This morning, when the clock struck midnight, I held two of my dearest friends hands in the most cliché (yet totally necessary way) in a restaurant that we ran into right before it hit the New Year. We didn't want to be driving aimlessly on the freeway when one of the biggest years of our lives began, duh.
So here we were, making friends with our fun waitress, counting down the seconds until 2014.
If our lives were a movie, Rivers and Roads by the Head and the Heart would start playing silently in the background and our seventeen years of formal education would flash before our eyes. But our lives are clearly not some cheesy chick-flick with hunky male counterparts. So here we were ringing in the New Year in an average restaurant with far more than average friends, accepting that New Years is always a weird anticlimactic-sort-of new day.
We also accepted the strange reality that in a year from now, we could, quite literally, be anywhere in the world. Doing anything in the world, alongside anyone. We could spend New Years Eve with friends we know now, with each other, or with people we have yet to even introduce ourselves to. We could be in California, we could be in another country or another continent. We could have our dream job and be in love with our new post-grad adultish life, or we could be struggling, realizing that post-grad life is hard and strange and new all at once. Our lives are so up in the air, it's weird.
As I sat with my girls ringing in the New Year, we talked about something I never really fully processed yet: we have always known the next step. And this year, that next "obvious" step, well, it vanishes. And it'll never really come back.
There are no obvious steps anymore. Traveling or Grad school or a job, no obvious step. A firm job, a non-profit job, a retail job, no obvious step. Move away, stay local, nothing set in stone, nothing clear.
These are our lives now. With the knowledge that we have to go make a living for ourselves, we can do whatever we choose. Other than the fact that money is stressful (ha), it's liberating to have that weird next step disappear once and for all.
I used to find comfort in being able to say what my plan for the next semester was, or the next school year. It was always revolved around school, a safe ground to fall upon, a step that had to be taken to finish my education. I knew what commitments I had in store for me, I knew who my roommates would be, where I might travel, what ways I felt on my heart to serve. There was little room for anything to really shock me when it came to where my life was headed personally and academically, I had it all mapped out.
In that moment, 12:10AM or whatever time it was, it really hit me: the map ends here.
Like this weird make-believe map we've relied on for so long... it no longer exists.
As much as we hope that wherever we end up after graduation turns into a home so that we no longer long for the bedroom we grew up in and the hometown we've always known, we can't really make any guarentees.
That seems to be the state of my life right now: no guarantees. I have nothing set in stone, other then the fact that I want to follow Jesus and end up right where He wants me to live and serve and love. I mean I have puny plans, plans that could translate into a lot of different jobs (all of which I cannot predict right now.) But for the most part, my future is as unsure as it ever could be, and as it ever has been.
While I may have no idea where I'll be... I know, I JUST KNOW, it's going to be good.
My senior year of college I find myself sitting in my favorite spot on campus on a Tuesday evening, drinking a hot cup of Starbucks chai tea giving perspective, advice and any wisdom and discernment I can muster up, for a freshmen I was blessed with the opportunity to mentor. The fact that I get to do that weekly blows my mind and humbles me to an extent that I could never fully express in words.
Anywho, mid-way through many conversations as my head was spinning and my thoughts were churning, I realized the irony in it all. I am a mere four years older then this beautiful woman of God and yet it seems the same things that I advise her to seek and live out, I myself am having trouble doing the same in. My heart felt weirdly conflicted as the things I felt led to reassure her in and remind her of, were things I don't often remind myself of. Or I don't often believe.
While it was honestly just frustrating in the beginning, it was surprisingly liberating once I processed it all a bit. The beauty in sharing thoughts that you could use yourself is that you see the reality of what changes need to be made in your life. What things you need to work on or pray through in order to truly practice what you preach. Even to see truths that you rarely lived our before because you rarely realized you lacked. From giving advice and then flipping the script on myself I was able to see how I need to do something about it.
Don't compare friendships. They don't deserve it and neither do you. A one year friendship won't look like a ten year friendship, and that's okay. There is beauty in both of them. Stop trying to force-feed deep relationships, they'll happen. There's something to be said for a friendship that's lasted 8 years, grown through grief and joys and trials and big life decisions. There is also something to be said for friendships that are instantaneously strong and make you feel like you've known the other person forever (when in reality, it's only been a year).
Know what you deserve. Period. Point blank. Not only with men, but in life, in careers, in friendships, in roommates. I can't count on my fingers the number of times in the past that I charged $20 for a design project that most any designer on planet Earth would have charged five times the price for. Also, I can't count the number of times I lacked the bravery to stand up for myself when I should have. Grace does not necessarily equate with getting walked all over.
Speak up. The tongue has the power of life and death, and sometimes it brings life to you to speak things in to existence or to bring up something thats hard on your heart, it's not always just for the other person. In that stems one of the hardest truths that I wrestle with and just blatently suck at living out: confrontation is necessary sometimes. And it doesn't have to look messy or mean and it doesn't always have to be hurtful. Speaking the truth in love is Biblical, and it's something I'm trying to live out lately for sure.
Say yes. But learn how to say no too. You are not racking up God's favor or earning God's love by doing a bunch of things. Just because you are busier or your calender is more full than everyone else's around you, doesn't mean you are somehow pleasing God more. And this is coming from a chick that knows how to lay on the commitments. Commitments amount to so little if you have no time to put into them. Choose what you say yes to wisely.
Learn what's soul care for you. And do it often. This year, soul care meant reading every night before I went to bed, cooking fancy dinners for myself, and watching movies. Next year, I'm striving to try new coffee shops, design for myself for fun (instead of always just designing for clients), and to take morning gym classes to start the day off right. Whether it's bubble baths or art projects or going to shows or museums or writing poetry or spending quality time with friends- do it. It's not selfish. And it's too often forgotten under the pile of 'things to do.'
Give yourself space to not know. We are foolish if we think we are human robots that have to have all the answers. You don't have to have a life plan always. You don't have to be a human encyclopedia. You don't have to have a well-rehearsed answer when people ask you questions about who you are or what you want to do next in life. You aren't God, aka chill. Enjoy life a little.