Opinions, Column

Seasons of Change

It is now starting to really hit me that I am a graduating senior with only one month left in my college career. The end-of-year festivities have begun—and some have even passed me by. As you might expect, planning for events like the Commencement Ball, Dance Through the Decades, and graduation itself is putting me in quite the reflective mood. 

Although there are some definite waves of sadness that go along with leaving college, I do find some peace in the fact that I am starting a new chapter, progressing along in the stages of my life.

Change is good. Change is natural. And yes, change is incredibly scary—but I think it is supposed to be at times. 

If you’re familiar with my columns over the past few years, then you will know it is about time I make a nature reference. 

So, imagine being a sapling, perhaps a young oak tree, in your first year of life. In the summer, your leaves are green and luscious. Temperatures are warm, rains are abundant, and you feel vibrant. In short, life is good. But then all of the sudden it’s October. The sky is gray and the air is cold. Your leaves are dying, and some are falling off. Think of how frightening that must be (assuming you have consciousness in this tree body of yours). 

But this is what must happen. This is what allows the sapling to survive the harsh winter and facilitates its future growth. And the leaves do come back. Granted, they’re not the same leaves that were lost before, but they are new leaves. 

Now stick with me here (tree joke—hah). If you were to ask an old tree if it were scared during this time of intense change—as summer turns to fall and its appearance changes drastically—I think the tree would say no, that it is not scared. Instead, it is prepared for what’s to come.

And perhaps my conception of trees paints them as wiser than they really are, but let’s face it—they’ve been on this planet a lot longer than we have. They’ve certainly earned their wisdom, having survived 420 million years worth of change on this earth. 

So yes, I think an old tree would not be worried about the dramatic seasonal changes it goes through. The old tree would know that although winter seems to drag on, spring will inevitably be on the other side.

That is not to say the old tree does not mourn the falling of its leaves every year. But, the old tree acknowledges that the changes fall and winter bring are necessary to start a new chapter of life. 

And so this is my message for my final column with The Heights. 

Graduation is beautiful in the way it signals another season in my life. I’m going to live in places completely unfamiliar to me and do work unlike anything I have ever done.

I will have my winters in times of difficulty, and I will just as surely have my summers in times of joy. 

Still, even with all of the new opportunities graduation brings, there are reasons to be sad. Just as the old tree annually grieves its leaves falling, I too can grieve leaving the place I’ve called home for the last four years. 

But without this change, I wouldn’t be able to start my life’s next adventure. I would never get my new leaves. 

So, now I leave you with this. Allow your leaves to grow but also allow them to die. There are times when change is the best thing for you, whether you think it is or not. Change is life—just look at the trees. 

April 30, 2023