Prodigal Magazine

Twenty-three and counting.

 

Last spring I was a college senior soaking up a life of low responsibility and extended weekends. I bought a ticket to Europe and was leaving after graduation. My philosophy for life that it was meant to be lived, not just tolerated.

I had already decided: I was going to be the ultimate adventurer.

That was before I graduated.

I spent months leading up to my backpacking trip networking, schmoozing professionals and eating at banquets with the quiet assurance that I would be the happy recipient of some sort of high-paying-no-experience-needed kind of job that would just fall into my lap.

I knew what it would look like to work and play in the real world and I couldn’t wait for it. Wine tasting, yoga class, book clubs and enough money in the bank to afford my weekly trips to Anthropologie. I was sure it would be as simple as that.

It was easy to feel idealistic when all I had to do was sleep in and dream big.

After all I had a stable internship, cheap rent, and the overwhelming assurance, as soon as I received my diploma and tossed my tassel to the left, everything would work itself out beautifully.

Europe came and drifted away plopping me in the marrow of adult life, which in my case turned out to be a room in my parent’s house and an underemployed position, working in sales and marketing at a glass company.

Yes, a glass company.

I’ll tell you what. I did not see that one coming.

My life right now reminds me of this field trip I took once.

I was in the second grade when my class went to Rocky National Park where we had a few hours of kid-style seminars on how to survive in the wilderness. We were supposed to learn handy tips about traveling prepared and keeping warm and how to kill a fish with a hatchet.

I hardly remember one word spoken by the outdoor enthusiasts.

What is tattooed onto my brain is the rain. Relentless, almost pellet-style, unspeakably cold rain.

The rangers were unfettered by the unexpected downpour. They shuffled us into a pavilion style barn, onto the bus, or under thickly woven spruce branches to carry on with the lectures. My memory has blocked every single handy tip given for surviving in the wilderness.

It clings to the icy water pelting my hooded coat, frosty breath, gloved pink hands shoving their way into my coat pocket, and hair dangling defeated against my face.

Pure, unadulterated misery.

Here I am, fresh out of college, receiving lots of little lectures on how to survive in the wilderness — but I don’t remember a single one of them.

All I can do is focus in on stomping out that unexpected, miserable cold rain.

Several nights a month I find myself curled in the fetal position on the bed in my childhood bedroom, chubby tears streaming down my face. Panicked breathing. A pit of anxiety.

This post-graduate, endless, waiting-for-my-life-to-start drudgery.

Or maybe it’s not drudgery after all. 

Recently I watched a documentary recently called 180 Degrees South, which included interviews from Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, who went on a rant about rich doctors who climb Everest and end up hiring Sherpas to take care of all the gear and ice picking.

He goes on to say:

“The whole purpose of climbing something like Everest is to affect some sort of spiritual or physical gain, but if you compromise the process, you’re an a**hole when you start out and you’re an a**hole when you get back.”

I guess that’s the point of doing something like climbing Everest — that you’re different when you come back than you were when you left.

I love the way Shauna Niequist, author of Cold Tangerines says it. She says:

“Nothing good comes easily. You have to lose things you thought you loved, give up things you thought you needed. You have to get over yourself, beyond your past, out from under the weight of your future.

The good stuff never comes when things are easy.

It comes when things are heavily weighted down like moving trucks.

It comes just when you think it never will…”

So maybe this post-graduate, waiting-for-my-life-to-start drudgery isn’t drudgery after all. Maybe exactly the journey that God has for me, his Grace actually, so that I won’t be the same girl I’ve always been, forever.

Have you ever been in a season like this? One where things did not turn out the way you thought they should? How did you respond?

About The Author

Krisi is a middle class twenty-something who lives in Minneapolis, MN. She works with the Prodigal Magazine team and loves mountains more than the average human. She assumed all adventures required a passport, but is being proven otherwise. You can read more on her thoughts about growing up at www.krisiruth.com, or follow her on twitter.

  • http://KatieAx.blogspot.com Katie Axelson

    Yes I’ve had a season exactly like that! I graduated in May with a degree in English writing, spent three weeks over the summer teaching English in China, and then returned to my childhood bedroom to begin the worst thing ever: job searching. Right now I’m an underemployed freelance writer who has had a taste of hope. I love how you end the article about how this time too is an adventure, the exact journey God wants us on for at least now. That brings me hope even when the rejection letters pour in.

    < Katie

  • http://www.reflectiverambling.blogspot.com Monica

    I read this post just a few minutes after finding out that I can’t get into any of the summer school courses I needed, meaning I can’t graduate when I expected (which is already late), and I’m on my way over to do the fetal position and chubby tears thing. I know it seems overdramatic, but getting out of school is kind of like my Everest right now because so much is waiting on me getting that overpriced piece of paper.

