Thoughts On Moving (Again)

I am packing books, taking down wall decorations, and loading boxes, for the third summer in a row. In a few weeks, I am moving again.

Some people are good at moving, enjoy it even—maybe not so much the physical act of getting all of their belongings from one place to another—but they relish the idea of a new place, whether it be the same general area they started in or a whole new city, state, or country.

These people are what I have come to think of as “Bird People.” Winged, easily moving from one place to another.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Broo_Am (Andy B), Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Broo_Am (Andy B), Creative Commons

I think I am a tree.

Meant to be rooted, deeply, though with branches spreading wide.

We Tree People don’t do so well with the Moving. Every time, it’s not simply a matter of putting physical objects into boxes and vehicles and transporting them to a location; it’s disentangling my complicated feelings about this transient phase of life I’m in, why I’m in it, how I’m pretty sure I’d prefer to not be in it exactly as I am, but not really knowing how to solve it—or even if I’m supposed to solve it, because maybe I’m just supposed to live it.

Moving is a messy business for Tree People. Even if the roots haven’t had years and years to grow, they’ve started. And each move is a transplant.

Sometimes I wish I were a Bird Person. It would make this moving easier, even exciting, instead of so laborious and weighty. But I suppose there are complexities with that way of life that I cannot see from my view.

It takes me a while to settle in a new house, to hang my decorations on the wall and begin to make the mental shift to know what I mean when I tell someone “I’m going home.”

As many times as I’ve now tried, defining home is still tricky. I’m always trying to conjure up this feeling of home, one that’s not tied to the people I’m with because that is constantly changing as well, but to define it in a way that fits me and where I’m at. Home, for me, is a word I want to evoke feelings of warmth, comfort, and coziness, but I’m not quite there.

I’m still figuring out what to do with these roots of mine.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Are you a Bird Person, or a Tree Person?

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All Groan Up (Or, Why I Read)

One of the many reasons I read is to find myself.

It sounds counterintuitive, to read about other people in other places doing other things, to learn about me. But it’s one of the things I find most powerful about writing. I can be reading a blog post by a mother of small children, or a fiction book set in 1743, or a memoir-esque book by a guy and say, “Me too.”

It’s one of the reasons I write here: I believe in the power of the “Me too” moments. All Groan UP

Recently, I received an advance copy of the latest book by Paul Angone, whose book 101 Secrets for Your Twenties I also reviewed. As I read All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job, I felt like I was being given permission to feel all of the things I feel about being in my twenties. While the level of uncertainty in my life is not nearly what it was soon after I graduated from college, I still wrestle with feeling like I don’t have everything figured out, with wanting to figure out what I’m really doing with my life, and with trying to make peace with where I am instead of continually longing for where I’m not.

Paul’s specific experiences of being a twentysomething vary from mine, but even those I can learn from. All Groan Up is a refreshing reminder that being a twentysomething doesn’t have to be quite so lonely or quite so scary.

All of this fits in so well with the thread behind this blog: The Art of Becoming. As Paul writes in All Groan Up:

  Yet becoming an adult is not a onetime thing. You grow into growing up, each season bringing with it things you’re going to have to secretly Google to figure out how to do.

I know we have this yearning to “arrive.” To make it. We want to unpack our bags. Paint the house the color we want. Tear down a few needless walls and build a huge custom desk that will never leave the room.

However, every time we think we’ve made it, we look out the window to see a U-Haul truck waiting to take us to the next town.

But maybe not making it is a gift. If you’ve arrived, why bother still exploring?

There are things I still don’t love about the idea of never truly arriving, but I think there’s truth in it. And when I let myself, I can see there’s goodness there as well. All Groan Up was a great reminder of that, and a great reminder of why I keep reading–and keep writing.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What have you read that’s made you say, “Me too?”

25 Lessons in 25 Years

I recently turned 25. It’s not a ton of years, but it doesn’t feel like nothing, either. I’ve done some stuff. Gone some places. Learned some things. For this post, 25 things, to be exact.

