Goodbye vs. See You Later

For a while, I thought that a transition was a completely new start.  I could wipe my slate clean of all the distressful people I had met and the memories that made me shudder.  However, I do not have to forget about the people that actually helped me grow, and the memories that motivate me to be joyful and successful.

True maturity is knowing when to say “goodbye” and when to say “I’ll see you later.”  “Goodbye” is definite, while “I’ll see you later” provides an opportunity to reconnect.  When I had my exit interview for my job at the writing center, my boss told me to e-mail her with updates about how I am doing.  My professors all made sure I knew that I could still contact them if I needed support.  I found ways to stay in touch with my friends through Facebook or texting, making plans to see them in the near future.  However, there were some people that I did not want following me into this next season of my life, so I avoided them or gave them a definite, “Goodbye.”

Sure, that season of my life is over, and it will never be the same.  However, that does not mean friendships have to end.  I may never be an undergraduate student again, but that does not mean I will never see my friends again.  It only means that I will never see them like I did before.  Instead of seeing them in the cafeteria, in classes, and in my dorm, I’ll probably Skype with them, take them out to lunch, or go on a weekend trip to visit them.

As you are thinking about who to bring with you into the next season of your life, think about the direction in which your life is going.  If you know someone who can help you attain the career that you want, stay in contact with him. If someone has blessed with you wise counsel, encourage her by continuing to share the good events happening in your life. Always leave room for an opportunity to stay in contact.  A few years down the road, you may need those people.  As a matter of fact, they may even need you! When it’s time to say, “Goodbye,” you’ll know.  But when it’s time to say, “See you later,” make “later” a possibility.


A Juggling Act

I have a few friends that like to juggle.  One time, while I was bored, I picked up some rocks and taught myself how to juggle.  After observing my friends, I thought I was a pro.  Later, I told one of my friends how great I was at juggling.  He watched me as I threw three tennis balls around, feeling like an expert.  “How am I doing?” I asked hopefully. “You’re doing it wrong,” he told me flatly.  He grabbed the balls from my hands.  “This is how you do it.”  I stared as he juggled with such ease.  As he threw the balls into the air, he shot words of advice in my direction.  Now, I knew I should not have been upset.  I had only started. I am sure that with more time, practice, and guidance, I could learn how to juggle.

Lately, it seems like my life has been a juggling act. Now that I have graduated, my life is not structured.  People ask me, “So… what have you been doing?”  I feel like they expect an answer like, “I’m getting my master’s in the fall” or, “I got a journalism position in the city.”  But instead, I tell them the jumble of activities that I have been doing to occupy my time.  I just started working at JCPenney again.  I’m writing a blog.  Next week, I’m starting a TEFL certification class.  In October, I’m going to Haiti for a week. I’m visiting friends over the summer in different states.  I applied to work as a page designer for a local newspaper.  Hopefully, if I plant enough seeds, something will bloom into a career…or at least a way to pay off my loans.  When I pay off some loans, I’ll look into getting my masters in something.  These activities are not related to each other.  I’m simply looking at my skills, passions, and interests, and making the most of the fact that I have no obligations until my loan payments start in a few months.

As I answer the question – “What are you doing with your life?” – it feels like all the pins that I’ve been juggling are falling to the floor.  I feel like something is not right.  I watch other people and wonder why their lives look so orderly.  Part of me wonders if life will always be this way.  Without college, will my life be in a constant state of confusion and uncertainty?  Since I trust God with my life, I know that I am in good hands, but I am looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.  I am waiting for life to make sense again.

Transitions are allowed to be chaotic.  It’s OK to be in a period of uncertainty.  If you have trusted God with your future, you are in good hands. Before you have any obligations, I encourage you do what you love. Use your gifts and passions to help someone else.  Trust that what you plant – your talents, skills, and energy that you put to use – will eventually grow into something fruitful.  Keep trying; with practice, guidance, and time, we can master this juggling act!


Let Go, and Let it Out

When classes were over and most students went home, the seniors had a BBQ to celebrate graduation.  Everyone was having a good time.  Some students were squirting each other with water, and others played with glow sticks.  I was enjoying some food while talking with some friends.

Over time, it became chilly outside.  I turned to one of my friends and said, “I think I’m going up to my room to get my jacket.”  She smiled and told me to go ahead.  As much as her answer was fine, our interaction caused me to miss one of my best friends.  Normally, when I needed to go to my room (or anywhere for that matter), my friend would hop up from her seat and insist that she accompany me.  But at the time, she was on her way back to her home state, on the other side of the country.  Suddenly, I felt the urge to cry.  While everyone was having fun around me, I could not help but feel sad.

I went back to my room, grabbed my journal, and wept.  It had finally hit me that my time as a college student was over.  Most of my friends were back in their home states (or even their home countries) far away from me.  There I sat, sobbing in my room, as the sun set and darkness filled the sky.  I wrote whatever came to mind in my journal.  I wrote down what I was honestly feeling, knowing that no one else would read it.  I was raw with my emotions and how I expressed them.  In between sentences, I would take breaks to cry.  I would also take breaks to pray, giving my burden to God and trusting that this pain would not last forever.  At the end, I felt much better.

Over the next few days, I put my emotions to the side again.  My senior class went on a trip to Washington D. C.  I couldn’t cry on a fun trip like that!  Then the next day I saw some friends for the last time.  I wanted to enjoy seeing them rather than talking about how much I would miss them.  The day after that, I graduated. Between packing, cleaning, eating, driving, seeing family, and taking pictures, I had no time to process how I was feeling.

