What a whirlwind of a year 2015 has been. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, quit my job, spent the summer in 3 new countries and 10 new states, went 5 months without work, and recently started in my first career position. Relationships have come and gone, friendships have faced new seasons, family members have left, and God has taught me things I never thought possible.
I’ve written in other posts about the immense peace that that Lord has given me through the season of not working and how I’d never felt more content with trusting in Him alone. I have learned more about myself than I ever thought possible, and with that, I can say I’ve grown more this year than I ever expected. I’ve seen new things, I’ve taken new risks, I’ve been crushed and I’ve been rebuilt, I’ve faced tough decisions and I’ve been blessed immeasurably, and I’ve become stronger.
While having a conversation with a friend recently, I realized the greatest lesson that God taught me this year, and that is fully embracing who I am in Him, and not in this world.
Ever since I can remember, I put my own worth in my accomplishments. Grades, awards, sports, promotions, recognitions, affirmations, and success were all I cared about. Without these things, without performing perfectly and other people acknowledging it, I wasn’t good enough. I placed an extreme amount of pressure on myself to make everyone around me proud of what I could do. I fed off of the praise. My worth was in what I did.
So, as you can imagine, when I graduated from school and was denied entry into a graduate program, I was broken. I had this perfect plan for myself and now the door was slammed in my face and I was worth nothing. How could I tell people I didn’t get into the one master’s program I applied for? How could anyone be proud of me now? How could I even be proud of myself?
In addition to that, I quit my job. To be honest, I had worked that tiresome retail job for too long and became fairly complacent in it. Lost motivation and increased frustration led to poor performance proven by the numbers that I was producing for the store. So feeling “not-good-enough” at my job, on top of the fact that the position offered me no satisfaction since I wasn’t using my degree, led to an even larger blow to my self-worth.
So, August rolled around and I wasn’t in school, had no immediate plans to be continuing to grad school, had no job, and felt like I had absolutely nothing going for myself.
But that’s where God stepped in and said, “Your worth is in Me. You are My daughter. You were given gifts to use for My Kingdom. I’ve had a plan for your life since before you were born. Don’t fear. Don’t be anxious. I love you and I won’t ever let you fail.”
Without school or work to prove to myself that I was good at something, I felt worthless, but the Lord reminded me that wasn’t true, and in fact, I am worth so much that Jesus died for me. Through scripture, songs, friend’s words, and church, I was repeatedly told that there are bigger and better plans than the ones I had for myself, that there was no need to be anxious about the future, and that earthly things meant nothing compared to who I am in the Kingdom of my Father.
I can honestly say that I see myself as a different person now. I am more confident in the who I am in Him, and not in the eyes of the world. I am learning more about my talents and gifts and I am seeking out more ways to grow in my faith. I am beginning to volunteer with my church’s student ministry, I’ve found a community of friends who will encourage me as we walk alongside each other, and I’m seeing God do incredible things in my life.
Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In The Message translation, this verse reads, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
I have never related so much to a verse before, and seen it completely and fully applied to my life. Peace is the one and only word that I can use that really encompasses the second half of 2015. It truly does surpass all understanding. I love that the MSG version says “a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.” There is no true wholeness without God, and when I accepted the fact that He would work all things together for my good, my worry vanished. My heart and my mind were calmed. I felt wholesome peace, and it was wonderful.
I am so excited to see what’s in the Plan for this upcoming year, because whatever it is, I know that it’s the very best, and that I’ll only continue to grow in my identity in Christ.
Sometimes we feel like we’re on fire as Christians, ready to take on the day with the full and complete belief that God’s got our backs and we’ll be alright. Sometimes though, we feel like God is far away. He’s not, but everyone is subject to those down-in-the-dumps feelings and we find ourselves struggling to find the good in the day.
Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time alone, which translates to actually spending a lot of time in my own head. My mind is a dangerous place to be, and if I reside there for too long, I become depressed. Evil creeps up, finds its way into my thoughts, and tries to sway me from God, tries to feed me lies and heartbreak and negativity.