25 Lessons

  1. Know what you’re about. What is the central, driving force of your life—not just for this moment, but for this season and beyond?
  2. Love what’s in front of you. As Mumford and Sons sing, “I will learn to love the skies I’m under.” Life doesn’t come with a fast forward button or a rewind, so be where you are and find the goodness in it.
  3. Things that are not fun while you’re living them (throwing up into a plastic bag at a London Tube station, for example) can make great stories later.
  4. Learn to let go.
  5. But also learn how to hold on fiercely, even when it hurts.
  6. Learning to tell the difference between the previous two is so, so important. And sometimes really hard.
  7. Good music can soothe your soul. Also brownies.
  8. Life can be as exciting—or boring—as you make it be.
  9. Read. Fiction, nonfiction, classics, children’s books—read it all. Read what you’ll love, read what you’ll hate, and everything in between. Read books, Facebook posts, magazine articles, tweets. You will travel, you will learn, you will cry, you will laugh. Read.
  10. As much as possible, don’t burn bridges. People may reappear in your life many times over, and you never know when it might happen or in what way.
  11. God is big, and good, and wildly confusing sometimes. Stop trying to completely figure him out. You won’t.
  12. But don’t stop chasing God. Yes, he’s confusing, but so much more than that, he is loving and good and in the end, worth it all.
  13. Don’t buy the cheapest plunger at the store. You will regret it.
  14. Write it down. Whatever “it” is. Thoughts, feelings, actions, hopes, dreams. Words will sort your brain out in ways you didn’t think possible, show you where you’ve been and sometimes clarify where you should go.
  15. Find the good people. They are out there, and they will color and shape your world in extraordinary ways.
  16. Eat well. Have some cake, a steak, the queso you love. Not as often as you might want, but not never.
  17. Stop trying to control everything. It won’t ever work the way you want it to. Ultimately, God has it. You may not like the way it looks, or the timing, or the exact way it all happens, but he can be trusted.
  18. Determine whose opinion matters. Most people’s opinion doesn’t. But for those ones, the good people, the people who love you and care for you and truly want what’s best for you—listen to them. Sometimes you cannot see clearly what’s right in front of you.
  19. Both figuratively and literally, life is too short to read crappy books.
  20. Make room in your life for the best things, even if it means getting rid of good things.
  21. Yes, it’s true you only live once, but don’t be a moron about it. Only living once is not an excuse to live recklessly with no thought of the future. It’s probable you have more days ahead of you, so make sure you can use those ones well also. Not just today.
  22. Love comes in many forms. Appreciate them all.
  23. Show up, both physically and metaphorically.
  24. Never stop learning. Learn about yourself—take personality tests that put into words things you’ve felt but couldn’t explain, be open to what other people observe about you, don’t be quite so scared to change. Soak in knowledge about any and everything, wherever you may find it.
  25. When faced with the choice between getting a good night’s sleep and going on adventures, pick the adventures. “I remember the day I was really well-rested” is not a story.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What lessons would you add?

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?

When Home Isn’t Where the Heart Is

Last Saturday, I moved. If you’ve been around this space for a while, you probably know that change is not my favorite thing. But the lease was up, the roommate was getting married, and it was time to go. So nearly my entire family (including a five-year-old and two three-year-olds) descended on my house at 8:30 a.m., and by 11, we were done.

Done in the physical sense, at least.

Photo Credit: Flickr User z287marc, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User z287marc, Creative Commons

But just because your stuff moves from one place to another doesn’t mean that all of you does.

It’s nothing against my new abode (it’s lovely, close to Target, has space for my hammock inside during the winter months, and comes with a rockin’ roommate), but, even after almost a week, I still feel like I haven’t fully detached from the other house and gotten comfortable in the new one. Which feels especially absurd, considering I only lived there a year.

At the root of it though, I think my issue is that I don’t know what home is for me, right now. I’ve been skimming through a book  full of beautiful pictures and inspiration for imperfect decorating in order to truly make a house (or apartment or condo) a home. But when she gets down to giving some sort of definition of home, she loses me.

