On April 26, I, too, became a graduate. In my final semester of college, I observed that offering advice is one technique often used to comfort folks in a time of transition, which makes sense because transition is scary. Really scary. It seems like everyday I think of a new scary something.
Things like, life doesn’t work in semesters anymore, or realizing you’re moving to a city where no one knows your grandpa, or wondering how serious a problem it is that you don’t own any professional clothing and where in the world people buy suits, or how you are ever going to pay back those student loans.
Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors, once wrote, “Patience is when God—or something—makes the now a little roomier.”
Now that we’ve passed the post-graduation glow, you’re probably starting to realize your now may be a really tight squeeze, or maybe your now is a giant empty room. You know what? Either way, you are going to be just fine.
When I was younger, I remember learning a song about patience. It goes like this:
Have patience, have patience.
Don’t be in such a hurry.
When you get impatient,
You only start to worry.
that God is patient, too.
And think of all the times
when others had to wait on you.
I think of this song often on those days when I’m feeling crunched for time and it seems like the universe doesn’t care that I’m going to be late for class or late to that meeting that’s had to be rescheduled twice already. But this simple song can also be relevant for times of transition. When we become impatient about what’s next, we become more worried about what’s unknown to us and therefore pay less attention to important things happening around us.
When we keep hearing about the plans of our peers, we may become worried about our own plans. Maybe we aren’t doing the right thing, or we worry that we’ll get stuck doing something we don’t love, or we compare ourselves to others.
Let’s try to clear some things up.
If your plans include volunteer programs, graduate school, cross-country bike trips or extensive travel, you will be praised for being adventurous or brilliant or prime examples of global citizenship. You probably are adventurous or brilliant or the epitome of a global citizen, but that doesn’t mean that others aren’t. Remember that timing and resources and privilege are not available to everyone. Remember that what’s next is next, it’s not forever.
If you have chosen to move back home or to stay in the same city as your alma mater, please recognize the validity and power in maintaining communities that have been four years in the making. After being in one place for four years, you understand the needs of the community, you know where and how your gifts can be used to better it. You are not wrong or bad or boring. Remember that what’s next is next, it’s not forever.
Some still, are taking a different route, like starting a family or making lifetime commitments to loved ones or finding ways to actively transform violence and oppression or actively working for peace in various parts of the country and world or starting nonprofit organizations. To those of you taking this route, blessings to you and thank you.
If you’re still figuring things out, may you be planless in the best way. The kind where you sip your coffee slowly or pencil in time for naps or soak up the sun (especially if you’re a graduate of Goshen (Ind.) College and have had four years of minimal exposure to the sun) or can prepare and eat an actual meal or take a long bath or finally read The Tao of Pooh because someone told you to read it your first year of college and you haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Regardless of what’s next for you, remember that you aren’t alone, that Divine Companionship is real.
Allow yourself to be led by the Spirit.
To be patient is to stretch your arms out wide to invite and welcome newness to the table. It is perfectly reasonable to be afraid, as long as you remember that God pushed all the furniture out of the room to make space for the now.
Dominique Chew is a recent graduate of Goshen (Ind.) College and a member of Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston, Kan.