Bridging and Changing

By John Newhall



The cliff from youth to young adulthood is steep. You speed towards the edge only to come to a screeching halt at the last moment. Looking down from the height at which your whole life has existed, you wonder why bother going down at all? You weigh the pros and cons: building a new community, leaving behind the old. Eventually, you reach the conclusion that you cannot remain a youth. Your peers lower a rope and you begin to descend the immense cliff. Your youth peers hold to the top of the ladder, supporting you through the beginning of your journey while your new community holds to the bottom. The ladder of bridging connects you with your new community, easing the leap from the cliff of youth-hood to the base of adulthood.

What does it mean to bridge? Bridging celebrates the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of the youth, a time when they won’t use corny clichés in their writing. Specifically as Unitarian Universalists (UU), it opens up new opportunities for connections in new congregations and campus ministry, and leadership positions on a national and regional scale.

What’s not to love about becoming a young adult? As I move on to college, anxiety over the unknown rises within me.

I ask: How will I find a community to grow into?  Don’t worry. You will. They say. What if I get there and hate it? Don’t worry. You won’t. What if I can’t connect with the young adult UU community? Don’t worry. You will.

The answers given never seem to satisfy what’s asked. Some questions are met with vague responses from long graduated adults, while others go unanswered. Even though I know I will find a community, insecurity wavers just below the surface. What happens after college? How do I decide what to do for a living? I would love to be a minister, filmmaker, philosopher, psychologist, animator, and voice actor (does anyone else think this is a weird combination?). Unfortunately, there is no job encompassing all… yet.

Through all the high anxiety of preparing for college hope for my future overcomes the anxiety. I hope to find a strong UU community to connect with because I have learned more about myself through community than I ever could have alone. I look forward to fostering my UU values throughout my young adulthood, maintaining my connection to such an important part of my identity.

Young adulthood is about growth (there I go with the clichés again), but not just academic and social growth. It is about spiritual and moral, personal and communal growth. Just as college (and life around it) is about educating the whole person to become the best they can be, young adulthood is about fully coming into oneself, and understanding your own identity.

One of the most important aspects of my identity is Unitarian Universalism. Through all the difficulties of my youth I could always rely on my UU communities to support me. I took advantage of the opportunities Unitarian Universalism provided for me, each one bringing me closer to understanding myself more fully. While I cannot say how I, in turn, will impact our faith, I can say with certainty that without Unitarian Universalism, I would not be whole.

My current path leads into a form of ministry, but as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “There is nothing permanent except change.”