I spent some time this evening chatting with a 17 year old high school senior, or rather, being questioned curiously by her. She's applying to colleges, wants to go to a small private school, wants to study psychology or maybe education, but isn't sure if she wants to stay in state or go back to the east coast where she lived the first 16 years of her life.
She asked me all sorts of things about TCU, A&M, psychology, professors, Fort Worth, my decision of where to go to college. The most interesting was her asking if college was harder than high school, and me explaining how college and high school are different. Then she wanted to know how grad school was different from college, and is it hard. She was an engaging young woman, and I enjoyed our conversation. It really doesn't feel like it was that long ago when I was in her shoes, making the same decision of where to spend four (but wound up being 3 1/2) years of my life.
After the conversation wrapped up, I was struck by how in spite of her eloquence and intelligence, how young she seemed. How inexperienced, how unexposed, how naive. Talking about college with her almost seemed ridiculous - how can a seventeen year old make a decision like that? How does a seventeen year old know whether she wants to stay in state or move away, when she doesn't even know much about the field of psychology which she claims she wants to study, when she didn't even know that the fields of school psychology or organizational psychology existed? And then it hit me - this was exactly where I was six years ago when I was trying to make that decision. How the hell did I make a decision like that at that age? I didn't even know what organizational psychology was at the age of 17 either!
In six years when I'm 29, a licensed psychologist (cross my fingers), will I look back at the current me and wonder, "How the hell did a 23 year old make those decisions? How did she know what she was doing?" My mom always has lots to say about people in their mid-twenties, how we don't mean to be, but we're very stuck on ourselves. I really don't know whether to believe it or not, and won't know for a few more years. Sometimes I feel so young, but most of the time, I feel like I'm just where I need to be. But that scares me, because I don't remember feeling young when I was 17.