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. 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.
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
- 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
- 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.