Uncertainty and New Beginnings

By: Shayna Darling  |  May 12, 2015

It’s a Monday morning, one of the last of my undergraduate career. And this morning, I didn’t jump out of bed with the confidence to start a new day. I sighed, then shot up in bed and said to myself out loud, “What am I going to do with my life?”

I’m sharing this because I’m confident that almost every student has asked herself this on a regular basis. This soul-searching question crosses the mind of every person, regardless of her major. Since high school, we have tried to bury this question within ourselves and push it off until it crawls from its grave at some point in college. And now, just weeks from graduation, this question is screaming so loud that we can’t even shut it out. What are we going to do with our lives?

If you’re an English or Social Science major like myself, you may be despairing that your major doesn’t translate into a set-in-stone career path; that’s something we’ll have to carve out. Yet I’m betting that even those who know where they’re going for graduate school, or have a good idea of what career they want, are still looking at a roadmap that’s only vaguely traced in pencil. What you’re going to do with your life goes beyond your career, it’s an intrinsic and individual mission that everyone is searching for. Our career choice, at least in our minds, is the tangible manifestation of our mission on earth, but it’s certainly not the whole meaning of our lives.

When caps go flying at graduation, we’ll realize that we’re about to set sail on the turbulent waters of life without a compass. We’ll realize, once again, that there’s a huge world out there and we don’t know where to start. Our education until now has given us a structure and routine which were no doubt helpful, yet were simultaneously insulating from the realities of life.

Where do we go from here? When I woke up that morning, panicking and confused, I allowed my mind to roam freely for five minutes in a hopeless pit of confusion. But after five minutes, I truly came to the realization that it’s all going to be okay. How? I thought of all the moments of confusion I’ve had in my life and I realized that somehow, the loose ends get tied together neatly.

I looked back on my life, and I looked at the times that I’ve been pushed to my breaking point. And I realized that at those moments I picked up the pieces and built something even greater than I ever could have imagined. I realized that I never knew what was best for me until I just jumped. I jumped and trusted that God would bring me to solid ground. I realized that somehow, things work out.

I also reminded myself to have patience. A part of me wishes, at age 23, that I had already developed the confidence and career skills to run a company and I was at the height of my career. But then I realized that there’s beauty in the journey and not just the destination.

In reality, I’ll be starting an entry-level job and may be dealing with mundane tasks day in and day out. Yet while they may seem mundane, the experiences that you and I have in the next few years will bring us to a greater awareness of our potential, which is integral to knowing, at least a little, what we’re meant to do with our lives.

I’m trying to tell myself, and through the process share with you, that we don’t have to know. Identify your passions and strengths. Think of what makes you smile, of what keeps you going when times are tough.

Someone recently asked me what gets me out of bed in the morning. I had to think. It’s definitely not my alarm clock. Not even the thought or scent of coffee brings me to my senses (as much as I believe that coffee is one of the best gifts given to mankind). As I think about it more, I realize that what gets me out of bed is the simple fact that I’m alive. I’m alive because there’s something I’m meant to do, even if I don’t know what it is yet. And that’s true for you too.

Revel in the beauty of uncertainty right now. Consider that these moments of utter confusion are a gift to tap into who we truly are. After all, there wouldn’t be much of a point in living if we had already accomplished everything we needed to. Right now, we don’t have to know where we’re going or where we will end up. We just have to set sail.