Wes: This week we conclude Julia Davidson's year on Double Take. While all the co-authors to date, including next year's writer, have been seniors, Julia took the reins as a rising junior. To be honest, I had some apprehension about this experiment. Could a junior find her voice while still shy of the top of the pyramid? Had she been through enough hazing at this point in life to deal with some of the less seemly postings that follow anonymous access to the blogosphere? What about follow-through and responsibility?
I had nothing to worry about.
Julia has been a joy to work with. She's put her thoughts out there, made her deadlines, flexed as needed, brushed off meaningless critique and taken to heart that which is well-intentioned. In a column designed to address the struggles, fears, issues and shortcomings of teenagers and their parents, Julia has been a refreshing example of what's right with kids today.
And since all beginnings come from conclusions, Double Take will in two weeks welcome its fifth student author. In saying goodbye to Julia and hello to Kelly Kelin, I must confess that after four years it still amazes me what a terrific pool of talent we have available to us. Readers will not be disappointed.
Julia: I am in a weird place, writing my final column, literally and figuratively. For one, I am in Berlin at the moment, typing away while my friends and family are asleep. But I'm also in a weird place because of the exact time in my life during which I am writing a reflective piece. As Wes said, only seniors have written this column before - meaning only seniors have completed a final column bursting at the seams with senior-derived wisdom. They're in a prime spot for reflection - looking back on the nostalgia of their high school days and ahead to their newfound young adulthood.
I am not one of these omniscient seniors, or even a senior at all. For the next week I am a junior, and reflecting on junior year is like trying to find beauty in a very bad smell ... or putting your hand through a meat grinder. Pre-reflecting on senior year makes me shudder with anticipation and apprehension. I am baby steps away from legally becoming an adult, but already I am starting to be considered one. "Where are you going to college?" plays in my head like an irritating jingle as mail floods in from every university on earth and ACTs and SATs are weighing on my mind. Beyond the academic perspective, independence and responsibility are sitting on my shoulders like an angel and a devil. I know that all too soon decisions will be tougher and my friendships and relationships will be tested. I don't know if I am old enough to be in love, move away or live alone, and at times I feel too young to be flung into this high-speed adult world. Yet, it's either that or remain limited in my experiences. To top it all off, I don't know where to look for answers. I can look back and glean nuggets from past school experiences or look ahead and to wonder about an unknown final school year. I find myself sitting between the two perspectives, dizzy as all get out.
The truth is, like all rising seniors in transition I am scared from junior year and scared for senior year, and unrelenting in trying to make it look easy, which it is not. To those of you so keen to ask us college-based questions, please remember that the end of senior year isn't the only time for mixed and extreme emotions. In beginning our senior year, we are required to make more permanent decisions completely by ourselves, testing our maturity and sense of self. It is simultaneously scary, exciting, difficult and thrilling. Yes, a very weird place.
But often weird places produce the best results. Being in a weird place takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to adapt. You must learn what you believe - without other factors influencing your opinion - and you must question your surroundings. Weird places test and prove who you really are, and luckily as I move along in my personal journey, I am sharing my experience with many other people. Thank you all readers and writers for a varied and challenging year, and many thank-yous, Wes, for putting up with my late columns! Ciao ... or shall I say "auf Wiedersehen," everyone!
- Dr. Wes Crenshaw is a board-certified family psychologist and director of the Family Therapy Institute Midwest. Julia Davidson is a Bishop Seabury Academy junior. Opinions and advice given here are not meant as a substitute for psychological evaluation or therapy services. Send your questions about adolescent issues (limited to 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org. All correspondence is strictly confidential.