Friday, March 8, 2013

Some Post-College Insight (A guest post)

My first guest post, to be exact! And I could not be more excited to welcome Diana to my blog. 

We became fast friends when we met on The Influence Network, and basically, we're a match made in heaven. 

See? Told ya. 

Without further adieu, the lovely Diana!


Hi! I'm Diana Palka from On The Heights and I am absolutely, 100% thankful that mine and Amy's "virtual paths" crossed. From day one (which actually wasn't that long ago!) Amy has been such a huge encouragement. Whether it's through e-mail or rapid-fire G-Chats while we're at work - this California girl is awesome in so many ways and I encourage you to get to know her heart!

Today I'm here to talk about that transition no one really ever talks about. You know, the one where you leave all your best friends who you've lived with for the past four years and you move on with your life. The one where you become an adult, but you still feel like you're 19. You know - graduating college. And just like Amy's doing over on my blog today, I'm listing out some of the things I've learned in the almost two years since graduating.

1. Community doesn't come easy.
I went to a small Christian college in the foothills of North Carolina. It was a beautifully quaint campus where "everybody knew your name." The university was comfortably situated in a small-town with only one stoplight - and a day never went by when someone didn't give you a hug or invite you somewhere. For me, college was the definition of community. More specifically - and perhaps more importantly - it was a beautifully active representation of the Body of Christ. 

And then I graduated.

In May 2011, I moved back home with my mom, dad and two sisters. And while my relationships with each of them are beautiful in their own way - the sense of community that you feel in your parents' home pales in comparison to the community you participate in on a college campus. I went from living with three other girls - teammates - to living with my parents and sisters. It's not that I liked or loved my friends more - but the nature of the relationships were just different

There is a certain charm gleaned only from truly doing life together. And for me, that's what college was all about. Not only was I thirsty for community, but I was at a well of  it. Everywhere I looked, there were opportunities to get involved, get connected and get plugged-in.

When I graduated I realized that I had to seek out community because it was no longer looking for me. It meant going to church and being intentional about meeting people. It meant getting involved in a community group and not just going once a week - but texting girls and asking if they wanted to meet up for coffee. It meant doing life together, even if "life" was just folding laundry or driving to work together. 

After college, you have to really hunker down and look for community - at times, you may even have to build it on your own. But I promise, community life is so much better than the alternative.

2. You will be working for the rest of your life.
Like Amy, I was super blessed to land a great full-time job right out of college. I can remember my first day filling out all the necessary Human Resources paper to start my benefits and all that jazz and I was filling out a 401K form. When I asked the Office Manager which box I should check for my "Target Retirement date" she giggled and said, "2055."


It was such a ridiculous slap in the face - and even kind of funny - but eventually, I got over it and realized that this job (and really any job!) was a serious blessing. 

What took the real adjusting was this: your "work" isn't the only work you'll be doing for the rest of your life.

Relationships are work.
Faith is work.
Dreams are work.
Loving is work.

A lot of things in life are work. And in college - for whatever reason - I didn't quite understand that. I didn't understand how so much of life would be so much work and I had this notion that, "Some things are just easy."

It wasn't until I graduated college and life was a little bit hard that I realized,most things worth having are worth fighting for. And when you have to fight for something, there's a certain element of work that you have to just bear down and do.

Just because things are hard doesn't mean they're not worth it. Just because obstacles are all you see doesn't mean it's over. Just because you just got to the part of life where things are supposed to be exciting and great and new and paying off and it's not,doesn't mean it never will be.

Hang in there, beloved. Keep pressing on.

3. Your life is going to look completely different than everyone else's. 
Embrace that, okay?
Remember how I said I went to a small Christian college... in North Carolina? Well, in case you're not from 'round them parts, that translates to "OH SNAP! WE'RE 21?! LET'S GET HITCHED!" By the time graduation rolled around, 75% of my friends changed their Facebook loves from "In a Relationship with," to "Engaged to," or "Married to." 

By that point, I'd been dating my boyfriend Blake for almost four years - and I felt weird that I wasn't where (what seemed like) everyone else was in their lives. And embarrassing as this is, it hurt my relationship with Blake. I wouldn't let it go. (It being the fact that everyone else was engaged, and I wasn't.) For a while, I was stuck in this awful pit of self-comparison and it stole joy from not only my own life, but my relationship with someone I love and care so deeply for. 

