Over fall break, I visited my sister who lives in Dallas, TX. She graduated in three years from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida in May, and now she works at a big church in Dallas. The trip was enjoyable, but the whole time I couldn’t help but ponder a dichotomy that has become a perplexing mantra this year: I am a student and I am an adult.
Emily, my sister, would be a first semester senior right now if she were on a normal four year track and wasn’t so freaking smart. Instead, however, she lives in an apartment with a roommate on her own. That’s the thing. We are old enough to do that. To have our own bank accounts and houses and husbands and wives and cars and stuff. We are in that stage of life.
My sister (18 months my elder) is an adult, living on her own in a city without family, making new friends. My roommate (5 months my younger) is engaged and will be living off campus next year in his own house and probably have a baller, well decorated living room and cute dog. We are moving on to the adult stage of our lives.
So the frustration for me this year has been the role of student. Before I continue; however, I would like to note that I love all the faculty and staff and rules, and I understand authority and institutions. I by no means bear ill feelings towards any of the above. I am merely trying to navigate my roles and begin conversation through this article.
With that said, I don’t feel like an adult. More often than not, I feel as if my calling as a student dominates my identity in the eyes of my elders and peers alike. I can’t help but feel somewhat stagnant in this. I understand my calling and I thoroughly enjoy my position as a student. However, I realize that very soon I am going to leave Covenant and trade my student identity for one of complete adulthood. And, I do not feel ready. I do not feel as though I have been prepared to act as an adult in the world.
I know I wear weird shirts and dance around like a psycho to “Electric Pow Wow” and want to paint my hall with bricks. But, I am also old enough to vote for the president. I am old enough to have sex and carry a concealed weapon and smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol (starting May 28, 2017). If I am old enough to do these things on my own, then I am certainly old enough to live for the kingdom of God.
I don’t know everything. I need authority. I need the Church. I need rules and laws and statutes. These are good things. But how do those things look different for me as a twenty-year-old versus a sixteen-year-old or a thirty-year-old? I honestly don’t know the answer, but I know that they apply to me differently now than they did when I was in high school. I can tell because more is expected of me. I have more responsibility because, thank God, I know a lot more than I did when I was sixteen. We live in an age that heralds a zeitgeist of individualism and personal rights, and I hope that this isn’t dismissed as a member of that faction.
It is important to recognize the issue as a collective one, rather than a problem for a bunch of individual angsty teens rebelling against authority. Rather than complain and wait for a response, I would like to see the faculty and student body both collectively raise the standards for students, recognizing them as adults.
Yes, I feel informed. Yes, I feel like I can talk about important issues of the day. But I feel that many decisions that I make as a student are not necessarily my own—or they are not necessarily decisions at all. Often times, I do not feel as if I am trusted to follow rules on my own but need some sort of outside force to police my adherence to the statutes here. Other times, I feel as though values are forced upon me—as if I do not know what is profitable for myself in circumstances of deciding how I should spend an evening or if I should attend an event for a friend or a meeting at school.
Covenant does a wonderful job at beginning dialogues and challenging ways of thinking. From even before first semester freshman year, we are reading and listening to lectures about every aspect of the Christian life. We are challenged to consider being polychronic vs. monochronic, we are challenged to seek to understand our calling and our Calling, and we are challenged to consider language and music and the kingdom of God. I would love to see this translate into an independence for students to apply these considerations to our lives faithfully, as we seek to grow in maturity and stature with both God and man.