No one properly prepared me for what it feels like to graduate college, but it was not for a lack of effort. People tried, oh, they tried, to warn me about the impending storm that was about to sweep me off my feet. But I pride myself on being strong, stable, grounded, rational, and so I thought that I would bypass the emotional explosions that plagued others.
And then I found myself weeping on the steps of my college house as graduation day approached. Everything felt hard, and sad, and unkind, and as though it was ending too soon. As I packed up my life in Madison to move it to Colorado, I did it angrily and bitterly and full of frustration. The hope and excitement that characterized my attitude months earlier had evaporated, and I was left with nothing but the heaviness of walking away from a place that I deeply love.
I drove a thousand miles across the country, with all my things in my car and my sister sitting shotgun and Amy Poehler’s audio book on the stereo. The pavement of Illinois, the cornfields of Iowa, the cattle of Nebraska- I felt as though each object spitefully wedged itself between me and Madison as I drove further and further away.
We cruised up the winding mountain roads to the summer camp that, no matter what, always feels a little bit like home. Even though it was the end of May, it was bitterly cold outside when we arrived, and there were inches of snow on the ground. I would have given anything to go back to where I came from, with my toes skimming the lake and the humid air made tolerable with a cold Spotted Cow. I swapped my Birkenstocks for boots, and finished unpacking as I attempted to rid these thoughts from my mind.
Even though I was surrounded by people who know and love me, I felt alone and isolated. I was overwhelmed and began to believe lies that I wasn’t fun, clever, outgoing, or pretty enough to be a full part of camp.
But here’s the thing. Life pulls you into your position whether you believe you’re the right person for the job or not. So the days crept by and I did my job. And honestly, I had a blast. I laughed really hard. I chatted with new staff members. I joked with campers and mopped the lodge and served dinner.
And somewhere along the way, I realized that life can’t always be about being exactly where we want to be. That kind of life, a life in pursuit of the most immediate gratification, leads to short-term selfishness and long-term dissatisfaction. Rather, I want my life to be about honestly pursuing things that are important to me no matter how winding, mundane, or difficult that road is.
So, truthfully, the shortsighted version of myself wants to be moving in to a new apartment in Madison. I want to be going to church at the place where I learned to walk closely with Jesus. I want to be working my job at the coffee shop I care about and spending free time sitting on the lawn of the Capital, eating fresh scones and crisp apples with the people who know me better than I know myself.
But the braver, more thoughtful version of myself knows that it is this season, this collection of right nows, that I am called to say yes to. And when I look closely, a little more carefully, I can see the beauty of this season pouring out of every inch of this. This time is unlike any that I’ve experienced. In this immediately post-grad season, I devour novels and listen (almost exclusively) to Brandi Carlisle. I wake up very, very early without trying to. I have people who open up their homes to me without hesitation and I have a team of people I get to work alongside who love to serve, but also love to play.
I think it takes bravery to fully engage. When I look at this season of my life, this transitional in-between period, it feels easier to check out, to sit back, and to wait for what's next. But every season is a waiting season for what's next, and if I spend forever looking to what's next rather than completely living in today, I'll miss it all.
So today, I want to be the braver version of myself. I want to say a wholehearted yes to this season, rather that halfheartedly wishing for something else. I want to trust that I’m becoming more of the person I’m God intends for me to be by walking in this right now.