I officially feel old. Last month I plucked out my first gray hair (it hasn’t grown back…yet) and Carlos recently pointed out that I have forehead wrinkles (I do, and am thinking thick bangs might need to reappear in my life). And in September I’m turning 28, which means I’ll be in my late twenties, and only 2 years away from thirty.
But perhaps what makes me feel older than all of that, is that, as of today, I’ve been a college graduate for 5 years. I follow Biola on Instagram, and yesterday they posted a picture of the set-up for today’s undergraduate ceremony. That graduation ceremony was for me 5 years ago. At that time, was single, with no long-term plans past my upcoming trip around Europe that summer. It was, in fact, the first time in my 22 years that I didn’t know what was coming next. My life was a blank slate. And instead of that stressing me out, I found it incredibly freeing. It meant that I could do anything, and, perhaps more excitingly, go anywhere.
And go I did. To Ireland and then back to Texas and then to Mexico. And though now I’m mostly in Mexico, I go to Texas often enough that my heart feels like it can’t completely belong to either place. Torn.
And that’s a little bit how I feel in all areas of my life today, 5 years out of college: torn.
Torn between wanting to drop everything and go again on a new adventure (touring Greece, for example), but I’m a wife now and with that comes responsibilities like taking care of and helping to pay for the house we now own.
Torn between wanting to be a writer but not having as much free time to just write because I must keep a job that actually pays me right now (thankfully it’s one I love, though!).
Torn between Spanish and English and Protestant and Catholic and my family and my husband’s family (in the sense that Carlos and I are never both with our families at the same time) and feeling like I need to start really saving for retirement but not wanting to make the necessary sacrifices yet.
I know no one ever said the post-college, early-to-mid-twenties years were easy to navigate. They come with a lot of new experiences and responsibilities, and even if our parents and schools and communities did everything they could to prepare us for life as a “real” adult, it still feels like a slap in the face when you experience it for the first time.
But the important thing is to keep moving. To not give up. There’s been plenty of times I’ve wanted to give up in the last 5 years. Like when I was really low on cash a few months into my stay in Ireland and I lived off the clearance section in Tesco and their cans of €0.17 beans. Or when, just a few months into my marriage, I considered (multiple times) packing up and hightailing it back to Texas, desperate for the familiarity of home but then realizing with horror that Mexico was actually, truly home.
I’m not proud of a lot of the decisions I’ve made in the last 5 years, but God has been with me as I’ve made them, and with me as I’ve had to deal with the consequences. He held my hand as I took my very first steps outside of the Christian bubble that was my life for 22 years. With me as I navigated the first confusing months of my relationship with Carlos thousands of miles from everyone that had ever given me relationship advice. With me as I made multiple international moves. With me as I make mistakes when I speak Spanish. With me through it all.
And that’s why I haven’t given up, because I’ve felt God. Sometimes I’ve felt him powerfully and sometimes his presence has felt faint, but He’s always been there. And that’s why, now, as a confused twenty-something who has officially been a college graduate for 5 years and is feeling old (serious question: does anyone have recommendations for forehead wrinkle creams?), I have to remember that my story is bigger. That my time before Biola and at Biola and now, these 5 years since Biola, are all little pieces of the bigger story of my life. And my life? Well, it’s just a tiny part of God’s bigger story. And that means, in layman’s terms, that everything is going to be okay. Even in the lowest of lows, the wanting to go back to my Biola days because the most stressful thing I ever had to deal with were confronting girls on my floor that had broken open hours, the “where the heck am I and how did I get here?” moments…everything is going to be okay.
Just for fun, here are some of my pics from graduation: