Hi, friends. I’ve been a rather poor poster; life’s happened pretty fast round these parts (jobapartmentsecondjobnewfriendsbillsflattires), and writing hasn’t been high on the list.
Speaking of, I’ve created a big old list of my observations (and longer riffs from time old-observations from wiser and older adults) from the first month our two living on my own. I wanted to post it for those sisters and brothers who are about to venture out.
1. Invest in health. Set up some basic appointments; dentist, doctor. Cut your hair if it’s getting a little, well, ratty. Join a gym. During the more difficult times of my first post-grad year, I was frustrated because of a lot of things were occurring in my life that I couldn’t change. What I could control, however, was how I treated my body, and I made healthy eating and exercise a priority. It made such a difference!
When you do move out, a note of caution: buy some healthy food for you refrigerator immediately. You will be weirded out and tired because of all the “new” happening, and will suddenly realize you have Dominos on speed dial and all the work from your spring workout sessions are pretty near ruined because you were overwhelmed and hangry. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
Spiritual health counts, too. I was inspired by a sermon on Perry Noble’s website in which the guest preacher talked about how he made a change in his spiritual life that had monumental impact. He simply got up a bit earlier and spent a solid chunk of time with Jesus before work. That’s it! I’ve made this my routine of late. I hate mornings, but I’m learned to love coffee; it helps soothe the sting of an early alarm.
A favorite quotation from The Hope Quotient, an incredibly impactful book by Ray Johnston, addresses the life-giving importance of spending quality time with Jesus. “…to say, ‘I don’t have time’ is another way of saying, ‘I prefer to be drained and hopeless.'” Preach!
2. Find a church. One of the best things I ever did my last year in college was a Campus Outreach retreat exclusively for seniors, which had workshops about spiritual issues and the new responsibilities facing graduates. The main point they continually drove home, however, was the importance of finding a church and getting involved in said church when you’re out on your own. That changed my life! I have the good fortune to have a solid, Bible- believing church nearby that I really enjoy. It’s given me opportunities to serve and lead as the head of the kids department at for a season. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people whom have become friends, and heard some heart-changing sermons. The influence my local church has had on my life has been immense.
3. Get a big old journal. I love stationary and pens and journals- especially the big leather-bound ones that look like they have the potential to contain a piece of Voldemort’s soul. [Side note: during the apex of my 6th grade Harry Potter phase, I had a red leather journal that I wrote lines from the book right in the middle pages. My goal was to make it look as though the journal was Tom Riddle's diary; a pretty red prop. The implications of my copy-cat Horcrux are...puzzling.] Knowing this, my sisters got me this gorgeous journal- leather-bound (just how I like it!), embossed with flowers- and a silver-tone pen engraved with my name. It was a spectacular graduation gift, beautiful and, as I’d come to learn, incredibly useful.
The book is HUGE, well over 300 pages. I started it last July, a month or two after I finished college, and still have thirty pages to go. It’s a cathartic space where I speak to God and pour out my heart, uninterrupted and uncensored. I needed-need- that vast space to chronicle the bevy of sadness and angst and confusion and happiness during what I deem my “Order of the Phoenix” year. (HA!)
4. Read all the time. Absorb wisdom. I love (and am very thankful for) Paul Angone and his book/blog All Groan Up. He had an article about how small choices add up to big ones, and one simple line spoke to me, which I’ve paraphrased here: choose to read. I’ve taken the free time I’ve had to just devour books, may they be about my faith, about the world, or are those fictions I’ve had on my shelf for ages but haven’t had the time to consume. I got a library card and relish Friday afternoon trips, each one so beautifully free of charge. My favorites thus far? Anything Erik Larsen (although they’re a bit dark; read on a sunshine-y day), the Hope Quotient (SERIOUSLY), North and South (favorite fiction EVER; better, I wager, than Pride and Prejudice!), The Ragamuffin Gospel (life-changer alert, seriously!), Just Do Something, and Adulting.
