Weekly Writing Challenge: Wrap It Up
This week’s writing challenge (Check out the prompt for this post HERE, and join in!) is all about wrapping up the year. While my annual resolution list is still to come (check back on New Year’s Eve for those!), I thought it would be fun to compile some of the things I’ve unintentionally learned about 24-year-old-living. This list will also provide some spin-off for future posts, and some throwbacks to past ones.
- Don’t be afraid to try out recipes. It’s ok to concoct something that even the ants in our house aren’t interested in. For every three or four that you try, one will end up being something you can volunteer to bring to a party or potluck, affirming your adult status via culinary provision. (keep an eye out for recipes coming to “Hope As An Anchor” in 2013!)
- When professionals give you their advice on their specific field, listen to them. Doctors, dentists, supervisors, just do it. Not only do they usually know what they are talking about, but for the most part, it is easier to trust that they are not trying to cause you pain or trouble just for some sadistic pleasure. It is worth following instructions, rather than assuming I know better. I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed last month, and thanks to a great oral surgeon, my experience was pretty hassle-free and way less painful than I expected from the horror stories people have told.
- Despite your best efforts, as instructed above, to follow everyone’s advice, sometimes things still suck. Chopping onions, for example. I will always cry uncontrollably, despite trying every old wives’ tale I heard about matches and candles and tortilla chips and sunglasses and chewing gum. And that’s ok. Feelings aren’t as bad as I sometimes think. one thing I often tell friends and students is that despite the irrationality of your feelings, the fact that you have them makes them important enough to notice and process and think through. Your responses to feelings are controllable, and that is where patience and humility are developed.
- People leave. Even the people who promise time and time again never to. They just do. It’s a fact of life, and being surprised by it only deepens the wound created by their absence. You can love and laugh and share great times with someone without setting upon them the expectations to fulfill some deep vacuum in your life, which will return with a vengeance once they break up with you, move to take a job, or change the track of their life in some unexpected way. Pain is part of life, and that doesn’t need to be a morbid thought. It’s actually freeing to accept it and to move forward in each day without unrealistic expectations. I guess I said goodbye to a little of my optimism this year, at least the part that might have been grounded in naivety. I’m glad for that, and highly recommend it. (read Henri Nouwen’s take on pain HERE)
- I learned about the importance of the “one another” commandments in the Bible. (read the list HERE) It’s not ok to be a Christian and to have friendships, relationships, marriages, and families that look the same as those in the rest of the world. We have no loss of instructions on how to relate well to one another, and even as a 24-year-old, I have seen how this has made a huge difference in my friendships. These are so important, and it is a miss to go through this year of life, or any, for that matter, without paying close attention to how you relate to others, it is the definition of faith and love and respect.
- Books and movies continue to be my conversation topic of choice, not only because I love them both and am so passionate about the books I’ve read and the movies I’ve seen, but because there are bonds created over these seemingly shallow topics in a way that is rivaled probably only my music and sports. Whatever you love, don’t be afraid to talk about it! I love the challenge of creating a conversation out of thin air, and these topics are such a key ingredient in that. From complete strangers I stand in line with at the grocery story to my closest friends, it is well-known that if you get me talking about a movie or book, there will be lovely conversation to be had. (read my summer movie rant HERE)
- Seasons always change. It’s as simple as that. Life is made up of seasons, that is how it always has been and always will be. Recognizing this helps me to enjoy each day and to know that there is always hope for change and resolution. (read about the inevitability of seasons HERE)
- This time in life is often when people start accumulating random stuff. I nipped this one in the bud because of my tendency towards sentimentality and take a couple times of year to go through and throw things away and to keep some organization to the pictures, letters, and cards that I save. Invested in some cute Target boxes and store them in the closet that way. Best way to combat the precursors to hoarding? Give things away! No matter how rarely or how often you shop for yourself, there are always things in the closet or drawers that someone else will get more use out of than you. Start the habit of cleaning out and giving away now, and it will serve you well when you have a whole hosue to fill with things, instead of just a room or a half of one.
- Up until this point in my life, I couldn’t wait to be older. I looked forward to every birthday as one step closer to some elusive feeling of adulthood that was continuing to escape me. I’m sure that at one point or another, I will start looking back and wishing I was younger. Right now, I feel perfectly content with my age and my life. I still don’t really feel like a grown-up, but there are some unavoidable characteristics of my life that denote adulthood. This is a good time to think about settling into yourself and realizing how far you have come, and how very far you still have left to go, and being ok with them both. (read a letter to my 16-year-old self HERE)
- Finally, the ever-mounting amount of stress in my life between working at a university, getting a Master’s from a different university, and a wholly separate church ministry, has led me to the distinct respect of sabbath rest that I’ve missed out on for much of my life. We were created to rest for every 6 days that we labor, and if memory serves me correctly, that makes me indebted to rest from 24 years of not practicing that. I’m still learning about this, but I have decided to stop waiting for my life to get less busy in order to practice this commandment of a restful, content rhythm of life that God intends us for.
24 has been quite a year, and I wouldn’t presume to imply that my experience has been the same as or comparable to anyone else’s. However, I have been made so much more aware of these lessons than before, and have loved seeing the ways God has worked through the most difficult and unexpected events to bring about the sense of contentment that I find more and more present in this year.
P.S. Please just laugh at this, on the subject of being 24 – http://mashable.com/2012/04/17/im-24-video/