Change is the Only Constant: Reflecting on Graduating from High School, 10 Years Later

There were several crazy things that happened in 2010, but a few stand out in the early days of that year. 

On January 12, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, killing more than 316,000 people. The Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform exploded on April 20. On May 28, 94 people died during Friday prayers at two mosques in Pakistan.

A lot of negative things. It’s kind of amazing how we mark years by violent and deadly milestones. I mean, I just did it. 

But as I sit here writing this on May 31, 2020, it’s evident that very few things have changed. We’re in the midst of a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands around the world. Global stock markets crashed on March 12, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by the single-largest point drop in history, and the second-largest percentage drop ever — a greater crash than the single-day drop that kick-started the Great Depression.

And we’re reeling right now, on this day, from peaceful protests around the US that gave way — somehow, some way — to violence, brutality and death.

Not much has changed.

That made me think about what has changed in my life, and as I thought about it, I thought also about what hasn’t changed.

10 years ago, I was desperate to have a girlfriend, because it seemed cool. Now, I’ve got a wife and it’s the best thing ever.

10 years ago, I walked the stage with great friends. Now, I still think of them often, much more than many of those I knew in college.

10 years ago, I thought having kids was a thing that would be easy and simple. Now, it seems so much more complicated, expensive and anxiety-inducing.

10 years ago, being a Christian seemed like the right thing to do, so I did it. Now, I understand that it’s a beautiful, difficult, complicated and simple thing.

10 years ago, approaching government and political matters seemed easy: vote Republican. Now, I know it’s a lot more nuanced, and no political ideology or party has all the right answers.

10 years ago, taking a stance on so many moral issues – homosexuality, abortion, assisted suicide — was easy and straightforward. Now, I know it’s a much more painstaking process to come to conclusions that may change over time.

10 years ago, social media was how you told people who you were dating, what music you were listening to and what you were doing that night. Now, social media is where I learn how people feel on political issues and what else is on their mind.

10 years ago, I loved Chick-fil-a. Now, I love Chick-fil-a.

10 years ago, I listened to Christian rap all the time. Now, I listen to singer-songwriters from Australia, Canada, Sweden and Ireland.

10 years ago, I was a little on the chubby side and grew facial hair I was proud of. Now, I’m almost decidedly (still hard to admit) on the chubby side and grow facial hair that sometimes I like and sometimes annoys me.

I could go on and on, but the clear takeaway from this list is that some things never change (thanks Princess Anna for getting that song in my head now) and some things are radically different.

But one thing that’s very different from this time in 2010 and this time in 2020 is that everything is different. Seniors graduating from high school now are walking into a world marred by a global pandemic, a country agitated by more and more deaths of unarmed black men and women at the hands of police and, the places I’ve been, people going out of their way to celebrate their graduation with signs, banners and social media posts. There’s good, and there’s bad.

I don’t think I know any graduating seniors — tells you how crazy the last couple months have been, I’ve likely forgotten some people exist. Sorry. But I want to share this message with them:

Some things that are in your life now will never change. And some will change radically. 

I used to believe so many things about Christianity that I’ve now abandoned. I’ve had friends that I thought would last forever with whom I no longer speak, or am even curious what’s going on in their lives. There were passions and hobbies I wouldn’t spend a dime on now, and there are hobbies now that weren’t even in existence when I graduated. 

History will happen. Important people will be born and important people will die. Technology will advance but still provide some of the same services it always have. You will lose things, find things, love things, hate things, trash things, cherish things, invest in things, abandon things. Things that once had deep meaning will lose their luster, and things you never thought you’d like will become precious.

Some last pieces of advice:

Enjoy life. Life is hard. Life sucks sometimes. Find joy. Hold on to joy. Don’t assume that because something doesn’t bring you as much joy as you thought it would that it has outlived its usefulness. Don’t assume because something makes you feel good that it is good for you. If you feel bad, tell someone you trust. 

I hope I’ve helped you understand that some things change, and some things don’t. Prepare as best you can for that change. Because of all the things I’ve said in this post, change is the only constant.

Other than Chick-fil-a, because Chick-fil-a is always awesome.

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