March has come, and with it a realization that college is certainly, most definitely, indubitably over. The holidays are done, my next paid holiday from work is Memorial Day, and my commencement day feels like a different life. While my ex-classmates just began spring break, I began another week of, well…life. Another week of work and physical therapy and bus rides and GetGo receipts and trips to Aldi. And while this life is certainly not bad (many reasons to call it good), and an overwhelming majority of the time I am super glad to be done with college, it has become very clear in the past few weeks that the honeymoon is over.
Now, in the month of March, the newness of this post-grad life has worn off, and sometimes it feels pretty darn disillusioning.
It is strange to realize the newness of this season has lost its gleam, and that the reality of life has set in. These days, life is very much a routine: wake up at 5 AM, commute to work, work, physical therapy, go home, eat dinner, watch an episode of TV or read a magazine, go to bed at 9:30 or 10. So very fortunately for me, I love my job, found a supportive church, live near my family, and have a stinkin’ cute golden retriever puppy. But in the midst of all of this, I must admit: I’m a little (okay, a lot) freaked out with it all.
For the first time in my life, there is a not a notable life moment (AKA: the kind of moment you put on your permanent Facebook timeline) on the horizon. No new job, big move, large event, graduation ceremony, etc. For a person who was characteristically future-focused throughout most of her life, this is a challenge.
When I was little, I couldn’t wait to be bigger so I could do what my brothers did. When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait for college to study what I wanted to and find nice friends (HA! at the first part and PTL for second part). When I was in college, I was excited to graduate and be done with studying, done with the pressure, done with the stress and late nights, done with prison-level type cuts of meat. And now…I am here. The honeymoon is over.
While that thought was lurking in the back of my mind, an interaction I had last week brought it to the forefront. Last week I had dinner with a friend, and in our conversation he said that it’s really good for him to busy. “I love being busy,” he said. I asked him why, knowing pretty well that he wanted me to ask him why because his answer was something he needed to admit. He answered with a resigned, knowing laugh: “Because if I’m busy I don’t have time to think about all the problems I have.” I laughed back, knowing the truth of his statement and appreciating his honesty. After all, for four years I was at a college with more than a few people who were busy for the exact same reasons…they just didn’t know it yet* (*because they hadn’t graduated yet)
For me, the beginning of post-grad life was busy…so busy, one might say that I, like my friend, didn’t have time to think about all the problems I had. The summer after college was one filled with freedom: concerts and long runs and good food and ice cream outings, new friends and new places and new job.
But then fall came, and with it came the death of my dog, a severe and hugely limiting ankle injury that took away and remains to take away my ability to run, the end of a friendship, and the challenge of encouraging friends who were going through some plain old life-is-hard shit. I miss seeing my friends, and on top of that, I had to file my taxes last week and I OWE $21! THANKS, OBAMA.( Jk, love u barack & michelle plz come back soon)
In this post-honeymoon state of disillusionment, or whatever one might call it, it’s easy to freak out a little. Easy to let the anxiety take over and it’s easy to tell myself I need to write a life plan because this whole ship-without-a-rudder kind of feeling is not good. Easy to plan more activities to distract myself. Easy to let the bad outweigh the good. Easy to not appreciate the blessings of the every-day givens that this season of life has brought. Easy to associate a stable life with an unimportant, uninspiring one. Honestly, it’s easy to do these things. It’s what I’m used to doing. It’s what college-Grace would have done. She would have freaked out and then created an action plan to strike these feelings of inferiority down.
But I am not college-Grace. I am post-grad Grace.
So this week, I want to learn to accept that the honeymoon is over, and lean in to the feelings of weirdness and uncomfortableness and sadness that sometimes comes with that. But I also want to lean away from the anxious thoughts that capitalize on those feelings: the ones that tell me I need to divorce this life I have (so far) made because those pitter-patter, honeymoon feelings have become less strong. Because the thoughts that tell me I am not enough? They are lies.
I want to lean away from making my days so busy that I don’t have time to think about my problems. I want to lean in to the thought I read in the Ash Wednesday devotional that She Reads Truth shared this week: “Lent is a time we admit our limits and acknowledge the brevity of this life…to remember that from the dust we were made and to the dust we shall return. Even so, in Christ, we live in the eternal hope of the resurrection.”
This Thursday, the day after Ash Wednesday, I was at the gym, feeling the weight of these thoughts which you have been just briefed on. I was doing my 45th calf raise of the day (huzzah for broken ankle therapy exercises!) when the song “He Will” by Ellie Holcomb came on. It goes like this:
Whether I’m in want or plenty
Whether I’m in health or ill
Our God promises his children He will, He will
He’ll bind up the broken hearted
Oh He will, oh He will
He’ll set captives free from darkness
Oh He will, oh He will
He’ll breathe hope into the hopeless
Help the restless soul be still
Oh, oh, He will, He will
He’ll give beauty for our ashes
He’ll restore the oil of gladness
We will praise Him through our sadness
’til the promise is fulfilled
Oh, oh, He will, He will
So, I guess in Part 5 of these post-grad blogs, I am here to say: the the honeymoon is over.
Even so: He’ll give beauty for our ashes. He will, he will.