By: Juliandra Durkin
Many of our readers are past the awkward teen years, but have realized that college isn’t much better when it comes to awkward.
You know what I’m talking about- moving home for summer, you don’t feel quite like the daughter that grew up in your parents home, you’re kind of an adult, but then you kind of still depend on them to pay for groceries. Your friends are spread out over the country, so when it comes to sharing the latest news with your college roommate you have to be aware of the time change, 10 PM where you are could be 1 AM where she is; guess you better wait with that phone call! And then there is processing relationships like your best friend could be that bff 4 eva that you grew up with getting ready for prom together, or is your best friend that girl you bonded with when you were sick on a bus that one day in Europe and then got lost with in a new city studying abroad that one semester?
Even worse than moving from awkward teen to college kid is the next change to young adult, where you have to make decisions like do I bring a plus 1 to my roommates wedding? What car can I afford with college loans to pay off? And how do I find an apartment four states over and move all my things in time to make it for a job that starts in two weeks? Yikes! It seems life is always in a state of transition and decision making.
I wanted to encourage all of you that it is inevitable life is full of change. And though this post applies to everyone, I have a special audience in mind as I write this piece: our new graduates! Congratulations to all those graduating! You’ve completed a milestone and have much to celebrate!
But then what?
I realized after graduating college that life gets real crazy real fast. Some people get married. Some go straight to grad school. Some people travel or go on long term mission trips. Some people move home to save money. Some people get internships and stay near their college town. And a few land that dream job with a salary and benefits. It is SO EASY to play the comparison game during this time. I know I did it a few years ago when I graduated, which only left me sad and questioning God, “why doesn’t my life didn’t look like his or hers?” With that in mind, I was inspired to ask a few of my friends about their experiences upon graduating college for you to take a peek at women who have been there and done that just a few years ago and hopefully you’ll recognize that plans change and everyone’s path looks a little different…
“As a Communication Studies and Spanish Hispanic Studies double major from Westmont College, I had the initial intention of entering into the work force immediately after graduation. But as the time grew nearer for me to leave the comfort and security of Santa Barbara, my home for the last four years, I began to question my direction. Everyone always tells you that the goal after getting your degree is to find a good job that will pay the bills and/or student loans. Another avenue is to enroll in grad school or a master’s program that will allow you to learn more about a certain area of study so that you’re more qualified to enter that particular industry. I soon realized that there was a great divide between what my head was telling me to strive for and what my heart was actually yearning for, which was to use my talents to glorify the Lord through my vocation.
I’ve always loved using my bilingual abilities to communicate with and learn more about different peoples and cultures. So when the opportunity arose for me to participate in a summer missions program in Guatemala for two months after graduation, I was thrilled but also terrified. I had visited the Casa Bernabé orphanage in Guatemala City once before during my sophomore year of which I have the most incredible memories. So although this decision seemed strange or unpredictable to others because I wasn’t following the traditional path of landing a job right out of college, I knew that this is where the Lord was leading me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a hard decision to make because no one likes uncertainty, but I just had to have faith that through this experience, I would learn so much more about myself and the love that God has for His children. I’m happy to say that through the support of my friends and family, I was able to raise enough funds to serve for those two months and felt challenged in my faith every day. As a result of working with the underprivileged, serving as a translator, and sharing my testimony with countless children and team members, I felt pushed toward a career of service. Had it not been for my time as an individual missionary in Guatemala, my heart would not have been as fulfilled and in tune to the needs of children everywhere which is how I’ve now come to pursue my master’s in child welfare in hopes of serving at home or abroad through the adoption process.” ~Gabriella Pinheiro-Chavez, Westmont College, Class of 2014
“I was an Art major in college and I wanted to be an artist, but at the same time there were few opportunities in the small town where I grew up and went to college in Pennsylvania, so I applied to jobs and internships in other cities after graduating. I struggled between knowing I needed to move, but also not letting go of the familiar environment. It was a frustrating time, but looking back I am grateful that jobs and internships did not work out in other cities at first. While I tried to find a purpose during those months after graduating, I met my soon-to-be husband. I also learned not to compromise myself and dreams as I applied for grad school programs (which I got into months later) and worked on the side. Most importantly, I had time to reflect on my passions and was able to put my big dreams into attainable perspective. In that year between college graduation and graduate school, God showed me the good that comes from being content with any situation. I still struggle with waiting, completing my masters, and chasing my dreams, but I know a year from now I will look back and be grateful for all the little past things that shape my being in the present.
It is okay to not know what you want to do after graduation. You are not a failure if you do not have a job lined up right after graduation. It is also okay if you decide to change your mind. You do not need to have an Instagram-perfect life. Jesus wants us to grow, to be clay ready for the Artist’s hands. Let Him shape you and your future. Let Him be a part of your journey through life.” ~Fenny Lai, Penn State University, Class of 2014
“Right after I graduated from college, my professor sent us a few emails about job opportunities relating to our field. One of the jobs was a full time position as a Fitness Coordinator at one the most prestigious retirement communities in the country. At the time, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my career. I was weighing out my options: I could further my education to become a physical therapist or I could use my degree and certifications to try and land a job. During this time I decided to take any opportunity that I heard of and prayed that God would let one path shine out while I tried them all.
When I heard about the Fitness Coordinator position I just knew I had to go for it AND I WAS TERRIFIED. I went in for an interview and the self doubt started, ‘You’re too young and inexperienced. You’re clueless. You have no idea what you’re doing. You’re outfit is dumb…’ etc. I prayed to God to help me turn off my brain and negative thoughts, I gave myself some positive affirmations and told myself the truth, ‘You’ve been working on preparing yourself for this day for years. You have your degree and you are knowledgeable. No matter what happens, you are a child of light and that’s really all that matters.’ After the interview, I couldn’t remember anything they had asked me, nor my responses; I was still trembling with nerves. And to say goodbye/ thank you, I very enthusiastically hugged my interviewers (so embarrassing…) because I was so relieved that I had made it through the interview without throwing up!
I ended up getting the job and loved it! I think God helped me in the interview (and at the job itself) by reminding me that my identity is not found in my career and how quickly I can ‘climb up the rope.’ I am chosen, adopted, blameless, loved, a recipient of grace, a child of light, and my only real purpose here is to invite others into that identity as well.” ~Allissa Raway, Westmont College, Class of 2013
Dear readers (especially graduates), enjoy where you are at now and the next best step that God has for you. Let go of the pressures you feel of taking a certain path because before you know it, you will be making more decisions as change and a new direction is thrust upon you.
Photo Cred: Chelsea Stellar
Juliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!