This is Anna. She is a recent graduate from SMU and my roommate from college. She is known for her rambunctious laughter that can be heard a mile away. She is my best buddy because we went through the turmoil of senior year and graduating together! I have had many conversations with Anna about calling and the purpose of our lives as we were both figuring what to do during our senior year of college.
Hi Anna. What are you doing right now?
Right now, I am living the dream because I am doing everything that I wanted to do or I was thinking about doing – and I get to do it all at the same time. I tutor local students in ACT, SAT, Algebra 2, English, college admissions …basically anything students need help with. I also work at The Commit Partnership, an education non-profit that helps drive achievement for all students in Dallas County. Lastly, I volunteer at a chapter plant at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at TCU.
Dang you are doing a lot. What was the post-grad transition like for you?
To be honest, the transition after college was one of my roughest times. It involved lots of hours of crying in my bed, in the grocery store, in the shopping mall…and a lot of it had to do with a lack of direction. When I didn’t have a clear direction, it made every day hard because I didn’t know what I was working for. It translated to all areas of my life too. My thought process was: I don’t know what I am doing with my life, so therefore I don’t even know what to buy for dinner.
I had spent my whole life on a pre-determined path, and I knew how to do that well. Get good grades and be involved in high school to get admitted to a good college. Then, in college, get good grades and be involved to craft the perfect resume. But once graduation hit, there no longer was a path to follow. Suddenly, I was standing in front of a wide open field without a clear path to run.
However, now I can see that there is one overarching direction for my life, every day and every moment; I just didn’t see that at the time. Therefore, I needed to go through the rough transition time to realize that. Anyone could have told me this, but it wouldn’t have sunken in until I experienced it myself.
How do you feel like your purpose in life has changed after graduating? What are you seeking now?
Before, I was seeking some end goal but I didn’t know what that end goal was and I was trying to find it. Maybe some job would have been my end goal or a relationship or a state of being.
I realized that those all fluctuate: jobs fluctuate, relationships fluctuate, locations fluctuates, our emotions fluctuate. What stays constant is God so I think I realized through that process that my purpose is to know and love God and help others do the same.
The best part is I can do that anywhere at anytime and every day. It doesn’t matter what my job is, it doesn’t matter who my friends are…none of those things matter. Wherever God has me right now, I can pursue loving God and loving those around me. So now, even though I don’t have a full-time job and I don’t even know which full-time job I should pursue after this year, I know that God has planted me in the lives of so many students through my tutoring. I have an opportunity to love them well and invest in them. I have the opportunity to love my co-workers. I have the opportunity to love students at TCU. I have the opportunity to love my neighbors in my apartment building.
This is just a precious time so instead of trying to find my purpose being in a next step, I want to focus on where I am planted now, how can I flourish here, and seek the welfare of others who are placed in my life. Then I can fulfill my purpose every single day.
What are some of the disappointments you have faced during this time?
My life does not look how I expected it to. As someone who always did what a “perfect child” should do, the next step for me would have been to get a stable, well-paying job that would label me as a ‘success.’ That is the picture I had in mind for myself throughout high school and the first half of college. I had good intentions at the time: make the “best use” of the gift of education I’ve been given, make my parents proud, and be able to give back through giving opportunities to others. However, upon graduating, that was not reality. I knew this picture I previously had in mind was not what I wanted for my life anymore, but I didn’t have another picture of my life I could replace it with.
On top of that, my family is going through extremely difficult times. At first, I tried really hard to “fix” the situation. However, as I’m sure you can agree if you’ve ever tried to “fix” something out of your control, it doesn’t work. My next response was to be overly happy and grateful no matter how my family was doing. That wasn’t a healthy response either when dealing with tough stuff.
Thus, God has been teaching me to live in the tension between being hopeful in Him and also mourning the hard situations at the same time. I thought it had to be one or the other, but I’m learning that it’s okay to mourn. It’s okay that my life doesn’t look like what I wanted it to look. It may never look like how I imagine in regards to family and work. However, I truly believe God is weaving all these challenges into a redemption story that is so much larger than my own. Now the biggest lesson I am learning is to be patient because I know the Truth and I know my life is in God’s hands.
What would be your one dream? One thing that you would love to see happen during your lifetime?
I’m spending a lot of this year dreaming. Now more than ever, I’m learning we can’t set the destiny of our lives, but it’s good to work towards our dreams especially if it’s a dream that God has placed in our hearts. One dream I’ve had for a while now is to see all kids receive an equitable education because I believe social justice can begin in the classroom. Teachers have such an impact in students’ lives: they have the opportunity to tell their students they are loved, valued, and cherished. I think it’s a mission on God’s heart to tell all of His children that they are loved, valued and cherished. So that’s the one thing that would be awesome to see.