I realized that no matter what happened or where we went, it would be okay because we would be together. Wherever we were, that was home. Home was us. 

And therein lies the disconnect. It’s a common refrain, to say that home is where the heart is and where your people are, but if true home is people, mine is only very partially in this dwelling I sit in right now.

If “Home is where the heart is,” then my home must be scattered in pieces across the city, state, country, and world, because my heart is scattered in all those places too.

As much as I want to make this new place a home by decorating it and throwing parties in it and spending lots of time in it (and I certainly will do all of those things), I think it will always feel a little like something is missing. Part of it is connected to being single, I’m sure, but it’s deeper, too. It’s a sense of being unmoored, slightly adrift. It’s a very twentysomething thing for me to feel, I suppose.

Last year around this time I wrote, “Maybe ‘home’ is about creating enough of a sense of it within me that I can carry it with me wherever I go.” I’ve had year to work on it, and I’m not sure I’m any closer to figuring out what that looks like.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. How do you define home?

When a Book Gives You the Hope You Need

As a teenager, I read all the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. To say that I loved them might be a bit strong, but I certainly enjoyed them. There was something about their tight-knit, started-at-birth, years-spanning friendship that appealed deeply to the teenage me who had friends, sure, but not many who had been around for a considerable length of time.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Abee5, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Abee5, Creative Commons

And so, I was recently pleasantly surprised to discover a fifth book to the series, set 10 years after the last one. Here they were, these girls I hadn’t thought about probably in years, suddenly catapulted to an age just a few years ahead of my own. They were the same as I remembered them in many ways, but as we all do as we age, they had changed too. Almost like they were real. As the book recounted the ways their relationships with each other had cracked and mended and changed over the years, it felt so near. Because I know those things, too.

 

Friendships get weird when you’re a twenty-something. Suddenly the built-in place to make them, of shared classes and clubs and dorms, is gone. Many people scatter, to new places and new phases and new faces. And you scramble a bit, trying to hold onto the ones who have become so much a part of you that you can’t imagine life with them, and you learn the difficult lesson that some friendships are only for a season and that’s okay, but the line of which ones are which is thin and painful to find.

There is fear, too. Fear that this move, this relationship, this new job will be the one that somehow makes the divide between two friends a little too big, a little too far to bridge with texts and phone calls and coffee dates. People change and relationships do too, and there is goodness there, but hardship too. And sometimes it comes in ways you didn’t expect or invite.

 

But, this book. This unexpected discovery. I saw myself in the characters I’ve know for many years, and in them I found hope, too. These are fictional characters, of course, born in the imagination of the author and only truly existing in the minds of readers, but I think the best kinds of books are the ones we’re invited to see ourselves in. Things had changed for these characters, time and time again, and still they found their way back to each other. Never in exactly the same way as before, but somehow. It wasn’t without pain or missteps along the way, but it happened. And it makes me a little less fearful.

Maybe, as I continue through my twenties and beyond, my friends and I will continue to find our ways back to each other too.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Have you ever found the hope you needed in a book?

102 Secrets For Your Twenties

A little over a year ago, I graduated from college. At the time, I was incredibly uncertain, nervous, and kind of sad to be leaving a stage of life I wasn’t quite ready to be done with. On top of that, I was frustrated at what seemed like silence about the turmoil I was entering. Though in my conversations with friends we agreed that we were apprehensive about the future, there didn’t seem to be many people talking about it.

Turns out, there were, and are, a lot of people talking about the chaos of being a twenty-something–I just hadn’t found them yet. When I first discovered All Groan Up, I think I breathed an audible sigh of relief. There are people who get this, and they’re writing about it! I’m not on an island of confusion and uncertainty by myself–there’s actually a LOT of people on this island! The founder, Paul Angone, wrote a book called 101 Secrets For Your Twenties that released this week. I’m glad he wrote it when he did–since I’m only 23, I still have several years of being able to appreciate and apply the wisdom. Secret 35

Honestly, there are some secrets in here I don’t like. It’s not because they’re not intelligent, but because I don’t like to think of how they’ll look in my own life. Failure, on some scale, is a reality of being human, and certainly of being a twenty-something. But I’d really prefer not to have to experience it myself. Change is something I’ve already done some of in my twenties, but I can only imagine I’ll be facing a lot more of it, and probably not liking it very much. And Obsessive Comparison Disorder? Some days I feel like I might have majored in it in college.

