Unknowingly, I have operated under the assumption that if my life after graduation was different it automatically meant that it was bad. File that under incredibly dumb things that I believed as a twenty-something.
I had a really hard time trusting that I was where I was supposed to be. Everything changed. I felt alone, I was scared, and I could not stop comparing myself. It felt like everyone else was so satisfied, progressing so smoothly. I felt fragmented, like I had lost my sense of belonging.
But I was in a chapter that I could not leave and could not skip. I prayed for gratitude. I prayed for patience. I even prayed for change. One of the major issues I was running into was that things had changed, and I assumed that was a loss.
My parents had told me a hundred times while I was in school that college was “not real life”. I had completely rejected that statement like any kid who knows way more than their parents would. How could it not be real life if I was living it?
When January came so did the culture shock of living in Cleveland without Lee. I didn’t realize how celebrated I had felt as a Lee student. To me, Lee students were heroes. I stepped off my pedestal and into reality. (Cue existential crisis #1)
After losing my identity, I lost another portion of college life. Conveniently having a thousand friends. I didn’t realize how easy it was to have so many friends in college. Sure, you are busy in school, but more often than not, you are doing whatever you have to do with your best friend by your side. Now I had a schedule unlike any of the people that I had previously spent all day, everyday with. Community looked completely different when the vast majority of my time was spent alone. (Cue existential crisis #2)
And then there was school. Minus the four years I spent developing basic human functions like walking and talking, I had been a student. To end that chapter – essentially the only thing I had ever known – was confusing. Measuring success in school was as easy as a GPA. The course of correction was simple enough. As a life-long perfectionist I was very comfortable with this system. I knew when I was smart, hard-working, and capable of success. And then, poof. No more grades. What was the new measure of success? Was it food on the table? Money? Hours spent in prayer? Books I had read? (Cue existential crisis #3)
After about four months of everything from “I’m okay” to “oh wait am I literally dying” moments I started to think about what my parents had said. I knew that my college experience was indeed real life, but it was nothing like what I could expect the rest of my life to look like. The majority of the world does not live the way college students do (thank God).
People don’t fit neatly into categories.
Friendships and love require lots of hard work and rarely come naturally.
Success is different to every person, you will never look successful to every person you encounter.
The “real world” is different. It is a change. It feels nothing like all of the life experience you have ever had. This unknown is hard to get used to and at first feels a lot like failure and loss and all of the bad things you fear. But this change is just that, different.
Transitions will come through out your entire life. Navigating the newness of marriage and parenthood and retirement and every other chapter can easily catch us off guard when different = bad. Learning who you are in each chapter comes back to knowing who you are in Christ. The changing chapters will never out weigh the importance of following God. We can’t predict our stories, but we can know that the Author has our best ending already written.
We can never know the bigger picture in this life, yet somehow, we have to know it is so much more important than this moment. Faith is what gives us the power to conquer fear. God moves in transition. Count on it.