Growing Up is (Still) Hard to Do

For a while now, I’ve been thinking of making some changes to this blog. “Musings of a Recent College Graduate” seems less fitting now, considering I graduated over two years ago.

And yet, whenever I try to think of a new name for this grouping of writings, nothing jumps out at me. I am still getting used to this phase of life not having a set ending, of not being able to section it off nicely with an end and a beginning. Before, it was always beginning of a grade, end of a grade, on to the next level of school, and so on.

Here, it is an ever-stretching land, with no concrete beginnings or endings I can clearly see, called Adult.

I still don’t even know for sure what the word “adult” means.

I think it’s how I’m supposed to describe myself now, but when I try it on, it still doesn’t seem to fit quite right. The sleeves are a little long, the shoulders a little too boxy, and the hem hangs a little crooked.

And there’s something about “Musings of an Adult” that just doesn’t have a nice ring to it.

Two years ago almost to the day, I wrote about having an Identity Trial.

Graduating from college and attempting to enter “the big kid world” has brought about significant changes in many aspects of my life (some of which I mentioned here). I’ve lost my familiar rhythms of life, the frustrations and joys of schoolwork, and perhaps one I’m struggling with the most, the label of “college student.” So although for most of my life I had a fairly strong sense of who I am, right now my identity is…a bit in flux. Not quite an identity crisis.

An identity trial, if you will.

At my core I still know who I am; my belief in God is firmly intact, and I have a sense that I would like to do something with my life that is bigger than me, but not FOR me. I still know my likes and dislikes, things I am good at and not good at, things that make me laugh and those that make me cringe.

Though my circumstances have changed—I’ve been at my “big kid” job for a year and a half and out of my parents’ house for over a year—a surprising amount of those words still feel true. When I look back at old pictures or am reminded of college in other ways, it still feels so recent, so important, and still not something I’m entirely ready to completely let go of. There’s still so much I’m trying to figure out about how to be an adult well, about how to find and create meaning and goodness in whatever stage of life I’m in.

And a still a blog name that no longer seems to fit, but that I can’t quite bring myself to replace just yet.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What’s hardest for you about growing up?

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One Year Later: Reflections of a College Graduate

It’s been a little over a year since I graduated from college, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it for a while.

Except, I couldn’t. I thought about it–a lot. Even started formulating what I’d write.

But I couldn’t actually do it.

So I looked back at my posts from a year ago–things I wouldn’t miss about not being in school anymore, a reminder to myself that the years I put into school were not in vain, how much I would miss my college, my frustration at the seeming silence on how much of a change graduated life would be, the mantras I repeated in attempts to calm my nervousness, and my 20,002 feelings about not seeming to have any piece of my life together. Skimming those, it started to make a lot more sense why I haven’t been able to write about it.

Because this post I wanted to write of reflection and wisdom has been a year in the making, but many of the words I wrote a year ago are still true.

 

There are still moments when I am awash in nostalgia for my college days and the community there, and would give almost anything to go back.

When I look at the student loans I still have to pay off, I have to actively remind myself that there are lessons I couldn’t have learned in any other way, and that I would not be where I am today had I gone a different route.

Sometimes I still get frustrated that, though my education was a good one, there are parts of being an “adult” (I use that term loosely) I’ve felt unprepared for, because there are things that can’t be taught in classrooms.

My life still routinely feels a bit of a mess, like only a very small section of my “life pie” is figured out.

A year has gone by, but it sometimes seems I haven’t moved much at all.

 

Which is, I think, why I haven’t been able to write this post sooner. I’m a year older, but I don’t know that I’m a year wiser–at least not in the ways I may have expected to be.

There is no magic formula for learning to grow up with absolute grace and skill.

So I guess I am learning to be okay in that. To be okay that life is in the bumbling, the stalling, the frustrating, the ungraceful, the messy; and that there is goodness in those things too.

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Out of Control (aka, My Life)

Until this past year, most of my life has been planned out in a big-picture way. It has been largely dictated by the school calendar and its breaks and busyness. In April, I freaked out as I graduated, sort of figured out what I would do for the summer, freaked out again because I didn’t know exactly what my fall would look like, got that settled, and now am looking forward to the next season, both calendar-wise and life-wise.

The other night, as I lay in bed thinking about what the next few months of my life may look like, I found myself not being able to come up with much.

“If I could just get part of my life under control,” I thought. “One section, or maybe two, maybe I’d feel a bit more settled.”

If I could just get it under control.

Which is exactly my problem.

 

I like control. I like plans.  I like feeling in the know.

But the ultimate goal of my life should not be to be in control of it.

The exact opposite is true: The ultimate goal of my life should be to completely not be in control of it.

Because God should be in control of it.

It is a hard thing to admit.

It is a terribly, terribly hard thing to implement.

To say, “God, please take control of my life” sounds like the action should be on his part–taking. Really though, the action is on me–the giving of control. Not a one time, carelessly whispered prayer. Daily, hourly, minutely, active giving away of control.

And in the giving of control, I receive as well. Peace. Contentment. Assurance.

 

I don’t know what this looks like in my own life yet. I don’t believe I will ever truly master, once and for all, the giving control of my life to God. It is a process, and I am in progress.

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

 

p.s. What does it look like to give God complete control of your life? Can it be mastered?

