Hello again, friends!
It's been about a month since I graduated from TCU, and we've got a lot of catching up to do. It certainly was not my plan to go this long without blogging, but when does life go exactly according to our plan? (If you're wondering, of course the answer is never — I'm working on not expecting my life to be the exception).
Today I want to begin explaining the unexpected journey of failure, surrender, and growth I've experienced over the past few months. This will be the first of a series of blog posts about my second semester of senior year — I hope my story encourages you in whatever transition you're navigating.
Let me start by saying: my final semester of college was significantly busier than I anticipated. Looking back, I also put way too much pressure on myself to have the most meaningful semester ever. I'm not sure what I was prepared for, but it certainly wasn't the whirlwind of "lasts" and and questions and doubts and celebrations that marked January through May.
I started the semester wanting to do it all: make incredible memories with my friends, finish my classes strong, prepare to move to a faraway new city, and secure my dream job, all while growing in my spiritual and physical health and appearing composed and impressive from the outside looking in. In the midst of uncertainty, I strived for perfection as a means of feeling in control. What I didn't realize at the time is how little control was mine for the taking.
In late March I found myself feeling entirely drained and helpless, crying on my bedroom floor and asking God for answers. The more I tried to control my future, the less my life went according to my plan. All of my goals felt heavy and stressful and impossible to achieve.
Eventually I was so burnt out that I finally listened to the advice God, my family, and my friends had been giving me for months: slow down.
In my soul, I knew I should slow down. But I didn't want to. I couldn't surrender my plans for perfection. Despite my exhaustion, I still held on to my plans for an impressive future. But as I wrote in my book, A Way in the Wilderness, "Life is about more than your image."
In my selfishness and insecurity, I spent the majority of senior year preparing for a perfect future (where everything went according to my plan) instead of loving the season of life I was in (which was special and sweet and fleeting). In my pride I believed the lie that my worth comes from my productivity and achievements. However, it's impossible to be productive or achieve much when you're trying to do everything at once. I wanted perfection, but I needed priorities.
Thus began the necessary process of slowing down and re-learning that I was made for much more than accomplishments. Instead of striving to do it all, I asked myself questions like, How am I actually doing? What is important to me? Why do I feel this way? and What do I actually want? I suggest you take a moment and ask yourself the same.
In April, I decided to prioritize my present season of life. Instead of trying to micromanage my relationships, classes, job search, reputation, and future plans all at once, I decided to step back and let life happen for me. I decided to prioritize the people and opportunities in front of me instead of striving to manufacture a life I could control. It was this shift in my priorities, from desiring to be impressive to being present, that propelled me toward my decision to live in Dallas after graduation. More on that later.
I've been living in Dallas for about three weeks now, and it's not what I planned for myself at the start of last semester. Less than an hour drive from TCU, Dallas may not seem like the most courageous choice to those who don't know me well. But I'm here and I'm working on not caring so much about others' opinions. I'm finding unexpected peace in this unexpected scenario. It is testing me in good ways, as do most things we find on the other side of slowing down.
Living in Dallas would have never happened had I not slowed down in April. If I had successfully controlled my life to get everything I wanted, I would still be running that competitive, prideful race I so often do.
I'm slowly starting to be grateful that I didn't get what I thought I wanted. I think it is often the situations we try hardest to control that end up hurting us most.
And with that, I want to encourage you to ask yourself - where do you need to slow down? Why do you feel you have to run so fast? You never know what is on the other side of slowing down.
It may not be what you planned, but it will likely be what you need.