A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

If anything, these past six months have been nothing short of a physical manifestation of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. This season of post-grad "activity" was truly a period of transition, renewal, and reflection replete with moments of frustration, challenge, joy, pain, dancing, and weeping. Although my social media might suggest otherwise (let's be real, don't we tend to only highlight the, well, highlights of our lives?), my post-grad journey has encompassed much more than traveling with friends and spending each moment in pure bliss. However much I wish I could say that I truthfully found joy in each and every situation, I don't want to paint an unrealistic picture of my life.

When I first began thinking about my post-grad plans last fall, I knew one thing: I wanted to get the heck out of Albuquerque as fast as humanly possible. I wasn't going to be that deadbeat graduate living in her parents' house, jobless, in November. Even in May, upon the completion of my degree, I wanted to move on to bigger and better things than what my hometown had to offer. And quickly. So I began applying to jobs in Denver in hopes that I would move out in June. With no concrete plans, I returned to my previous retail job to make a little extra cash and keep myself occupied in the meantime.

Soon June became July; July became August; August became September...and I think you get the idea. The running joke at work became: "When are you actually moving?" No joke. When I told one of my co-workers that Tuesday was my last day at work, she laughed and asked if I was actually moving. She didn't quite believe me when I told her I was literally moving to Colorado on Saturday. Thanks for all the support, y'all.

Six months ago, I did not foresee this slight complication in my (highly) idealistic plan. I pictured things much differently. For a girl so keen on leaving, I seemed to be doing just about everything but that...

For fear of sugar coating the truth, I want to tell it how it is.

At times, this summer was really difficult. In the intermittent periods of sending in job applications, following up (which I admit I did not do as often as I should have), and waiting to hear any response whatsoever, I was overcome with paralyzing self-doubt too many times to count. Was the degree my parents paid for (and that I get to start paying loans for next month - yikes!) even worth it? Of what use is an Interpersonal Communication degree? It's all a load of BS, I would tell myself at times. With every rejection email I received, my pride and confidence took a blow. And about every fifth rejection email I received (if I even received one), I would break down either to my mother (bless her for sitting through all my frustrated sobs) or in the solitary and unseen vulnerability of my bed.

Being an extremely idealistic person (both a blessing and a curse), I entered post-grad life with a ridiculous list of job requirements. Let's just say I was looking for my dream job right off the bat, even though I'd been advised not to expect too much in my first job. Unfortunately, once I have an idea like that in my mind, I tend to get stuck on it. I wanted to do meaningful work in which I could help others enrich their lives while also learning new skills and employing my communication and relationship skills. So nonprofit work? Yeah, but I want to get paid, that's the problem...

If not nonprofit work (which I was open to), what does an Interpersonal Communication major do for a job? My degree is so general that I could use it for anything, yet so specific that no job would ever require an IPC background. Somehow I ended up looking into marketing. And ended up kicking myself for looking in that direction when I was confronted with the stark reality that marketing does not necessarily benefit people's wellbeing. I was conflicted with the difficult decision of applying solely to jobs that met my criteria or applying for any- and everything I found that had at least something to do with my four years of undergraduate education. Basically I was stuck with the decision between making great money at a job I didn't necessarily support or living on pretty much nothing but working for a cause I believe in wholeheartedly.

My first two serious interviews illustrated this perfectly: The first was with a small marketing firm in the Denver area. When I received the call asking me to interview I was stoked! My first interview, and I'd only been home for a month. I'd soon be on my way to Denver! Or maybe not...As it turns out, I learned that the interview process is just as much my opportunity to interview the company. I left the first interview feeling confident, but unsure how I felt about the company. After my second interview the next morning, I was extended an offer to shadow and make sure it was the right job for me. But something felt wrong. I would be making bank immediately after college - and quite a bit more than I was expecting - and I could move up to Denver in the next few weeks. But I had this nagging sense of discomfort in my gut that continued to rise the more I sat and thought about my options. I even had a good hour of a mental breakdown in Washington Park until I made the decision to turn down the opportunity. Amazingly, the moment I was on the road home, all my stress and emotions disappeared, and I knew I had made the right decision, even if that meant delaying my move.

The second interview was for a nonprofit also located in Denver. I was very well qualified for the position, and knew I could make a difference and be pushed outside of my comfort zone. But the position would pay barely enough for me to scrape by. When I received the offer, I had no idea what to do. I knew I could not live comfortably by any means, and would need to pick up at least one or two additional jobs to make ends meet. But I was at the point where I was receiving so many rejection emails that I honestly felt a bit desperate. I wanted to get out of Albuquerque. And the position would begin just after my summer plans were over. The decision to turn down the offer was extremely difficult. Just like the last time, I cried. A lot. What if I made the wrong decision and got stuck in Albuquerque for another three months or longer? Yet throughout the internal struggle of weighing pros and cons, I knew I had to trust that something would work out, and had to trust my intuition yet again. I've had too many bad experiences that resulted from going against my gut that I knew I had to let go of the offer. And trust.

As a planner and visionary, having no concrete plans was (and still is) terrifying. I typically manufacture trust by taking control of the situations I'm in. In this case, I had literally zero control over the situation. Once my application was in, I was powerless to control the outcome. There were far too many times when I felt like giving up. I became frustrated with myself for pursuing a seemingly useless degree instead of biting the bullet and going for a STEM or business degree that would be much more beneficial in the job hunt world, even though I know my brain wasn't wired to think that way, and I would have struggled my entire way through Pepperdine.

