Upon graduation


Well, a month ago today I did the thing–the tiptoeing across the puddled brick walkway carrying a plastic bag with bobby pins and my purple gown on a hanger–to get to the graduation auditorium and rejoice with my fellow classmates as we turned our tassels together.
It already seems so far away.
People keep saying “Well aren’t you excited?”
I started off saying yes, but then realized that I was just putting on a facade and started shrugging my shoulders instead. That was more honest.
They keep asking, “What are you doing next?”
Please stop, I think.
I want to throw the Joker quote at their questions–“do I really look like a guy with a plan??” and laugh it off over summer barbecues and Fourth of July parties.
But I can’t tell them I am doing this and moving here and going with this person and these are my goals and dreams and plans.
Because I don’t know anything.
It’s a lie that going to college will help you figure it all out. Going to college will help you learn more about a field you are interested in; it will teach you how to pass a test with barely studying and how to win a teacher’s respect and how to ask questions in an academic environment and exactly how many minutes it will take you to get through the Starbucks line and how to write a five-page essay on a book you half-read on a Thursday evening.
Going to college won’t teach you how to live or how to choose.
And I think I expected it to. But now I am in the valley after the mountaintop of graduation, stumbling through a cloud of dust that seems to have no end. I feel everything thrusting me towards the next stage of life–moving out, finding a more
professional job, getting married, starting a family. It all seems so foreign and strange,
and one second I am running towards it all with open arms and the next I am wanting
to shrink into a corner of my bedroom and cuddle my large stuffed dinosaur and pretend that I am five years old again.
I feel betrayed somehow–by others and by my own expectations.
I am caught in the middle–to go or to stay, to love deeply or to shrink away from everything, to endure or to escape, to commit or to run. I am looking for certainty in hazel eyes and sunsets and Indeed job boards and scribbled notes and conversations over Mexican food, and I simply can’t find it. I am trying to learn how to love without fear while at the same time knowing that I will watch so many people that I love die, laying cold and lifeless at the front of a church one day–and that I will have to walk out of there and keep on living.
It seems like an impasse, a near-impossible drift between two worlds.
I have a ring now, on the middle finger of my right hand, that proclaims in loopy cursive the famous Tolkien quote: “Not all those who wander are lost.” It is a good reminder right now that wandering does not mean that there is no destination or end goal or rhythm or rhyme to this crazy life.
It just may not be immediately evident.
I need my faith in Jesus now more than ever, but it seems distant too. I know that I need to capture these thoughts, these fears, these anxieties and continually bring them to His loving arms and wisdom that reaches beyond the season I am in at this moment. It is difficult but necessary.
I have been hiding from His arms because I am keenly aware of my own brokenness and inadequacy, and I feel ashamed. I have been hiding because I think that I know better and can solve these things in my own strength.
I am tired of trying to escape this season of life, and what God is calling me to within it.
The only thing that I can do is embrace the disappointment of feeling more lost after graduation than I was before I started college, and embrace the uncertainty and the flux of things that pushes me this way and that–the change that may be for better or for worse and could be the life or the death of me.
But I will keep this promise close to my heart:

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
    carried from the womb;
 even to your old age I am he,
    and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
    I will carry and will save.
Isaiah 46: 3-4

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