I think I know exactly the feeling you’re describing though I am not familiar with TEC.
I attended the Steubenville conferences during high school three times. Once after freshman, sophomore, and junior year. My youth group went for the first time after freshman year. Sweet! It was great! After sophomore year? Still a good time! After junior year at age 16? Eh, not so much, even then at age 16 I was beginning to “age out”. The conference itself was not the main issue…just the youth group I belonged to had an influx of freshmen that year so it was a few juniors and seniors with about 35 freshmen and sophomores. Exactly how you described. To generalize, the upperclassmen were there on a more mature level while the underclassmen were there at a different point of their lives. My junior year of high school I took on a leadership role in the youth group so I definitely felt when I attended the weekend conference more of a chaperone/leader than just an attendee. You can attend the conference as a recent high school graduate (where I believe you are now in life), but I passed. I passed on going for a few reasons. I had “grown out of it”, I didn’t want to be at this point between a chaperone and an attendee, and I also just needed to save money for college.
All in all - I don’t feel like I missed out on anything by not going. It was a marvelous transition out of the high school scene, actually. My former high school youth group “graduates” seniors midsummer, so after the conference, and it was a good transition for the group to not have myself or any other seniors with them on the trip because we simply wouldn’t be around a week longer. Not sure if that makes sense…it’s late at night haha…
Anyway, I’m currently in college so I’m just a few years older than you. I think it appears that you have already decided that going to the conference wouldn’t be worthwhile so maybe just follow where your heart is taking you? Pray about it, too!
Also, where are you headed for college? Maybe read into a possible Newman center there? I know a big public university in my state does a summer retreat for incoming freshmen (also holds them the exact same freshmen-orientated various points throughout the year, too…just one in the summer to help get kids involved before school even begins). Also, check out local young adult opportunities! Once you cross into legal adulthood (which you probably are or at least very close to?) and in college, (in my perspective at least) you are sort of cleared to go to any young adult or even some adult-oriented group! Remember: You’re not in high school anymore!
I went to Theology on Tap at age 19! I thought it would be a bit strange because I was under 21 and thought that Theology on Tap meant mostly geared towards those over 21 (hence the Tap part…) but turns out about a good number of those attending (at my ToT, at least) were from my college (we drove as a group) and aged 18-22. Ok, so where I’m getting at this is that you are a young adult and can seek out those opportunities!
I hope this all makes sense. I emphasize with you…it definitely is an awkward transition. Especially that 18-19 age during freshman and sophomore year of college when you’re not in high school but too young to really feel at home in what a lot of parishes call the “twenties groups” Sorry this got a little lengthy…just got off work and am a bit fuzzy brained. I will be praying for you though!