In my final weeks as a Georgia Southern college student, I’m going to look back at how each year has created and defined my life, leading me to where I am today. This is part three of the four-part installment.

There is this uncomfortable feeling that sets in as you leave sophomore year to become a junior. It is not something one can identify with a moment or experience.

Instead, a general sense of foreboding creeps in as you begin to wonder what will happen next in life. You have made your college friends, while leaving behind the high school relationships that did not matter. There is enough distance between you and the past to enjoy the present, but something around the corner becomes a constant bother.

I was not sure who I was entering my junior year. While I had forged my identity with friends, there were parts of my life that were not satisfying at all. For too long, I had served my own self interests before thinking about the way they impacted other people.

When that emptiness set in, it made me wonder why I came to college in the first place. Was it because I saw it as the next step in my life journey? Because my family expected me to attend? Perhaps it was neither. I started asking myself, what passions make me get up in the morning, excited to start the day?

For me, it was creating film.

Director James Kicklighter with Actor Edith Ivey, creating on the set of The Car Wash

After producing a big project upon graduating from high school, I had just finished directing my first feature documentary. It was winning some national awards and getting into film festivals.

The thing about film work, though, is a demand for consistent quality and frequent output. I knew that if I wanted to get where I wanted to go, it would require extra work and longer hours. Just because one project was successful did not guarantee that people would pay attention to a 20-year-old.

Soon, the activities that exclusively involved my friends would be adjusted to advancing my professional career, slowly breaking away from the social life I had come to enjoy. There were skills to learn and opportunities to build.

Director James Kicklighter Delta Tau Delta Epsilon Omega Georgia Southern

To better prepare my professional presentation, I became a Southern Ambassador, learning to sell a message to strangers. To better manage a group, I was elected to Delta Tau Delta’s Executive Board, working with our national office to keep the local chapter running. To become a better steward, I joined Student Government Association as the Publicity Coordinator, getting involved in my campus community.

While these things never replaced relationships, a burning passion for my future had grown over the course of the year. As it came to a close, I began to realize everything I came to enjoy about being a college student would soon fall away, as the “real world” started creeping its way into my life. There were bills to pay, tasks to manage, and events to juggle.

I realized that uncomfortable feeling was transition, moving from youth to adult responsibility.