My alma mater held commencement this past weekend for the class of 2015, the freshmen during my senior year and the last class I knew at all as a student. Seeing graduation photos online had me reminiscing on those years, the three years since, and the ideas that have been most important in transitioning from college to “real life” (whatever that is).
1. Live in Community
In some ways this became easier with life no longer punctuated by semester breaks. My husband and I moved into our first apartment, settled into jobs and a new church, and began building new friendships.
But in other ways it became far more difficult, leaving a small tightly-knit campus where you couldn’t avoid seeing people even if you wanted to. As jobs, family, and church commitments have grown and friends have moved all over the country, preserving and building relationships has become more challenging but still oh, so worth it.
The gift of living in community is clearest during life’s greatest joys and most painful trials. Developing the closest friendships of my life was one of the biggest blessings of my college years. And building community in our church family has been one of the biggest blessings in the years since then.
2. Stay Mentally Active
It took me a long time to learn how to read just for fun and enrichment. Reading more consistently was one of the main goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2015. I’m shooting for a book a week which doesn’t always happen. But I am reading more than at any point since college, enjoying titles on everything from time management to parenting to the secrets of TED talks. And I finally read my first Wendell Berry. Shhh…don’t tell any of my political theory friends that it took me this long.
The biggest things I’ve learned from reading more? For one, it’s a habit. The more consistently you read the easier it is to keep the habit alive. And feeding your mind well reaps benefits for all of life. I’ve found my horizons broadened and my desire to be a lifelong learner deepened.
3. Don’t Despise Life Lived in the Ordinary
I came to college ready to take 18 credit semesters, land prestigious internships, attend a prestigious law school, work prestigious jobs…you get the idea. None of that’s bad. And I’m beyond proud of so many of my college friends doing just that.
But this season of my life is far different from the high-profile, mass culture shaping missions I envisioned as a college freshman. I spend most of my time on the normal everyday tasks of running a house and keeping a toddler alive, usually happy, and sometimes well behaved.
Occasionally I glance at the nearby Washington D.C. landscape and remember the calling I’d imagined for myself in those iconic buildings. I’d lobby policymakers or work for one of them. In my mind none of that would be ordinary. And maybe someday I’d achieve my ultimate nerdy dream of arguing a case before the Supreme Court.
A far cry from making peanut butter sandwiches and trying to figure out why the brand new sippy cup already leaks.
But today that is my calling. It’s ordinary. It’s sometimes monotonous. It’s often hard. But it’s always worth it.
And today I’m thankful for the ordinary days.