I became frustrated with God. And began to question whether my prayers were being heard. My late night mental breakdowns were riddled with upset wonderings and desperate pleas. I just wanted to know that my passions and desires were placed within me for a reason, and that God would fulfill his promises, because it felt like I was being ignored. Despite my growing fears (sorry had to put a Mumford reference in here somewhere) and wavering faith, I had to remind myself of the story of Sarah. Though she prayed for a child and was barren for many years, God still answered her prayers in his timing. I just had to acknowledge that perhaps my ideal timeline really wasn't all that ideal. And somehow I found resilience and trust in the midst of confusion and doubt thanks to the incredible friends (some of whom were in the same exact boat) and family members who encouraged me along the way.

The time I spent waiting was not fruitless, even though I'll admit I was prone to focus on the negatives. In the six months I spent at home, I was able to meet some really amazing people, make incredible friends, and strengthen the friendships I already had. I made some great friends at work who have encouraged me throughout my job hunt process, and who I suspect will continue to be friendly faces when I come home to visit for the holidays and special occasions. I even expanded my communication studies community, which has helped keep me in tune with my favorite subject outside of school (that's when you know you're a true nerd...when you get excited about discussing the theoretical when you're no longer in school).

These past six months have also been monumental for my health. Though I'm not at 100% full health yet, the difference between how I feel now and how I felt this spring is like night and day. I've learned how to listen to my body, how to nourish it, how to strengthen it, how to push it, and how to honor it. I've become a smarter consumer because of this lifestyle change. Had I not had the full six months to invest fully in my wellbeing, I know I would continue to struggle with my diet for years to come. This transition period provided me with enough rest and space from a hectic lifestyle to take time to listen and heal so I can be healthier.

Although I couldn't wait to move out of my parents' home, I am so glad I had the opportunity to spend an extended amount of time at home with them as an adult. I'm admittedly sad to be leaving too. The three of us have grown closer, and I was able to see and appreciate the strength of my parents' marriage and personalities, even if they can be a bit weird at times (cue the many moments of eye-rolling). It's taught me a lot about my own values when it comes to relationships, communication, and love. They've shown me just how much they do love and support me, even though I chose a major that can seem useless at times. They're wholly supportive of me, whether I am living at home with them and working a part-time retail job and going to sleep at 9:30 on a Friday night or moving to an isolated ski town to pursue a life of adventure and meaning. And I guess I should mention how awesome my sister is for sticking by me every single day, through all my emotions and difficult decisions and frustrations. And for being the best friend a girl could ever have. It goes without saying that we've grown closer through both our commonalities and our differences, and I am forever grateful for our nerdy relationship based on good communication. We are living the dream.

While this season was a time for pretty much everything - tearing down and building, planting and uprooting, killing (not literally!!!!) and healing, mourning and dancing, weeping and laughing, searching and giving up - I am excited to embark upon a new season in my life: a time of discovery and adventure in Crested Butte, Colorado.

After four long months of job searching and rejections, I applied for an internship that I knew I was finally qualified for. I had no idea whether I would even get it; the position had been posted for several weeks, and I was sure it had to have been filled already. But it was one of the two positions I'd applied for that I knew I would be fully satisfied with. Funnily enough, a few nights before I found the position, I'd turned down another full-time job that would move me up to Denver after watching an episode of NCIS that convinced me that I had a better offer coming around the corner. In the episode, Tony is talking to a private doctor who was offered a fantastic position at a hospital. A few days after turning down the offer, he began kicking himself for the missed opportunity: what if nothing else came up? (My sentiments exactly, sir!) However, a week later, he was offered another opportunity to open a private practice and do the work he dreamed of doing. I was in the midst of deciding whether to take the full-time job, and decided that this job - what I considered my last resort - was not the right one. Something better awaited me. Cue the anxiety. And more job applications. After applying to this internship position, I sent my follow-up email, and almost immediately got a positive response: I had great credentials and they wanted to interview me - ASAP! The day after my interview, I was offered the position, gladly accepted, and literally danced the rest of the afternoon away in pure joyous bliss. Truth be told, many of the days in the last month have been joyous, because no more job applications for the time being! I have a plan and a purpose!

In retrospect, I know this transition period was exactly what I needed: a respite from the past 16 years of schoolwork and a period of personal growth before I embark on my long journey through the adult world of full-time employment. Having recharged my batteries, I am ready to take on this next adventure into the freezing (and oftentimes subzero) temperatures of mountainous West Colorado. And having processed all that I've experienced in the six months between, I trust wholly in God's power to provide the perfect interweaving of past experience, idealized job requirements, and passions in my post-grad career. And did I mention my job requirements were almost impossibly too idealistic? Who would have thought God would give me my dream job right off the bat? Though I was anxious about what would come of my degree, I could not have designed a more perfect or natural next step as doing marketing work for an adaptive and therapeutic sports program that actively seeks to benefit those with disabilities. As I prepare to move to Colorado in two days, I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

A huge thank you to all of you who have supported me through the highs and lows of the post-grad experience (you know who you are). I am so grateful for your faith in me and in God, especially when I was lacking in confidence, motivation, and faith. I could not have regained my spirits or trust without your constant encouragement.


Leigh BaldwinComment