topic: adulthood

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A very strange thing happened to me this past weekend.  I grew into adulthood. 

I know that a statement like that, in itself, seems strange.  But here’s why I’m surprised about the revelation.  I remember finishing at UB, thinking that there I was, 22, a college graduate, with my first ‘real’ job.  And those thoughts lead me to think that i should feel like an adult, but I didn’t. 

At all. 

I felt like society told me I was an adult but my adolescence was still shadowing over my life.  I’m sure it didn’t help that I lived at home with my parents in my childhood bedroom. 

Then in my mid-20s I went back to school.  And there’s nothing that makes you feel like less of an adult than college.  For the first time since I was 16 I didn’t work, I had fun, I travelled, I enjoyed life.  The shadow of my previous life was there, but it didn’t completely cover me.  I was paying for college this time around, I had made the decision to quit my job, I had made the decision to move 3,000 miles away.  Adulthood was creeping in.

I liken it to being a tree.  I was growing in fits and spurts, new branches growing, others becoming stunted, always leaning toward the light of the future, of the promise of the next adventure.  It’s as if within my body, I hadn’t quite solidified.  As if being young was like being liquid, forever changing and adapting, trying to discover what shape fit best.

After graduation I moved back in with my parents, moved in with my cousin, then moved out on my own.  Three months in NYC with no job certainly did not make me feel like an adult.  It made me question what the hell I was doing, could I ‘make it’ in the city that will eat you and then spit you out.  Discovering I could completely rely on myself, that I could handle whatever curve balls were thrown at me, made adolescence retreat even further.  I became less liquid, more solid.

And then this weekend, I trudged through the sleet and the snow to Port Authority to catch a bus to my cousin’s for the weekend.  My godson was turning two, a St. Patrick’s Day baby.  It was on this journey that it occured to me; I was no longer shifting, discovering, changing. 

I have solidified into myself.  The shadow of my youth has gone.  And finally, at 27; my late 20’s, have I become an adult.

the ebb and flow

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Every new year I make not resolutions, but imagine visions for the future. I think about what I did, saw and accomplished the year before and then think of things I want to do in the coming year. These thoughts never include the things that happen to me, but rather the things I want to make happen. It’s these other things, the ones that happen to me that have impacted me the most so far in 2007.

And these things that have happened to me really equate to the people I’ve encountered. Firstly, there is my roommate. Living with someone who I can co-habitate with, enjoy the company of, and gets me – is big. Okay, so it’s not like I just happened upon her, I’ve known her since she was the tender age of 2. But being roommates is a new facet of our relationship.

Then there was the California vacation. Going on vacation can be a most benign experience. This one was the opposite. Meeting two men there has changed my outlook on things. The first made me examine how I view others, how I sometimes make snap judgements and close people out before they even get a foothold. The second has a sweet heart and demeanor. The addition of him to my life makes me smile and warms me within. True friends are hard to come by, and I know if time and space wasn’t an issue right now, we’d be thick as thieves.

And now, there’s the fourth happening. A small video I made in 2005 for some friends from graduate school is having a rippling effect in my life. I posted this video on YouTube for them in Sept. 2006 and never took it down because I thought – who would want to see it? It’s about people they don’t know, inside jokes they won’t get. But last week I received a message from someone who had seen it, someone who will also be hanging a University of Ulster diploma on their wall soon. I haven’t even physically met this person, and yet my life is different now than it was one week ago.

Life is proving to have a funny way of bringing people together. These four people have all in their own ways impacted the way I think, the way I feel, and the way I carry myself. I remember being asked by my aunt when I was 18, where did I see myself at 25? I had no clue how to answer that question, and I know for a fact I pulled an answer out of my ass.

In 10 days I’ll be turning 27 and the ebb and flow of life is still wonderful to me. Sometimes I’m coasting down the river, and sometimes I’m swimming upstream, but I’m nevertheless enjoying the ride.

A little bit of inspiration/motivation

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I recently read this article in Relevant Magazine and it’s really impacted me.  I keep re-reading it and thinking about all the things in my life that I want to change…

 

Let me make a new years prediction: your biggest regret at the end of 2007 won’t be the things you did that you wish you hadn’t.  Your biggest regret on Dec. 31, 2007 will be the things you didn’t do but wish you had.  I have had my fair share of action regrets – things we did that we wish we hadn’t.  I’ve said and done some stupid things that I wish I could unsay and undo.  Who has secretly wished that they could fly counter rotational around the earth at supersonic speeds and reverse time like Superman?  But I’m convinced that the deepest regrets at the end of our lives will be the risks not taken, the opportunities not seized and the dreams not pursued.

 

 

2 Samuel 23:20 highlights one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, but it’s more than that.  It’s a microcosm on how God calls us to approach life.  It tells the story of Benaiah, who chased a lion down into a pit.  Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it. 

