5 Years and Counting.

Approximately five years ago, give or take a week, this was me…

Graduating undergrad. Leaving my home at Otterbein and heading off into the real world. I was in a pretty good place; I had an apartment with my three best friends and a job that I started prior to graduation.

This time of year always holds a special place in my heart. Working at a university, I’m reminded of the utter excitement and absolute fear that ending college brings. And as this is a milestone anniversary, I thought I’d take a look at a few things I’ve learned in the past 5 years:

I don’t know if you ever feel like an adult.
The other day someone called me an “MBA holding homeowner” and I literally almost started sobbing. I have these things; titles, degrees, mortgages, etc that are all supposed to mean that I’m smart, responsible and capable. And yet most days, I still feel like a child. I’m often intimidated by my students and all the ambition they have, forgetting that I’m in the mentor position. I always kind of thought that when I got to the next milestone, I would feel more prepared. But alas, I’m not sure it works that way. I’m not sure we ever feel ready and settled.

It’s ok not to know.
I spend my days convincing 18-22 year olds that it’s ok if they don’t know what they want to do the rest of their lives We push everyone to always have an answer to “what now?”; Where will you go to college? What will you study? What will you do after graduation? When will you get married? When will you have kids? Bahhhh…

Sometimes, it’s ok to just enjoy the present. Sometimes you just need to be still and figure out who you are before you can figure out where you want to go. And if you do set off in a direction, and it doesn’t work and you turn right back around…that’s ok too.

One of my favorite verses, Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Home will always be home.
No matter what, I will always be a Clyde Flier. I will always love Pizza House, sitting around bonfires and going to Lake Erie on weekends. I’ll always be a country girl. I still want my mom and dad to sweep in and make things better. And even as I change, and my hometown changes, I still feel comfort every time I drive into town (which unfortunately isn’t that often anymore.) There’s just something special about knowing where you belong.

People are more important than anything. Anything.
I’m notorious for saying that the people I spend my work day with are more important than the work I’m doing and the pay I’m receiving. And I believe that. I’ve had jobs in which I spent my days alone in an office, sometimes never talking to another co-worker the whole day, never seeing a human face-to-face and accomplishing nothing except seemingly making money. I don’t believe that’s a fulfilled life. We’re here for a reason, and that reason involves connecting to each other. Put people first. Everything else will fall into place.

Family is a fluid concept.
It isn’t until you’re away from your family that you realize that can mean more than blood relatives. I’ve found my true soul mates are some of my best friends. We’ve gotten each other through the past five years, sometimes dragging one another when life made that necessary. We’ve laid on the floor, staring at the ceiling, waiting for some kind of direction. We’ve stood next to one another through weddings, heartache, babies, moves (oh, good grief, so many moves!!), job changes, job loss, celebrations and frustrations. I know for a fact that I would not have come through these past few years without these people. They mean the world to me. And when you’re on your own, nothing could be more important.

I’ve learned far more than just five things in the past five years…but I thought I’d save you from some of those boring lessons, such as how to cook a turkey on Thanksgiving or how to steam a wedding dress (of which I think I’ve become an expert!) What lessons do you have to add to the list??

To any of my students (I know some of you find this)…know that it’s ok. The next few years may be scary as all get out. But we’ve all been there. And we are coming through on the other side. There are some lessons that only life and time can teach us.

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