Stressed, overwhelmed, sad, confused, lonely, overcommitted, anxious, angry, envious: these are the emotions I’ve been seeing around campus, especially seniors’ emotions.
I look around at everyone in their business suits and have conversation after conversation with seniors about how stressed they are about jobs, and I can’t help but think we are all mis-identifying and miscommunicating our real emotion:
We are afraid we won’t get a job where we make good money, feel fulfilled, and that puts us on a path to success. In fact, we are afraid we won’t get a job at all.
We are afraid people will look at us and consider us a failure.
We are afraid our Duke education won’t be worth it, that years of hard work will end in a job that is not intellectually stimulating.
We are afraid of letting down our family, our friends, ourselves.
We are afraid of the judgment, the uncertainty, the potential justifications we’ll have to make when we don’t get—or choose—the cookie cutter job.
We are afraid we are not good enough.
We are just plain afraid.
I hate to admit it. I thought that if nothing else at least in college I’ve become more confident, more sure of who I am and who I’m not, better able to say “no” when I need to, “yes” when I want to, and “maybe” when I truly need to think about it. I thought I was past letting other people influence me, so above doing what everyone else does, so sure of how I wanted to make my own unique mark on the world.
And then I looked around and saw everyone in business suites marching to their Info Sessions, Coffee Chats, and Interviews, and I became afraid.
I began a nasty internal dialogue of: “Am I enough?” “What am I missing that everyone else knows?” “This is so unfair” “How did she get that and I didn’t?” “How many commitments can I let go of this week so I can focus on my own priorities?” “How can I catch up?” “How do I prove myself?” “What does it take?” “Can I do it?
I pushed everything I’ve learned the past three years out the window because of the presence of Job Recruiters and the mentality of those around me.
For those of you who have followed my blog for years, you know that sophomore year I struggled with depression, anxiety, an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, and challenged myself too much academically almost to a breaking point. I let others around me get into my head and told myself I needed to be the perfect student, involved in everything on campus, highly social, thin, and put together. And I cracked.
And the past month I’ve sunk right back into old habits: structuring my day to a T, only eating certain foods, exercising twice a day, blowing off social engagements, checking and re-checking and checking and re-checking my resume, sending cover letters everywhere, filling spreadsheet after spreadsheet with ideas for what I want to do with my life, and thinking that I can do it all, it’s all in my control, and it’s all my responsibility to be not only okay but perfect.
But I cracked.
Thursday night after four Info Sessions, Two Coffee Chats, an Informational Interview, sending my cover letter to two organizations, blowing off someone for lunch, not even eating lunch, and then driving like a mad woman to make it to Pure Barre on time, I cracked. I cried and I cried and I cried and I cried and I realized that all of this is rooted in fear.
I am afraid to give up control. I am afraid to ask for help. I am afraid I won’t be good enough in the eyes of everyone around me.
But that’s when the Gospel sunk in so deep.
God created us for His glory and we all are called to live for Him. But we’ve all sinned and we are all so far off from His glory. We should be punished for this, but instead God sent his only son Jesus Christ who died on the Cross to wipe our sins totally clean and offer us eternal life with Him.
By grace I am saved through faith; and this is not my own doing, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Nothing I do can make me more loved, more known, or more enough to the King of the Universe.
Even better than that, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
That is earth shattering. And sometimes it takes us being in our lowest points to realize that we weren’t created to do life all on our own. We weren’t created to have all the control.
By faith I can step out, UNAFRAID, and live the life God has given me, all for His glory.
It’s so counter to our culture. I look around and see everyone putting their entire hope in the job process, with their fear crippling them from doing anything but pouring over a job.
I understand. It’s what I was doing, too. But it’s not how we have to live. It’s not how Jesus called us to live!
For anyone that needs to hear it, I want you to know that nothing you do rests in Your hands. Instead, it rests in the one true God who created the world, knows every hair on your head, and loves you more than you could ever imagine. I want you to know that you can put your full faith, all of your hope, into an eternal God instead of into an unpredictable, ephemeral job process. I want you to know that you are enough. And I want you to know that it will get better.
Today is the first day since school has started that I walked around feeling like myself. I held the door for people, I smiled at people passing by, I stopped what I was doing to help a friend. I called my parents. I did some homework. I ate lunch. And I did those things because I took today to rest in the knowledge and comfort that when my faith and life are in the hands of God, I don’t have to be afraid.