Why I will always recommend a gap year

For some reason, our western world is still heavily geared towards having kids primed and ready to go to college by 18 with at least three ideas for a five-year plan set in front of them. Don’t get me wrong, I think having a plan is vital for making any moves in your life. I just don’t think it is reasonable to expect that 18-year-olds will enter higher education fully confident of their goals. For those that can, I’m grateful! They are often the doctors, lawyers, engineers, social workers, hospitality managers, and artists we need.

Continue reading “Why I will always recommend a gap year”

trying to figure it out… // no. 29

All of the posts I have are somewhat out of order, and if I’m being honest, I love that.

I need the tiny bit of chaos in my rather uninterrupted life.

There have been so many trial-and-error moments in this journey of documenting my thoughts online, and each of them have served me in ways I didn’t recognize until much later. One of those has been the sometimes subtle yet always present feeling of people pleasing within my words. I can hear myself trying to appeal to everyone in my own stories. I forget to tell things not just honestly for likes, but for myself.

I am a 110%-boss-level-people-pleaser. I will follow people on social media who I don’t speak to anymore because I’m worried that they’ll be mad if I don’t. I assess a situation and learn to speak like the most powerful people in the room. I will move mountains to make sure people feel comfortable, and oftentimes I do so because I know it will serve me better. I don’t mean to paint myself as manipulative or ill-willed, but I know my own needs well enough to admit that there have been times where my serving others has been to selfishly fill a void of self-worth and love that I needed to be filling elsewhere.

It is a strange thing, people-pleasing, because as much as that dance between genuinely helping people and doing things for my own purposes drains me, it also brings me some level of comfort.

Perhaps that is why I stay put so long. The comfort is just that, comfortable, comforting, COMFORT.

But people always say that good things don’t come from comfort zones.

In my life now, I am learning to be a steward of the present. I’m also learning how much I really value comfort now over the achievements of tomorrow. It might sound counterintuitive to make present decisions while focusing on the future, but I find that more and more I am becoming aware of the things I do not want to take with me as I grow older. To consciously choose to let go of some of those “comforts” now for the sake of myself tomorrow is a serious business.

That realization is something that has made me consider every facet of my personality. I can still focus on serving people around me while also learning to back off and say no or choose to serve everyone better by taking care of myself. By doing so, I actually end up in a position to truly help people the way I want to.

Figuring oneself out is a journey. A dear friend once reminded me that there is beauty in the journey and that it has always had a greater weight than the destination. I’ve been chewing on that quote for sometime now. More of what I enjoy doing has come to my attention over the last several months, and it has been a crazy and beautiful thing. To know joy when so much inner work is underway is a gift I will never be able to return to the One who gave it to me.

Here’s to many more entries of jumbled thoughts in authentic moments.

if i am // no. 36

if I am to be a writer, may the words pour like blood from an open wound.

if I am to be a fighter, may my fists connect with all the power of thunder’s earth-shattering boom.

if I am to be a lover, may feelings of passion and joy begin with the love I have for myself before I give them to anyone else.

if I am to be a feeler, may I not fear the pains of life, but embrace the broken colors it adds to the stained glass masterpiece being made before me.

if I am to be a doer, may the discipline and diligence I display move others to push the mountains in their path out of the way.

if I am to be a hearer, may my ears be opened to all sides of the story, letting discernment guide my responses not for me, but for His glory.

if I am to be a human, may the actions of my hands and the words from my lips be life-giving and nurturing, withholding nothing from those others would deem “unfit,” and may everything that I do be nothing but a shadow of the hope that will be brought when Hope returns to view.

what to do when you can’t decide

If there has been any singular problem I have encountered in my life, it is that I have so many different things I am interested in.

Traveling overseas. Studying all types of history. Studying criminal justice. Honing my photography skills. Writing almost anything. Graphic design.