Posts from the Past: January 2006

A few days ago I was scrolling through my Xanga, that wonderful ol’ blog that I still reflect on guiltily at times for abandoning for the lure of Facebook. It provides an interesting glimpse of my life for the two years or so I actively used it. I’m a little appalled at some of the things young me wrote–thinly veiled rants against specific people, self-centeredness, and angst galore.

Yet there are other posts that have hints of wisdom even older me can learn from. Consider this snippet from a post I wrote in January 2006:

Overall, it has been a very people-filled year. But really, isn’t that what life is, for the most part? Interactions with other people? It seems that way. I would say this was probably my most people-filled year  that I can remember. I met many, many new people, most wonderful, but there are always a few bad apples on every tree, right? I’ve missed people so much it hurt, and been overjoyed at seeing people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I’ve laughed until my stomach hurt, but also cried myself to sleep a time or two. I’ve had days I would relive in a heartbeat, and days that I wouldn’t want to relive if you paid me a hundred dollars. I’ve been so happy I could burst and sad and angry enough to punch someone. I became friends with people I’ll probably never see again, and also with people that I never thought I would become friends with.

And now I’m wondering what will happen this year, and I know a lot of things will be changing, but I KNOW that God won’t. As I look back, I know that God was always there, through the stinky times and the awesome ones. So today’s verse is one that is filled with hope for the future.

Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” Yup. God’s always there, and He’s got big plans for me this year. I’m excited to find out what they are.

Years later, a lot of those things still ring true. Graduating from college has given new meaning to the phrase, “I became friends with people I’ll probably never see again.” I have encountered oodles of change since writing that, yet indeed; God hasn’t changed. And though I sit in uncertainty, in waiting and seeking, he has plans. Plans I cannot see, plans I may not understand, plans I might not like; but plans all the same.

Fifteen-year-old me had more insight than I would’ve given her credit for. Perhaps I shall have to seek more wisdom from her via the annals of Xanga.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Certainly Uncertain

I have this theory (only loosely formed) that Google is on the way to taking over the world, and I don’t even really mind. It’s the go-to search engine, their email system is great, and I LOVE my Google calendar. I have it synced to my phone, so I can easily add appointments on the go and set reminders for important things such as “Go to the Bank.” If it’s not in my Google calendar, I’ll probably forget about it. Whether it’s my class schedule, doctor’s appointments, or an Applebee’s outing for a friend’s birthday—in the Google calendar it goes.

So when you ask to see my Google calendar for several months from now, I’d probably show it to you. But it would be conspicuously empty. Maybe a national holiday here or there, or a wedding that I know about far in advance, but overall, it’s a vast wasteland of

empty.

Space.

No classes, no homework, no part time barista job to fill the time—nothing. My roommate and I joke that we’ll spend the summer watching the Olympics at her fiancé’s condo, and there is humor in our voices when we do it. Underneath though, there is fear that it will come true.

Fear that these years I’ve spent learning and growing not just in classes but in life will leave me with no visible outcome. No paycheck to help pay back the loans I took out to help cover the cost of this education that I couldn’t imagine myself not getting. It’s not like I had other plans—I’d never had ambitions of starting a career right out of high school. College was the logical option, but now I find myself, at times, questioning even that decision. Should I have worked some factory job for a year or so that maybe would have bored me to tears, but would’ve helped to cover some of the bills I’ll now face after the education is said and done?

I’m a planner, which is both a blessing and a curse. Friends turn to me for ideas and directions, assuming I’ll know not only what to do, but at what time the store opens, and to take the highway to exit 78 and turn left on Main. If I don’t know how to get there, surely my trusty Mapquest app does.

So I find myself in an unfamiliar place. Usually I’m in the know, of what’s going on and what time and where.

But now, I find myself certain of only one thing: uncertainty.

To find my only friend to be the one thing I usually try to avoid is frustrating, terrifying, and a little bit…hopeful.

Some of my friends have grad school lined up come fall, others are off to various parts of the world or are still finishing undergrad programs, and those fortunate few have a job lined up, even if it’s not in the field they’d like to ultimately pursue. When I look at them, with their future defined for the next year or five, I envy them a little bit: at least they know what’s on the other end of that walk across the stage.

But there’s a part of me that kind of likes not knowing. With no set plan, I have no way to fail at what I intend to do, because there’s nothing there. I’ll simply make it up as I go. This appeals to the spontaneous side that I know exists deep down inside of me, but that’s usually covered up by my tendency towards control. There’s an air of adventure to the uncertainty. I can do whatever I’d like, because I have no other plans to live up to. No one to disappoint or impress, no clock to punch or deadlines to meet.

I am both consoled and irritated by the words of Jeremiah, who assures me that the Lord has plans to prosper and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future. It’s not that I don’t believe it; the knowledge that God has something worked out is what gives me the motivation to get out of bed, go to my internship, take my tests, write my papers. There is a point to this, even if I can’t see it.

I still have several months before I don that silly hat and walk across that stage, so it’s not as though this story is done; there is always more to be written. There’s a tension here, between embracing the uncertainty and being terrified of it. I will continue to live in the land of uncertain for an indefinite amount of time, but I will do my best to enjoy my stay here. To take the time to breath in the hope of good things, and to not be overcome by the fear of the uncertainty. And to take solace in that I am certain of not just my uncertainty, but of my God’s plan in it.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~