On graduation day, my friend gave me a piece of paper that helped me sort through my emotions.  The paper had questions printed on it, such as “How are you feeling?” and “Why do you feel that way?”  When I finally settled back into my house – after sitting in traffic and then driving around just to let off some steam – I looked at the note. Well, this looks great, I thought excitedly, let me fill this out.  As I started to think about how I felt, all the emotions that I had stuffed finally welled up like a geyser inside of me.  I ran for my journal and started writing again.  I felt a random assortment of emotions.  In one sentence, I was happy to be finished with school.  In the second sentence, I was angry that I had sat in traffic.  I was sad, excited, and scared all in one moment.  While I was processing my feelings, it seemed like there was a deep burden in my chest, like a rock was weighing down my soul.  As I cried, as I was honest with my emotions, as I gave my emotions and my confusion to God, the burden lifted.

Last blog post, I talked about the importance of enjoying the last moments of a season.  However, it is also important to grieve what was lost.  I write in my journal every chance I get, filling the pages with my thoughts and feelings.  These emotions are normal, even if everyone else appears joyful and excited.  Give yourself time to grieve. I know that you cannot turn off your emotions like a faucet. However, if you stuff your emotions, they will be more uncontrollable when you finally deal with them.

I encourage you to write down how you are feeling and why you think you feel that way.  Write about how you honestly feel.  If you do not like to write, find a person who could support you as you grieve.  Do whatever you can to deal with your emotions in a healthy way.  If you need to cry, make sure that you are comfortable as you do so.  Cry with someone who could hug you or listen to you as you process your thoughts.  Cry squeezing a pillow or curled up in your bed.  Do not be surprised if you feel a mix of emotions, especially if you are used to stuffing your feelings.

When you leave a good season, let it go, but let out your emotions. Give up your emotions to God.  By trusting him with your situation, you know that your tears are not shed in vain.  Letting out your feelings with help you to move on into the next season.


Trying on New Clothes: You Can’t Go Around It

Transitions are those moments in life that are in between two seasons.  In a lifetime, one has many seasons.  In college, these seasons are packaged tightly into neat packages called semesters.  After college (for me), seasons are more disorganized, and transitions are more drastic.

Transitioning from a college student to a…well, a non-college student…has been difficult.  It seems like I had let go of so many great opportunities after I had walked across that stage.  At the same time, I now have access to even greater opportunities that lie ahead of my path.  I said goodbye to some wonderful friends, only to say hello to new co-workers and deeper relationships with people I knew before college.  It has felt like trying on new clothes.  The clothes feel clean and refreshing, but there was nothing wrong with my old comfortable clothes.  At this point in my life, I am trying to discover what to wear, what to throw out, and what to save for later.  As I grow, the clothes that were once comfortable may become itchy, worn out, or tight.

Transitions between seasons are difficult, but they are worth it.  They can come in numerous forms, from graduation to getting a job promotion to losing a loved one.  The temptation is to try to avoid transitions.  It is possible to go from one season to another without taking the time to grieve what was lost, process what was gained, and make a plan for the future.  However, inevitably, you will hit a bump in the road and will have to go back to deal with what you did not process before.

Journey with me as I process through my transitioning from a college student to whatever else God has for me.  This time in my life is different, because I have never done it before, but I believe that there is hope at the end of this.  Life is a process that takes time to unfold, and we need to take the time to understand what we are facing.  I am thankful for those who have taught me the importance of reflection, grieving, and hope.  I hope that this blog series will not only help me verbalize my feelings, but will also encourage anyone else who is moving from one stage of life to another.


From Childish to Childlike: The Value of Transitions

Over the past few days, I have been talking about transitioning from childish to childlike.  But what are the benefits of going from childish to childlike?  If our goal is to be spiritually mature, why would we want to explore life as a child?

From the time I was seven years old until I was about sixteen, my life was chaotic.  My childhood was taken from me by divorce, stepparents, responsibilities, hidden emotions, and anxiety.  These events are still pretty tough for me to discuss, even though they happened nearly ten years ago.  When normal children were having fun and playing, I was in my house, trying to sort through how I felt.  I balanced taking care of my sister, seeing my parents, and entertaining a bipolar stepfather, while attempting to figure out why I was so anxious all the time.  My stepsisters made fun of me whenever I acted my age, despite the fact that they were only two years older than me.  They constantly compared themselves to me.  As a result, I put away childish things.  I grew up, forgetting the joy and peace I felt as a child.

During my college years, I was scared of growing up.  Whatever chance I had of going back to my childhood was over.  I cried a lot over the loss of opportunities.  I journaled about my fears and concerns, like getting a job or having my own family.  Because I missed my childhood, I did not feel safe about going into the future.

When I went on that retreat and played on the challenge course, I thought a lot about my childhood.  I remembered the fun time I had in kindergarten.  I remembered the embarrassing moments from elementary school.  I remembered my friends and the activities I enjoyed doing.  Honestly, although that time I had on the playground was short, it was helpful to grieve my childhood so that I could look toward the future.  It was not possible for me to grow up because I desired a childhood that I didn’t have.

As you walk from childishness to childlikeness, do not be afraid to grieve.  If you did not have a childhood, take some time to play. Humble yourself.  Take a break from work to do what you love.  Spend time with friends.  Look up at God and thank Him for the life that He has given you.

This blog post concludes my series “From Childish to Childlike.”  After a quick break this weekend, I will continue to discuss the importance of transitions.  Come back on Monday to read my new series. Thanks for your continued support.  Be blessed!