But I’ve also noticed lately, that the smallest things, the tiniest occurrences, have been able to bring me back to reality, back to the fact that I am loved, by both my God and the people around me. Retrospectively thinking about the past few months, God has shown himself to me in a plethora of ways, and really reinforced that being joyful in hope and faithful in prayer is indeed, enough.
Not once during this season of unemployment have I felt anxious about my job situation or defeated that application after application were being ignored. I can confidently say that I felt peace the entire time, knowing God’s plan is perfect and He wouldn’t lead me astray.
My two very best friends have been compassionate in every way- praying for me, offering support & encouragement, checking in, and believing that the Lord is working up something good for my life. I cannot express my gratitude to have those two.
In addition, so many other friends have shown me love in ways all unrelated. Whether it be offering to pick me up from the airport, sending a quick text to check in on me, or verbally affirming that I am appreciated, it’s overwhelming to know that I am cared for. I am thankful that the Lord has given me such valuable friendships.
To be completely honest here, I began writing this post with an entire different direction in mind, but in writing, I realized that these praises needed to be shared. Sometimes I just have to sit back and smile when I realize how great my Father is, and how He promised He would never fail me, even in the darkest/quietest/slowest seasons of my life (right now), & He’s never left. That just fills me with joy.
So I suppose my main point of this is to say that, even as Christians, we have tough days where we doubt God and question how our circumstances could possibly be what's best for us. But in these days of wondering why in the world God shook up my plan that I had for myself, I've learned so much about how His plan is ultimately so much greater. So when we're letting Evil lie to us, and we're questioning God's good intent, take heart & have faith.
By the time this post goes public I will be a few hours away from jumping on a plane and heading to Portugal. I quit my job with no other employment lined up. I’m spending a few weeks, in a foreign country, at a stranger’s house, with my father, who I do not have the best relationship with. Everyone thinks I’m crazy & reckless. But there’s more to it.
For a while now I’ve been completely unhappy with my circumstances. My family life is sub par. I graduated from college without an acceptance to a graduate program. No one wants to hire me, and I’ve been trapped in a job that barely makes enough to pay my looming student loan payment, let alone the rest of my bills. I’ve been riding the waves and waiting for a change; but I’m tired of waiting.
I didn’t quit my job to make some sort of a statement, there’s more to it. – I’ve been at the same job for three and a half years now. I was comfortable there. I had friends, I knew the position well, I was in a leadership role. But it wasn’t fulfilling. It takes a special person to commit to a life of retail and not let it chip away at your joy; I am not that person. For over a year now I’ve known that job wasn’t good for my mental health or wellbeing, however it was the perfect job to hold while I was finishing my degree. I remain grateful for all I learned there, and all of the special friendships that I made. Now, post-graduation, I need to find my way into the professional world. I am goal-oriented and future-driven, and I want to have a job that I love more than anything, but how can I focus on something new and something so scary if I am comfortable where I am? Leaving my job and taking a spontaneous European adventure was an opportunity to make myself vulnerable. I can’t stay unemployed for long, that just isn’t practical, so I’ve now created a situation for myself of desperation and trusting the Lord, and I feel one hundred percent at peace with it. When I return I will amp up my job hunt and (hopefully) land a position that uses my talents and my passions and that encourages me, instead of bringing me down. Yes, I quit my job, and I will become better because of it.
I’m not going to Portugal because I want to see Portugal, there’s more to it. – Prior to a few weeks ago, I never thought about going to Portugal. Yes, I love to travel, and yes, I’ll jump at any opportunity to explore Europe, but I have never thought to myself, “man, I cannot wait to go to Portugal.” To be completely honest, I probably wouldn’t have been able to point it out on a map before I Google image searched it (that’s embarrassing, I know). My father has a childhood friend who lives there, and he spoke about taking a trip to visit. Like myself, my dad loves travel and finds joy and peace when in a new country. He hasn’t had to opportunity to travel in years and he wanted to make time to do something that he loves, because after all, everyone deserves a vacation. So when he first asked me if I wanted to tag along, I was hesitant, because there have been countless times that he has been all talk and no action. I didn’t need everyone telling me that he was going to let me down (although people offered their opinions anyway), because I already knew not to get my hopes up until I was actually sitting on a plane somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean. So many people questioned me and asked why I would want to go to Portugal with my father, the man who has hurt me more times than he could know, and what I would do if I got there and was miserable or we got into a fight or he let me down, and then my trip would be ruined. But let me remind you, this isn’t about Portugal.
