People tell you that when you graduate college things get more difficult. They say that it's a reality shock to enter the real world, to work full time, or to enter a Master's program. They tell you all the bills and payments add up, that it's new and difficult and to get ready.
So we do.
We prepare ourselves mentally, educationally, financially and emotionally -- for the most part.
But what I am finding out (and what all the other 20-something grads I have talked to are finding out) is that there is something about your early twenties that no one tells you about.
This has been the most social season of my life, in a way that I hope roots deeply into every season following. I spend intentional, planned out time with at least one friend every day -- sometimes that friend is one I've known for years, sometimes it's one that I "have always wanted" to hang out with but haven't been intentional about making time with until now. Sometimes it's in a coffee shop, sometimes it's on my couch, sometimes it's a FaceTime date. But during every single conversation I have had with a 20-something since I moved to Lakeland, there is one topic that always seems to surface: how crazy, wonderful, and absolutely terrible this part of the human experience, the early 20's, feels.
Here's why: whether consciously or subconsciously, what our 20's will look like is something that has been on our minds since we were kids. Maybe you dreamed about it, maybe you dreaded it -- but because it is such a milestone, it has been on our minds.
While I know this is not everyone, most people I have talked to envisioned their early 20's as something like... being married or almost married, financially comfortable, having a job you have been working toward in college or dreaming about passionately, and living in a home that reflects who you are and how you are comforted. However, most of us are experiencing an early 20's more acute to... being single and actually losing money because you are still working your way up to your dream job and you're not even paying for the comforting home of your own, but a tiny apartment that is temporary and only temporarily yours.
And, no these aren't reasons to be depressed, these are still very blessed lives I am describing. But you see, something happened in our hearts because, at this milestone, we are not where we have always dreamed (and many times, where we were told) we would be at this point. And this is discouraging.
Not only so, but on top of reality displacing our dreams in a general way as explained above, by now each of us have experienced our own darkness. Darkness that causes you to question and re-learn everything you once knew as truth. Darkness that causes you actual, physical pain for a while. Darkness that slaps you across the face, leaving you with your arms flung wide open and shouting, "What. The. F." Some darkness we brought upon ourselves, and some darkness others threw us into. Some darkness occurred early on in life, and some of us got to live blissfully unaware until we were struck much later down the road.
We are overcoming this darkness. Oh, let me tell you -- we are overcoming. You're never as feisty as in your 20's. It kind of sucks though, because while we are trying to see if our general dreams can be revived, and if they can how we are going to revive them, we are also trying to figure out how to live with our individual haunting darknesses.
In my feistiness, in my self-love, in my healing -- this is what I have decided for myself; and maybe it is for you, too:
It doesn't have to haunt you. It will always be a part of you, but that's doesn't have to be a bad thing. It can just be something that is. Something that you live with. Accept. Maybe you'll grow stronger from it and learn from it. Maybe. Or maybe you won't. And that's okay. Maybe it's just something that remains awful, so awful, but true. Something you don't run away from. Something you don't hide from. Something you don't let control you. Let people talk. Let people think they know. You know who you are. You may not know what that dark experience means to you right now, but it is your experience. And no one else's to label.
Welcome to your human experience. It probably does not look the way you have planed or dreamed or wanted. But it is yours. When you own your story, you have the power to change your story. And that's beautiful. That's something to be treasured.
I feel as if right now I'm underground, under the dirt, but I'm growing. It looks as if nothing is happening, but truly the most foundational part of who I am is being rooted underground before I start growing in a way most deem beautiful. But this is where the beauty is birthed, dear friends. Under the ground, where no one sees. Where it is dark and cold. This is where life comes from. This is where life begins.