If I could add one more secret, one more for myself than anyone else, it would be this: Different is okay.

When I compare myself to others, as I do far too often, I have to continually remind myself–our lives are different and that is okay. The goodness and trouble in their life is their own, and the goodness and trouble in my own life is mine alone. Different things are good for different people.

Different is okay extends beyond my tendency for comparison as well. I’m learning to appreciate differences of opinion and belief, for the ways that it challenges and enforces my own, for what it teaches me, and for the beauty in saying, “We’re not the same, and I respect you.” Different might mean disagreement, but it doesn’t have to be ugly. Different is not a bad word.

Different is okay is for me, too. When I feel different for any number of reasons–for being young, for being the single person at a table full of married people, for having nothing to say about mortgages–for a time, I may feel different, but  different does not mean bad.

It’s not easy. There’s not really much about growing up that’s easy, despite how some people make it seem. So it’s good to know we’re not alone, that there are others feeling uncertain and frustrated and confused…and that different is okay.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What is one of your secrets for twenty-somethings?

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!~

Full-Time Freak Out

Several big events occurred in the past week.

1) I put an event in my Google Calendar that looks like this:

Calendar

2) I updated the Behind the Words page of my blog.

3) I started a full-time job.

 

The first two wouldn’t have taken place, except the third thing did.

Since discovering the wonderfulness of Google Calendar, I’ve entered a lot of events. Some were as simple as a reminder to “Call Grandparents’ or “Go to Store.”

This was the first time I have ever put a recurring event that Ends: Never.

Whoo. Deep breaths.

At moments, it has me just this side of a freak out.

For someone whose life has been defined in semesters, school years, and summers, an event that “Never” ends is a seismic shift. If I look at my calendar a month from now, “Work” is on every day of the week, 8-4:30. It’s that way in 7 months, a year, and on. Instead of  months-long chunks of being in school or not being in school, my life is suddenly planned out, rather uniformly, for the foreseeable future.

Quite a drastic change from right after I graduated from college, when I fretted about how I would fill the large gaps of space in my calendar, or even a few months ago, when I contemplated how life felt out of control.

It’s kind of a lot to take in.

It’s also oddly amusing.

So many times I’ve said that I’m bad at change, and I’ll continue to say it. This change in schedule due to my new job, this change in mindset (‘I’m a working adult”), this change in how I view my life–in a lot of ways, it’s a change from uncertainty to certainty. Yet this step into certainty is causing nearly as much uneasiness and trepidation as the uncertainty of the last year.

After a while, I’d kind of gotten used to the uncertainty. While we may not have been friends, we were at least associates. It’s not as though having a full-time job immediately settles every aspect of my life–I still have plenty of things I can’t plan, don’t know how they’ll turn out, can’t make a timeline for. Maybe I’ll be able to have a little more appreciation for the areas I am uncertain of now that I’m more certain of one thing

Using the word “certain” is a bit presumptuous, of course–there are no guarantees in any area of life, so there is no guarantee of exactly how long I’ll be at this job. Still, it’s a lot more certain and stable than most of what I’ve done in the past few years.

None of these feelings are a result of my particular job. Though I’ve only been at it for 3.5 days, I think I’ll genuinely like it.

But I’m telling you, if you make the transition to hanging-out-and-working-some to working full time, it’s a change. Bigger than you might think. And if you work full time, maybe you’ve been there. I knew this change was coming, as I was the one who applied for the job and went to the interviews. Even before it was this job, I knew one of the next logical steps in my life would be to start working full time…but it’s different.

I’m learning what life looks like when 40 hours a week of it is spent at work.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Do you work? Will you tell me about your experience with it, full time, part time, or otherwise?