Roughly a year ago, I graduated from Bryan College.
Yup, it is still true.
It has been a full year…full of travel, friends, and an awesome job. I certainly have been blessed.
It has been challenging…though in a different way than I expected when I graduated. When I first returned to school for my final semester in January 2015 after working a “big kid job” for 6 months, I was prepared to struggle with being “just” a student again. I prepped myself for chapel/church requirements, curfew, dress code, cafeteria food, everything. Thankfully, I got a place off campus and the transition was easier than I expected. (That said, going from a salaried position to work study at $7.25/hr was…different.) My final semester was many things, and it wasn’t easy to “transition” back. However, I braced myself pretty well for it.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the jump back to “adulthood.” It was a pretty chill semester; I only had to worry about myself. Money wasn’t a big issue. I focused on enjoying my senior year and little else. It was so easy to hand over responsibility and forget everything I learned the hard way. I had a very fun final semester. I don’t regret it.
But then I was back, same job as before, yet somehow different. I was different. It was hard to get back into the old swing of things. I felt like I was constantly tripping over my own feet. I didn’t feel like an adult, I felt like an over-glorified college intern.
Sometimes, I still feel that way. It took a long time to get out of that mindset. I’m glad I went back and finished my degree. I am glad I had that semester, that final “goodbye.”And yet…sometimes I find myself wondering what I did “wrong.” I wonder how life would have been different if I had just kept working. Or maybe if I had understood at the time how complacent I was getting. Or if I had understood my shifting life stages better during that semester or immediately after.
Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe your first long-term, grown up job is a mental hurdle no matter what your background. Maybe it is a growing up thing; maybe it is a Millennial thing. I don’t know.
Or maybe I do know, at least in part. I understood when I first moved to Tennessee as a freshman that it would be different. I didn’t know anyone; this was an entirely new environment. I knew when I studied abroad in England that it would be different, again I was venturing to a totally new place. When I returned to school, I understood it as a new “stage.” That didn’t make any of these three stages any less difficult, but I at least had a “box” to put the experience in and sort it out.
However, I didn’t think about coming home after I graduated as a “new” stage. This was a familiar environment and I knew the job I was taking on. I thought of this as a “coming back” instead of a “starting over.” I guess it makes sense that I tripped over my own feet. This wasn’t an extended summer break; this was a new stage entirely. I’ve made new friends, found a new church, readjusted to a new life. I’ve grown roots again. I made it a lot harder for myself, though, because I was busy trying to figure out why all the new didn’t fit into the old context.
Roughly one year ago, I graduated from Bryan College. One year…painful, messy, funny, inspiring, exciting…meaningful. This is my new context as a young adult. Hard but worth it. (So far! 😉 )