I’m sitting on my new couch on a Wednesday night, staring past boxes and knickknacks at the bookshelves I’ve recently arranged with the pages of antique books, poetry that melts me, and classic novels I can barely get through. I just finished a bowl of soy vanilla ice cream and I’m holding my laptop close to me like a blanket as I try to find words that capture this new season I’ve entered. It’s a season that feels foreign and easy all at once, living in this new space alone, no siblings or roommates or parents to lean on or fight with.
As I look at all those novels lined up on my shelf…already written and so chalked full of adventure, a pang runs right below my ribs. A voice whispers, that was supposed to be my life. When I imagined my life post-grad school I saw myself living in San Francisco, LA, Paris and thought I'd be doing things worth writing about. Thought I’d get a high-paying, creative, meaningful job. Hoped I'd publish my first book by 25.
I took a job in my hometown as a stepping-stone, something I’d stay at a year and then leave in a grand gesture with a plane ticket in my hand. I’d wear Jackie O. sunglasses and everyone would clap and wave as I jetsetted to my new career in London (Did I mention the book deal that came with my new position?).
In some odd turn of events, seven nights ago I signed a 14-month lease on my new little home in this little town and in a way it felt like a rite of passage, a step out in faith. But it also left a weight at the back of my throat that felt a lot like failure. Like I was signing away a life of risk and challenge for comfort.
“What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age.”
I still can’t decide if that lease is a catapult into adulthood or a slipknot falling around my wrist, holding me in place as my dreams saunter by. Nonetheless I’ve signed it and I guess what I’m learning is that risk means facing even your least glamorous fears. I’m not the kind of girl who is afraid of being called to Africa or Cambodia or Ecuador. I’m most afraid of being asked to stay here, in a place where obscurity reigns, where moments and connection matter more than written word, applause, and social justice.
I don’t want to miss my life because all I can see are the steps I’m taking toward a goal. The value of my life cannot depend on how glamorous of a city I live in or what job I drive home from. It’s got to be about who I'm becoming, how much the God I trust adores me, how much I can appreciate the small fleeting moments I’m given, about how willing I am to be inconvenienced for a friend, about the love I was willing to give and the risks I was willing to take, even the less glamorous ones.
So for now I’m intentionally putting down the plane ticket and the job search. I'm taking a good long look around me at the faces I love, the light coming through the window, all that’s happening in my own soul as my journey slows. And maybe I’ll find that pausing is just as beautiful as running.
I’m going to be cataloguing some of those little ordinary moments here as I learn to say a very intentional thank you for what’s in my hands.