Friday, March 28, 2008

Very True

The past couple of nights, I have spent time with a couple different friend groups. I am trying to get in as much friend time as possible before I move. Both nights, I spent time with girls who are graduated from college and not married. We spent alot of time talking about the time since college, and really what a hard time it has been. I know, for myself, I had a picture when I entered college about what my life would look like when I graduated. And it did not look ANYTHING like what I had pictured. The next few years were pretty painful years. Dont get me wrong, I was surrounded by really great people and I still had alot of fun during those years... but I still didnt have "the life" that I had always imagined. If I am honest, that would be graduating college, getting married, working some and starting a family. Instead, I was single and starting a job in the business world where I was not passionate about any one thing. As many of you know, I have job hopped alittle because of the fact that I could not find anything that made me really WANT to go to work each day. I dated alot of really wrong guys, hoping to find the right one. I did all of this, instead of just trusting that God held my entire future, and it was no surprise to him what I was going through. It was not His plan for me to find my husband and OBU and get married, and find the "perfect" job right out of school. Finally, I have found a job that I really find a purpose in going to, and God has blessed me beyond imagine by reconnecting me with the one that I am supposed to spend my life together with. And now, I can look back at my past few years and although remember the pain and the confusion, I can be so thankful that I grew and had the opportunity to learn through those circumstances. I am so excited and ready to start on my new journey.

One of my friends who I had dinner with, sent this article the next day. I thought it was very interesting. And something that I think MANY girls can relate to. I know that I sure can.

For the most part, my women friends and I were kids ofupper-middle-class privilege, raised to believe that, with hard workand a little courage, the world was ours. We climbed mountains atsummer camp, went to Europe on high-school class trips and took familyvacations to New York City and the Grand Canyon. Our parents, liketheirs before them, told their kids they could go anywhere and doanything. We took them at their word. By the time we hit adulthood, technology and globalization had broughtthe world to our doorstep. Now in our mid-20s, we're unsteadilynavigating a barrage of choices our mothers never had the chance tomake. No one can complain about parents who started sentences with"When you're president..." But we are now discovering the difficulty of deciding just what makes us happy in a world of innumerableoptions. Three years ago my friends and I barreled out of the University ofWisconsin ready to make our mark on the world. Julia headed to Franceto teach English. I started law school in Minneapolis. Marie andAlexis searched for work in San Francisco. Bridget started aninternship in D.C. Kristina landed a job in Ireland. The list goes on.Scattering to our respective destinations, we were young enough tofollow our crazy dreams but old enough to fend for ourselves in thereal world. At a time when our lives were undergoing dramatic changes,so was America. Three months after receiving our diplomas, the TwinTowers came crashing down. We realized that, in more ways than one,the world was scarier and more complex than we'd ever imagined.Since graduation, we've struggled to make our own happiness. It seemsthat having so many choices has sometimes overwhelmed us. In the sevenyears since I left home for college, I've had 13 addresses and livedin six cities. How can I stay with one person, at one job, in onecity, when I have the world at my fingertips? Moving from one place to the next, bouncing from job to job, myfriends and I have experienced the world, but also gotten lost in it.There have been moments of self-doubt, frantic calls cross-country.("I don't know a soul here!" "Do I really want to be a __?")Frustrated by studying law, I joined friends in San Francisco towaitress for a summer and contemplate whether to return to school inMinnesota. Unhappy and out of work in Portland, Molly moved toChicago. Loni broke up with a boyfriend and packed her tiny Brooklynapartment into a U-Haul, heading for Seattle. Others took jobs orentered grad school anywhere from Italy to L.A. Some romances andfriendships succumbed to distance, career ambition or simply growingup. We all lost some sleep at one point or another, at times feeling utterly consumed by cities of thousands, even millions, knowing thateven local friends were just as transient as we were. Like so many women my age, I remain unmarried at an age when my motheralready had children. She may have had the opportunity to go tocollege, but she was expected to marry soon after. While my friendsand I still feel the pressure to marry and have children, we've gaineda few postcollege years of socially accepted freedom that our mothersnever had. The years between college and marriage are in many ways far moreself-defining than any others. They're filled with the simplest, yetmost complex, decisions in life: choosing a city, picking a career,finding friends and a mate--in sum, building a happy and satisfyinglife. For me and for my group of friends, these years have beeneye-opening, confusing and fabulous at the same time. The more choices you have, the more decisions you must make--and themore you have yourself to blame if you wind up unhappy. There is akind of perverted contentedness in certainty born of a lack ofalternatives. At my age, my mother, whether she liked it or not, hadfewer tough decisions to make. I don't envy the pressure she enduredto follow a traditional career path and marry early. But sometimes Ienvy the stability she had.Once again I've been unable to resist the lure of a new city. So, as Istart my legal career in Chicago, I'm again building friendships fromscratch, learning my way around a strange new place. Yes, my friendsand I could have avoided the loneliness and uncertainty inherent inour journeys, and gone back to our hometowns or stayed in the collegetown where we had each other. But I doubt any one of us would tradeour adventures for that life. I have a sense of identity andself-assurance now that I didn't have, couldn't have had, when Igraduated from college. And I know someday I'll look back on thistime--before I had a spouse, a home and children to care for--and bethankful for the years that just belonged to me.


Sarah Highfill said...

Danielle, this is unbelievable true for my life. I'm in the process of setting up another new home for the ninth, yes ninth, time since we graduated college 5 years ago in a completely new city where I know no one (at least it's English speaking). And while it seems that everyone is married (or getting married!) with children, I am so completely content with my life right now. I ENJOY my singleness and my freedom and the adventures around every corner. But if someone would have told me this is what my life would look like 5 years out of college, I would have either thought they were crazy or gone into serious depression because it's not what I planned at all! All the more reason to be completely grateful that I'm not the one controlling my life. Ah, such peace. :)

Tracy and Adam said...

Danielle, I love those words! It's funny how people forget to tell you when you're in high school or going through college that you may not have the "perfect" life after college and sometimes it takes a while for things to work out. I seriously went though a quarter life crisis or something after college because I felt totally lost and had no idea what to do! I just thought it would all fall into place! But now I am so thankful for the searching and the uncertainty and just all the adventure of life.

Also, I understand your Oklahoma/Arkansas thing! I am opposite of man is in OK while I am in AR, but I am seriously sick of the weekend chaperoning. I just want our life together to start and get on with it, ya know! Well, I look forward to hearing about life in Hot Springs for you!!! ~tracy e.