Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Letter To A College Grad

From my friend Lauren - some great advice.
I recently had a conversation with a young friend at a party. Sitting at a table outside, sharing a tray of veggies and dip, I asked her about her plans after graduation. She told me that she wasn’t sure – she was looking at options, didn’t know if she could find a job she’d like, one that would be ‘right’ for her. As the sun set, several of us shared ideas and advice: resume writing pointers, interview tips, contacts for job recruiters, job-search websites, etc…. Finally, at one point she looked down at her hands folded in her lap and said in shocking sincerity, “Well, I think it really just comes down to the fact that I’m just afraid to be a grown-up. I’m just not sure I can do it.”

Ah, yes. “Afraid to be a grown-up.” At least she’s honest, right?

Some of us more seasoned folk might have words of advice for this young lady. “Well, buck up lassie, that’s what life is about!” Or, “Oh hun, you’ll be juuuuust fine. Just be sure you’re making a competitive salary, with a solid career track and great benefits. You know, my friend Sally’s daughter got a job in Houston and bought her own condo right after graduation.…” Or, “Eh, it doesn’t matter. Just go find something that pays the bills and get yourself through the day. Everyone hates work.”


Well, my dear. Here’s what I have to say to you, but I’m not sure it will help much:

I’m pretty much afraid of being a grown-up, too. And I’m 37.

I remember a moment in time, back when my oldest were very small – 2 years and 6 months or so. I was standing in my kitchen, staring at a pile of bills. My clothes disheveled, my children pleading for some lunch, and I thought, “What in the world does God think He’s DOING?! Why does he think I can handle all this? Because I can’t. I feel like I’m 17!”

All of us have a little wonderment in the back of our minds and hearts, sometimes a whisper, sometimes a scream: “I wonder if I had done this instead of that. I wonder if I had taken that job, moved to that town, married that guy, made that choice… What would have happened THEN, God?!

So, the real questions are these: How do we know if we’re doing the RIGHT thing? How do we know if our work is what God wants us to do with our lives?

When it comes to the bright future of any young person, all I can say is:

1. Try to find something you love to do. Always do your very best work. Don’t just go after the job position that pays the most, offers the best benefits or nicest year-end bonus. Find a balance between the practical need to work and your personal need for happiness. You have responsibilities to take care of – loans, payments, rent. So you might have to take a job that is not your ideal position at first, but that’s okay! There is still time, keep dreaming and planning but be thankful for what you have today. It is a privilege to work and contribute to society, to finally be doing something on your own and take care of yourself. Start at the very beginning, striving for excellence in all you do. You may never know how your hard work and contentiousness will benefit those you are with.

There is always nobility is a job well-done. Even if no one notices.

“Dear young people, do not bury your talents, the gifts that God has given you! Do not be afraid to dream of great things!” Pope Francis @pontifex

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