By Jodi Carlson
I’m definitely of “that” age where you don’t want anyone to ask, let alone know, how old you are. It’s not that getting older is so bad, it’s just that when you get older without guidance from older people, you’re left to flounder. I don’t want you to flounder. So I’m going to share with you just a handful of things I wish I’d have known when I graduated from college. (Granted, though I didn’t attend Corban, I did attend another Christian liberal arts college in the Northwest and I think my experience was likely similar to yours in many ways.)
So, here goes. Feel free to take these with grains of salt. They stem not from God, but me. Someone just like you, only with a few extra years on ya …
Wish I woulda known #1: Getting married is not the end-all, be-all.
Your Corban experience likely tells you otherwise. Perhaps even faculty and staff have told you otherwise. The pressure at a Christian college to have that “ring before spring” is immense. But guess what no one talks about? The fact that Americans are getting married later and later. The average age of first marriage in the United States is 27 for women and 29 for men. You’ve got time, my friend. Marriage just might not be in God’s plan for you right now. I am single and have never been married (and I’m past the above said average age for women to marry). It’s not that bad – I promise! And while I know that getting married is not the end-all, be-all, I also know that intimacy with Jesus is. He is our end-all, be-all, all-in-all. Married or single, we were created to know Him, to walk with Him, to live life closely with Him every day. There is no greater privilege on this earth. May you not seek the gift of marriage so intently that you miss the sweet Giver of the gift (one that He may or may not intend to give you, and who are you to whine about it?).
Wish I woulda known #2: Community is hard to come by, and must be pursued with intentionality.
Living in the dorms, you have built-in community. If you’re a commuter, you have camaraderie with other commuters. As a student, you have classes in common with other students. As an athlete, you can bond with fellow team members. When you graduate from college, all that insta-community goes away. Everyone’s doing their own separate thing. It’s crucial for your mental and emotional health to be a part of community. You must be intentional about seeking it out, otherwise it’s not gonna happen. You must look for it in your workplace, church, neighborhood, civic involvements, and/or your household (either with roommates, or if you’re married you will do well to seek it as a couple in the aforementioned places). When things don’t gel with people right away, don’t give up. Community is a good idea … it’s God’s idea (hello, 12 disciples)!
Wish I woulda known #3: Your field of work is not going to be stable and reliable.
Things are changing in this world now more than ever. To stay competitive and keep ahead of the game, your employer will make changes. You’ve got to be ready for major upheaval. Granted, I speak only from experience in my line of work (publishing/journalism/marketing), and those fields have changed dramatically in the last 10-15 years (people used to read newspapers! People used to turn pages of books!). Nonprofits are constantly trying to save a dollar and I’ve been laid off or had my hours reduced on more than one occasion. Oftentimes you can do nothing to change decisions made by management, but you can prove your value every day by staying flexible, offering innovative ideas, and being ever eager to learn.
Wish I woulda known #4: Fight your natural tendency to either stay put or move around.
Some of us are homebodies. Others of us live and breathe adventure. Either extreme is unhealthy; I believe we need to live somewhere in the middle. As one inclined toward adventure, I’ve done a lot of moving around since college (I’ve lived in Colorado Springs, Bend, Hillsboro, Federal Way, Portland, and now Salem … and I’m really not old enough to warrant a list like that). As such, I’ve missed out on chances to establish deep roots and lasting community (see #2). So, while I originally wanted to encourage you all to “bloom where you’re planted” and not move around as much as I have, I also realize that many of you may be homebodies and you might take my words as justification for never trying something new. So, instead I say: know yourself, and challenge yourself. If you’re in your comfort zone here in Salem, don’t be afraid to go somewhere new! But, if you tend to jump around, remember that good things comes to those stay put (no, that’s not in Proverbs. I just made it up).
Thanks for reading these morsels of wisdom gleaned through the mere passage of time. If any of you have any burning questions, I’m here to help. Swing by Dr. Nord’s office or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!