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Stuck Between Scrambling and Settling

a woman opening curtains and looking outside, she has settled
Have you been feeling stuck between life stages, trapped between scrambling and settling? Here are some tips on how to actually settle.

While in college, I remember desiring to write a blog titled, “I Just Want Curtains!” I had been feeling uprooted, unorganized and slightly unstable for years, and I just wanted a home — my home — with curtains!

In my mind, curtains symbolized a home where I would stay for more than a semester, a home where I could nail things into the walls — walls that were painted the color of my choice. Curtains were a symbol of adulthood and my future after college.

I have arrived. I’m out of college, but sadly, my husband and I still have not put up curtains in our apartment.

Yet several other things symbolize the “grown-up” life I longed for — matching dinner plates, a working TV and my very own crockpot. Transitioning into this season happened quickly. I wouldn’t say I woke up one morning shocked at my new routine, but in the last couple weeks there has been a quiet tugging at my heart: “What’s next?”

In the past 17 months I graduated from college, got my first job, got engaged, moved to Colorado, got a new job, lost two dear friends to heaven, got married, and here I am now. The pace, emotions and transitions were intense, but nothing new. My college years seemed to flow that way, making the last year and a half seem familiar.

So now, what’s next?

I’m not talking about contentment. I have written a lot over the past couple years about being content where God has you. I am content and very pleased in my current life stage. But I also think major life change and transition is something I have become so accustomed to in the past six years, making true stability seem border line boring.

In college, you’re always looking forward to the next thing, whether that is the next semester, the next job or even the next big test. When you finally graduate and settle in one place for longer than a nine-month period, it is easy to become restless.

There is something I am (slowly and somewhat painfully) learning about stability. Although risk and excitement may decrease with stability, two other things seem to blossom: commitment and investment.

As I have written before, I had a hard time getting involved in college, whether it was church or social activities. I didn’t want to commit because I always saw the end in sight. “You know, I would love to volunteer, but it will be summer break soon and …” or “That Bible study seems great, but once I get to know everyone, I will be moving, so …”

Investment and commitment were heavy words. But here, now, in a place where summer vacations don’t exist and semesters are only mental time periods that come and go without finals, I can no longer use the excuse that I will be leaving soon.

Being in a stable, life stage opens many doors, and rich community lies behind these doors. Although I may not be in the process of planning my next big move or job change, I can finally start unpacking years of built-up ambition and actually settle. I can take time to join that Bible study and volunteer for that organization. I can start investing in new friendships and invest time and energy into a church family.

How to actually settle

Have you been feeling stuck between life stages, trapped between scrambling and settling? I challenge you to intentionally invest in your current life before you start planning your next great adventure (or escape).

Tips for settling:

  • If you like to write, jot down what your goals were for after college. Think about what you are doing now to achieve those goals, and make a list of practical ways to continue reaching them. Give yourself deadlines and rewards, and have a friend hold you accountable.
  • Start investing in the people around you. Making friends after college can be a challenge as well. Be intentional about getting to know people on a deeper level by taking them out for coffee or lunch. Invest in positive people and join a small group through church. Try to dig deeper with people and build relationships that are more than surface level. Recommended reading: Community: Building Relationships Within God’s Family
  • Plan fun activities with friends to spruce up your new schedule. Have a routine game night or monthly potluck. Events that happen regularly give you a sense of community and family where people depend on you.
  • Commit to volunteer at church or a local organization. Being held accountable to others by taking on responsibilities will help you feel like you belong. This is also a great way to get rooted in the community, making it harder to continually pack up and leave.
  • Be in constant prayer that God uses you right where you are.

All too often our emotions lead us down new paths when we are missing great opportunities right in front of us. Building a strong community can help create a home that is more than curtains and crockpots. Allow yourself to thrive where you are and blossom as the adult God has created you to be.

But remember, God is an unpredictable God … so don’t get too comfortable.

Copyright 2012 Chelsey Nugteren. All rights reserved. 

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