The same was true when I browsed LinkedIn. How on earth does, SHE have that jobShe can't even write! (I'm serious.These thoughts have been in my head before!) In these moments of such unsound metrics - I valued myself better or worse for something I didn't have. And the long and short of it is that, rooted in an evil jealousy, it was wrong. Not only was it wrong, but it was an insult to the God who made me and is continuing to write my life's story.

There is so much to be said of embracing your story - right now, whatever page your own. When you look at these chapters - these seasons - as saccharine bits on the way to a decadent ending, I promise you - I promise you - you can make it through anything.

This transition - from college to life after - is weird. And it's awkward and it's sticky and it's uncomfortable and at times, outright sucky. But there is hope. Hope because we serve a God who is sovereign and who cares and who is no stranger to discomfort. And in this season of stretching and changing - He is there. 


I hope you enjoyed Diana's insight as much as I did! I would say that we've learned some similar things. Check out the 5 things that I listed over at On The Heights to compare!

Happy Friday, friends!! :)


Chelsea Hannah said...

all of these things are so true! definitely something that I wish people would have talked about more BEFORE graduation.

Leanna Vera said...

I love this post! Especially the part about community. I moved to NYC after graduation and ended up returning to DC since I missed the beautiful community I'd created with my college friends. None of us are originally from the area so we've become like a little family.

Anna said...

Diana-I absolutely love this, thank you so much for sharing these thoughts! Everyone our age is having them even if they're not talking about it. I've definitely struggled with all of these things this past year and appreciate your inspiring words about all of this!

Diana || On The Heights said...

Chelsea, I TOTALLY agree! I felt like I was a little bit caught of guard with how awkward this part of life would be, you know? Maybe it's just me, but I pictured it going a little bit differently... definitely a bit smoother! I'm so glad I'm not the only one!

Leanna, I've been SO hungry for community since graduating. I feel the same way about leaving my heart where I went to school - down in Charlotte, NC. And like, you, I'm going back! I am so eager to be a little family there and go on this journey with others who are in the same boat.

Anna, it is so comforting to know I'm not the only one! It's also ridiculously comforting to think that - even the people who seem like they have it all together - wrestle these thoughts sometimes. I'm hopeful that the future is bright - for me and for you!

Thanks for the love, ladies!

Leslie @ Body Won't Break said...

I LOVE this! I graduated college 5 years ago, and I'm still reminding me of these lessons. We're just now really finding community. And while I miss college, I am LOVING the community we have now.

So glad you shared!

Katie Axelson said...

I love this, Diana, though my self-conscious thoughts went straight from, "I didn't have a ring by spring" to "I wonder if I'm the LinkedIn friend she says can't write." Pouty face.

Not to worry, I'll get over it (and myself) in a minute. "College" defines "community" for me too. I've had older (like late-20) friends say about their new relationships, "We weren't quite college close but we were getting there."

Julie said...

So insightful and truthful! I love this. Seeing as I'm still in college now it's really great to hear from someone who has experience outside of that. I'll most likely be keeping all this in my heart for when I finally graduate. Then I can dig deep when I'm confronted with these things and remember these wise words. Thanks for having Diana share this Amy! :)

Lisa Fitzpatrick said...

Diana, I absolutely love this! All of the things you say are so true. And for me, in a little over a year, I will be in the same boat you are! It was so nice to read from someone who has had this experience already. I will definitely keep this in the back of my mind for when I graduate and decide on where my life will take me next. Thanks for your insight and kind words! :)

Hilda said...

So glad I found your blog, and you are lucky to have found a friend you trust. I haven't been so lucky. :(

Janna Renee said...

These are GREAT lessons that we all need to remember! Great guest post :)

Suzanne said...

What I great post! I'm so guilty of comparing my story to the stories my friends have. My friends are almost all married and having babies, and so many times I tell myself I'm the only one waiting for my life to "start." I've been reminded by God on many occasions that my life has definitely "started," and He's the author of my story, not me. It's good to know I'm not the only one who struggles with these ideas.

Hilda said...

That's beautiful Suzanne. :)

Annie said...

I've been learning all three of these lessons the hard way since graduating last April. This is beautifully written, Diana, and oh so true!

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