Dear Young Kal,
Happy twentieth birthday! You just entered your third decade of life. You are starting your sophomore year of college.
Woof, let’s stop right there. The sophomore slump is REAL and it is HARD. Trudge through, warrior. You’ll make it. There are bigger and better things on the other side.
They tell you “college will be the best years of your life.” So you enter into this season with expectancy and high hopes for learning, loving, and leading. I’ll definitely find a husband here. I’ll figure out everything I’m supposed to do with my life. I’ll know who I am and everything I’m good at (and I’m sure it’s a lot of things!). I’ll walk across that stage, grab a diploma, and smile big – because I’ll be 100% self-actualized and have nothing to worry about ever again. Yay college!
Fast-forward six and a half years to today. You are sitting across from college students who are just like you were. All of a sudden you are the adult and all those things you thought would be figured out? None of them are. No husband, a million life directions to choose from, a few things you’re really good at. You do have a diploma, but are far from self-actualized. But don’t worry, Young Kallie, it is perfectly fine.
It’s all a process, you know? This life is an ongoing journey of figuring stuff out. Of losing self, losing God, finding God, finding self. A beautiful arc of adventure and questioning and confusion.
They do us a disservice (whoever “they” is), telling us “college will be the best years.” If that is true, what are we supposed to expect of the following 50+ years? All downhill from here, folks – hope you made the most of it.
I refuse to believe it, and my current season is proof of its falsity. I’m twenty-six and happier than I’ve ever been. A friend recently stated that the post-grad twenties “get weird, and then get awesome.” Nothing truer has ever been spoken.
Wait, did you say “friend?” You have one of those? Yes, Young Kallie, in fact, plenty of them. They don’t disappear after college. For a little while, it might seem like it. People move and start jobs and freak out and it can be a little lonely there at first. But hey, we all come out of the punxsutawney hole at some point and see that spring indeed has come again!
This doesn’t just happen to you, obviously. It requires hard work and effort to find these people. If you can keep some of the gems from your college years around, that is a benefit. But when you graduate, everyone your age doesn’t just die. They are still there, figuring out this mess one step at a time, just like you. Do it together.
I am refusing to believe my best years are behind me. I will always continue to believe that it just gets better and better. I know that with age comes suffering, hardship, and loss – but I also believe that this life is one big scavenger hunt for the JOY all around us. Are you looking? Train your eyes to look for the beauty. It wants to be found.
Embrace the weirdness and choose to be a lighthouse. The greatest choices I have ever made were the times I opened my door, set my table, mailed the invites. This life is weird and hard, why make it worse by being alone?
Oh, alone. Speaking of that – yeah, you are twenty-six and a billion miles away from marriage. Does that scare you? It shouldn’t. You’ll see when you get here. I’ve said it before and will say it until my dying day, these post-grad single years are the greatest yet. You’ll struggle and be sad and wish it was different sometimes, but you’ll also be able to do things that your married friends can’t. You can travel wherever you want, give your money to whoever you want, and spend your time however you want. You have immense freedom and independence. You get the opportunity to grow by yourself, learning who God is and how He has created you – individually. You get to wrestle with the questions of purpose and calling and what that looks like outside of marriage. (Hint: It looks really cool, and really valuable.)
Young Kallie, you specifically will develop a heart and passion for the empowerment of women. The Lord will raise up in you a belief that we are equal and amazing. He will give you opportunities to use your voice for your neighbor, to speak into the lives of those coming after you to tell them not to waste a moment feeling inferior – but believe in who God has created them to be. You’ll speak from that soapbox about the worth and purpose of singleness as well. You’ll wrestle with the concepts of sanctification and servanthood and purpose and what it means as a single person. You’ll get really annoyed with old white dudes in seminary classes. Here’s the thing, the people who gave us almost all of our Scriptural information on marriage (Paul and this other guy named JESUS) were single. So, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have anything to offer the world.
You have this insanely awesome opportunity to build community, to create a haven for the rest of the “lost” around you. Take every opportunity to welcome people in. Make your life a brave space for the confused, hurting, broken, questioning.
My last piece of advice: engage. Engage in the relationships you are given. Engage in community. Be willing to go into the mess with your people, sitting in it for however long they need to, but encouraging them to walk out into the light. Jesus is so much light. He is freedom. Walk with people into that freedom, and experience it for yourself too.
Being twenty, yeah it has its challenges. No doubt. But this life is full of beautiful and hard things that are so worth it. Every day is worth it. Live that abundant life that Jesus promises. His promises are not in vain.
Follow your JOY,