Today All Groan Up is honored to welcome Kristen Leigh Evensen — a life coach, singer/songwriter, blogger, and all-around creative communicator. She authors The Identity Project, a women’s forum centered on faith, identity and community. Follow her on Twitter @kristenlevensen.
The only constant is change.
We have all heard that phrase at some point or another during our twenty-or-thirtysomething lifespan. However, when it comes to waiting, the above phrase seems a tease.
Personally, I feel teased right now. And taunted. Relocation to my home city, after spending one year on the East Coast, has me energized…and yet, confused. I find myself, a very capable, confident individual, not sure of the next step—taunted by the current atmosphere of waiting.
But does it have to be this way?
Waiting can be tough because waiting masks itself as stagnancy. Our creative Millennial Generation does not fare well with stagnancy–especially when we have a song in our hearts and a vision coming to life deep within us. Waiting seems incongruent with success and forward movement…but is it really?
I would like to propose that truly, there is no such thing as waiting. Since time is constantly in motion, as is the world and everything in it, I believe that we are also ever in movement. When used wisely, periods of waiting can be active, rewarding and revitalizing.
Four ways to transform “waiting” into forward movement
1. Waiting is RESTORATIVE.
In a culture full of fast-paced competition and addictions to instant gratification, a return to a state of rest is a most fulfilling (and needed) act. We are mere human beings with limitations, so allowing ourselves to rest, reflect, and rejuvenate will prove humbly worthwhile in the long run. Consider a waiting season as an opportunity for whole-self restoration, be it involving prayer, exercise, connecting with people, reading for pleasure, or journaling. Find what restores you and seek it out.
2. Waiting is PREPARATORY.
I’d argue that one of the best ways to use periods of waiting is in learning and growing. Expanding one’s mind through reading books, watching films, taking classes, or learning a new craft or skill is priceless…and can be used in the long-run. What have you been itching to learn about, but have not had the time to until now? Pursue that and prepare your mind for the future.
3. Waiting is RECONNECTING.
During all-consuming times when life moves like rapid-fire, it is easy to lose sight of what is most important. When was the last time you reflected upon your most closely held values? Times of waiting are perfect opportunities to slow down, remember the past, and reconnect to what matters the most. Is it family? Learning? Creativity? Revisiting what is most vital to your well-being now, as opposed to later, will serve as a guide when the going gets crazy again.
4. Waiting is REVEALING.
Perhaps you have never stopped to consider what is most important to you, what makes you you. You are unique–now is the time! Waiting periods prove an ideal chance to discover your values, passions, goals, and motivations.
When it comes to waiting, what choice will you make?
Today All Groan Up is honored to have a guest-post from Jonathan Merritt, the author of A Faith of Our Own and the critically-acclaimed Green Like God. His columns have appeared in outlets such as USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. Follow him: @jonathanmerritt.
I imagine riding in the plane of adolescence with sweaty palms, each passenger staring at the floor. Finally, the word is given and one by one we jump. The fall is not so bad, maybe it is the rush we experience as we see the earth become more defined and inviting. Then our feet hit the ground and we realize we had no idea what we were getting into. Where are the road signs? What earthly resources do we have to instruct us, to lead us?
In transition, one day you know where you are heading, the next you feel lost. One day you are God’s gift with every door wide open, the next you are a complete failure. You are lost in transition and you are not alone.
- Photo Credit: Valleygirl_tka
The State of the Union
In America, the average young adult will graduate college with between $13,000 and $18,000 in debt. He will likely not have a clear idea of what he wants to do, but will end up in an entry level job that will pay a little more than $30,000 per year. (This can be disturbing when surveys show that most of us expect to be millionaires by the time we are 40!) Add soaring housing costs and weep-inducing insurance premiums, and it is no wonder over half us move back in with our parents for some period of time.
If all this doesn’t maim our pride enough, those of us who do want to marry can’t seem to do so until years after our parents did. Looking for an anchor, we may describe ourselves as “spiritual” but it rarely translates into our practical life. And so, we morph into a tech-savvy, well-educated, debt-ridden, job-hopping, spiritually-confused bunch of people who feel immense pressure to figure things out.
It has been noted that the twenties are now the most common ages to begin to experience psychological troubles like depression and anxiety disorder. [i] In order to cope, we try out different employment opportunities, cities, churches and relationships. If one scenario doesn’t work for us, we try something else. We suck on life like a cigarette trying to catch a buzz.
I Too Was Lost
I graduated college with honors, only to realize that honors didn’t mean a whole lot to potential employers. I became a consultant with a large company, spending my days in a corporate mid-rise. Sound like a dream? Try a nightmare. My boss’ name was Mrs. Slaughter and her “take no prisoners” management style was true to her last name. Meaningless work piled high on my desk which sat in a cubicle that thankfully faced a window. My desk sat on the fourth floor, and I was miserable.
I had no idea what to do with my life, but I knew that what I was doing currently was not it. In some ways, I envied the family man who had a career and knew where life was leading him every morning when his feet hit the floor. My head swam. I felt like I stepped out of bed every morning and plunged into a spiraling free-fall. It was like I fell out of life’s tree house called childhood only to crash through limbs of confusion and doubt on my way to the dusty, barren and boring ground of adulthood. My feeling of uncertainty began to turn into panic.
