September Brings Panic and Anticipation

Panic and Anticipation

The idea of the “real world” makes me both ridiculously excited and disastrously panicked. Since when I am a senior in college? I mean, really.

The “real world” means getting a job, which I can’t do until I apply for a job, which I can’t do until I have my certification or some semblance of an expected certification. The “real world” means moving to where the job is, which could be close or far, which usually means forming a new community, which is difficult, to say the least. The “real world” means paying money for things I can’t see, but really need, like insurance and retirement. The “real world” means *gasp* guys becoming men and *more gasps* getting to know them without curfews and visiting hours. The “real world” means not living at home anymore, not depending upon mom for grocery money, not being able to swing by the caf for a free meal. The “real world” means budgeting more wisely. The “real world” means making my own schedule, planning my own days, and thinking ahead even more so. It means nurturing my own relationships, because no college Open Dorm is going to do it for me.

And all of this is completely terrifying.

I thought I would graduate college having gone on at least one date. I know it’s only September, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I thought I would graduate college confident and secure in everything I wanted to do in life, which just doesn’t happen. I thought I would graduate college with a job in hand and an apartment with roommates with my name on it, and now I know it doesn’t happen that way.

When I graduated high school, the yearbook staff made a slideshow with each graduate’s picture, name, birthplace, college we would attend in the fall, and intended major. I’ve realized why they don’t do the same thing for college graduates. Many recent college grads go for any job they can find when they graduate, even if that means education majors working in the Admissions Office at their alma mater, or a counseling major taking a few years off before heading to graduate school. Most recently-out-of-college folks don’t have anything cute to put on a slideshow for their parents. The immediate after-college decisions are often not very pretty nor very simple, especially if there is an upcoming marriage. At least single people are free to move where and when they want because a spouse’s job isn’t on the line. Yet even in a single’s circumstances, this transition seems to be very tricky for a lot of people.

And don’t tell me that “everyone else is growing up, so it can’t be that hard.” Believe me, I am not everyone else. Yes, I may have a more organized and self-motivated approach to life than some people, but I feel like there is SO MUCH I do not know. And there is so much I’m just going to have to learn the hard way, through experience and trial & error. Even though, somehow, everyone else must learn it that way, too, I am still afraid. And a little bit panicked.

And yet, I am so ridiculously excited. Excited to have my own place, to decorate and furnish it how I want. Excited to meet people and make plans and go places and travel and not have to sign “Sign-out Sheets” with my RA, even though I love her and I’m appreciative that the college wants to know what we’re up to. I’m excited to teach and to inspire and to see the light bulb turn on in my students’ minds. I’m excited to make literature click for students, to invest into their lives, to allow them to express themselves in writing. I’m excited to explore new places and find a new community and visit new churches and meet women who can mentor me. I’m excited to find little Asian grocery stores and farmer’s markets and organic shops and cook food for people. I’m excited to learn what it means to love and to nurture another person, not because I have to, but because I deeply want to. I’m excited to find my niche in a church, a community, and a school.

I think I am learning that change is necessary, even good, for growth. A bit of uncertainty at the brink of change and even full-blown panic in its midst is okay, because without it we would never learn to push through to the other side. We would never learn what it means to overcome chaos and grow into ourselves on the other side. So, you know what, I’m okay that I’m a little panicked right now. I’m okay with the fact that I can’t figure out if I am feeling more afraid or more excited about growing up.

Autumn Leaves

I am giving myself grace to figure out this whole “growing up” thing, because God gave me grace first, before I even had a thought about grace. Speaking of God’s grace… I went to buy groceries this past Thursday night, and my total was much less ($20-$30 less!) than I anticipated. God is just continuing to prepare the way for me! I am so blessed to know his love and provision and overwhelming grace. He knows I don’t have it all together, and I can rest in that.

This is going to be scary. I am going to panic. But I am also going to look forward with joyful anticipation and enjoy the journey while it’s here. Just like autumn, the single journey into adulthood will not last forever.

Leaves Photo credit: flatworldsedge / Foter / CC BY-SA

When Camp Becomes Family

Staff Photo M/D Weekend

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main…

So begins John Donne’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which is one of my favorite poems.

