson said long ago, "life is a journey, not a destination", you'll figure it all out in time.