Maybes and January 2012

Lately I’ve spent time looking through some of my old journals. Entries from last year at this time were filled with much optimism and hope, despite the uncertainty I was facing. Then, for a while, they teemed with hurt and realizations of the brokenness in and around me. Dashes of hope were sprinkled less liberally, but still there. Like this:

“Maybe God’s plan for me is much bigger than I let myself think…”

Months later, I’m still contemplating the same thought. If I could write my own life for the next five years or so, it probably wouldn’t include anything outlandish: A job that fulfills me and makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the world, an adorably eclectic apartment, a nice boy, a wedding, a house decked in handmade crafts, a baby. Perhaps some visits to friends around the globe, some articles published elsewhere (maybe even in print?), some good stories to tell of exciting adventures. But nothing too crazy.

Maybe some, or all, of those things will come to pass.

Then again, maybe bigger things will.

Maybe I’ll learn what true contentment about being single looks and feels like. Maybe I’ll move across the country or globe, crying as I leave family and friends, but rejoicing as I struggle and learn to find community somewhere other than where I’ve grown up. Maybe I’ll create an incredibly successful career, and learn how to give generously beyond what I thought I’d ever be capable. Maybe I’ll run a marathon, or at least a longer distance than the 5ks I’ve done so far. Maybe I’ll discover a sport I’m actually good at and join a team. Maybe I’ll write a book. Maybe I’ll start an organization that changes the world.

And maybe not.

Let me be clear: neither of these would be bad ways for my life to go. They’re just different, and one happens to be full of things I’ve never really imagined for myself.

Maybe God’s list of things I’m going to do in the next few years is drastically different than either of those, full of things I haven’t thought of yet. Maybe I’ve put him in a box when it comes to imagining what my future, right now seeming so uncertain, holds.

Because maybe his plans are much bigger than I can think.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

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My Associate, Uncertainty

Yet again, I find myself not knowing what I’ll be doing only a few months from now. Earlier this week I listened to Christmas music, had a conversation with a coworker about Christmas traditions, and today I read several Christmas books to the kids I babysat. Not surprisingly, it got me thinking…What will I be doing come Christmas? And shortly thereafter?

I don’t know. One of my part-time jobs will likely end in mid-December, and the other will be going through some changes starting very soon. I’m not really sure what shape those changes will take and how they might affect my future.

Uncertainty and I have become quite close these past few months, though I can’t say we’ve become friends. Closeness and fondness do not always go hand in hand.

Yet I can see uncertainty and I have journeyed quite a ways together. In June I wrote of jumbled thoughts, and many of those jumbled thoughts remain even now, and likely will from here into the foreseeable future. The longer I’ve had to mull over those jumbled thoughts, the more used to them I have become. They still don’t sit well with me, lurking at the edges of my mind, unsettling me…yet the unsettledness has become nearly commonplace.

When I graduated from college, not knowing what I would be doing in a few months terrified me. In a lot of ways, it still does, but on a smaller scale. I may not be hugging uncertainty and inviting it to my best friend for life, but I have certainly become more accustomed to its presence, and have begun to accept that it will likely always be present, even if only in small ways. It feels as though the uncertainty of life as a whole has become more real, instead of just the uncertainty of my present circumstances. Uncertainty has settled in; perhaps not taken root, but firmly planted its folding chair on the sidelines and determined to stay for a while.

“Friends” implies far too much fondness for what uncertainty and I have become, though “foe” is far too harsh the other way. “Associate” may be the best word for our relationship–there is not an abundance of fondness implied there, but some closeness.

Meet my associate, Uncertainty. We’ll likely be together for quite some time.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Waving at Decision

Some decisions have to be made. I’ve written about those kind before, over here.

Other decisions are not so necessary. They do not sit in front of us, blocking our path to wherever we’re headed next.