    My boyfriend and I always say, “We make plans, then God laughs at us.”

    Sometimes you just get really fed up with being moved around like a chess piece and laughed at by a voice that I picture sounding like Nelson from the Simpsons.

    And, you’re right, maybe this is the journey God has for me right now. I guess I’m just choosing not to like it at the moment.

    Thanks for sharing your story and encouragement, Krisi.

  • Saunde

    Krisi! I love your honesty. I’ve been through a season like this and it’s hard, annoyingly, painfully, begrudgingly difficult. He is good. His Grace is enough. And in the end, it’s Him that we get.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Michaeleen

    So applicable to my life right now. I am working in a mail room out of college and it’s hard to believe that this is somewhere I ended up. I’m blessed with the job, but I make next to nothing and am wondering when things will change. It’s great to read a reminder like yours that God does indeed have a plan for us. As much as I don’t want to admit it now, I am growing into a better person because of where I am in life right now. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • http://shewritesandrights.blogspot.com bethany

    Gosh I love this! And love that you quoted Shauna! I just saw her speak last night at Willow Creek. Reading her books totally encouraged me as a writer, and I think her and others like her are what kept me going when I was working as a waitress after I graduated. This is an excellent post, Krisi. Keep your chin up, and keep writing!!

  • http://www.leannesafricanadventure.wordpress.com Leanne

    I am in that season right now. I pray like crazy and call home and cry to my parents as much as possible. But I find myself clinging every so tightly to God’s promises in the Bible, the one’s about not worrying specifically. I have had a lot of difficult days student teaching (which is the strange middle ground between college and teaching) in another country, dreaming of the ease of coming home again. I miss my friends, I miss college, I miss my life, and I miss cheap cheese. One thing is clear: when my beginning is really rough, things in the future will seem easier for me. And in the meantime (I finally understand that expression), God continually comforts my weak little heart.

  • http://pdxlinds.tumblr.com/ Lindsay

    Krisi, I completely understand the season that you are in, only because I feel as though I’m at the tail-end of the same season. I left college with dreams of changing the world through social work and quickly realized I needed a graduate degree. Similar to you, my adventure hasn’t necessarily looked like I thought (climbing mountains, kayaking rapids, and changing people’s lives for the better), but has been the most formative period of my life on the way to adulthood. I’ll be 26 this year and the last few years I’ve found the value of cultivating a sense of ‘place’ in my hometown, developed networks of deep friendships, engaged in my community through my church and allowing God to grow in me a desire to seek and follow Him, no matter the season. Thanks so much for sharing this! I think this is an important thing to share with recent or soon-to-be graduates, as I feel no one really tells you (nor does culture prepare you) what life is like after the big graduation.

  • http://Krisirj.blogspot.com Krisi

    Thank you for all of the encouragement. I suppose I should not be shocked to hear so many stories similar to my own, but it is always a surprise.

    It starves community when I buy the lie that I am alone in this quarter-life crisis.

  • Nick

    Krisi, I was (and am) right there with ya! As you said, it’s not a surprise that most have felt the same way you do. I did.

    Chalk it up to what we’ve learned at school I guess. Keep plugging along, get those grades, and we’ll bump you up another level. All of a sudden, there are no more levels and we’re sometimes left with nothing more to work for.

    I felt the same way out of college. Got a job with a high tech company making great money but still felt like I was waiting for my life to start.

    Took off for eight months of travel in New Zealand and the Philippines and realized that it’s not a change of scenery or some magic moment that is going to make that gun go off and the marathon of life to start. It’s a choice and a mentality.

    Back home now, I launched a social enterprise with my brother. A clothing line called ThirstTees that gives 25 years of clean water with each purchase.

    Waking up each day with the reassurance that this is what God intended for me. Living a life of purpose has nearly squashed that quarter life crisis feeling. It does still creep up sometimes though :)

  • http://alyssarasco.wordpress.com/ Alyssa Rasco

    I’m right there with you, Krisi. Out of college and back to the hometown without the dream job or any idea what to do next. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through, but this post encourages me to keep pushing on and learn from the experience.

    This is so beautiful and honest, I love it! Keep writing!

