With today being the last day of 2013, I figured it would be the appropriate time to reflect on what has been a whirlwind year for me, as well as look forward to what is in store for the year ahead. I am not the type that puts much stock into New Year’s Eve; oh yes, I celebrate it and enjoy its fanfare. But I see no reason why this day in particular is set apart for people to make radical changes to themselves. One can do that any day if it is necessary. Any person who purposes to change themselves can accomplish it; innumerable examples could be given, from celebrities to ordinary people.
The one thing I have always done on New Year’s Eve (besides eat, drink bubbly nonalcoholic beverages, watch a marathon of some old TV show, and catch Dick Clark’s botched countdown to the new year, God rest his soul) is reflect on the past year and what has transpired in my life. I see what great things have happened, what stupid things I have done, and all the routine things that filled in the gaps. And from this I see what changes I can make to my life, and, most importantly, just how much God has blessed me. And 2013 by far has been the greatest and most blessed year of my life thus far. (It sounds cliché, but it is true.)
When I rang in the New Year I was in the middle of my senior year of high school. While many of my friends had their college plans decided, I was still up in the air. I had settled on a major, and was sitting on a full ride scholarship offer from Northern Kentucky University. But I wanted to be sure that whatever decision I made followed God’s plan for my life, though I was not particularly close to Him at the moment. Our winter retreat would change that for a while, enough, I believe, for me to seek God’s guidance for my immediate future. I can recall two vivid memories from the retreat: me carrying a giant rusty wheel up from a steep creek bed as part of a scavenger hunt, and having to wear rec specs the entire time due to having my glasses broken. I was also able to preach in church upon getting back.
The next month I attended a scholarship competition at Wilmington College. I was pretty sure by this point that I was going to attend Northern Kentucky (NKU), but I still enjoyed the experience. High school was not being neglected either: I went up to UD Arena and saw the referees screw over our basketball team against an urban Dayton team as we lost by three. I was enjoying my last busy months at Franklin High School, goofing off with friends and applying for dozens of scholarships.
On my second visit to NKU, I got everything squared away, paying fees, signing up for housing and orientation, and accepting my scholarship. I had no idea what I was in for. Back in Ohio, I was ready to graduate, knowing I would not miss high school, but would miss being around all the friends that I was growing closer to. Plus, it was easy sailing, for the most part.
Attending baseball and softball games became a semi-regular experience for me, as both teams were performing quite well. The softball team ended up undefeated and the baseball team were district champs (I think), and I followed them through the tournament. The end of the year events started getting tacked off. My struggle with my fellow student (we have a love-hate relationship) for valedictorian had finally ended with me victorious, and that involved a couple of TV filmings. Our National Honors Society Banquet came and went along with the preparation for and taking of two AP exams.
Then, it was all over. Many seniors’ exams were exempted, so I only came back to work on a speech with others for graduation. That day came, and I did not shed a tear. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t sad. I delivered my speech, which people said they “actually liked” although parts of it seemed over some heads, and then we said our goodbyes and left. “Goodbye” being a relative term because I attended about 25 graduation parties, including mine, which was nice.
High school was over, and my focus now had to switch to college. I had a general idea of what to expect, but I had no idea what all was in store…