Instead, they sit off to the side, easily going unnoticed for long stretches of time. Occasionally they may remind us of their presence with a casual wave, but mostly they are content to sit. Wait. Twiddle their thumbs.

Their mere nagging presence may be enough to spur you into dealing with them, but not always.

Not for me, anyway.

The decisions I put to the side tend to be somewhat important, but not necessarily urgent. They are the type that need time, pondering, praying, and discussing. Even then, they may not be clear. So I ignore them.

They will likely catch up with me, though I don’t know when or how that will be.

But I struggle with where to even begin making big decisions, especially if they’re ones that maybe don’t even need to be made to continue living my life the way that it is. Maybe they’re decisions I’m not even supposed to be dealing with at this point in my life, but once the thought is in my head it is difficult to completely shake it out.

 

Instead I push it to the side, and throw it a friendly wave occasionally.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll deal with you, I say.

Or next week.

Or maybe some new decision will come along, something more urgent, that will remove you from even the edges of my mind.

Until then, I will continue to glance at you occasionally, not sure how to deal with you as you should be.

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Unrealistic Expectations for Awesome

The idea of 31 consecutive Amazing Days is an appealing one.

But it might be a bit unrealistic.

 

Can each day out of 31 have at least one amazing moment? Yes.

But one amazing moment may not be enough to turn a whole day amazing.

 

Sometimes things happen that are completely out of our control, and people are often quick to throw around reminders that though we can’t control our circumstances, we can control our attitude towards those circumstances, and that God has a plan for everything.

True.

But that doesn’t change the reality that sometimes things happen that, for lack of a better word, suck. To pretend they do something other than suck does everyone a disservice.

Acknowledging that something sucks doesn’t mean we fail to remember that good things can come from bad, or that there is a greater plan at work in and through it all. It’s calling a spade a spade, acknowledging that there are things we do not understand and that usher in a new (or continuing) wave of uncertainty.

We are never immune to uncertainty.

 

We should also never allow ourselves to become completely immune to the possibility of awesome, even in uncertainty. Even if only for a moment.

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Posts from the Past: Pie, and October 2006

My musings about pie, from my Xanga

Ah, 16-year-old me waxing philosophical about a piece of pie. It seems especially fitting, seeing as my lovely mother recently baked me that same kind of pie and I’ve been eating my way through it this past week. Only a piece a day, though it has been tempting to eat more. And though this time I have a whole pie, all to myself, courtesy of a Christmas present, it doesn’t change that the pie will soon be gone.

Though my appreciation for delicious pie has not changed in the 6 years since I wrote that post, a few other things have. Instead of wishing to slow time down, as I seem to have wanted to do back then, if anything I’d probably want to speed time up right now. This land of in-between I’m in, of living with my parents and not having a full-time job and being single but not really wanting to be and not knowing what I’ll be doing several months from now and often feeling like I’m standing still while my friends’ lives go speeding ahead…it seems like something to get through more than enjoy.

The reality is, life doesn’t start when I reach a certain checkpoint, be it moving out or getting a boyfriend or landing a job.

Life is, not will be.

I can choose to put my head down, power through this land of in-between and only begin to take notice again when I determine I have reached the mysterious land beyond this one, or I can slow down, look around, and learn to appreciate the goodness that persists here. Even amidst the uncertainty.

Good thoughts, former me.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. I’ve use pie as an illustration in a previous post. Clearly, I like pie. As usual, feel free to share thoughts, questions, salutations, etc. in the comments.

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!~

Back to School

On Thursday, I am going back to school.

No, they have not revoked my diploma; I will not going back to school as a student.

I’ll be on the other side of the learning process, at the front (or probably kind of the side) of the classroom, as a teaching assistant.

My job description, at least when it comes to actual time in the classroom, is still in flux. The two classes I will be involved in are English classes, so some days perhaps I will be answering questions, helping students research or structure papers, or clarifying assignments. Outside the classroom, I will likely be reading and grading assignments and papers.

