College wasn’t the best time of my life. I didn’t stand outside smelly frat houses each week, lips stained red, and giggle at all the right moments while a stranger whispered sweet nothings into my ear.
That just wasn’t me.
But it was hard, in it’s own way, and I fell flat on my face some days. Some semesters. After, I emerged feeling like I had this whole life thing down.
It’s only been two months since then, but it already feels like I get daily lessons about what really matters and what’s true today. Here’s what I’ve discovered:
1. We work to live. Careful, now. Don’t think too hard on that one. When it sunk in, I felt this deep ache in my stomach, like it was the secret nobody had told me. All my life had been about achieving the next level, and now I was just working to pay the rent and the electric bill and the groceries. That was the big reason to get up in the morning?
2. Find pride in those hours. Some of us will sell Nathan’s hot dogs and large diet cokes beneath striped umbrellas. Others will haul packages into corporate offices. I will write stories of dogs whose lives are better because they had surgery done. And I will feel good inside, warm inside, because of that. Whether we vend food or deliver reams of paper or offer stories of hope, that makes my first lesson okay.
2. You have worth. I think, in some ways, I was waiting for college graduation to brand me not just with a diploma, but also a level of reassurance that now, I would have to be taken seriously. Now, people would answer my emails. Now, I would deserve as much respect as the person trying to cut me off in the middle of traffic. When that didn’t happen, when I didn’t cross an imaginary line, I had to go out and decide it myself. And every day from now on, I have to decide it.
4. It’s never what you expect. Just yesterday, I caught myself telling my coworker, “Hold on a second. I’ll Google it.” When said problem didn’t resolve itself, even after I followed the How To guide, I realized this: you can have all the knowledge you want about a certain decision or task, but it’s the next step that dispels all of that. That’s where the learning really begins.
5. No one expects rainbows. It’s been hard. These months have been downright difficult, at moments. And for so long, I held that feeling inside because I thought my strength lay not in handling life, but pretending to be fine just fine whenever anyone asked how I was handling life. Major changes? They’re hard. Always. Don’t be afraid to say that out loud. It feels good.
The one thing that seriously intimidates me about all this is that there is so much to learn. And so many years left. And what we take as truth today may shift drastically depending on the consequences of tomorrow. That’s scary. But at least, for now, it helps to write it down.
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