On Wednesdays I get the chance to share a bit of my life, unmasked with Joy over at Joy in this Journey. It's a chance to share the messy and the beautiful and watch God at work in all of it. Won't you come share yours too?
Time is running out, isn't it? Time to meet a boyfriend, or time to marry and make a family, time to chase my dreams of writing, and being a provost somewhere, and teaching and starting a school. I have all these dreams and I'm terrified I won't be able to do any of them because graduation is coming and I don't know what I'm doing yet and I'm not sure whether to panic or to rejoice. And mostly I just want to know if any of these things are going to happen to me, too?
On the Sidelines
Dear On the Sidelines,
There was this girl once, who in high school was the pinnacle of the overachiever. I mean, she did it all, did most of it really well (she was never very good at art). She directed plays, ran a debate team, wrote poetry, tried to make Gatsby and Daisy make sense in a deeper way. She taught French to other students, she led meetings on Hurricane Katrina's ecological effects and social ramifications... this girl, if anyone, seemed to know it all and have it all and be racing like a champion horse to the finish line.
But can I tell you what she discovered when she got to college? Do not try to live your life like it's sudden death overtime, all eyes on you, the one winning shot yours to make or break. Don't do it, Sidelines. This girl, she found that the system in high school was still the system in college - do everything perfectly, do everything just so, please the strangers you will never see again, appease all, never let on that you're hurting or broken or unsure. This system is the same in college, is the same in the workplace, is the same in graduate school, because it's what you've taught yourself to run on. It's not the truth; it's just what's worked so far.
You sound like this girl I knew in high school, Sidelines. You sound like you're living your life in a sudden death overtime. Don't do it. Wise Ann Voskamp says, "Life is a gift, not an emergency." Did you hear that? The time you complain isn't enough, to do everything you want, to be everything you want, to please enough people, to check off enough boxes... this time is a gift to you. You did not earn it. You do not deserve it.
So live it without the urgency. Live it without the warning bells firing off in your head that every decision you make is a final, irrevocable, gut-wrenching life-altering one. You say you're terrified that you won't be able to do any of them. But the only way you will know if you can do them, love, is to do them. You won't protect yourself from time by trying to avoid it, trying to box your life in and duct tape it shut. So walk into it. Into the game. Into yourself.
I don't know yet if you'll marry and have kids (I hope so, sweetheart, I really do). I don't know yet if you'll become a kickass writer or a provost or a school founder down past the Mason-Dixon. I don't even know yet what my life holds. None of us do. That's part of what make this a gift. You might have all, or none, or some combination that blows your mind with its power and beauty.
On the Sidelines, I think you wrote to me because you know this in yourself already and you want my blessing or my reprimand to do it already. So here it is: life is the not-sudden-death-overtime. Life is a gift to you.