Life has not seemed to want to slow down. In fact, I think it’s been going at least 90 miles per hour these last two months. So fast that my brain is going through jet lag and needs about a week of sleep in order to catch up and realize that I AM GRADUATING SOON AHHHH.
I literally cannot process that phrase. I feel as if I am clutching onto everything and begging the clock to tick by a little more slowly. “But I love college,” my brain keeps repeating. I’ve been getting plenty of opportunities to reflect on whether or not these last four years have lived up to the “Best Four Years Of Your Life” hype on my long drives to the hospital. There’s something about silent, solitary drives that open up a flood of memories. I wasn’t too excited to drive an hour there and back, but I am honestly grateful that I get this quiet time to watch the sunrise and reminisce.
And you know what?
The short answer is no. The long answer? Why would I want to confine only these four years to the best? Do I really want everything to be downhill from here? What REALLY happened these last four years? Sure, they were pretty dang incredible. I was introduced to wonderful, lifelong friendships. I had the chance to travel the world, do things that scared me, and discover what gave me life. College was able to put a lot of things into perspective, but it also distorted a lot of things.
For so long, my self value came from how well I could perform academically. I put so much pressure on myself to be the best, to get all the A’s, and to compete. And when I couldn’t live up to that expectation, internally, I was crushed. I caused myself so much unnecessary anxiety. But thankfully, people who were living out of a different identity were able to show me the way out of that vicious cycle. Because I didn’t necessarily pick a stress-free major.
I look back on that lost girl who let the world define so many things for her: relationships, purpose, success, wealth.
I was so set on pursuing my doctorate as a freshman. A FRESHMAN. I didn’t even know how to use a coffee machine at that point and I was already living 10 years in the future (I am an incredibly clueless person FYI). And the other day I was asked what my plans were going to be after graduation. And you know what? I got ticked. I got real frustrated actually, and I couldn’t figure out why this person’s question about not pursing my masters/doctorate bothered me so much. I had been asked plenty of times whether or not I would continue to go to school. And it had never bothered me as much as it did recently. What had changed within me? Where were these emotions stemming from?
My sense of purpose had changed. It had shifted. I no longer felt that I had to let other people’s expectations define whether or not I was “successful.” Why are we always wanting more? Better? Why do we constantly want to live for what’s next?
I found this mentality draining. I knew I didn’t want to be constantly looking for the next thing. Because, sadly, once I got to the next “thing” whether that was a trip, a new purchase, or the next season or phase of my life, it just didn’t deliver like I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I am no pro at living in the moment, but through making time for silence this last year and a half of college, I found that so many things in my life were fillers. Distractions. Noise.
Did I even really desire to become a nurse practitioner? Or was that the answer I felt that I had to give in order to be somebody? To give my life meaning and purpose?
What was giving my life purpose?
I love these big, deep, philosophical questions but many times, I don’t know the answer to them. They take time. I really have to let them marinate.
My time in college marinating these questions has just about come to a close. But one thing I do know for sure is that I was created — you were created — we were ALL created for greater things: to love and be loved. It is the core of our deepest longings and desires.
And now, I let THAT give my life purpose. To wake up each morning, searching for the opportunities to love in the most minute but also grandest ways. To learn to admit where I failed to love, and ask for the grace to learn from my failure in order to grow deeper in the knowledge of what true love is. To come to know how I can live love out in the ways that I speak, in the ways that I act, in the ways I think and respond to life.
Thanks college for putting me on the path to discovering a life that is lived in constant love; a life where I learn how suffering and pain can coexist with abundant joy; I owe you Murray State.