  • Beth

    I went through this as well. My story is that I studied abroad in London the Summer before my last undergraduate semester and it changed the landscape of my life. I went back through BUNAC to work for 6 months in a temp job (insurance company) I was broke and loving London for all it could offer when one is broke. I just enjoyed being there and around the people and ‘popping down to the pub for a pint’ after work with co-workers. I felt like part of the grown-up crowd but I was feeling crowded out by my internal desires and thoughts about ‘where I should be.’ I knew I couldn’t go home, my home life was not a positive one for me. One year in Australia for grad school and another year spent moving to 4 different states back in the United States, I landed in Chicago age 26 still immobilized by doubt, fear, uncertainty and not knowing whether I would ever move beyond my old self and embrace the new self. I’m still waiting for a better paying job that suits me and I’m working at building my resume through overseas trips, volunteering and faith. I also got married and I am learning to love myself, age 32, with my flaws, fears and hopes that were and will be. I’m imperfect and I’m learning to accept my past and move forward. Something my 20 something self couldn’t say. Breathe into it and let yourself be who you are where you are because you’re exactly where God needs you so you can do extraordinary things when you’re ready. And by then, you’ll know you’re ready for it. :)

  • http://www.cross-platform.org John

    I’m there with you as well, Krisi. I got out on my own, tasted freedom and life, and somehow wound up back at home for the past few years. It can be hard to think of this time as something from God, but it’s good to remember that even David – a man after God’s heart – had some time stuck in a cave. Thanks for posting!

  • Sarah

    ummmm yep! this is exactly where i am right now!

  • http://www.brookegale.com/ Brooke Gale Luby

    Loved this post! As an adventure-junky now “settling down,” I can totally relate. A quote that is (hopefully) becoming my mantra is a quote by Wendell Berry, “It soon became clear that I was not so much waiting for an important experience as I was having on.” And you live in Saginaw? No way. My boyfriend lives in Saginaw, I am about to move out to Fort Worth. :)  

    • Krisi_J

      Brooke, that quote is great, thank you– and I actually moved yesterday to south Fort Worth, we should meet up sometime! 

      • http://www.brookegale.com/ Brooke Gale Luby

        Yah! I just sent you a friend request. :)  

  • http://twitter.com/shalom08 Shalom L

    It seems, at least from my own observations, that our generation has bought into that lie that “life starts post-graduation.” I used to think like that – I remember, eight years ago, when I was in college, I used to daydream about what my life will be after graduating. I imagine myself stepping out of the subway train with my Christian Dior shoes, Burberry trench coat, Louis Vuitton bag and a business suit on my to work. Fast forward to today, I am $40k in debt (student loan), living with my parents, and working in a dead end job that is so mundane – I rather have dental work done. It’s safe to say that today I don’t own a single Burberry trench coat nor an LV bag, and in fact, my office shoes is one that has seen better days.

    Honestly, today, I don’t even know what the phrase “waiting for my life to start” exactly mean. I also don’t know who to blame for me having unrealistic expectations about my life post-post-secondary school. For sure, we can blame several groups of people regarding that issue, but the truth is, I had enough of the blame game. I got tired of crying over my job situation and have accepted the fact that the whole situation is real and not some dream that will one day go away.

    What I realized lately is that when I was in college I lost track of my own spirituality and my relationship with God. Back then, I completely became apathetic about God – He simply didn’t matter. As a result, I became one with the secular world – the world where one’s self-worth is tied to personal income, job, educational achievements, bank account balance, etc. Lately, as I have rededicated my life back to Jesus Christ, I realized one thing – that God never intended for us to stress over how much money we make and how boring or interesting our job is.  He loves us regardless of whether we work in a high-profile career or a mundane job like mine. In the end, when we face Him in our judgment, what matters only to Him is how much we follow His Son’s teachings and not the kind of work that we had on Earth.

    Working in my current dead-end job was actually a blessing. Somehow it made me search for a church and possible volunteer opportunities working in that Church’s social issues initiatives. I feel like God slapped me in the face and woke me up from a dream. My life simply did NOT start after graduation – it started when I rededicated my life back to God’s grace and will. I know one day that I will have enough money to buy a single Burberry trench coat, but to be perfectly honest, when that day comes, I will rather donate that money to charitable causes. I can only imagine how much water wells that money can buy or make or how many needy people can benefit from it. Life is good, after all, even when you’re underpaid and overworked. Amen! :)

    • Krisi_J

      Shalom, 
      Thank you for sharing! I think it is true that our income, job, car etc. should never shape our identity–it’s hard to change our mindset when earning a degree seemed to be some kind of golden ticket.  There is a way to find joy in the daily mundane, I am glad this it something you are discovering and I hope I am too.  

  • Nathan

    I think drudgery is the word used most often by females to describe their lives post-Nathan. Simple and honest. Loved it. 

    • Krisi_J

      Haha. Hard time with the ladies Nate? 

  • http://bybethanyjae Bethany

    As a recent journalism graduate, this sums up my life perfectly at the moment. Way too perfectly, in fact. :) Thank you for writing this post!!

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