It will be a strange spot to be in; no longer a student, but a slightly undefined position. My college (in my head it is still mine; it will always be mine) has, at least not to my knowledge, never had someone doing exactly the same thing I will be doing. There is no one I can ask as to exactly how this position works.

So, like many things in my life right now, I find myself in an odd spot. An uncertain, middle type of zone. Growing up, in that I am a graduate of the school, yet not gone. I am still friends with many students, and I want to see them and spend time with them when I am on campus. I also don’t want to overstep whatever invisible boundaries may be in place, knowing that there is a difference between my friends who are still students and the students in my classroom. (Though that feels strange to say–it isn’t really my classroom)

I have lost track of the amount of times I have used the word “uncertainty” in posts over the past few months, yet it fits here again. Still. It never stopped.

Back to school I go.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

 

Unsettled

I’m not a proponent of swearing, so I use this graphic with some hesitation…but the sentiment quite accurately describes how I’m feeling of late.

Seeing as it is now August, is has been just over 3 months since I graduated from college. A day before I graduated from college, I wrote about life-pie, how although a job I had been offered earlier that week took care of one sliver of my life, it far from cured the overall anxiety and fears.

A week after I graduated, I wrote of restlessness, of not knowing how to introduce myself now that I’ve shed the label of “college student.”

And three months later, I find my life still a-jumble, still unknown, still shaken up. I thought maybe over the summer I’d be able to figure a few things out.

Instead, I still feel as though bits of life are swirling about me. The dust has yet to settle, or even begin to do so.

When I graduated from high school, I thought things would fall into place fairly quickly for me after college graduation. It was only around the beginning of my senior year of college that it occurred to me my time to figure things out was waning.

Maybe, though, I’m beginning to learn that the dust doesn’t ever completely settle. Maybe life isn’t so much about waiting for the dust to settle, but learning to live as best as possible in the midst of the swirling. Maybe, as much as I’d like to, I won’t ever get to the point where I feel like I have it all together (or even parts of it together). And maybe we could all do ourselves a favor by admitting that we don’t have it together, instead of trying so hard to make it look like we do. Maybe we’re all just trying to find our way in the midst of unsettled dust.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Jumbled Thoughts of A Recent College Graduate: The View From Here

Sitting right here, in this very moment, I type on a borrowed laptop. I’m in the middle of day 2 of not working, since I am currently employed only part time. Taking into account the sum of my possessions and the amount in my bank accounts, minus the amount I owe in loans taken out to cover the cost of my education, and I estimate my monetary value in the negative twenty thousands. Ish.  About a month ago I graduated from college and moved out of my shared apartment and into my parent’s house all in the same week. Since then, I have gone on a trip to England and Scotland, resulting in my falling in love with cities I may never see again. Considering my tendency to get attached deeply and quickly, this does not sit well with me.

Only recently have I come to the realization that as much as I crave stability, I fear boredom. Boredom with my job, boredom with my living situation, boredom in my faith. Finding joy in the little things has been something I have classically succeeded at, or at least recognized the importance of, if nothing else. The dangerous thing about travel though is the risk that, upon returning home, nothing can quite compare to the glitter of where I’ve been. Having only gotten glimpses of the places I traveled to, they are still shiny, new, and alluring, while this city that I have lived in my entire life now seems dull in comparison. If I let myself, I could to see this as a gift; an opportunity to rediscover what it is that makes this city that will most likely be my own for the indefinite future such a wonderful place to be. Hopefully I’ll soon be there, but maybe not right now.

On another front, many of the friends that I typically hang out with when I’m in the vicinity of my parent’s house have already or will soon be going a myriad of ways for the summer months. My posse has shrunk to less than half its normal size. I like my friends; I do not like this.