 

 

Scripture doesn’t tell us what Benaiah was doing or where he was going when he encountered this lion.  We don’t know Benaiah’s frame of mind, but Scripture does reveal his gut reaction.  And it was gutsy.  It ranks as one of the most improbable reactions recorded in Scripture.  When the image of a man-eating beast travels through the optical nerve and registers in the visual cortex, the brain has one over-arching message: Run away.

 

 

That is what normal people do, but lion chasers are wired differently.  They don’t see 500 pound problems.  They see God-ordained opportunities.

 

For most of us, finding ourselves in a pit with a lion on a snowy day would pose a substantial problem, but you’ve to admit something: I killed a lion in a pit on snowy day looks pretty impressive on your resume.  Not only did Benaiah land a job as David’s chief bodyguard, he climbed all the way up the military chain of command to become commander in chief of Israel’s army.  Benaiah was the second most powerful person in the kingdom of Israel, but his genealogy success can be traced all the way back to a life-and-death encounter with a lion.  It was fight or flight.  Benaiah was faced with a choice that would determine his destiny: run away or give chase.

 

 

When opportunity roars in this new year, you have a choice to make: run away or grab life by the tail.

 

 

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.  Set God-sized goals.  Pursue God-ordained passions.  Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.  Keep asking questions.  Keep making mistakes.  Keep seeking God.  Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution.  Stop repeating the past and start creating the future.  Stop playing it safe and start taking risks.  Expand your horizons.  Accumulate experiences.  Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. 

 

Live like today is the first day and the last day of your life.  Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshipping what’s right with God.  Burn sinful bridges.  Blaze a new trail.  Criticize by creating.  Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks.  Don’t try to be who you’re not.  Be yourself.  Laugh at yourself.  Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.  And remember: if God is for us, who can be against us?

 

What if the life you really want and the future God wants for you are actually hiding in your biggest problem, worst failure or greatest fear?

 

 

Maybe it’s time to apply for your dream job, admit your addiction, reconcile the relationship, ask her out, take the exam, go on a missions trip, mentor someone, stop attending church and start serving, add a stamp to your passport, take a night class, start a business or write the manuscript.

 

 

When we don’t have the guts to step out in faith and chase lions, God is robbed of the glory that rightfully belongs to him.  And the truth is this: The greatest regret at the end of our lives will be the lions we didn’t chase.

 

I’m convinced that many of us are one chase away from our dreams becoming reality.  I can’t promise it will be a short or an easy chase.  In fact, it will probably scare the living daylights out of you.  But where you end up in life really does trace back to how you react when you cross paths with a lion.

 

 

I don’t know what problems need to be reframed, fears need to be unlearned, risks need to be taken, or opportunities need to be seized.  But I do know this: Your choice to run away or give chase will determine your destiny.

 

 

It’s a new day.  It’s a new year

Embrace the opportunity.

 

 

Mark Batterson

its very unsettling

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I had a woman tell me once a story of a woman she knew, let’s call her Mae.  Mae was in her 80’s and had never married.  In fact, Mae had never even kissed a man.  This woman told me the story of Mae in a, isn’t that cool?, type of way.  And I remember thinking, ‘no, that’s not cool’.

The story was prompted by me wondering whether I’d ever come across a male that was worthy of the time and energy spent on him.  I don’t mean that to sound cynical; it’s a very valid question.  The solution of swearing of men all together wasn’t one I wanted to embrace.

The alternative isn’t very appealing to me either.  I find myself feeling things recently that I don’t like the, well, feel of.  I’m wondering if the thrill of the moment, the conversation, the yin to the yang is worth the feelings of suspense and potential misery later on?  I’ve lived the past year of my life male-drama free and it’s been fine and dandy.  There have been many an evening that I wished I had someone to cuddle up with, but I get over it.  I simply cannot be one of those girls who whines, ‘i want a boooooyfriend’.  Shoot me if I ever start to be one of them.  I like who I am, and I like my life.  I’m extremely self-sufficient and self-reliant.  But recently I’ve begun to wonder if that’s enough.  

So I find myself in this catch-22.  I’m not so sure that my life is complete, but being on the road to finding that completion isn’t proving to be very pleasant.   Here’s the real problem: I have a very thin skin, actually.  If I like someone, I like them.  I dont like to play games and I don’t play them well.  I don’t want to play coy, I don’t want to be aloof.  In the romantic realm, I’m a jeans and t-shirt type of gal.  And at 27 I’m beginning to wonder if my strategy isn’t working all that well for me.  I’m always the friend, never the girlfriend.  Which makes sense when you’re the friend that guys are comfortable hanging out with (jeans and t-shirt analogy fitting in well, right about now).  And when I’m on the romantic side of things, I find my heart being played with the way a cat slaps around his toy.

I’m not wishing I was getting married, settling down, or having children.  I’m just wishing that I didn’t have to wonder if feelings are reciprocated or when I’m waiting for the next ‘thing’ to happen if it will happen at all.  

I just want to be me; me with the thin skin; me with the heart on my sleeve.

I just want to be me, me plus one.