As I was reflecting on the much-too-short time I spent at camp working Mother-Daughter Weekend the past three days, I realized that I have been blessed with an awesome camp family. Camp is now to me what John Donne was talking about: a family, a unified group, an awareness that what happens to one of us happens to all of us.

I first worked at Riverview Camp this past summer, when I signed up to work the entire ten weeks. It was crazy, but I loved it. When I arrived back for this weekend, I caught up with friends I met over the summer, and I even met a few girls I had not worked with before. What was really cool was that we could talk about camp things like third, ropes, tribes, chicken wrap Tuesdays, oreo yum yum, and Fort Fun and everyone knew what we were talking about. It felt like a family because we shared common experiences and knew most of the same people. It felt like family because I was accepted.

I also learned something fantastic this weekend. I have been reading Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds by Pollock and Van Renken about children raised in multicultural environments, mostly in overseas contexts. One of the problems faced by adolescent TCKs is that they have difficulty finding role models who are in the next immediate stage of life. For example, TCKs being homeschooled on an island in the Pacific don’t interact with young adults from their passport (home) country very often. Or, American TCKs growing up in a boarding school in Africa may not have much contact with American college kids. Not having role models in the most immediate next stage of life makes it difficult for adolescents on the brink of adulthood to make educated decisions regarding post-secondary education, tasks of adulthood (e.g. driving, living away from parents, voting, cooking, etc), dating and relationships, etc.

It is important for people of all life stages, especially teenagers, to be able to model their lives and choices after consistent and positive role models. While everyone should be around people of all ages, a good age for a teenager’s role model is approximately five to ten years older than him or herself, give or take a few years. This is younger than their parents, but older than themselves. I like to call this the ten year difference because ten years is about half of a generation gap.

All of that to say that camp is a family because it has provided me with more role models: women I want to be like when I grow up. Some of them are twenty-something and happily single, others are older, married, with children. These women are stay-at-home moms, school teachers, school athletics workers, outdoor educators, college professors, musicians, graduate students, office employees, camp directors, and the like. They are real women, and I am blessed to know them and work alongside them, as I see them invest their summers and weekends into the lives of girls from across the southeast.

Staff Photo Summer 2013
Summer Staff 2013 – Photo Courtesy Riverview Camp

I am thankful for camp because it is a family. Sometimes we get on everyone’s nerves, sometimes we giggle like sisters, but I know I am accepted despite my crazy quirks. We rely on each other for so much, from being there on a regular basis to helping belay little kids up trees and towers. Even though I am an introvert, I love meeting new people, and it has been a blessing to get to know so many friends from my summer and weekend at camp.

Looking forward to heading back whenever I can!

August in Review

August has been a really crazy month for me. I lived in three states, visited ten states and the District of Columbia, spent time in two countries, worked two jobs, slept in ten beds, ate everything from microwavable popcorn to calamari, drove too many hours to count, packed and unpacked and repacked and forgot something every time, and finally, somehow, ended up back at college to begin my senior year.

I don’t know how it happened – I just know that I am here. Believe me, part of me loves the thrill of adventure, the excitement and calculated risk of trying new things and doing something crazy. However, when I first got back to school, I went to bed around 9pm every night because I was just so exhausted and felt so out of control. It took a couple really great chapel services, some time with God, reconnecting with old friends, and even tearing down a closet door to re-center myself.

Adventure is really fun and I believe that everything I did this August and this entire summer was a benefit to me personally, but I am also reminded that I am so introverted that I have to be alone to recharge. It has been nonstop for weeks upon months now, and I’ve learned that I must rest! I have to use precious time, like the weekends or a spare hour here or there to be by myself, to workout, to read, to eat or have coffee with friends, to sleep.

I was made to glorify and enjoy God forever. Sometimes in my pursuit of service for Him or enjoyment of His gifts, I forget Him. Let me remember that resting in God is where I get my strength to do everything else he has called me to do.

If you fall into the need-time-to-recharge-or-I-might-die category, go do it. Don’t think that you can somehow be okay by ignoring your innate needs to be alone or to do nothing for a time. Rest is good. When we recharge with God, he will give us what we need to keep going.

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

– II Thessalonians 1:11-12, NLT