As the only student-coach in the entire International Public Debate Association, I often find myself in a perplexing position.
On the one hand, as a coach, I am expected to be responsible, to make decisions for the benefit of the group, and to train students how to speak persuasively.
On the other hand, as a student, I’m often treated as a peer by students, and an inferior by my fellow coaches.
For the most part, things work out splendidly. There are, however, plenty of times that walking in both worlds leaves one incredibly exhausted. The expectations of being both a friend and authority figure are often mutually exclusive.
In many ways, my experience is the same as many students finishing out their final year here at Sam Houston. As we transition from the irresponsibility of youth to the sensibility of adulthood, we are often expected to simultaneously maintain two very different roles.
People naturally expect that college students are going to show up late, shirk their responsibilities, and ultimately not be mature enough to handle things.
Conversely, as adults about to enter the workforce, it is also expected that we will be able to stand on our own two feet as we make our way in the world.
The entire transitional experience can be quite isolating. Your younger friends and older colleagues expect you to be just like they are and generally resent you from being part of the other group.
Younger friends don’t understand why you can’t let loose like they do and your older friends don’t respect you as one of their own.
Basically, the younger people don’t like you because you’re old, and the older people don’t like you because you’re young.
This transitional period, like any other, has much to teach us about life. Just like when we graduated from high school so many years ago, we now begin to prepare for bigger and better things.
We were a big fish in our small ponds back then, and as we entered college, we realized both how big the world was and how small we are by comparison. We are once again going to go from knowing everything to realizing how little we actually know.
In many ways, we are about to be freshman for the third time in our lives. First, we left middle school to become freshman in high school. Then we graduated high school and became freshman all over again in college. Now, as we prepare to graduate once more, we are on the verge of becoming freshman in life.
As we outgrow the college pond and make our way into the ocean that is the real world, we should remember how big Sam Houston felt when we first got here compared to how small it feels now.
While the experience might be a scary one and you may feel isolated during this transition, soon enough we’ll realize Walt Disney was right and that the world is a lot smaller than we thoughtafter all.