The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Life after Undergrad

This, too, is a re-post for those of you who may not have gotten to read it. Plus, I just wanted it in my blog archives for the future. I promise that new, recent posts will come soon! :-)

When walking across the graduation stage last May, I had hoped that the key to life (or at least the secret of life in paper form) would have been tucked away underneath my diploma. Even a handwritten plan of action passed to me upon the final handshake from Dr. Burks would have sufficed. Once the initial excitement wore off and the cap and gown had found its dust-collecting place in the back of my closet, reality began to set in. I had veered away from my pre-college game plan and was now wandering out into the unknown, the unfamiliar.

In all actuality, five years ago — when picturing my life as it would stand today — I would have given you the typical “I’m going to Harding” ambitions list. The MRS degree was not why I came to Harding, but I would be remiss to pretend like Prince Charming, the white picket fence and a dream job weren’t in the back of my mind when I read my acceptance letter. The white picket fence is presently an unpainted fence that only surrounds the backyard—a fence that houses a hole that’s big enough for the neighbor’s dog to peer in and bark its head off at me during the early morning hours. Two part-time jobs are helping me through grad school and Prince Charming, well, we still haven’t located him.

Hymns like “Just as I Am” and “There’s a Fountain Free” are supposed to be the tear-jerking, come-down-the-aisle go-to songs, but lately, a lesser known children’s song has seemed to work its power in me. When children, with their angelic little voices, sing “God’s Still Working on Me,” a lump gathers in my throat. Could it be that that my college graduation, the culmination of my game plan, was not necessarily God’s occasion to bring everything neatly gift-wrapped to my doorstep? If I had not gotten so caught up in the beautiful rendition of “Climb Every Mountain,” maybe I would have heard him gently whisper that he was not finished with me yet.

Had he given me everything I wanted when I wanted it, perhaps I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to learn from my mistakes, become independent, and above all, create memories I will carry with me always. I think every young woman, even if they eventually get married and have kids, will always remember that initial transition to life as a single adult trying to make their way in this world. Here, in no particular order of importance, are post-Harding lessons that I have gathered in the past several months:

1. Sit in the dark and purchase a Snuggie — I was notorious in the dorm for cranking the heat up and leaving lights on. My first electric bill in the new house was a wake-up call and alerted me that a lifestyle change was about to take place. Don’t forget to bring marshmallows when you visit; they are cheap and they make good treats when we are huddled by the space heater.

2. Beware of boys — Guys, believe it or not, are actually allowed within a 15-foot radius of your house when you graduate. This poses a problem when shortly upon moving to the outside world, you forget that you’re not in Sears anymore and you dance around your kitchen while doing the dishes. An unfamiliar male face in my window was enough to result in a James Bond drop to the ground and the fastest army crawl you’ve ever seen. A permanent scar from carpet burn is forever there to remind me that, in reality, men are allowed to come in the lobby before noon.

3. Goodbye easy-to-remember 4-digit numbers — When you are scared or locked out, call 5000. When your toilet breaks, call 4339. When you don’t know who to contact, call 4000. Post-graduation, when you have an outbreak of spiders and mice, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Stop screaming, get down off the couch and put on your big girl pants. For future reference, opening the cabinet quickly and throwing a mousetrap in there is not the best method; the trap immediately sets itself off, it takes 45 minutes to set it up again and the mouse is still scurrying around your Lazy Susan like it is its own mouse condominium. Oh, and you can forget about that whole Harding lawn-mowing service thing they have going on. I had to make sure the neighborhood was vacant before I tried my hand at mowing the lawn for the first time.

4. You can be suave without Pantene — Yep, I was that girl. I bought shampoo because it was pretty, six-dollar deodorant because it had a picture of flowers on it and got a pedicure when I didn’t feel like (gasp) bending over to paint my own toenails. Those days are no more. Surprisingly, I have still been able to leave the house with clothes that are put together, hair that is clean and not the slightest trace of B.O. Though my new body wash may not have glitter in it and smell like a tropical island, I still feel blessed to have such luxuries at all. Plus, cheaper brands allow you to expand your wild side and try such scents as cherry blossom and bamboo. Richer, snobbier brands would scoff at such combinations.

It’s fun to laugh about these now, but when the experiences are happening, they are frightening and unpredictable. It’s easy for me to throw myself a pity party and wonder what God has in store for me. Will I, until the end of time, have to protect myself from mice and spiders and remember to take the trash out? Will I have to eat Campbell’s soup for lunch for the rest of my life? It’s then that I have to close my eyes and hear the sweet words of children — kids who have no idea what’s in store for them—and listen to the promise: “He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be/It took him just a week to make the moon and stars/The Sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars/How loving and patient he must be/He’s still working on me.”

Though he may be prepping me to set a mousetrap, mow my lawn and exert some independence, I know even that does not encompass his path for my life. I just have to have faith, love much, and put my fence up. I know that one day I will look out my window and see that he has painted it white.


Blogger Ronda said...

:) And He is doing a great job!!

February 15, 2010 at 8:28 AM  

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