“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Is there ever a person who sits in his chair and says life was easy and always went his way? Or that he was able to set out a plan and stick to it, 100 percent, and was successful in everything he did? If there is someone out there who fits this description, either he’s God or a liar.

Over these past few months, I’ve learned that life is all about change; change that makes you mature, grow and better appreciate what you have. And while I still have “my whole life ahead of me,” at least I can sit back and know that I am not alone in my endeavors.

Since my first semester of college kicked off in September, I’ve come to realize that the world is a lot different than what I perceived it to be – the people, the school, the environment, the workload, my aspirations, my expectations, the culture – everything is different.

Our world is constantly changing, evolving; yet here I sit thinking: How am I going to deal with this stress? How am I going to not burn myself out? I want to succeed, but how do I adapt to a world that is so unlike the one that I thought it to be?

Most of these questions can’t be answered by any other person but me. Frankly, I would assume that people are always asking these types of questions, because we are always searching out assurances that what we are doing is right. How many times have we second-guessed ourselves, hoping we weren’t missing out on an opportunity? Or how many of us have made a rash decision that we’ve looked back on and regretted?

I’ll be brutally honest and state that I was upset that I wasn’t able to go to the college of my choice. Aiming for little to no student loans, I sadly had to push that dream boat out to sea and stay local for a more “money smart” solution. Was I upset? Absolutely. Yet I had to look at what I did have in order to get past my self-pity.

So here’s what I came up with. Focusing on family and friends helped me know that I am grounded in a core support group. I know that if I ever need anything – from fixing a flat tire, to a heart-to-heart conversation – they will be there for me. I know that spiritually, I am supported and cared for because I can continue going to such an inspiring and uplifting church environment.

And while I may not enjoy my school atmosphere, I need to know that debt is no joke. I have to imagine that being debt-free is unfamiliar to most college students and know that this decision will be beneficial to me in the long run.

My father recently told me that my dream school might still be a possibility, but that he didn’t want me to miss out on the blessings that are right in front of me. “Don’t look at what you want, but what is given to you. If you don’t, you will always be let down.”

And what encouraging words those are; something that I will treasure forever. To know that this may be a season, to know that there is more waiting for me, gives me hope that I can press on.

Josh Ward, a college student from Akron, isn’t attending his dream school, but that’s OK.