Let me set the scene for those of you who may be reading this:
The day is Friday, around three or four in the afternoon. Spring is right around the corner so for high schoolers, specifically seniors, midterms are beginning to rear their frightful head. And beyond the horizon is the future glaring patiently as it awaits the arrival of those seniors. I sit in the back booth of a dimly lit coffee shop. I despise people sitting behind me, it’s just something that irks me which is why I tend to sit in the back of all of my classes. I wait for someone. It seems as if I have been there for a little bit because my mocha is starting to become lukewarm. Just how I like it.
In a flurry, I see someone enter the coffee shop with sporadic energy of youth and hopefulness. He carries himself with a sort of whimsy and unorthodoxy that many would probably peg as awkwardness. The guy carries a backpack that seems too large and probably has way too many books inside. In his arms are an assortment of objects, school related, that include his laptop, binder, notebooks, and textbooks. He orders a frappuccino as he quickly eyes the place and its surrounding. We make eye contact as he sees me sitting in the corner. He smiles big and gives me a polite nod. He grabs his drink and heads my way.
As he sits down, he has trouble putting away his belongings and finding room for it all. He assures me over and over again how sorry he is for being late, and that is was because he had important matters revolving around grades and classes back at his high school to attend to. I forgave him, of course, as I understood his struggle of perseverance. His face carried a weight of stress, anxiety, joy, and fatigue. A peculiar mixture, yet one I resonated with deeply. He was the one who reached out to me for this meeting. He needed advise and assumed I would be able to have answers for him. Of course I obliged, I mean, I was in fact sitting across the booth from a younger me.
We went over the formalities to begin, you know, how life is going and so on. My younger self looked distraught. I could interpret, and even remember the feeling, that he was putting too many things on his plate and overthinking every little thing. My high school Senior self reminded me of the unique opportunities he had been given, but how he feels time went by far too quickly. He becomes quite nostalgic, remembering all the good times he had with his friends as he longfully wishes he can continue living in those moments for the rest of time. I take what he has to say one piece at a time as I become overwhelmed with emotion. We both agree that those four years went by far too quickly, as he soon begins to shift the conversation into the direction of asking me what he should do.
The most important piece of advice I gave my younger self was to enjoy the moment. So often in high school I was worried about getting ahead and beginning my future that I forgot to live in the present, therefore, missing out on a lot of opportunities to grow and experience new things. He understands, but he fights me on the topic. He thinks that without his dedication to school and classes, and spending so much time on getting good grades that he wouldn’t have the opportunities he has been presented. While this may be partially true, I thought of something that hasn’t truly set in until recently. And that is to let the Lord provide through sheer obedience and effort. I reminded my younger self not to be absorbed by controlling and morphing his own destiny. My high school self was obsessed with the idea that he had to do everything himself. As I looked at him, I could see his unsureness. Little does he know that in college, while I still carry the tenacity and effort that my younger self has, perhaps with a little less energy and hopefully less awkwardness, that I have come to trust and rely on God in knowing what is best for me. I told my younger self these things. He was calm, reflective, and took in all that I had to offer. We continued sipping on our drinks.
He was ready to leave but I wanted to pass a bit more knowledge before we parted ways. He asked what life would be like in the future for himself. I couldn’t give away that information. That was a journey he needed to partake in for himself. If the future was known, then there would be no need to work or seek out achievement, heck, or even to set goals. Furthermore, I told him not to worry because I myself still don’t have all the answers. If anything, I just have more questions. I begged him to care about things. The things in this world that matter. However, I reminded him to not let those things take precedence over his relationship with God. I got carried away with that recently. Lastly, I told him to stay faithful, keep his work ethic, and to remember how good our God is even through the ups and downs. We stood up as he gathered his belongings. We looked each other in the eyes. I felt a tinge of jealousy as I wish I could go back to that time again. To be younger once more. Alas, that reality was not meant for me as I have a life to live in the present. I could only hope that what I told him had a lasting effect. He threw away his drink, struggling to carry all of his belongings as he waved good-bye and thanked me for taking the time to meet with him. At least that part of ourselves stayed the same. I sat back down in my corner booth and stared out the window. I watched my younger self head back to the life he needed to live with that hopefulness that could only come from the Lord above.
- Max Klaiber