Quarter of a Century: What I’ve Learned at 25

Today I turn 25.  Surviving a quarter of a century qualifies me as a wise old owl, right?
I’m finding the truth in the saying the older you get the less you know.  
As I reflect back on my 24thyear (and all of them, really), there are just a few things I can tell you.
Lesson 1:

Being a twenty-something sucks is really hard sometimes.

I’m gonna start with the somewhat negative. (it’s my birthday, I can do whatever I want.) 
Looking back on my years since graduating college, I can say I was ill-prepared.  I am not blaming my undergrad (Lord knows they’ve been getting too much hate recently), I just think that as a whole twenty-somethings aren’t really told about what to expect when they throw their graduation cap in the air and move on with their lives.
I’ve enjoyed the past few years.  But they have had more than their fill of challenges, struggles and disappointments.
Things like paying bills.  And that the only mail you get anymore is credit card applications.  You have to start thinking about car insurance and medical plans and ask questions like, “If a payment is going to be taken out of my bank account, but the money is not there – what happens?”  (real questions, people.)
The community that is practically forced upon you in college? It is very rare in the outside world we call “reality.”
Rarely in life do you ever get that kind of opportunity to be surrounded by people your age who you are quite literally living life with.  Suddenly you are fending for yourself out in a scary world.
Sometimes God provides miracles in this area.  Literally two nights ago I went to a campus event solely for the free pizza and ended up meeting six incredible new friends who I am thrilled about.  So the real lesson?  God is good, even when the twenties aren’t.
Ok, enough complaining.  Lesson two:

People are all that matter.
Somehow the twenties have become the time to “be irresponsible.”  “Go out, make mistakes, travel the world, do stupid things!” is shouted at us and for those of us who decide we don’t have the money to backpack around Europe or we’d rather get a job, guilt is often piled on.
I had a beautiful conversation with some friends last week who are all in the process of moving back home.  We are two years out of college and we find ourselves not desiring a life of wandering and sightseeing but to simply be with those we love.  We came to the conclusion that if today was our last day, our regret wouldn’t be not seeing enough of the world.  And if we found out we only had a month left to live, we would run straight in the direction of home.
Family is an absolute treasure, one that I have taken for granted for far too long.  I’m 25, old and wise, and I’m telling you that the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall can’t hold a candle to a night of Bocce Ball and ice cream with my brothers and parents. 
Each season of life that passes teaches me that people are really all that matter.  I don’t need to see Ireland when I have spent time with Antioch interns.  I don’t need to go to the Caribbean when I’ve lived with amazing Gordon students.  I don’t need to try and make it on my own when home beckons me back with a backyard swing and my sweet Mama’s embrace.
There is nothing wrong with traveling the world.  Often that is a God-given desire.  Just don’t take the people around you for granted.  The times we are reminded of the brevity of life is not when we didn’t make it to all fifty states – it is when someone we loved leaves too soon.  Love people with all you’ve got; risk everything for the humans God puts along your path.  There is no loss in that; it is a life worth living.

Lesson three: 
Trust is really hard, but really good.
If you have read my blog in the past year, you know that trust has been the most major lesson for me.  When I turned twenty-four, I don’t even think I realized that trust was an issue in my life.  But learning to depend wholly on God changed my life.  And being vulnerable and opening up to people?  Brings JOY that I never imagined.
I’m making this my mantra: “The LORD is my portion.”
He is all I have, and therefore I have everything I could need.  When the stress of being a twenty-something incredibly poor graduate student weighs down on my shoulders, I remember the God who fights for me and who has proven Himself faithful time.after.time. 
Other random thoughts before we say goodbye:
Worrying? Pointless. (But I do a lot of it.)
Planning? Also somewhat pointless.  God’s plans are better. (But I still do a lot of that too.)
Online dating? Haven’t tried that one yet.
A life centered around seeking Jesus and understanding His love for me is really all I want mine to be.  I think when that is the goal, all the details will fall into place. 
Sometimes writing a thesis leads you to really cool quotes like this one. I’ll leave you with this:

Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes.  Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us.  Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love.  Our preciousness, uniqueness and individuality are not given to us by those who meet us in clock-time – our brief chronological existence – but by the One who has chosen us with an everlasting love, a love that existed from all eternity and will last through all eternity.”      [Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved]

Also for your viewing pleasure, me at 5 years old:

Cheers to Twenty-Five,

Kal.

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One of those twenty-somethings trying to find my way through this silly world. I write to process, and sometimes send those thoughts out into the void. Passionate about Jesus and people and bringing those two together. Living in and loving Denver. Working with college students, who are the coolest. Seeking Jesus in everything.

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