As I’m writing this, it’s been a whole year since I placed a graduation cap on my head, sang the Good Ol’ Song, and graduated with the Honor of honors from the University of Virginia. If you would’ve asked me what I expected a year later in post-grad, it would not have been this. Currently, I am sitting in my hometown of Brooklyn, NY with more questions than answers.
There have been points in this last year of post-grad where I would’ve given anything to have something other than questions.
Maybe it’s the way adulthood is. You slowly realize that you’ve got no choice but to accept reality as it’s given to you if you want to enjoy it. Especially when that reality is not the one you were hoping for.
My favorite blog posts to write were always the reflection ones, the ones where I shared what I was learning with photos of my daily life. To prepare for them, I’d keep my eyes peeled as I walked around my life, searching for a glimmer of wisdom like a four leaf clover. I miss that feeling. Collecting lessons and holding them close to my chest, and then releasing them so that I could share them with you. It’s the sharing of them that makes it real.
And though you’ve heard me rant and rave on this blog for a year about all the ways my life has not fallen into place, I’d figure I owed you some lessons I learned along the way.
Post-Grad Lessons (a year into whatever this is)
Timelines aren’t up to you
As much as I wish I could speed up time to a job I love and a little cabin for the weekend and having my friends in the same state as me, it’s not possible. I wish I could give my just-graduated friends their dream jobs, but I can’t. When doors open is not up to you. I spent months in frustration and endless waiting and horrible self-talk trying to speed up a process that isn’t even in my hands. I don’t know when/if that door will open for you, but it doesn’t do you any good to try to force what you can’t even control.
I wonder how I would’ve lived differently if I knew that the days would continue to pile up and the fruitless checking of my email and LinkedIn wouldn’t have amounted to much. I wonder what hobbies I would’ve picked up or projects I would’ve started. There’s no good sense in trying to control time.
Note to self: it’s okay if you take time away from Instagram just to give yourself a break from everyone else’s timeline (no pun intended).
I am not a detail-oriented thinker
I really hate that most job descriptions have this “requirement” as if we can control how our brain works. My brain has naturally functioned to conceive things as whole, not parts. I don’t look for details, I look for stories. I am not interested in details. I am interested in the wider scope, the grand pattern. I just wish more than one type of person was valued in the working world.
Related Post: Fourth Year Reflection *cue tears*
I’m not sure what you believe, but I believe in God (and Jesus and the Holy Spirit). And I believe he hears me when I pray. I can’t tell you why I pray some things and nothing happens. And then I pray other things and my life reorients itself as a response to my prayer. I don’t know. But I do know that when I prayed for a more sensitive heart, a more emotional one, the Lord gave it to me.
There have been times when I wish I didn’t ask for it. When I wish I could have looked at my life with a removed, stoic position. I’ve had amazing things happen to me because I asked him for a softer heart. I have journal entries to prove it. Be not ashamed to ask for a sensitive spirit. God answers prayer in ways that exceed our expectations.
Busyness that came from loneliness
I had a really full life in college. To the point where my mentor Bryan got so frustrated at me telling him how tired I was. It was during my last semester that I experienced the joy from living a little bit of a less full life. But it has taken me a year to realize where that busyness came from. My first year of college was really lonely. I think it was the first time I ever experienced loneliness like that, all-consuming and never ending, like a bad summer storm.
My life became so full after that to avoid living a life that was full of my own echoes. I don’t regret my life in college. There are so many amazing memories from that time. I only wished my loneliness had turned me to God instead of away from him.
Related Post: Reflection on my third year of college
Friendship is a wonderful thing
I am really lucky that somehow almost everyone I ended college with is still a close friend of mine. This unexpected gap year has been good at making me a better texter, caller, and FaceTimer. I really do stay updated on my friends’ lives and I’m not afraid to reach out when I haven’t heard from them in a while.
A huge thing I learned, though, is that your friends don’t all need to be deep friends. I have friends in which we talk about Jesus and our mental health and our future dreams and I have other friends and we talk about tv shows and jokes we’ve heard and summer plans. Friendship is a beautiful thing, and it’s important to nurture it.
You don’t have to tell everyone everything right now
As cool as social media is for day to day updates, some of us are under the illusion that we need to share everything with everyone as soon as it happens. I remember Israel (which was almost a year ago!) and how determined I was to stay off social media. I used my phone to take photos, call my parents, and text 2 friends that entire trip. I didn’t post anything until I got back.
There is no good reason for the sense of urgency that has taken over our culture. People are not entitled to your news, good or bad, as soon as it happens. You’re allowed to sit with something for a while. You can spend time with news by yourself. Not everything deserves a response.
Related Post: Reflection on Second Year
Intimacy with God
For years, I felt like I was begging God for more intimacy. For a sense of his presence. For a revelation. It’s only been through the last two years that he’s given it to me (more this year). I can’t say why. Maybe it’s the isolation from friends and activities. Maybe it’s the fact that I have more time on my hands. Maybe it’s the softer heart. I’m not sure what. But as much as the Christian world cries that intimacy with God is your choice, I believe it also can be God’s choice. He can bring you closer to him when he decides that it’s time.
Keep showing up. I know that it will cost you something to praise him. Maybe you’re tired or afraid. But I do believe God rewards those who earnestly seek him. Keep seeking and I’m sure you will find him. He just might not look like what you’re expecting.
Resist the urge to solve your life
I am someone who has the tendency to want an answer for everything. Just so we’re clear, things just make more sense in my brain when I have answers. When my mother tells me why she does something, I am more likely to remember how she does it. And while I have desperately tried to solve this past year of my life, I think I’ve needed to learn to resist that urge. To resist the urge of solving my life and instead focus on being present. To the new salad recipe I’ve been trying. To the sunlight streaming through my windows mid-afternoon. To my friend rejoicing in the idea they’d like to share with me.
Yes, I’d love answers and clarity to bring me peace. But if I never learn to have peace when things don’t make sense, I will spend my life anxious as I live through the questions. Resist the urge to solve post-grad. It’s a season that can only be embraced for the good and bad it brings.
Gentle reader, I hope these post-grad lessons serve you well. Let me know what you’ve been learning lately.
One thought on “A year in review: post-grad lessons”
Yes, serving me well and enjoying your viewpoints. You’ve learned a lot. Or at least, you’ve seen a lot; I hope it’s learned (in that you live by the lessons you tuck in your heart).
This: “Keep showing up. I know that it will cost you something to praise him. Maybe you’re tired or afraid. But I do believe God rewards those who earnestly seek him. Keep seeking and I’m sure you will find him. He just might not look like what you’re expecting.” SO important!