Writing on this blog has always been a wonderful source of stress relief and basically therapy for me, but it’s been sparse as of late. Taking a full-time graduate student schedule of online classes has been leaving me abandoning my computer at any moment possible. Too, I’ve been prayerfully reflecting the future I’m building privately. Being the introvert that I am, I don’t usually share my thoughts unless they are completely formed or I’m seeking trusted outside opinion.
But, I suppose I’m not the only 20-something out there who’s been freaking out about the future and how far I am from what I want in my present. Basically every friend ever has shared that struggle with me, so who I am to hide my struggle?
I love to sit behind my screen and think I have everything figured out, but I don’t. I really, really don’t. I don’t have anything profound to say because I’ve been contemplating it myself, but here’s a roundup of couple of things I’ve been particularly savoring this April:
- Family time at Easter with my nephews, siblings, and parents. 🙂
- Planning a trip to Portland this summer and Europe next summer.
- Pope Francis’s TED talk – the camera angle looks like he’s speaking directly to me, and I was memorized throughout the whole thing. I enjoyed how he talked about how each one of us has a role in the world and that we need to be aware of our neighbors around us in need. Too often I get overwhelmed thinking about the suffering of the whole world that I forget about my roommate, my friends, my family, etc. They are concretely in front of me, needing me, and being a source of hope for them is changing the world.
- Feeling energized about the future of a young adult ministry I’m involved in, Brewing the Faith.
- Having a really great date for the first time in months and feeling hopeful that someone exists who is normal, good-hearted, and kind to me.
- The Big Picture by Dr. Christine Whelan – Whelan’s dissertation was reading all self-help books available about crisis, and she put together the best exercises in all of the books in order to help people find their purpose. It’s geared towards college kids (because that’s the age she teaches at my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin). However, as much as I tried to dismiss the book because I’m so “old” and “wise,” by 50 pages in, I actually went back and started doing the exercises. They’re really good. Nothing has been groundbreaking because I had my true quarter-life crisis at 23-25 and found a lot of help in Meg Jay’s The Defining Decade, but it’s been very affirming. I’ve realized I’m on the right path to what I desire and what is a best fit for me. And I’ve realized I need to live my daily like with a lot more intentionality because I’m creating my own future now.
- Getting summer sports started even though I’m horrible at them.
- My friend’s baby shower, particularly after she lost her first to miscarriage.
- Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales – I judged a book by its cover and picked up this beauty. I want my daily life to have meaning, and if holiness is merely becoming who I am meant to be, let’s make my life devout! St. Francis de Sales made his letters to a friend a book. It’s very personal, affirming, and very introspective (which, duh, I love). He has a series of meditations, and it’s helping me grow in my ability to contemplate and not just analyze. I also particularly liked this passage:
- Catching up with a wide variety friends who I haven’t seen in months via phone and in-person.
- Getting involved in a project that could easily turn into my research project for school and feeling like it’s the perfect opportunity.
- And this analogy about dwelling on life’s challenges from Fr. James Martin’s Between Heaven and Mirth:
One of my friends describes it as searching for the drop of red paint in a can of white paint. It’s a powerful image: the red represents your one problem. You have an entire can of white paint—let’s say, a job, a roof over your head, a loving family, and you choose instead to concentrate on the one tiny red drop–the one thing wrong in your life. Suddenly the whole can turns red: that’s all you can see. That is where choice comes into play. Sometimes, when presented with the mixed bag of life, we can choose to focus on what makes us happy, what more readily connects us to joy in our life.
Not every day is overwhelmingly joyful or feels all that purposeful right now, especially when plugging away at papers and assignments that feel so distant from what I want to do as a nurse practitioner or plodding away in my job and personal life when I dream of so much more for the future.
But just as a building is constructed from the ground up, I’m learning to trust that these little things done well are like stones at the base of a building and are building a future of hope. And even now, I can see the groundwork from years ago brought me to where I am. I trust these days, however much they feel like a Nazareth or dry spot, are preparing me for a future.
I’ve learned that people with beautiful lives are not an accident. They are not lucky or more privileged. They merely take every day as an opportunity for growth, and those “lucky” moments are just when opportunity meets preparation as Seneca once said.
In case you need it, here’s a reminder to embrace your daily preparation (because Lord knows I do!):