Dear Restless Twenty-Something,
WORDS | TAYLOR MAY
PHOTOS | JESSICA BILLS
LETTERING | SAM PALENCIA
How many blazers have you tried on? How many “big girl pants” have you not been able to button around your enormous insecurities? How many times have you sat across the table from your next career and felt completely incompetent, too young, and too inexperienced? You need experience to get experience, honey. But we’re directionless, fresh off the college high of potential-filled bliss as we raced toward that diploma. We’ve got a piece of paper in hand, but now they tell us to write our own routine. Suddenly, we’re lost.
My diploma is sitting on my desk under my new husband’s video games. I got a degree in English literature. I have a small handful of practical skills and a boat load of conceptual theories under my belt. I cannot keep up with social media, I am just now learning how to keep up with the elections, I haven’t talked to my mom in two weeks, I’ve had far too many job interviews blow up in my face, and nearly every article of my clothing has a coffee stain on it. My name is Taylor May and I have no idea what the hell I’m doing or where in the world I’m going. If you feel the same, I want to tell you about how I came to believe the ridiculous truth that it’s all going to be okay.
College was a culmination of the woman I am today. I came in as an intrepid, confused nineteen-year-old with the world at my fingertips. Finally I had escaped that tar pit called high school and here was my chance to start anew. And start anew I did. A few bumps in the road later, I transformed. The girl I was - the girl without an identity, the girl without a true sense of worth, the girl without confidence - she was unrecognizable. I spent my time in school building the best friendships I’d ever known, spontaneously adventuring to Disneyland and ignoring homework, growing through heartbreak and the pain of surgically removing myself from my old ways. Every bit of it was incredible.
It went by in a blur, yet I remember every insignificant moment as if it were yesterday. Still though, I don’t think that four years equipped me for this: figuring out the grocery budget and actually cooking the food I buy, cleaning my house because people build filth, living with another thinking and breathing human being (a male one at that), being responsible with finances (and realizing I don’t have enough money for it to qualify as “finances”). The vastness and the newness of it all has sent me screaming into my pillow far too many times.
You see, in college we were purely measured by our potential. Now that we have finished, we are expected to have breached that potential. When people ask me what I’m doing now and I respond with, "working in a coffee shop," the pursed lips and narrow stares indicate disapproval. Now I’m measured by my success. But I’m still reaching for that success, I’m still working. I don’t even know if I’ll get there any time soon, but I’m learning to enjoy the process. I’m learning to soak in the hungry nights and sleepless job searches. I think that college has a way of providing us with only perfect examples of success. They start their stories at the top. Just once I’d love a story of someone who is still searching. For you, I’ll be that story. I’m not there yet, wherever there might be. But, I’ve got a cute hat, an omniscient and faithful God, a hot husband, and a lifetime ahead of me.
I thought I couldn’t do it. I can’t do new. I can’t completely start over. I can’t see how this is going to get easier. But then I realized that I had no other choice. In all of this learning, I am… we are… learning to follow. We have to choose to follow something. We have to choose to do something or to not do something. A truly terrifying thought, isn’t it? It is especially for me, a woman who rarely prefers this over that. I’d like to say it is because of my go-with-the-flow personality, but really it’s only the fear of choosing wrong. I’ve come to realize that it’s all really a lot simpler than we make it seem. I must simplify. I choose Jesus. I choose love. I choose goodness. I choose peace. I know in all of the conflicting melodies about me that my worth is in the light I am shining, the people I am loving, and the quality of life I am living.