When we leave high school for college, I think the majority of us hear “these are the best four years of your life.” And for many people, that is completely true. I absolutely adored my time as an undergraduate student – from the freedom to the abundance of people and friends in close proximity to having endless options for social events, dates, and classes. But because of what we’re always told about college being the “prime time” in life, it was hard to accept that my time in school was coming to an end once I hit senior year. One week before graduation, I only had one job interview lined up and had no clue where I was going to live or what my life would look like at the end of the month. For so many college seniors, this situation is their reality and the unknown and undefined of the future can be paralyzing. Especially when it seems like everyone around you knows where they’re going to be and what they will be doing. But even if it feels that way, know that your journey (and life) is just beginning. And your current anxieties are just that – current. They are temporary. The Lord is bigger (and better) than your circumstances and his plan always prevails, even if it feels uncertain in the moment. We should be reliant upon him all the time, but especially in those in-between seasons.
Since I work full time at OU and spend a lot of time on campus, I am often asked what year I am in school or what my major is. (And I will take it as a compliment as long as it happens!) I still feel as though college students are my peers, even though this year’s incoming freshman are almost a decade younger than me. (Uhm, what.) Here are a few of the things I’ve learned since graduating college:
I was a year and a half out of school when I moved back to Norman from Nashville, and for a while after that, my life was eerily similar to what it was when I was still in college at OU. I lived on the same street I lived on my junior and senior year of college, I visit the same Chipotle multiple times a week, and I still walk campus daily. But I know that 20-year-old Melanie was VERY different than the current Melanie. The more years you have under you, the more life experience you have. The more wisdom you gain. The better understanding you have of your past hardships & trials. I’ve experienced a few more breakups, conflicts, a second and third round of job-searching, a cross-country move, and a renewed commitment to my faith since I’ve graduated and I know these experiences have shaped and molded me into who I am today.
With a little bit of wisdom, acceptance has followed. I know we all have insecurities about ourselves…there is no one on this earth that doesn’t at some point in time. There are days I wish I was more in shape. More blonde. Had better clothes and smoother skin. But as you gain more life experience, you have the opportunity & perspective to not only accept, but appreciate who you are becoming. I hope that I can view my physical signs of age as a blessing, not something that should be shamed or relentlessly fought to prevent like our culture so often suggests. When your time becomes your most valuable resource, you will try to spend less of it worrying about things you can’t change. Whether it’s in regards to your body or your circumstances. (And I am still SO bad at this!) I pray about this one a lot. Because I know the day will come when I have more gray hairs on my head than blonde ones and my skin will no longer bounce back like it once did. It’s easy to say the bolded sentence above right now, but I want to be able to embrace my age, and all of the signs of it (whether physical, spiritual, or emotional), as a proud mark and the gift of LIFE.
There are a lot of people I was once close to and they probably used to know my days better than my own mom. I am a firm believer that people are in your life for a reason and for a season and as you get older, you find out who your heart friends are. Whether you live two states away, two hours away, or 2 miles away, the people that stick around, make the effort, and want the best for you are the ones that are going to be there through thick and thin. My heart friends are the girls that selflessly give their time, listen to my ramblings, pray relentlessly for me, and celebrate the things that make me who I am. Without demanding anything in return. When I think about my future bridesmaids, they have changed over the years, and honestly even in the last 6 months. And when the day comes that I choose those forever friends to stand by my side, they may have changed again. But I can celebrate knowing that the girls on my team are the ones that have remained steady, even in the ups and downs of life and of friendships.
I want you to know and see through not just this blog post, but hopefully in the way I live & celebrate life, that getting older doesn’t have to be bad. Age is the treasure & celebration of a life well-lived. While I am praising our Father for the gifts and relationships I have here on earth, my heart knows this place & the body I’m in will never truly be home. And that alone is reason enough to celebrate one day closer to being reconciled with my eternal Father!!! I could cry just at the thought of that glorious day!
Four years of a different kind of fun (cue dancing girl in red dress emoji)!!!