I recently stumbled upon an article with the attention-grabbing title, “Figuring Out What to Do with Your Life.” Of course, my initial response was, “Oh great, another successful thirty-something whose skillfully woven metaphors and platitudes I’ll probably file away as just another interesting perspective that may or may not ever be helpful. But reading on, I was pleasantly surprised.
Writer Shannon Harmon, much like me and many other recent college graduates, has felt the pressures of post-college life, that wonderful time in which we’re pummeled with questions from well-meaning friends, family, and even just acquaintances about immediate life plans. She, too, has been confronted with the ostensible impracticality of an English degree. But the heart of her message is that having diploma in hand and no concrete career plan for the time being doesn’t mean we’re worthless members of society or have necessarily done something wrong. I drank in Harmon’s words, grateful that I don’t have to have it all together and can still contribute to the good of the world even in this “in-between” phase: “Accept that you are confused, and give yourself permission to be confused. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Know that over time, you will become less confused and the right path will begin to unfold itself.” Initially, this sounded extremely vague, but makes a bit more sense in light of her next encouragement–to be proactive about seeking opportunities within our fields and interests.
But in the meantime, we who are weary wanderers should not spend the season immediately following graduation fretting and freaking out over our desperate plight, but completely trusting the Divine Author. She writes, “Relax. You may not be where you want to be right now, but God knew you would be right where you are. Accept His divine plan, and know that in the midst of it all He is up to some awesome things.” To be honest, this grates on my nerves and rubs against my will to figure things out on my own. I hate the idea of not knowing what’s five years down the road, much less one. But as I’ve begrudgingly learned so many times, I’m not supposed to save myself. I’m supposed to trust the One who’s already saved me not just with my soul but with my future.
I appreciate that Harmon doesn’t try to merely pacify with an illusive plan for success but understands that even times full of confusion are not hopeless. Implicit in her message is not a denial that the darkness of uncertainty exists or that we all wander if not over vocation then something else, but that the pillar of fire we’ve always relied on still lights the way and will lead us on as we keep taking steps forward.