Dec 25, 2012

The road between 18 and 25

Dear 18-year-old person,

I am writing this because I wish I knew this at 18. This is great time in your life, whether you're going to college or not. The years between 18 and 22 are so thrilling, so new, so dramatic, and go by so quickly. Relish them. Don't forget that feeling you'll get when you pull up to your new dorm with your parents, offload your belongs into your new (tiny) room, and get acquainted with your new bathroom routine. Don't forget the songs that were the soundtrack of your life at that time. Don't forget the realization that the friends you had in high school will eventually fade out of your life... for the most part.

That boy you're dating? He's not the first guy you've had a relationship with, but his love will be crucial. You will break each other's hearts, but create some of the most loving, romantic, fulfilling memories you will ever have. But you will hang onto him too long. By the time you know it's time to end things, it will have been going on for so long, you won't know how to do it. And when you do, it will be abrupt, and over the phone, because that's how long distance works out sometimes. 

He will give you fond memories, but also make you question who you really are -- in a bad way. Don't question yourself. Your aspirations and dreams will trump him. You won't realize this until later on, but God has been trying to show you that big moves require big changes. You won't learn from this until later as well.

You will work, intern, date and dance your way through college, inevitably getting caught up in boys that you have no business being with. They will all teach you something: how to read red flags, how to let go; when to put your foot down. You'll learn what to tolerate and what you can't deal with.

Go through college and enjoy the mixers, the all-nighters, the Spring Breaks; the sorority house drama, the late nights at the karaoke bar. Soak them up, because some of the best friends you will make may end up leaving you too soon. You will learn the importance of managing relationships and keeping up with others who aren't down the hall. This will help you as you decide what you want to do with your life.

Finally, once your life has come together, you will meet a man. It will be unexpected and out of nowhere. You will both have a comfortable, fun, drama-free relationship. You will, inevitably, love him. You will also want more from him, and he will not be able to give it to you. Wisen up and realize you will never be able to get more out of him. Leave right then.

You won't though.

Instead, you will move away, going after your dreams, and he will always resent you a little for it. Not a lot, a little. And just when you think you'd give it all up to be with him, he will do what a man should do: give you up. He will break your heart, and tell you it's not for long. But that's because he really loves you, and doesn't believe it himself. He doesn't want to let you go, but knows he not only should, but he has to. And that, ironically, is the "more" you've been yearning for: that he would do something to prove his love for you.

Of course, you won't see this as love as the time. You will think he is a coward, a liar, and mostly, you won't understand it. He'll keep trying to talk to you because he doesn't want to lose you. So he'll make you do the dirty work: you'll have to be the one to cut things off. And it will hurt. It will make you feel like everything you thought you knew never existed. You will wonder why you're going through this.

But it is the greatest gift he could ever give you: your freedom.

You will never be with him again, but that's for the best. And guess what? You'll learn so much about yourself in the coming years -- how strong you are, and how resilient you can be, in every aspect of your life: living, loving, work, excerise -- you, my friend, are one to be cherished. It's going to take a lucky man to take you in your grasp.

This was my road from 18 to 25. It seems so long ago, but went by so quickly... And when you're going through it, you won't realize why it's happening, but you'll be happy it all did. I'm sure this is not everyone's story, but perhaps there are a few of you out there that can relate exactly.

What's your story?

Dec 5, 2012

Tis the Season of Guilt?

Real talk: sometimes, I can feel really, really guilty during the holiday season. It's pretty cliché, but as I've gotten older, I've stopped thinking all about "me" and how I'd like $500 in Starucks gift cards. Now, it's more about spending time at home with a family I get to see four times a year, and figuring out how to give back to people that a) I love and b) need the help. I mean, it's an embarrassment of riches really: so many people to give back to. But it's driven me to the point of sobbing tears to think that there are people out there that won't have gifts on Christmas, but moreso, they may not have a house, food, parents; siblings, a blanket, or someone to tell them they love them, and lift their spirits. This is a fact of life, and it kills me. I can barely listen to "Do They Know It's Christmas" because, for me, the spirit of Christmas is knowing God's glory and spreading the love to everyone you can! 

I told my family that I wanted to go to a homeless shelter on Christmas and feed those in need, but for a split second I considered taking back this idea because, honestly, I don't feel like I'm strong enough to handle that. I would cry, and it would be ridiculous because these people go through hell, probably have been torn away from their families; then here I am, crying at the thought of it. It would be lame and absurd of me to get emotional in a situation like that -- when I have so much to not cry about in my life -- and the last thing I'd want to do is offend people.

I read a Joyce Meyer devotional everyday, and when I started to think about all the guilt I have about all this, I remembered something she wrote: it's not God telling me to feel guilty, upset or ashamed of the life I live -- it's the devil. God wants us to be happy and joyous; gracious and thankful. Of course he wants us to be aware, helpful to others, and wants us to love others as much as possible. But that doesn't mean straining yourself, or feeling badly about what you have, versus what others may not.

Courtesy of Walmart Corporate

Surely I am not the only other person who has experienced feelings like this before, so I thought I'd write to encourage you to help when you can, to take care of yourself, and truly spread the meaning of Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate this season). Consider heading to the food bank to help, donate to your local toy drive, or adopt a family -- and make it a work affair! Getting your office involved makes donating even more fun.


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