Not What You Want, But What You Need
It was a cloudy and rainy April Monday morning in south Louisiana.
I was less than two months away from graduating college, but I have never wanted to give up in that moment than ever before.
I saw the finish line. It was close. I never thought I would make it but there I was: six weeks from wearing that awkward too-small cap and oversized gown. I was pages away from closing the book yet with the strongest desire to call it quits and throw it away.
I felt lost. I was anxious and ready to move somewhere new and exciting. I was ready to walk away from everything I worked to build and everything I chased after just for something new. I wasn’t secure in myself, where I was going in life, or the standing I held with the people around me.
Right in the middle of the of this quarter life crisis, I had a class. The woman teaching the class came in and announced that she had completely ditched all of her notes and decided to just chat with us instead. She told us the story of the hardships and love found while working and after moving to the place she was now. She chatted about her biker husband she never wanted to marry until she fell madly in love with him, her moments of almost being shot for her work with the homeless community, and the many early mornings she spent bringing the lowly to sing in the church choir with her. All the while, she wanted to shift to a new place. She didn’t want to be where she was. She held tightly to her dream but she didn’t want to wait. She wanted it then.
She didn’t want to stay for it. The process of arriving there didn’t appeal to her. It didn’t appeal to me either.
There’s a long process to get you to a place. It’s the in between. The ups and downs. The joy of the victory and the sorrow of the loss. It’s the love that slipped through your fingers and you let it. It’s the insecurity that nags at your mind until someone looks you in your eyes and tells you that you’re wrong. It’s the lessons you didn’t want to learn and hurt so deeply in your heart. It’s the beauty of new things and new friends. It’s spontaneous moments you should have jumped head first into, grasped, and ran with; but you didn’t. It’s getting the word tattooed onto your arm to remind yourself daily to be that one thing. It’s taking the thing you didn’t want and making it into exactly what you want. It’s flying across the country with your best friends and finding yourself in the midst of it all. It’s finding real love when you didn’t think you could get it. It’s coming home to the lights still on and someone waiting anxiously for you come back as the person they knew you were all along.
It unfolds perfectly into the thing it was supposed to be all along. It may not be exactly how you thought. You had this image in your head of how it would look when you were in your early 20s, fresh out of college, and ready for a new life. That new life you imagined for yourself may not be the one you get, but the dreams are there. They’re there for a reason and they beat in your heart for a purpose. They’re not pointless. Don’t give up on them just yet. Don’t throw them away or forget them. Remind yourself of them every single day while you wait for them to come alive.
It was meant to be one way, or so you thought. It hurts and it works. Life isn't always how you want it to be, but it is always how you need it to be.
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]