Most of July of last year was spent at Camp. I was (and still am) learning how to lead, which was hard. Then, the day after Camp ended, I moved to a new town and all new things – job, apartment, roommate, church, etc. July was a very overwhelming and very exciting month.
This is what I learned through all of it –
Sometime patience and persistence are the same thing.
You don’t have to be good at everything, but you do have to give things a chance. Try new things. Do hard things.
If you see or are a part of something that’s wrong and don’t speak up, then what you are communicating is: “everything happening here is completely okay with me and approved by me.”
Sometimes you see another person’s sin and you are appalled at that person’s capacity to hurt people or ruin things or be a sinner. You need to know that you also have that same capacity and are no better. All humans are inherently awful.
Don’t weave your whining and complaining into conversations. If you’ve got to say it, just say it, and then be done with it.
6. Excuses don’t last long. You can only say, “I moved here yesterday” for one day.
June 2016 was a new time. I was starting in a new role at Camp, and that was hard. I was learning to be a leader. I was also transitioning from college student to whatever comes next, which was harder than I anticipated. I was in some weddings for friends, which was so fun. June 2016 was the busiest I had been in a long time.
Here is what I learned during that time –
“Leading means relinquishing the right to being told what to do.” – this is from my wise Camp boss, and it was good and hard for me to learn.
If you are grumpy or in “a mood,” either talk about it or get over it. Being elusively grumpy is dumb and annoying and unproductive.
You cannot control humans.
But you can influence them.
It’s hard to lead people if you don’t love them.
6. When you are sleeping somewhere with no AC, end your shower with cold water. You will start sweating again as you exit the shower.
7. If shoes are less than comfortable when you try them on, they will be painful when you wear them for an entire day.
One year ago now, I was working in the office at Camp, in limbo between graduation and Camp starting for the summer. Earlier in May, I went to visit my Clemson friends and Clemson babies in Pennsylvania, turned 22, moved out of the apartment I’d lived in for 3 years of college, bought a car to call my very own, and I had my first jury duty, which felt kind of grown-up, but at the same time, like a drag.
It was a rare time because I wasn’t in college anymore but my next thing hadn’t started yet but also I was super busy – working, driving, packing, cleaning, etc. I was reflecting on what had just finished as well as thinking apprehensively of what was stirring under my feet – the changes to the things that I knew and the new things that were coming.
What I Learned: May 2016
After you turn 21, no one really cares how old you are.
Your family is your neighbor, too, not just the people “out there.” Serve the people “in here” as well as others outside.
Buying a car is less climactic than it sounds – yes, you’re getting this new shiny thing, but also you’re spending like all your money on it and now you are under lots of pressure to never mess it up. Going out for pizza to celebrate just means you spend more money, which, after buying a car, you never want to do again.
Maturity is not a lack of impulses to sin or to give in to desires, but a change in response to the same impulses and a better foundation with which to deny them. And also a humility that knows you won’t be perfect at it ever while a human.
Your job really starts not on your first day, but when you interview for it.
The less recent an event, the less relevant it can be. Sometimes, time is like forgiveness.
7. Once you go Subaru, you never go back.
8. Take a book to jury duty, because sometimes you spend 2.5 business days just sitting in a room waiting to see if you’re going to get picked (and then you don’t).
I drink coffee out of this same mug every morning at school. I found it in the grass in front of the sign at the entrance to Daniel Square one random and rainy day in college. It looked lost, so I picked it up and made it mine. I put it in the cabinet with all of my other cups and mugs, and it moved with me here to Columbia.
Some of these were gifts. Some were inherited. Some were picked up out of the grass (really, though, just the one). Some were bought on a whim. Some were picked up from Clemson football games. Some were supposed to be a wedding gift but I forgot so I just kept them (oops, sorry).
I am fairly sentimental about my dishes, but also I know that what’s in front of me is intentional – just like the things put before me by the Lord.
Sometimes you drink something and you’re so thankful because hydration is important. Sometimes you take one sip of a drink and know that something’s wrong. Sometimes you drink the whole thing and wish you hadn’t. Sometimes you have to drink something that doesn’t taste good but you know it’s good for you. Sometimes you drink something and wish you’d savored it more. Sometimes you wish you’d shared it with someone.
Sometimes there is no cup and you’re walking around parched, just trying work up enough saliva to have something to swallow. And sometimes you’re drinking from a fire hose and it makes your fingers all prune-y.
No matter the cup or what’s in it or how much of it I drink, I find comfort in knowing that the cup (or lack of cup, or abundance of cups, or alternative to a cup) in front of me was chosen by God for me: not merely approved by Him, but specifically sought out for me by Him personally. He knows me and He loves me and He knows how to accomplish His purpose, which is His own glory and not my own comfort.
And I am thankful that living water is more satisfying than anything here on earth, because even though I still am tempted by others, I know I don’t want to drink anything else.