It’s safe to say that my childhood and adolescence were impacted greatly by the negligence, criticism, and hurtfulness from my father. It is also safe to say that I will be experiencing repercussions of this unhealthy daddy-daughter relationship for the rest of my life. However, it is not fair to me to continue to let all of the hurt and anger build up and feed my resentment. It is not fair that, as a child, I was made aware of things about my dad that I otherwise would have been innocent to, thus changing my perspective of him. It isn’t fair that I was forced to grow up too soon and that not having a caring father became the center of who I was as an individual at a young age. It definitely isn’t fair that I tried to be the best daughter I could be, yet my dad still didn’t acknowledge any of the good in me, and only spoke of the bad. These things are not fair, but they happened, they are a part of my story, and they cannot be changed.
What is left are forgiveness, second chances, and an open heart. And it’s hard.
Staying mad, continuing to foster a negative relationship, and closing off to change is not hurting anyone else besides myself. I am an adult now, but I still deserve a father. I deserve to know him through new eyes, and to form my own opinion of him. He deserves forgiveness, everyone does. Forgiving my dad is something that has been tugging on my heart for years now. I know that God calls us to forgive, but it has been so easy just brushing it to the side and continuing to hold a grudge. The first time I heard Matthew West’s song, “Forgiveness”, it broke me down to tears because it hurt so bad to think about ever forgiving my dad. I didn’t want to think about letting him off the hook or letting him think that all he’s done was okay. But that’s the funny thing about what God calls us to do, it isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. I am ready to forgive.
“even when the jury and the judge say you gotta right to hold a grudge, it’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘set it free’”
“so let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace, the prisoner that it really frees is you”
In summary, I am giving my dad a second chance. We’re removing the distractions, doing something that we both love, and opening up our minds to the possibilities that this trip could bring. What’s the worst that could happen? We come home and things stay the same? That our relationship wasn’t restored, that I’ll still feel fatherless? So be it, because that’s nothing different than right now. But this trip could also open the opportunity to talk, to share emotions, to laugh, to explore, to actually enjoy each other’s presence- the normal things that fathers and daughters are supposed to experience. So when you think that I am taking advantage of a free trip to Portugal, there’s more to it.
To you, this looks like running away, but there’s more to it. – We all have ways of taking a step back and rejuvenating. Everyone needs a change of scenery and a period of time to think in a real and honest way. I have become so overwhelmed with everything. I have felt trapped, without direction, and desperately looking for a way out. I know that God will provide for me and all things will work out in the end. Now, more than ever, I feel Him working in my life and preparing me for something great. The way that I am able to rejuvenate is by removing myself from the situation that causes me pain. Change is not going to happen if I continue doing everything the same. I will not sit here and list all of the reasons why my current circumstances are doing more harm than good. I will say that I know that leaving the country, being removed from my friends and my family, barely being able to use technology, and having the chance to work on myself, is the perfect combination for a fresh start. Traveling makes me happy, it is freeing, and it allows me a temporary escape from all that is negative in my life.
I will not lie though, I strongly considered buying a one way ticket and escaping for good. I could very easily land on my feet in Europe, with a job opportunity already waiting, however, when moving there became a very real possibility, I then realized why that would have been running away. Instead, I will use the time I’ll be gone for soul-searching and heart-mending and then return home for a fresh start in every aspect of my life. I need to reevaluate the person I am, and re-center myself to Christ. I need to be a better friend. I need to be more motivated. I need to make something of myself. And I need to discover, and act upon, the plan that was written for me before I was even born.
Whether or not Portugal leads to a huge life revelation, a 180 in my relationship with my dad, a good experience, or a bad experience, I know that upon my return, I will be ready and I will be focused, and I am so excited.
