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?