I also like using my journal as a place to transcribe quotations that speak to me. It’s for that reason I love finding journals from years past, because I can see what I was reading by the pieces I copied down. It also offers an interesting glimpse into my state of my mind at the time.
At work, I like to listen to sermons or podcasts. I love Perry Noble’s sermons, as they are truth-filled and approachable (as well as funny). Dr. Lane Craig’s A Reasonable Faith series is a bit more lofty and intense, but I like it equally as much as Noble’s work. As a thinker who has a considerable intellectual curiosity, it’s been fascinating to hear Lane Craig’s take on tricky questions individuals have about Christianity.
Also, I’ve really enjoyed taking a few minutes out of my day to read the headlines and understand what’s going on in the world around me. I remember reading somewhere- I forget where- that the author’s dear friend would read the news before he went to a party; that way, he’d have things to discuss when there. It’s a fabulous, albeit rather so-obvious-I-should-have-thought-of-it-on-my-own habit, and it really does make social interactions and work functions decidedly less uncomfortable.
5. Social media? In small doses. I hate Facebook, and I had to give up Instagram for a bit because I was *gasp* jealous of the fabulous nature of everyone else’s lives. I know, I know; it’s all filters and editing and who knows what’s really happening in anyone’s life, but the fact of the matter was that the snaps looked perfect and were inspiring envy in me. My heart couldn’t handle it, and I was happier without it.
Currently, I’ve had to say no to Pinterest. It’s not necessarily comparison this time, but rather discontent. Money’s tight for me these days, and seeing cute clothes and yummy foods and perfect couches and all the places I’m dying to travel to makes me not appreciate the fact that I finally moved out and have a lot of good in my life right now, even if one of those things isn’t an overflowing bank account.
6. Finances. Speaking of $$, the best thing I ever did was read Robert Morris’ The Blessed Life and got pointed towards Dave Ramsey’s financial wisdom right off the bat. The former gets your mind in a great, Biblical place about managing your money, as well as how to tithe and why it’s important, and the latter shows you how to do it all well. I’m a far way off to being where I want to be finacially, but the Lord was good enough to put the right resources in my hands ot help me see how to handle it, and for that I’m so grateful.
7. Give yourself grace. I realized pretty quickly there was a lot about commons sense stuff I had no idea how to do, nor did I know a lot of adult terms actually meant, nor whom I ought to talk to about it, nor when to pay my water bill, and how does the process for ordering a new tire WHEN YOU POPPED IT ON THE CURB THREE MINUTES FROM WORK start? STOP. It’s okay. Breathe. This is a time for learning and mistakes and feeling silly and young rather frequently. Pray, ask questions, and don’t hate on yourself as you figure things out, make friends, and establish yourself as a bill-paying-on-time adult.
8. Realize you might be sad, and that’s ok. This was a sad year. I don’t like feeling inept, I don’t like not knowing things (I’ve been struggling with life direction since graduation), and a combination of other factors have made my time of transition from Davidson into fledgling adult a bit rocky. I’ve been bummed. I’ve had some good cries and did my fare share of angst-y, confused real talks late at night with any friend that would listen. But, as Paul Angone and Ray Johnston exhort in their works, please please please don’t stay sad forever (and if it’s a melancholy you can’t shake, there’s no shame in asking for medical help; mental and emotional health is so important.). Perry Noble says it best: “It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to stay that way.”
9. You’re not alone. Hey, there, friend that’s having a rough go of it: you’re not alone. I’m working out what I want to be working towards, too. I feel frustrated and confused (and poor!). Not everyone got glittering, six figure jobs and adorable apartments and student loans paid off straight out of college (although I know a few people from my alma mater that did; trust me, don’t dwell on it.). You’re not alone- please don’t forget it!
Know this: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” -Psalm 32:8. It’s a truth easier read than believed, I know. But the Lord, our love and our lamp and the One who knows us, will also be our Teacher and our Guide.
Also, this for listening.