Not What I Thought

A couple weeks ago Meighan asked me where I thought I’d be and what I thought my life would look like at this point. She asked if the younger version of myself had envisioned anything for this older version of myself, and what exactly did that vision entail. And I didn’t know how to answer her, because I don’t’ think I knew. I guess I never really thought about my future way back when.

Had you asked me ten years ago, I would have known every next step.

Ten years ago I was in college, and college Meg had it figured out. I knew what classes to take, what jobs to sign up for, when I’d study abroad, when I’d do a missions trip. I knew what I wanted to do and what opportunities I wanted to seize. I literally had a binder that I carried with me through multiple college move-ins and move-outs that traced every detail of every semester. I knew what I needed to do, but also, I knew what I wanted.

Then college ended and adulthood made way.

And I guess in a sense the opportunities narrowed down. I didn’t need to plan what classes to take; I just needed to find a job. I didn’t have to think about where to study abroad; I just needed to know where I was going to live. I don’t think there were necessarily less opportunities. I could have picked any career in any place possible.

But somewhere down the line it became less of what I wanted and more of taking what opportunity was right in front of me. The next step was whatever was right there instead of whatever thing I needed to take advantage of before the college timer ran out.

In that therapy session, I realized that maybe I didn’t even want to be a teacher. All throughout high school I told myself I would never become a teacher. Then even as I went off to study children and their development, I didn’t set out to become a teacher. I didn’t even take classes that pertained to education. But then it was the second semester of my senior year and I was offered a teaching position and instead of considering what the possibilities were, I took it because it was there and it made sense. I didn’t have to graduate and be jobless like everyone else. I could graduate and have things lined up. But now I’m wondering, what if it wasn’t what I wanted in the first place.

So, for the past couple weeks I’ve been doubting myself. Doubting the career I chose and wondering if I had just settled. Had I just taken the first thing that came my way and now I’m stuck with it?  

Then the more I let the thought linger, the more I realized it wasn’t just my career. Did I just settle on moving to Hawaii when I could have stayed in California? Did I just say ok to things because those were the things presented to me? Do I really have no vision for my future?

All these thoughts made me really sad.

I felt like I wasted time. Wasted energy. Wasted purpose. Was I just walking through the next open door and the next open door and the next open door not even realizing what doors I was going through?

Because that’s what it felt like I was doing. I wasn’t planning. I wasn’t setting goals. I wasn’t creating visions and going after those visions. I was just doing the next thing that made sense. Oh, Madewell is opening a store in Honolulu, I should apply to work there. Oh, I need to find a new place to live and the university offers faculty housing, I’ll just live there. Whatever the situation be, I just did what made sense without thinking whether or not that’s what I want for my life.

And that made me feel really stupid. Until one night I realized that there is no possible way I could have even opened those doors for myself to begin with.

Yes I was walking through door after door after door without taking a peek at what was behind all the different ones and comparing. When an open door presented itself, I walked through. Not because I was stupid. Not because I didn’t have a vision. Not because I settled. But because I trusted so deeply in God that he would open those doors for me, so all I had to do was keep walking.

I relied so heavily on God that I didn’t need to compare opportunities because I knew through and through that each time He was presenting me with the absolute best one possible.

I have a job that sometimes I don’t absolutely love, but in six years I’ll be forgiven of $70,000 of student debt. Then add on a decade after that and I’ll be fully established for retirement. I have a home that I didn’t necessarily want to move into at first, but now I’m so close to work that on my lunch breaks I can come home and poop in my own toilet. I have a part-time job that gets me discounts on all my favorite clothes, and I have another part-time job that gets me a free studio membership. I live in a place where people spend thousands of dollars to vacation, and I can just drive down the road to the beach.

There is absolutely no way that I could have cultivated this life on my own. I didn’t need to have a vision or a five-year plan. All I needed to do was follow God each step of the way.