By Sarah Fuller
Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2013
When I was in elementary school, we’d occasionally have college students return to the school to visit or volunteer. I would sit “criss-cross-applesauce” with the rest of my class, staring up from the alphabet mat at these giants, these sages, these geniuses who shared their wisdom as we sat on the floor knowing nothing yet about life or about being “grown up.”
Fourteen years later, I’m a college student who visits a pre-school for three hours each week as my field placement for my major in Early Childhood Education. I ask another generation of three- and four-year olds to sit criss-cross applesauce on the alphabet mat and they listen and they stare with wide eyes and curious minds. As we play memory games, report the day’s weather, and blow food dye across paper to make colorful masterpieces, their faces show how intrigued they are by my age and my “wisdom.”
If only they knew.
I’m almost 19 years old. I’m close to finishing my first year of college, and I don’t have all the answers. In fact, relatively speaking, I know nothing.
Two years ago, I had a five year plan and a ten year plan and everything fit perfectly. I was finishing up the final stages of choosing a college, I knew what my major would be, I knew where I wanted to be working when I graduated, and I even thought I knew whom I would marry. I was wrong, and that in itself is beautiful.
What I thought were the answers were just stepping stones to get me to where I am today. As of this moment, I’m enjoying my time in college doing what I love most: learning. In my free time, I’m working, dancing, spending time with the people who have become my truest friends, and I’m searching for answers. I love my major but I’m not sure where I will be working when I earn my degree. What about graduate school? What about a career? Where will I be living? What will my life look like? In the midst of this seemingly perpetual “unknown,” I am learning more about life and about myself than I ever thought college would teach me. I’m becoming more confident in who I am, while also enjoying the questions that have yet to be answered.
My point in sharing this with you is this: Don’t rely on the answers before it’s truly time to ask the questions. Don’t lose sleep at night because you don’t know what your calendar will look like in the year 2020. Don’t worry about the gaps in your vision for the future. Please, if anything, look at each blank page as an empty canvas on which an amazing picture is waiting to be painted.
Two years ago, I thought I had discovered all the answers I would need. Now, each time those pre-school students stare in amazement at the college student who is sharing her wisdom with them, I am reminded that there are so many gaps that are still waiting to be filled! The answers that will line those empty pages are more beautiful than any answer I quickly sketched two years ago to “fill in the blanks.” Two years later, I can say (with a deep appreciation for all things unknown) that not having all the answers is what makes life complex, but in that complexity is where life becomes beautiful. So while you’re searching, don’t forget to relax once in a while and let life fill in the blanks.
All my best,
A still-searching young woman
Sarah Fuller is a college freshman at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania majoring in Early Childhood Education & Special Education. Originally from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, Sarah was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2013. Learn more about Sarah here!