Living with my parents means seeing much more of my married siblings and their children. While I love them madly, this is not always easy for me. Their marriedness, their parenthood, only seem to only accentuate my singleness. The picture wall in my parent’s den has 3 frames: one holds my sister, her husband, and their 2 beautiful blue-eyed girls. Next to their photo live my brother, his wife, and their joyful, dimpled son. And next to them, I hold a spot of my own; my face at least twice as large as any of the others in the photos, as I attempt to fill the frame on my own.

Right now, at this very moment, with my view from right here, nothing seems settled or clear. Locationally, I know where I am: a coffee shop in Kentwood, MI, just a few miles from home. Other than that though, I’m not really sure where I am. Wherever it is, I’m not sure I like it here very much. I find myself, for the umpteenth time in months, realizing that I don’t have a firm grasp on what’s going on in pretty much any facet of my life. Though I’ve discovered that most people don’t have things together nearly as much as they may appear on the outside, this knowledge does very little to calm the unsettledness that lurks on the edges of my thoughts.

As they have many times before, the lyrics of Gungor’s song “This is Not the End” seem fitting…

And you know you’ll be alright
Oh and you know you’ll be alright
This is not the end
This is not the end of us

There is always more to be written.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Me and Maslow: Thoughts of a Recent College Graduate

Perhaps you’ve heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Depending on the source you find it from, the specifics named under each category may change, but the main headings are typically consistent.

The idea is that the bottom level–physiological needs–are the most basic, and it is only after these are met that one can begin to focus on the needs in the next level up. Physiological and safety needs are more physical, where the upper three are more internally focused.

I’ve had numerous conversations lately about ol’ Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. Many people I know have recently graduated from college or will soon be doing so, and most of us feel like our pyramids are…a little lacking in some areas.

My most basic needs are met: having moved back home with my parents, I have a bed, a roof over my head, and a well-stocked fridge and cupboards to raid. Starting the end of this month I will be working at least 20 hours a week, so I’ll have at least a little financial income. Physiologically and safety-wise, I’m doing okay.

After those two levels though, things get messy. Many of my friendships are in a weird spot, needing to adjust to new locations and stages of life. Honestly, I don’t know how or if some of them will survive, which pains me. It does not shock me; I knew moving on from college meant things would change. But knowing that this was coming doesn’t keep me from mourning good things, and maybe wishing they could be different. On the same level of the pyramid, I find myself having graduated from college without so much as a possible mate anywhere on the horizon. I’ve bemoaned this before (over here), and though it feels a little raw to admit it…it’s still something I would like to happen, but that hasn’t yet.

From where I sit, perched above level two but somewhere in the middle of level three…those top 2 levels seem kind of a far stretch up. Not unattainable, but a little ways away given my current state. I’m still adjusting to my status as a non-student, learning to face the realities of adulthood from the sheltered dwelling of my parent’s house, and everything feels in flux. Though in general I consider myself a fairly happy, well-adjusted, confident individual, I’m just not solid enough in my place in level 3 to concentrate too much on levels 4 and 5.

However, I have a much bigger picture to look at than simply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Sure, it’s fairly logical reasoning that basic needs must be met before higher-order ones can be fulfilled, but I’m not (or at least I shouldn’t be) looking to fulfill those things on my own. Though right now I don’t really know what it is, God does have some sort of plan for me, even in this weird land of in-between. There is a purpose to this bit of floundering I’m doing, if for no other reason than to prepare me for whatever will come next.

Having done hardly anything of measurable productivity since graduating, I’m not feeling very accomplished or fulfilled…but my fulfillment shouldn’t be coming from things do anyway. I fall into that thinking often, but that’s not how things should be.

So if Maslow were to take a look at my life, he’d say I’ve got a ways to go. When I look at my life lately, I say I’ve got a ways to go. And really, I do. I’m only twenty-two, after all…hopefully I’ve got lots more life to live, much more to do and see. But maybe God’s trying to say, “Hey, Maslow’s missing the mark here. Because say where you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be, and I’ve got you. You’re okay.”

And his okay should be enough.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~