April of last year was a blur. I finished student teaching and emotionally started to prepare to be finished with college forever. I got a job offer (for the job that I now have!).
As I was reading through what I learned during this month, it seemed like I wrote them down just the other day. I had to check to make sure they were really written down a whole year ago, and they were – so this just goes to further show how true #5 is.
What I Learned: April 2016
Domestic isn’t a relational adjective.
This was a hard thing to learn. A boy told me like a year prior to this that he and “all the guys” had been talking and they’d decided that I would make a great wife someday. I was a little flattered and a little creeped out, and then I started to put this pressure on myself to be married so that I could be this “great wife.” But what I learned was that the qualities that can be found in a wife can be useful in more than just marriage. And I was reminded that boys are weird.
God must be glorified in all things, not just the things He gives you once you’re settled down and ready for them, or the things that you wanted or asked for. He must be glorified even when you just want to huff at Him impatiently, like when you are waiting for a job but don’t have one yet.
Leave early for job interviews. It’s better to sit in a gas station across the street for 50 minutes before it starts than to roll in late. And, it’s better for the interviewers to be running late than you.
If you use/engage it, it will get stronger. This is true for your pinkie finger, imagination, sinful impulses/temptations, writing, among many more things.
A year is not nearly as long as childhood left you believing it is.
6. Follow grandmother advice. Don’t touch door handles after you wash your hands.
7. Don’t underestimate the efficacy and value of a nice white shirt. It can go a long way.
March of 2016 held m full takeover for student teaching and the Clemson job fair and spring break! It was busy and exhilarating, which is how I like life to be. My family took a spring break trip together to New York which was the grandest of adventures.
What I Learned: March 2016
1. The best way to get better at something is by doing it – running, writing, teaching, etc. Studying and preparing is good, but really the best way is to jump in and do the thing.
2. Treat your kids like people – not like grown-ups, but like people. When you’re wrong, apologize to them and actually use the words: “I’m sorry,” because that’s how you should apologize to all people.
3. It’s more ideal to be a little under-hydrated and get quality sleep than to be quite hydrated but be getting up to pee all night long.
4. Logistics are supremely underrated. Getting places and talking to people you don’t know and planning things is hard and does not happen easily or naturally. Things very rarely fall into place.
5. The most glamorous part of teaching is not actually teaching – it’s talking about it. I felt so accomplished and professional while I was applying and interviewing for jobs because I got to use teaching jargon and talk about all the things I was doing well – but once I got back to school, I felt like a civil servant again. Analyzing it makes it seem exciting and considerate, but doing it feels hectic and creative and exhausting.
6. It’s not really possible to eat a cheese stick gracefully. That’s okay.
7. As the week goes on, it gets harder and harder to get 8 hours of sleep at night. There’s too much to do and no free time so less sleep happens.
Life is hard. It’s hard to be responsible – both for myself and for others (I am responsible for students’ learning and that is simultaneously a great honor and so terrifying). It’s hard to be in a new place. It’s hard to grow up.
At first, moving away was exciting. There was an apartment and a classroom to set up. I was in a new place and it was fun to explore! And also, there are like three Targets in driving distance here. That’s pretty different.
But the excitement of a new place and new things slowly turned less exciting. And now, I’m still here, and this is not Clemson.
All of this has me missing home like I never have before. I miss the particulars and the Clemson-ness of it.
I miss tiger paws painted on the roads. I miss Spill the Beans on summer evenings. I miss passing cars I recognize. I miss running on the sidewalk past my dentist’s office after school. I miss being close to Camp and being able to visit whenever I want. I miss seeing my family all over town and I miss my house. I miss All In like nobody’s business.
I miss feeling like my town knows me just as much and well as I know it. I miss Clemson being my landing pad.
I knew it would be hard to be away. I lived in only one place for 22 years, and I loved it. And then I decided to leave it. So I wasn’t expecting it to be easy.
However, it’s different to know that something hard is coming in the future than to be in the middle of a hard thing and realizing that oh, this is that.
But just because life is hard and I miss my mom’s cookies doesn’t mean I should go home. Just because I wave at every Clemson-stickered car doesn’t mean I need to be there.
Hard things are often also good things. I love Clemson, but that doesn’t mean the best thing for right now would be for me to live there (by that logic, I’d probably be living in Spain).
I know that I live here but right now, Clemson has more of my heart.
But: I am growing here. Small, tiny roots are sticking into the ground. It doesn’t mean I’ll be here forever, but I’d like to know that I can make it somewhere other than the one place I already have.
I know I made this choice to leave. Nobody asked me to go away from the most blessed town in creation (aka God’s country). I knew the transition wouldn’t be seamless, and this is that. I really hope it doesn’t take another 22 years to feel at home here.
But here’s something: yesterday I was at the grocery store, and I saw a friend’s car in the parking lot. I was exuberant because that is progress.