Reflections from a College Graduate’s Summer Break
College is meant to be a place where we can discover who we truly are. It’s where we can find ourselves, forge our identities, and make strides towards achieving our dreams. After easing us through the transition from dependence on our parents to independence, it is the launching point for our future and clearly directs us towards what’s next.
Or so I thought.
This day marks four months since my graduation from Baylor University, and I find myself in the most unexpected circumstances. As my final semester came to a close, all my plans for the future fell apart. With no job or grad school spot secured, I was thrust from my collegiate home of the past three years with my degree in hand. (Well, actually, unlike many of my colleagues, I only received a brief letter stating my diploma hadn’t been ready on time for my graduation day and would be mailed to me in a few weeks.) As the summer progressed, various grad schools and employers rejected me, and each rejection sent me face down into the dirt, over and over again, throughout the summer. I struggled to trust God. I felt like a failure. I forgot His past faithfulness to me. I pleaded for a miracle, and held out hope that the door to my original plan, graduate school at Baylor, would miraculously open, that someone would drop and they’d call me and let me in even after rejecting me. I thought that that would be the only key to my happiness and my deliverance from the unknown of the future.
But God doesn’t always work that way.
Now, even though I’m still going through the cycle of applications and looking for my future direction, I am incredibly thankful and even glad to be in my current circumstances instead of back at school this fall. But I admit, it was only a few weeks ago that I was able to say that and genuinely mean it.
My feelings about my current situation in life have changed for a few reasons. First, it’s because I remembered that God is always faithful, even if it feels like He’s distant. I realized that what I wanted for myself at the end of my time at Baylor wasn’t the path for me, and God in His love for me decisively closed that door. But He didn’t steer me away only to let me drift aimlessly; He directed me towards a better path. In His sovereignty, He sees the bigger picture. He truly knows what’s best for me, even if I don’t recognize what’s best for myself.
My senior year plan, the one God turned me away from, involved jumping into a graduate school program for Higher Education & Student Affairs. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my student affairs mentors: my supervisors from my student leadership roles. With the way I arose to the challenges of each student leader position and grew personally, I thought it was my destiny to go into the student affairs profession.
But pursuing this career meant using my weaknesses more than my strengths, as interacting with people is not necessarily easy or comfortable for me. While I was growing in this weaker area through my practice as a student leader, it still was just that: a weakness of mine. Yes, I have grown in my ability to communicate verbally—but I still feel most comfortable communicating via written word. Yes, through Christ I overcame my social anxiety and made building relationships a priority while in college and in my life beyond—but the effort drained me more than I realized at times. While I did (and still do) believe God can use me in my weaknesses to glorify Him, unfortunately during my senior year I stopped relying on God in my hardest, most exhausting moments, when my social battery had reached its cap and I was left spent with no time or space to recharge. In essence, I thought I could work through my weaknesses on my own. I was wrong, and I do think that’s part of why I crashed hard after graduation. I hadn’t taken the time to abide in Christ and go to Him each time I needed to have a difficult conversation with someone or tackle yet another graduate school interview. So, in a sense, I was doomed to fail.
Also, I wasn’t using all of the talents God has given me. Though I absolutely loved my Baylor experience and grew as a person during my college years, I do feel like I lost a significant part of myself and my calling in college: my identity as a Writer.
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember and once wanted to be the world’s youngest published author. Especially during high school, I took my writing very seriously, and continued that passion into my freshman year of college. Once I started my first student leadership job the summer after freshman year, I began to stop writing consistently. Eventually, I stopped telling others that I was a writer. I didn’t talk or even think about my dream of publication much. When I did have the time to write, I never had the energy or motivation to do so. I didn’t read for leisure very much either, bogged down by assigned readings for my many English classes. By the end of my senior year, very few people—including my current staff members at the time—knew I had several “complete” novels at least in their first full draft. The shift was so gradual that I barely noticed it, despite getting frustrated over how little I wrote each semester.
So, this summer, free of college, waiting for job opportunities, I finally had the time and energy to devote to writing. I’ve finished a draft. I plotted a new series. I’ve read books for fun. And suddenly, I realized one day: stories bring me so much joy. After a couple years of letting my writing fall to the wayside, I recognized yet again that God gifted me to be a writer—a storyteller—and calls me to glorify Him in my writing.
Falling in love with storytelling all over again has also shown me His incredible grace towards me in changing my life’s trajectory. My writing drought was needed, too, I think. Being without writing for a while and then getting it back again showed me how much it is a part of who I am created to be. I am so, so thankful that nothing went the way I wanted it to when I graduated.
Now I truly see and understand that God has called me to be a Writer. That is my direction for the future. While still vague and uncertain, I do have faith that He will lead me step by step through my writing journey, and I will follow Him wherever He leads me next.