Don't Hate Your Life

photo by Wills Francis

photo by Wills Francis

A strange thing happens when you find yourself in a cap and gown in May of your senior year. Your life seems to shift gears, and you find yourself on the other side of this grand experience known as college. You find your entire existence is divided into two different segments or seasons: before college and after college.

Much changed between the two, but the most prominent and real is the fact that the structure and personal identity you found in college is no longer present. You and your friends get married or attend graduate school, but more often than not you get a job.

I try my best to keep in touch with many of the friends I went to high school and college with. Most of them followed the same trajectories I described, and are happily fulfilled in married life, grad school, and exciting career paths.

Unfortunately, I have also spoken to many people who I grew up or went to school with who feel incredibly bored and dissatisfied with their lives. They work jobs they hate and radiate a sense of hopelessness about this new work-life they’re doomed to lead until they die. Some have even questioned their faith because they feel God has abandoned them.

I have a theory as to what happened to these people. From the moment we are in elementary school until we are eighteen, we are pointed to college as the destination and the highest goal.  Our entire lives revolve around it. We are expected to attend college and excel once we arrive, and that’s it. When I was in high school, my practical vision for my life could only extend to my senior year of college, and past that was both too distant and frankly, college sounded too fun to think about it much.

I tell you about this dilemma because I think it is one of the biggest tragedies our generation faces. I see my friends convinced that this is all there is after college – a life of boring work to pay for an apartment in a city they hate. Work and career are seen as the end of the grand adventure, and from here on out we must settle for our lives taking on a lesser form.

My argument is that this does not have to be so. I want to argue that while the transition from college to work is incredibly stretching and uncomfortable, it can be filled with wonder at the next grand adventure. The difference lies in a change of perception and expectation.

If we expect that the joy and mystery and beautiful story of our lives ends when we get “out in the real world”, then it certainly will. But, we have the chance to see this new stage not as the end of the narrative, rather a deeper and more complex opportunity to walk with God to see our passions and longings flourish outside of the college bubble. The stories of our lives can only fill us with wonder when they are given room to run, and the World has enough room. God is welcoming us into lives of adventure and purpose, if only we would be bold enough to take them.

I do not want to sound arrogant or insulated from the fact that many people must stay in a situation or job they may not necessary love because of student loans, family issues, or other important matters. There is great honor and wisdom in making those decisions for your financial security and family. But if you are in that situation, keep that fire burning that longs for a life you love.

Volunteer, travel, write, study, paint, go on road trips, play music, move to a big city to chase a girl (like I did), pray big prayers, allow your heart to be broken for others’ pain and do something about it. Throw yourself out into the world and expect God to catch you. If we do this, I think He is pleased with our boldness and reliance on Him. We only have one life to live, and to live it with anything less than purpose and enthusiasm is a great loss.