Dear Struggling 21 (or 20, or 22) Year Old:
Do you ever feel like you have a lot of anxiety about where your life is going, how you’re going to get there, or what’s going to happen when you get there? Ever feel like you’re drowning in the pressure to figure out the ideal roadmap, make a solid five year plan, and somehow manage to fit in socially?
At 21, the year before I graduated college, I had several mini meltdowns.
And by “mini”, I mean total freak outs.
I would constantly think: WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?!
I think the pressure of college and career came to a violent clash and I began inviting comparison into my heart without intending to.
The pressure to grow up was looming in the horizon and I didn’t know how to handle that reality. Let’s be real, I still don’t know how to handle that reality. Can’t I just be Wendy from Peter Pan?
Anyway, I remember gushing my doubts and fears on a long car ride with my mama. I told her my dread of joining the rat race in corporate America, my uncertainty of what my dreams even were, and the itch in my heart that I couldn’t identify. I felt dreamless. Purposeless. One in a hundred million.
So if that’s you, welcome to the club. But I think perhaps those feelings result from the lack of control our hearts somehow know about. Through all of our efforts to prepare, plan, schedule and control, it seems as though we’re constantly in the a backwards race of tricking our heart into thinking we’ve got control.
No body has it all figured out. So don’t be fooled.
But I also remember telling my mama that I wanted to do SOMETHING creative, purposeful, and impactful. Sounded like a long shot. And most days, it still does. “Something” is still defining itself.
But I’m learn that’s okay if you’ve got a little fire in your spirit, if you learn to smile through the failures, and trust God’s hand on the process.
Like I said, most days I still don’t know what this is supposed to look like. My senior-in-college-working-at-a-banking-internship-self would never have let me do what I am now. But God would. And I had to start letting Him in on my life through something as simple as conversation. Isn’t that funny? There’s no secret formula to reconnecting with God. It’s the same as reconnecting with an old friend. Say hi, tell him about your life, and pay attention to His voice heard through your experiences, His people, and His Word.
So although none of us have anything all that figured out, I have three things to say:
1. We have to be okay with taking risks when it doesn’t make sense.
Leap, jump, fall, scrape your knees. The more you do, the more you’ll realize a little bump or scratch here and there isn’t too bad compared to being trapped inside a head full of worries we literally cannot do anything about.
2. We also have to be okay with change. Big, hard, uncomfortable change.
Because when we do, the canvas of our life will be splashed full of more color and excitement than had we done what the world expected us to.
3. We have to be okay with standing out over fitting in. 21 is a hard age because there’s all sorts of pressure to not only fit in but also to figure out your life (like everyone else is apparently doing).
But the purpose of life is not to fit in or blend in but to be true to who we are, stand out when it’s hard, and partner with all the other misfits and love em like Jesus.
So, just do you.
Do what the good Lord etches on your heart – day by day. And you’re only going to find out what that is by talking to Him and letting Him talk to you through His people and His Word.
Because when you start talking to God and letting Him in on your plans, you’ll see the beauty of a process unfolding, instead of trying to teleport in a hyper-controlled fashion to a single point on a map. You’ve already arrived because you’re a daughter of God. So enjoy the journey – He’s got it all mapped out.