"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
To say that my life trajectory has been confusing lately would be a bold understatement. It’s really hard to graduate college and not have a plan laid out for you to follow step-by-step. It’s true, you really have two options after graduation (and an unspoken third); go to graduate school, get a job, or live with and mooch off of your parents for as long as possible.
My plan had always been to go to graduate school the fall semester following graduation and to continue my education as far as student loans would let me. After all, an undergraduate bachelor’s degree in psychology hardly means anything in the professional field. But silly me made the mistake of putting all my eggs in one basket and applying to one single grad program, and one of the top in the country at that. I’ll never forget that sinking feeling of seeing that small, thin envelope sitting on the table when I got home from class that night, and knowing there was a rejection waiting for me inside. So my dreams of a master’s degree will be put on hold for a least another year.
Option number two, dive head first into the scary, real, professional world and try not to drown. Well, this is much easier said than done because most places do not even give you the chance to prove that you can swim because your resume doesn’t hold enough “relevant experience”. So not only did grad school reject me, but so have a dozen job opportunities. Post-college life is swell.
So, I have opted for the unspoken and highly looked down upon number three; here I am, living at home and trying to survive off of the same part-time, less than $10/hour retail job. “You have so many possibilities ahead of you”, they say, “you can do absolutely anything!” Well, it’s not really as exciting as they make it out to be. It’s quite terrifying and frustrating and mostly the time that I set aside for job applications just ends in tears and wine.
However, recently I have been assured by my reckless alter-ego that making rash and seemly un-thought out decisions would be my current best plan of action. I have recently applied to or have been considering applying to some job positions that don’t quite fit in the psychology realm. This is terrifying for me because how will grad school want to accept me next year if I still don’t have the right experience? This answer is simple, I feel complete assurance from my God.
Whether it be making huge life decisions, hunting for the perfect job, deciding to leave the country, allowing people into my life, or even scheduling what I’ll have to do tomorrow, I am always extremely anxious, stressed, and, at times, neurotic. My choices keep me up at night and demand the perfect decision. If this part of my life doesn’t go as planned, then how will this other part? Will I ever be happy in my field? Will I ever get my master’s? Will I regret these impulsive decisions down the road?
Man, it’s a funny thing when you try to have it all together and realize that you’re failing miserably at it.
Today, I was helping my brother with some college prep stuff because he starts his first year in two weeks and he’s nowhere near prepared. And laugh if you will but I still have a box in my room full of stuff from my dorm at Delaware before I transferred home, so I opened it to see if there was anything I could pass along to him. Inside, I found a package full of all of the cards and letters that I received during my year away from home. As I began to open and read each of them, I was reminded of how many friends and family members were proud of me and supported me during my first year of college. (It turns out that my mother sent a mass message to a bunch of family asking them to send me letters because I was having a “tough time”, but that doesn’t disregard the sincerity that they wrote, right?)
Anyway, I came across a card from my high school YoungLife leader and as I read it, I swore that she wrote it today and not four years ago, because every single word finds relevance in my life right now.
“B- I know UD has been hard – sometimes new things are hard! … I really hope that you enjoy your time there and enjoy the Lord. He has you there for a sweet reason…You are loved, awesome, and have all you could ever need in Christ!”
And she included this verse,
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
I spend so much time, restless, anxious, and full of worry, that I forget that the Lord will fight for me. How comforting is that? I just need to be still. I don’t have to stay up late wondering if I’ll ever move out of my house. I don’t have to feel depressed that my plan for my life isn’t going as calculated. The Lord’s plan prevails, and He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. When I take a moment to sit back and really think about that, to truly tell myself that everything will be alright because God is for me, then that’s when my perspective changes and I can take a deep breath and feel okay again.
The assurance that I feel from God comse from praying and asking for the right way to be shown to me. There is a sense of peace that I can feel when I know that I am right where He wants me to be. And I know that when the right job opportunity comes up, or the right school, or the right move, that I’ll feel the same peace knowing that I have all I need in Him.
So here’s to feeling completely lost and scared when thinking about my future, but also knowing in my heart that, with my God, I cannot fail. People will question my decisions, they’ll get angry and they’ll doubt me, but I’ll stand tall knowing that there is a greater reason, and that it is going to be oh so great.
