I used to think change was evil.

“It hurts too much to move on,” my pre-teen self would have said. “I want to stay friends with the same people forever, to live in my little world till I die, and grow closer to God in this bubble.”

But, ironically, I changed my mind.

And the funny thing? I changed because it was good to do so. Not good as in convenient, or good as in completely necessary, but good as in enriching, thrilling, vibrant, and truly, deeply, good.

I discovered that “pre-teen me” was not the “me” I would turn out to be forever. I stopped crying about faded friendships, broken church ties, houses left behind, and I picked myself up and moved on.

It’s not like it’s been easy since then. I’ve loved hard and deeply many times, and lost those loves, and found myself crying yet again. But the thing I’m learning about “college me” is that I can adapt and grow, and emerge stronger through each new experience.

When I was little my life was always about being with my best friend Anna, making stick forts in the woods in her grandpa’s field, chasing (or running from) her many brothers, learning to play baseball, having her over for sleepovers, and discovering the joys of American Girl dolls, Jane Austen, and home school sports— together.

But Anna and I grew up. She got married. I went to college. She didn’t. We drifted apart.

College didn’t contain a shred of Anna. There was homework and financial stress and learning, yes, but it was a world without the familiarity of the past.

For years I mourned in my heart, not just for the loss of her friendship, but for what it represented: the passing of a childhood era. Every time I found a new, close friend (always one person at a time), I thought of that person as a possible “new Anna.” But it was never the same.

Then, as time went on, I began to see myself differently. I began to understand that life is less of a straight and linear path than it is a long and winding road. And I began to understand that I have a gift many others have, but the difference between me and them is they don’t want to reach out and take hold of the gift, perhaps because of fear, or because of a myriad of other reasons.

The gift is the ability to change, and to become more than I thought I could ever become, simply by letting life take me on its ride, and not complaining when it takes me somewhere I wasn’t prepared to go.

I have begun to see the twists and turns in my path not as enemies, but as opportunities. Sometimes I need to rest as I walk along, but then I look ahead and see the clouds rolling together on the horizon and the sun about to peek through, and it’s as if a symphony begins to sound off in my spirit.

It starts softly with the strings and the quiet harmonies, but then the percussion bursts in and crashes apart the calm. As the dissonance rises, I realize I wouldn’t want to be listening to any other song. It’s like rain slipping down the car window as I drive along, not really sure where I’m going, but enjoying the view as I drive.

It is the song of my life, and it’s a song I have embraced. Bring on the change, says “adulthood me.”

I finally feel equipped.
In the last couple of years, I have been called Miss Journalist, Miss Independent and Miss Sassy Young Intern-- all of those names, and more I could mention, but I won't.

And yet this last weekend, I was reminded that even independent, almost-college-grads like myself sometimes need parental guidance.

It was about a boy, as most good stories are.

I "met" him during J-term. I qualify the word "met," because we didn't actually meet face to face at first. He e-mailed me in my Herald editor capacity to let me know about his political blog.

Initially I just passed it off as another press release, but for some reason decided to e-mail him back anyway, to thank him for the heads up and let him know I'd pass on the info about his site to my fellow editors.

When I did that, something sparked between us, even through e-mail, and we just kept e-mailing back and forth. We found out we had two mutual friends, and a lot more than that in common. And, after almost two weeks of e-mailing, he asked me out.

We went out. Three times. It was wonderful in every sense. We had this great connection. Total chemistry. We are intellectual equals, passionate about many of the same causes, believers of the same truth, and most especially bound by our common faith.

But we moved too fast, and after prayerfully considering it, he asked me if we could take a step back, to just being friends.

And somehow, I'm OK with that.

A huge blessing that has come out of this is the fact that when he asked if we could hold off on our fourth date last Friday, I decided to go home and spend some time with my parents and get their perspective on things. I hadn't seen them since Christmas anyway, so it was great timing.

For the first time (or maybe it just feels that way because it's been so long), BOTH of my parents sat down with me and had a normal conversation about something important in my life. They gave me advice. I asked questions. They listened. It was so cute... there we were, sitting on their bed, with me all cozy in the middle and a parent on either side, just talking about male/female dynamics in relationships.

The last time I sat between them like that was probably way back when I had nightmares as a kid and would come running into their room to jump into bed with them.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am so thankful for my parents.

A month ago I was completely content to be single-- LOVING it, in fact. Then this guy came along and shook things up in my life. I don't know if or when it will ever go beyond friendship with him, but I just want to say thanks. To God, mostly, for sending this guy. Even if nothing happens, he was instrumental in bringing me closer to my parents than I was before.

And that, my friends, is something we could all use a little bit more of in this life.

My parents, John and Beth Watson, at Craig's Cruisers during Thanksgiving break 2007.