Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Turning Your Eyes in the Right Direction

"Don't let ambition get so far ahead that it loses sight of the job at hand." –William Feather
As I'm pushing through the final month of my undergraduate college career (32 days left, but who's really counting?), I find myself in a position of such inner and outer constraint. It's as if I'm that little silver ball in a pinball machine, and it's hitting me that the silver spring that's winding up behind me is getting extremely tight. I'm afraid that, if I don't watch it, that spring is going to release and I'll be hurled into "the real world" without any clear direction.

On the one hand, I definitely feel that I'm transitioning away from college life, assignments, and activities—as much as I also remember that I try to attend favorite campus events because it's the "last time I'll be able to do such-and-such." I am looking forward to finishing my degree. I'm the type of person who loves learning for learning, and not because I necessarily want to be qualified for a specific job or position (though these are good benefits). Mostly, I desire to learn because I wish to understand more about myself and the world around me. Yet I know that in the near future, I will enjoy putting in a full day of work and then being able to go home and (for the most part) leave the unfinished tasks as the job I'll tackle the next day. The endless waltz of doing "busywork" tasks and assignments will finally be scaled back; or, at least, I can hope that they won't consume all my waking hours.

On the other hand, the two internships I have held over the course of this year have given me a tip-toe glance through the high window, looking out on the great wide world—one that is outside the life of a student. And it's not that I'm tentative because I realize that the world is big... I've known this for quite some time, even if it hits me more strongly each day graduation approaches.

No, I'm tentative because I'm struggling to see where my place may be in the grander scheme of post-college life. And this is inseparably tied to how I need to financially support myself as an independent adult. As many other individuals in this country are facing, I feel the pressure to find some type of stable employment, even in an economy where other individuals are more experienced and more qualified than I am. Plus, I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know exactly what I want to do, and I’m afraid that I’ll get stuck in a place where I have no prospects and where I cannot use my talents to the best of my abilities.

Scary prospects. I must echo some of the concerns that my peers also share. What’s next for us? If we don’t have a direction, how can we even begin to get where we think we want to be? And if we do have a direction, how can we be certain that this direction taking us there?

When I find myself strangled with anxiety and overwhelmed with uncertainty, I search and find that the reason I’ve fallen to such a state is because I truly am looking in the wrong direction. Everything that I learn and experience can help to give me understanding about myself and past situations, but it cannot guarantee that my present and future will proceed smoothly. Everything that I strive for today can help me pursue my goals, but it cannot assure me that what I do right now will bring success tomorrow. And everything that I plan in preparation for the future cannot give me even the smallest insight to what lies in my future.

Instead, I need to turn my eyes heavenward. I need to focus my heart and motivation on fulfilling whatever God’s plan is for me. I need to search His Word to find strength and stability in this trembling world. And when I pray for guidance and perseverance, I need to listen for His whispered encouragement and trust in His plan for my today and tomorrow.

He sees all—past, present, and future. I’m His daughter. But because I am blind when compared to my Creator’s wider and deeper vision for my life, I do know that I can trust him to take my small hand in His firm clasp—and I know that He, even now, leads me along in the best direction.

Of this, I am certain.

“I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.” –Charlotte Brontë