“Lay it down, lay it down
Why you holding on so tight
Oh, the freedom you will find
When you let go, God will take over the fight
Oh, just surrender
And feel what it’s like to be free again”
Those are the words coming through my speakers, and the words that resonated in my head that night. I was driving home from work feeling depressed, anxious, and hopeless. I pulled my hair back, rolled the windows down, and took the long way home. The roads were dark and nothing on the radio was fitting my mood, so I turned on the Christian station and prayed that I could release myself from the funk I was in. Lay It Down by Sanctus Real was the song that played next.
I love driving. I find it therapeutic, relaxing, and peaceful. I can sing, I can think, I don’t have to stay in one place. I’ve realized recently that I am able to hear the Lord through music in crazy ways. The words of certain songs have the power to change my mood, inspire me, and give me hope. I am currently in the season of life that feels like a weird limbo. I’ve graduated college, but don’t have a job that uses my degree. I still live at home, my friends are all doing stuff with their lives, and I spend most of my days in bed.
I’m also really good at finding all the faults in my life, and that stems from my perfectionism. Growing up, people told me I was a “perfectionist” because I wouldn’t stop until whatever I was doing was perfect. I adopted that character trait and embraced it as a good thing. Now, at 22-years-old, I am beginning to realize that most of my worries actually come from that perfectionism. Every day I strive to be the perfect daughter, friend, employee, student, citizen, and self. I set ridiculously high expectations and if I cannot reach them, then I’ve failed. If someone doesn’t recognize my effort or my accomplishment, then it wasn’t good enough. If I get in trouble, or I upset some body, or I let someone down, then I am not worthy. I am never who I want to be. My anxious thoughts are always reminding me of what I’ve said or done wrong, and that anxiety also makes me believe that others find me as damaged as I see myself.
Today is July 6th, and I realized this morning that I forgot to flip my calendar to the next month. It’s an inspirational calendar that I think my mother got me for Christmas and I usually read the quote and think to myself how great it is and then don’t give it a second look the rest of the month. But today, as I turned the page, the page simply read, “You Are Enough”.
Yeah, calendar, I know that, it’s basically the epitome of scripture and I obviously know that God loves me despite my sin. But then I really took a step back, a step back from myself. I know that I am enough, but do it believe it?
Another song that has been resonating in my brain this week is Drops in the Ocean by Hawk Nelson. It plays almost every time I’m in the car and the lyrics are written as if God is speaking to you.
“I want you as you are, not as you ought to be
Won’t you lay down your guard and come to me
The shame that grips you now is crippling
It breaks my heart to see you suffering
Cause I am for you, I’m not against you”
God sent his one and only son to come and die for my sins, to wash me clean, to make me new. I’ve heard this a thousand and one times. If Jesus was willing to be crucified for a sinner’s sake, if he was willing to be beaten, tortured, and hung just for me to be able to have a relationship with the Father, then how can I ever believe that I am not good enough? So what I could never impress my dad with anything I did? So what I didn’t get into graduate school on my first try? So what someone doesn’t like me, and so what I don’t have my life completely together? Because the real truth is that my God loves me more than I can ever comprehend and he sees past my faults and he says that I am enough. On the days that I am down, with the weight of my thoughts crushing me, I need only remember that the one who has created the earth and the sky and all of the beauty in between, has also created me, and created me in His image at that! So I should also believe that I am enough the way I am, and that perfectionism is a lie and irrelevant compared to the immense joy that fills my heart knowing I am loved by my God.
The chorus of the song really encompasses that love in a beautiful way
“If you wanna know how far my love can go
Just how deep, just how wide.
If you wanna see how much you mean to me
Looks at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I’d say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean.”
So next time I’m feeling sad, lonely, and worthless, I pray that God always finds a way to remind me of how He sees me. I pray that I constantly remember that He is working all things for my good, that He has a plan, and that He will never fail me.
“Lay it down, lay it down
Why you holding on so tight
Oh, the freedom you will find
When you let go, God will take over the fight
Oh, just surrender
And feel what it’s like to be free again.”
