I am a 20-something recent graduate of college and, like you, my fellow 20-something, am FREAKING OUT.
Because who are we kidding? We’re all just faking it — faking the confident look on our smug faces, the glitter in our eyes, and the George Clooney-like strides in our thrift-store boots, when really, we’re doubting ourselves and our world. This isn’t the small leagues anymore; this is adulthood.
But not me. At least, that’s what I’ll tell you in person. Because I’m full of it.
For some reason, we all vow to never move back home with our parents. We look down upon those people and say “I’ll never be one of them.” Then, comes the crisis. Then, we find ourselves under that same roof with parents who, very surprisingly, have not changed AT ALL. Even though college has changed us, they have not changed. Often, they even have the same 90’s clothes and the same 90’s haircut. The instant we move in, we try to find a way to move out.
At least, most of us move back in with our parents. Some free-spirited college graduates are able to leave home without the looming threat of student debt dwelling on their backs like a sore. Some college graduates have wealthy parents who put them up in a condo in Beverly Hills just like Lauren Conrad’s did in the show based off her fabulous life. She went partying every night with her beautiful model-like friends, tanning during the day with a perfect physique and golden-haired boyfriend. She also obtained her dream job after graduation because that totally happens to everyone.
I mean, there’s nothing wrong if opportunities mingled with four leaf clovers land on your lap. Take those suckers and plaster them all over your walls.
Me? I’m spending my fabulous post-grad days unpacking cardboard boxes into a room my mother continually tells me to clean . . . still. I’m writing on a desk that once held my middle school diaries and emo, angst-driven poems. I’m walking on the same carpet I danced on as a child coming home from ballet class. I’m looking out the window at a bold tree with green leaves, the same window I once dreamt out of, longing to “fly away” (in the words of Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” the same song I listened to night after endless night in high school) from my comfortable, suburban life.
It may be a little less glamorous than Lauren Conrad’s live-in hunk of a boyfriend, barbie doll roommates apartment, but it’s THE DREAM. Obviously.
And you know how I feel about my post-grad life? I love it. Not in a faking way or a I-secretly-go-out-at-night-to-save-the-word-superhero kind of way. More of my-life-is-a-hot-mess kind of way.
I’m sort of weird like that. I like the mess, no matter how hot it is.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t always like the mess. Oh no. Not even close. This is a very recent phenomenon.
For most of my college life, I hung around students who knew exactly where they wanted to go and exactly what they wanted to do. But as I grew older, I noticed their confidence shift. Their sparkling eyes dulled into a safe gray. When you ask a freshman what they want to do, most of them will have a pretty solid plan. Really, they’re just BSing it.
Okay. So not everyone (I’m looking at you, nursing majors) fakes their confidence.
But even some nursing majors went through the oh-so-familiar “WHAT WILL I DO WITH MY LIFE?” crisis. We’ve all had one of those. Whether we’re 20-somethings or 30-somethings or 40-somethings. We all want to matter. We want our lives to matter. We want people to think we’re important. All of us. Don’t give me that “I don’t care what people think of me” crap. It’s unnatural to not care about what people think of you. Of course, you can train yourself to not care, but it kind of takes like a LIFETIME to get there. Which is why I love older people. They legitimately don’t care about what people think of them.
But 20-somethings? They care . . . like, a lot.
They want to matter.
Which brings me to the mess. I like it because we’re all in it. We’re all the mess. The hot, stinky, Amanda Bynes, existential-crisis bearing, trying-to-afford-cool-things, indie concert going, wide-eyed, messes.
We all think we’re alone but we’re not.
It feels like all the other 20-somethings have it together. They look cool. They act even cooler. They sometimes drive 24 hours with their best friends to go to a music festival likened to woodstock. They’re writing novels. They’re moving to LA to pursue acting or directing or whatever film thing there is. They’re going to grad school to further their studies. They’re moving overseas to help orphans or to teach English to impoverished students. They’re going to law schools wearing business suits they received for graduation. They’re working at a camp for inner-city kids. They’re joining the military. They’re working with their parents. They’re spending their days volunteering in rain forests or national parks. They’re training to be missionaries. They’re applying for jobs or internships. They’re taking a year off to “find themselves.” They’re getting married. They’re having kids. They’re moving back home.
And all of them (er, us) are both excited out of our minds and terrified out of our shoes. We’re excited because we are young and are able to walk into a world full of infinite possibilities. Yet, we’re terrified because where there are a lot of choices, there are a lot of room for mistakes.
But that’s okay. The mistakes will eventually help us learn and may even help us in the right direction. After all, God can even turn bad into good.
Us 20-somethings can look ahead at the 50-somethings and remember that they were once in our shoes. Most of them have turned out quite all right. And maybe one day we’ll be able to look back at this time and laugh at the mess, at the tears, at the doubts, at the screaming and leaping for joy, and thank the God who led us through it all, unfaltering and unchanging.
A God who died for the mess that is us, turning even the most confusing, exciting, and frightening times into something beautiful.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.