You name it, I have wanted to try it or expressed some interest in learning about it. Growing up, this insatiable curiosity led me to be willing to try things. I played a few seasons of soccer because I thought I wanted to push myself to play professionally. At some point midway through my last season, I realized that while I enjoyed the game, it wasn’t my passion. That was the first time the idea of following my passion crossed my mind.

Passion is defined as “a very strong feeling of love, hate, anger, enthusiasm, etc.” Much of our worldview and understanding of what growing up looks like is built on the idea that following our passion will lead to success. Students in high school are pushed to pick a path for their four years in college that will support them for the rest of their lives. Students in college are pressured to continue into graduate school despite rising costs that they face in loan debt, textbooks, cost of living, and so on.

It seems as if having a singular passion will lead to success no matter how you frame it. So what is one to do when they find themselves deeply passionate about multiple things?

This was my fear, to be stuck in a lane I hated just because of a momentary joy in the subject. Coming out of high school I decided that I wanted to explore fine arts. I liked painting, photography and drawing, and I figured that I could just breeze through that Associates in Fine Arts and be on my way in life.

I could not have been more wrong.

The only class I truly enjoyed during my short tenure in fine arts was Art History because of my love of all things not from my time. Ultimately, I decided to step away roughly a year before I would’ve graduated. The head of the arts program even encouraged me not to quit because I showed some affinity for the subjects and because getting back into school was hard after a break. I thanked him for his concern and took my step back regardless. It was the best choice I could have made for my future.

I worked full time for two years before finally deciding to go back to school. In that time I traveled to six different countries, five of which I visited on a month-long escapade in Europe. Those journeys showed me other cultures and reinforced my love of history, one of the subjects I chose to study in my new college career. The option of a General Studies/Interdisciplinary Degree provided me with the chance to study various interests. Criminal Justice and Literature were two other subjects I chose to focus on in my studies, and each have provided me valuable understandings with how life moves beyond my normal scope of interaction.

What I learned throughout the struggle of finding my passion was that it didn’t have to be singular. I could love a myriad of things and still go to school. I could work different jobs to provide myself the chance to experience a new work place and see what I did and did not like. I began to understand that while loyalty in a field of work is of value, I was also not wholly bound to one thing. When I felt the time was right, I could leave. Or, some cataclysmic event could force me back to my roots and cause the loss of a job I was only in for the money. The money will never satisfy you, that much I know for sure.

So. What do you do when you can’t decide on what you want to do?

You take a deep breath, you test the waters and you don’t fear the possibilities in front of you. When you can’t decide, you simply try.

Do you relate to the frustration of following your passion? Subscribe to the email list for more discussions on what makes up the lives we’re living.

when written words speak // no. 23

“I quit.”

The words practically screamed at me. They sat scribbled on a piece of paper, taped to my boss’ office door. They belonged to someone I trust, who I knew to be loyal, and fair and good.

No looking back, no goodbye, no warning. They just left them there and left us.

My stomach did somersaults and a brick laid itself on my chest. I felt tears welling up but pushed them away. I didn’t need those right now.

I can’t tell you why it affected me so deeply. Maybe it was because I felt like I didn’t do enough to get to know the person, to be a genuine friend and not just someone who jokes around. I think maybe I hoped it wasn’t real.

My stomach welcomed swarms of butterflies, making it difficult to do anything.

The more I read them, the louder they spoke. I could hear them roll off the tongue of their author, every tone of their voice and their mood clear as day. Words have strange powers like that.

They also have the ability to change the way a person looks. The more I replay the note in my head, the more the author of the note seems to shrink. Maybe that comes from the tone in which they were left. Maybe its because I know that the author is more than those two words. They are whole dictionary of phrases and words, letters placed together to form a story.

This was just a chapter closing. The book will start again.

Maybe I’m sad because I’m not sure when I’ll get to pick up the story again. For now, I just want them to keep writing. Keep creating. Keep pushing boundaries to go beyond what people think you are capable of.

There is always more.