Rough morning, public spaces, uncomfortable situations.
Finally home, you know, you can feel it.
Negative mood, body aching, heart wrenching.
The impending shift at work amplifying all thoughts.
Ponder not going, suck it up, walk out the door.
Driving, vision blurry, chest beating, numbness taking over.
Arrival, can’t get out, tears start flowing. No, not again.
Wipe your eyes, take deep breaths, stand up tall.
Walk a few steps, now you're weak, now you’re shaking.
Brain goes blank, memory gone, skin is burning.
Sit down, close eyes, wonder why.
You should have known, you thought today was different.
You thought you could beat it.
Panic wins- again.
Pounding head, exhausted muscles, heavy eyes.
Leave early, crawl in bed, wonder if it’ll ever end.
Beat yourself up, why couldn’t you stop it, why can’t you control your own mind.
Fall asleep, wake up tomorrow, new day – will panic destroy it?
It’s been eight months since my last severe panic attack. Today, anxiety snuck up on me in full force, causing such physical reactions that, if I didn’t know I was having a panic attack, could have been mistaken for a seizure. I knew before I even left the house that I was not 100%, but I for sure wasn’t expecting what resulted. And after it was all over, all that kept running through my exhausted mind was how I had failed. I failed to prevent the attack, I failed to calm myself down like I had been taught, I failed to become well enough again to work my shift, I failed at making it to a 9th month without an attack. My brain, already flawed and already wreaking havoc on my day, was convincing me that I wasn’t good enough to beat anxiety, that I was mistaken when I thought I was panic free, that I was always going to be the girl who cries and shakes and hyperventilates in the break room.
Then God told me the truth.
Through the radio played Matt Redman’s song, Never Once, and He reminded me that I was never alone, even when I was feeling hopeless and beaten. The lyrics, “never once did we ever walk alone, never once did you leave us on our own” resonated in my mind as I remembered that the victories I’ve experienced with mental health were because of His power. When I look back at the battles, I can also be assured that there will be more and it’s not over, but I’ll never be alone, and the same God who celebrates with me is also there in the hurt and the hopelessness, because He is faithful. My Father doesn’t see me as a failure, as I sometimes see myself, but instead He sees me as strong, brave, and loved. And this God, the one who believes in me and encourages me, is the one who is there in the midst of my anxiety and panic.
How can I believe the lies that I have failed when the one whose image from which I was created is standing right beside me?
Bad days suck, but bad days don’t mean a bad life. And bad days become better when you’re reminded that you’re not on your own.
Some people have no idea that they're a light to others. Some people have absolutely no clue that they emanate joy and grace and respect. These people speak truth, even when it's hard to hear. They knock you down when they question your thinking and explain a better, more optimistic way to view things. They never speak without somehow encouraging you to be a better person. These people have problems, feelings, and bad days, yet they some how keep their heads up and put others before themselves. These people are inspiring.
There is a person like this who I am grateful enough to interact with on occasion. Every few weeks or so, when I show up to a thankless, exhausting, and frustrating job, and I'm already planning for my night to play out negatively, this person catches me off guard and reminds me that life isn't that bad. And that sometimes you deserve what you dish out. And that people are allowed to be grumpy and tired and that you don't always know what circumstances they're facing. This person reminds me that gossip is hurtful, jokes can be hateful, and that everyone can benefit from a hug.
This person exemplifies Jesus, and they don't even realize it. I honesty have no clue if they're Christian or has a relationship with the Lord or let alone believes in God at all. But wow, they'd be really good at it. I've never had an interaction with this person that didn't make me rethink my thoughts, actions, and words. I'd absolutely love to be encouraged by this person more and more, to hear what else they have to say, and to understand their thoughts. They're inspiring and have affected me in more ways then they'll ever know. Thank you for your ever present smile, your nonchalant truth telling, and your refreshing conversations.
Dear College Freshman Self,
Oh how I wish you could read this now. It’s two months away from graduation and you are not where you think you’ll be in any way. You think that you’re having problems now, but just wait, it’ll get worse. I don’t want to scare you, because there won’t be anything thrown at you that you cannot handle. You manage somehow. But here is my advice to you as I prepare for the next step in this journey of life.
