About a year ago, I graduated from college.
And if you told me that day where I would be today, I think I would have believed you, but I would have zero comprehension of what it took to get me here.
So I don’t mind if you join me in taking a look back at the last year of my life, for old(alright, still pretty new) times’ sake.
I knew as soon as early as the previous December that I would not be staying in Grand Rapids after graduation. It was not an “easy” decision(and that’s a whole other story), but by the time I’d made up my mind, I knew I had made the right choice. So, a few hours after I walked with my classmates, I packed up everything I’d crammed into my tiny apartment and moved back into my parents’ house in Midland.
Here’s the thing about living with my parents: it’s really not as terrible as everyone would think it is. Again, I wouldn’t call it “easy” after being virtually independent for a few years, but my parents are incredibly supportive and two of my best friends in the world. They always give me great advice(even if I don’t always follow it). Plus, with my brother still living at home as well, some days it’s practically the same as having three roommates again(who just happen to be related to me).
I’d made a deal with myself that I would take the entire month of May to apply for jobs, and that if I didn’t find anything by June, I would start looking at retail again.
Needless to say, by June 1, things were looking grim.
So I did what any normal person would do, and broke my promise to myself. I would take one more month to figure out what to do.
I had a few interviews, neither bad nor good. I remember coming home from one of them and telling my mom I wasn’t going to get it. “If I was just five years older, it’d be so much easier,” I said. “I just don’t have enough life experience.”
But then I got the job.
I started working weekends at my local women and children’s shelter as part of a ministry team. By the end of the summer, I had transitioned from part-time weekend nights to full-time days. On the one hand, everything was falling into place.
On the other hand, it’s very easy to romanticize working in a ministry setting. Helping those in need is not a Disney Princess task – it’s rolling up your sleeves and putting on the armor of God. It’s learning about people who come from vastly different backgrounds even in the same community. Quite frankly, you spend most of your time reaching out to people who want nothing to do with you personally.
Every day was a new challenge. As someone who likes to solve problems, that can be both incredibly fulfilling and unbelievably frustrating.
At the beginning of December, one of my bosses approached me to start writing morning devotions for our clients using the New City Catechism as a guide. Obviously, they knew I had a degree in journalism and had already used my skills for some press releases and other small projects earlier that year.
But this was a monumental project in comparison, and I felt the pressure. Some people didn’t think we should try synchronized devotions between the men and women’s children; though no one said anything to me personally, I attached myself to a sudden onslaught of imposter syndrome.
But after a few weeks stalling out of petrifying fear, I finally bit the bullet and did the project. I specifically wanted to share this part of my year because I think it’s really easy to miss the behind-the-scenes effort in people’s lives. I’m someone who typically does not like to show insecurity or weakness, but to shy away from those things isn’t fair, either.
I ended up taking a vacation with my parents at the end of February that also helped me gain some perspective. I love traveling, but in the past it has given me a lot of issues with my stress and anxiety levels. The irony is, those levels were already so blown out by my day job that by the time I went on vacation, everything else in comparison seemed pretty chill.
When I came back to work, my energy renewed, I threw myself back into my daily life. Life was not predictable, but it was normal, and sometimes that’s the best that a girl can ask for.
If I have learned anything this year, it’s that God can fill your cup until it runs over. A few months ago, my boss approached me because she had been fielding me various projects throughout the year, intentionally trying to overload me to see how I would do with my workload. Based on my performance, I was the perfect candidate for a promotion that they wanted to fill in-house.
So now I’m working in the main offices, using my actual degree for a ministry I love full-time. Obviously, not every person has this sort of experience their first year after graduating college, which makes me value it even more. God has blessed me beyond measure this year, and I wanted to finally share that publicly with all of you.
I’ve come a long way in the past year, and one of my favorite ways to look back at my life is to listen to the music that I listened to in the past. So, with that being said, if you want to dive a little deeper into my psyche, I invite you to check out the playlist below.
Musical highlights of my year: listening to “Jesus music” at work, rediscovering old favorites, and lots and LOTS of 80s music.