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In the first year following college I wrecked a car twice, blew out the engine of the same car, began and quit several jobs, lost too much weight, gained too much weight, was cheated on by my girlfriend and didn't end the relationship until she dropped me, was totally pitiful, found my calling, fell in love with one of my former girlfriend's best friends...
In the first year following college I wrecked a car twice, blew out the engine of the same car, began and quit several jobs, lost too much weight, gained too much weight, was cheated on by my girlfriend and didn't end the relationship until she dropped me, was totally pitiful, found my calling, fell in love with one of my former girlfriend's best friends (whom I married), and adopted a dog, among other things. It was quite a year and this list doesn't begin to tell the whole story. All of that happened nearly thirty years ago, yet that year following my graduation has perhaps been the most significant in my entire fifty years. It is not significant for its triumphs but rather for its struggles, challenges, opportunities and all that I learned. You are preparing to enter your own year(s) following college. In my experience and in the twenty years of experience working with those still in and recently out of college, I have discovered that for many this time period following graduation is often among the most significant times one will live. For the first time you are making choices and decisions that are truly and fully yours to make. Certainly you may have chosen your college or university, you decided a major, and you hopefully chose who would be your significant relationships, but many if not all of these decisions were to some degree influenced by others, especially your family. This influence most often comes in the form of expectations. In completing college you have now fulfilled a significant expectation which has influenced your decisions and choices. You have now or soon will finish a significant portion of what, in this book, I term "the script". Now it is your responsibility, your turn to write your own script for your own life. However there is a problem that commonly emerges following college. You have no idea how to do this; you have not been trained to write your script. Through all your years of education, you have primarily been trained to follow the script that others have given you. Now you are entering the unscripted time of life. It has been my great privilege and blessing to work with and/or be around students and young adults in one way or another for nearly my entire life. As a child and youth my friends were the counselors and staff at the camps that my parents directed. Then I found myself journeying through those years myself. Following seminary I directed my own camp where I served as employer, mentor, minister and friend for the students and young adults who worked on my staff. For a few years I focused in youth ministry, but also mentored college interns and followed the youth who were going off to college. Then for the past ten years I have specialized in campus ministry, serving the students here at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina as Presbyterian campus minister. In sharing the journey with these hundreds of wonderful people, I have witnessed, comforted, and guided many through struggles that echo my own challenges in those years during and following college. I have also cheered, coached and celebrated triumphs, accomplishments and discoveries in these same lives. Through each struggle or triumph I have and continue to pray that there will be reflection, learning, growth and the realization of grace.
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