Don’t get too comfortable where you are. Life is dandy for you right now. You’re at University of Delaware, your top school, and you’ve made incredible friends, you’ve moved away from home, and you’re feeling pretty confident about this whole college thing. Well, adult decisions suck and you’re going to transfer from UD and end up at Towson, the very place you swore you’d never go. You’re going to commute and you’re going to feel out of place. Oh, and you’re going to develop an anxiety disorder and experience one too many panic attacks. Good luck with that, I won’t lie, you’re going to hit rock bottom soon. Just don’t take for granted the year you have at Delaware. Embrace it and do everything you can. Unfortunately, the best four years of your life are going to turn into just one.
Involve yourself in something you love. Seriously man, explore this massive world, try new things, adventure, and please, please, please do not let your anxiety keep you from that. Do things alone, test your limits, it’s actually not that bad. You may be surprised but your future self got her scuba certification, went sky diving, drove across the country, flew a plane, shot a gun, and lived in London. Pretty impressive, huh? When you are forced to transfer schools, wake up and get yourself involved in something. Go to YoungLife, read your Bible, walk around campus, and go to a freaking football game for crying out loud. You really are going to suck at being a Tiger and if you keep it up, you’re going to graduate without making a single new friend. Yep, not one. Now is your chance to change that.
Experience, experience, experience. I CANNOT EXPRESS THIS ENOUGH. Go get yourself an internship, even if it’s unpaid! Get out into the field no matter how you do it. You’re going to continue as a psychology major and you won’t realize until halfway through your junior year that you want to pursue social work and you’ll add a minor in family studies and human services. I don’t care if you absolutely hate your internship, I promise it won’t be worse than Sports Authority (you still work there, by the way, happy 3 year workiversary…). Your resume is going to look infinitely better with relevant experience than your crappy, thankless retail job. You can blame Towson all you want for not requiring an internship in the psych major, but you should have known this would come back to bite you. Grad schools like experience, trust me, your A grades aren’t enough.
Your plan won’t work out the way you’d hoped. Seriously girl, don’t get your hopes up, because plans change and life happens and sometimes you aren’t meant to go in the direction you want to. Don’t get me wrong, set goals and focus on them. Work hard and stay persistent through all of the struggles you’re going to face, but don’t get disappointed when it doesn’t pay off. You’re going to bust ass, fight your mental illness, defy odds, and put all you have into your school work, but sometimes that won’t be enough. Dear 18-year-old Bianca, I know that your biggest dream right now is to graduate with your bachelor’s degree and attend graduate school immediately afterward. You have a plan and you know you need a master’s degree and you want to get it as soon as you can and jump into your field and be the successful and independent woman you are. Here’s a spoiler, you’re not going to get into grad school. It's going to crush you and you'll feel hopeless and lost and disappointed and not good enough. You’re going to cry and you’re going to get angry and you’re going to be comforted by those you’d least expect, but you’re going to get over it. I know that you have your eyes, and your heart, set on grad school, but consider a plan B, and maybe a plan C. You may think you’re trapped but you aren’t, there is going to be a way out. Heck, I don’t even know what it is yet, but it’s going to be great. [Although, if you can read this, get that internship I mentioned above… because if I have a second chance at living out my plan, I wanna take it. I’m going to regret, every single day, not doing enough to look appealing to that admissions board, but if you get the chance to avoid that feeling, take it.]
The main purpose of this letter to you is just to offer this: just because you have a plan for yourself, doesn’t mean that it’s the best plan. Truth be told, you can’t see into the future. You couldn’t then and you can’t now and you won’t be able to next year. But God can. He knows what’s best. He works all things for good and He knows the ultimate way for you to use your talents and gifts. Please realize early on, that your trust in the Lord is going to be your greatest asset in life. You can’t get angry at Him for wanting the very best for you, and sometimes what you think is best, is actually far from it. Hold on, you’re going to be okay. He doesn’t fail us. And your life is worth something.
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