Well, here I am. I’ve finished the first week of my internship in Boston. The place – remember when I accidentally moved into a frat house? – is cleaner than clean (thank you, Mom), and my New Girl-esque living situation is beginning to transition into something more typical. I can almost find my way to work without the help of Lola, and I’m starting to feel a little less awkward at work.
Work, by the way, is just about perfect. I get to read and read and watch movies and learn. I stayed two hours later than I was supposed to on my first day because right then, sitting in that brightly-colored Walden room felt a lot more like home than a house of people I didn’t know.
This doesn’t mean that I’m confident, though. Anything but – I don’t feel very Savvy. I second guess and double check and wonder why everyone else seems to know what they’re doing when I’m just trying to figure things out. I keep feeling like I’ve got my grandfather’s PT Cruiser entered in a drag race and wondering if they’ll come by my desk and have to awkwardly break the news to me that they didn’t really mean to pick me to do this.
Comparing myself to others is one of my biggest struggles. It’s something that we do in order to help ourselves, and to be honest, it can be useful. Picking up on others’ cues and using role models to realize when you have an issue is healthy. But like all things, an overabundance is problematic. It’s much, much harder when you’re new somewhere, and when I look around and see how others are athletic, and know what they’re doing with their lives, and have real jobs, and seem so together, I start to feel inferior and overwhelmed. I try to pattern my life onto someone else’s in order to reassure myself that I’m doing things the right way, the way that made them successful, the way that worked.
But here’s the truth that I know even as I try to trim away the unkempt edges of my choices: nobody has it all together. The façade that I am presented with may look shiny and perfect, but I have no idea what someone is struggling with behind that. Maybe they’ve got one area of their life under control, but maybe they struggle with something that you don’t.
And there’s never just one way to do things. God’s guiding me somewhere right now, and I know that He’s working to lead me to Him and to my future, but the faster things start to happen, the more frightened I become. The more I doubt the validity of my choices.
Being in a new place is weird and confusing, and you embarrass yourself and try not to ruin your new shoes in the rain and get blisters and drive badly and act awkward and get sick and cough all over your fellow, near-stranger intern and try to cook while the pot bubbles over and get lost in Boston and have to call your best friend to pretend that you know where you’re going, pushing down fear and uncertainty and anxiety and maybe crying in your new room a little when your mom comes by to help you move. But that’s okay.
There’s this idea that being an adult means knowing what to do all the time, but there’s not a certain age when a switch in your skull flips back and turns on a hidden panel that tells you how to Do Grown Up Things. Like most things, it’s a process. You learn as you go, and your mistakes often teach you more than anything else. It’s trial and error, but eventually, on certain issues, as the trials increase the errors decrease until you maybe almost understand what’s going on.
(That said, I think teenagers should be taught more useful life skills before they’re launched from college into the real world, but that’s another post entirely.)
Small steps. That’s what I’m working with right now in this weird sort of half “real life” situation. But here’s the thing – someone mentioned recently that we all talk about ‘real’ life as something in the future that we’ll get to eventually when we’re a little wiser, older, more stable, more. But each stage of life is no more real than the last. It’s all real life – your childhood, teenage years, college, adulthood. And I feel like I’m in between things so often and think that I’m standing right on the edge of a huge, unknowable something that I want to label ‘real life’. But it’s all real, and it’s an adventure.
As I have heard from those wiser than myself, you can’t keep waiting for ‘the future’ or you might miss out on your life. Although this weird time when I’m just shy of two decades is preparing me for something, it’s not a dress rehearsal. It’s the real deal, and I’m going to do my best at this and keep trusting God with my future and my present, because what life brings isn’t entirely in my hands. It never has been.