I felt like I had aged 20 years in the matter of a week, now feeling eons older than every young person I met. Day-to-day problems that were merely a bump in the road for the average person had become mentally and emotionally taxing for me. I considered moving to various cities and quitting my job, but I was too afraid to move, fearing I would make another mistake. It often became hard to breathe as the pressure to succeed pressed down on my chest with the force of a small car. I wondered what happened to the person who once pursued dreams with complete disregard to how difficult it would be or how many obstacles stood in the way.
Within six months of graduation, my equally depressed roommate broke our lease, moved out of our city apartment and returned to his home state of Delaware. Perhaps it was his disdain for city traffic, perhaps he just longed for poultry farms and wide open stretches of nothingness. Either way, I had no option but to move back in with my parents.
As I dragged my feet into the house I promised myself I would never move back to, I had reached the point of no return. Living with my parents was “temporary.” So temporary it lasted nearly two years. It was during this time that I decided to begin living, rather than existing.
T’is the Season
Walking into my room, I sat down on my bed and picked up my Bible. The pages flopped open to Ecclesiastes, and I began to read. Soon I reached a most apropos verse: “For everything there is a season and a time and for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV) I wasn’t sure what season of life I was in, much less what the heck you should do in the mean time. But, I knew that God had allowed me to be in this particular season for a particular reason. And this was enough. It gave me permission to exhale.
In a couple of months, I’ll wave goodbye to my twenties and embrace the dawn of my life’s fourth decade. Take it from me. You will figure it out. The lights will eventually come back on. The road signs will materialize. And when they do, you’ll find yourself wishing you had enjoyed this season more than you did.
Do you think Gen Y is the greatest thing since Dance-Dance Revolution?
Or do you think Gen Y is like a Backstreet Boys comeback tour – lots of sparkle without much substance?
Wherever you fall on the I Heart Gen Y scale, one way or another there’s no escaping us.
Gen Y will be the shopkeepers of culture, work, religion, and politics before you can say “social-network-with-a-dash-of-Obama “.
However, as Gen Y/Millennials begin sitting at the “big persons table,” I don’t think Gen Y will necessarily have a career to go with it.
Let me explain.
- Photo by Erin Leigh McConnell
A career is defined as an “occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.”
Yeah, I don’t think a majority of Millennials will have them one of these. Place that definition on a wooden floating vessel and push it out to sea.
In the Pew Research Center’s recent study: Young, Underemployed and Optimistic, the study states that “among all 18- to 34-year-olds, only 30% consider their current job a career.”
I don’t see that number dramatically increasing as we grow up.
3 Reasons Why Gen Y Will Not Have a Career
1. Career Feels Stifling
There is a permanence to the word career that I’m not sure Gen Y is comfortable with.
Career sounds stuffy and inescapable like getting lost in the back of your Aunt Martha’s closet.
Millennials won’t last long working in an office-assembly-line, repeating the same task over and over and over and over again. Gen Y’s idea of professional success isn’t sticking out the life-sucking job just so they can be promoted deeper into the job they already hate. Gen Y needs the space to breathe and create.
2. Gen Y is a Jack-of-All-Trades Generation
Gen Y has spent their lives dabbling. Being involved. Leading. Learning. Spreading ourselves thin. All the while, collecting various talents that weave together to form something unique and needed.
Millennials have too many interests and too little attention spans to focus on one thing for too long.
3. Gen Y’s Career Path Will Be More Lateral Than Vertical
The world is flat now with the ability to work anywhere, on anything, at anytime.
Gen Y won’t climb the ladder. Gen Y will swim from island to island, picking up necessary survival skills at each destination.
Gen Y’s professional path won’t always make sense, but their destination will.
What do you think about Gen Y’s career?
Photo Credit: Erin Leigh McConnell – Creative Commons
The Millennial Generation’s success will hinge on how we overcome our greatest weakness.
Sure, stereotyping Millennials/Gen Y has become a more popular pastime than baseball.
And I understand that we don’t know Gen Y as well as we think we do.
- Photo RL Johnson – Creative Commons
But I do think a majority of us Millennials have a weakness. And we must it address it now. I mean NOW! Whyhaven’twefixedityet?!
Which leads me to…
The Millennial Generation’s Greatest Weakness
Patience isn’t sexy.
Patience isn’t something our culture exactly celebrates. Gen Y included.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Millennials are not exactly experts at waiting. Who can blame us? Millennials day-to-day reality is built around the concept that waiting is no longer relevant.
We are the proud members of the Nextflix, iPad, iTunes, Facebook, streaming, instant-everything, give-it-to-me-NOW generation. I thought success in my 20′s would be the same way – instant, downloadable, and fully customizable at the touch of a screen.
The time, effort, and art of making a mixed tape is over.
And I myself, don’t exactly excel at patience. I’m the five year old whose crying on the floor because I didn’t get my cookie. After college, I thought I’d just pull up to the Destiny Drive-Thru and place my order, “Yes, I’d like a medium fry, burger with no onions, chocolate shake, and the exact purpose and plans for the next sixty years of my life. Thanks.”
“What? Did you say that would take ten minutes? What kind of operation you guys running here?”
I felt entitled to so much and expected so little time and struggle to get there.
The Millennial Generation wants it our way. What happens when our way becomes no way in hell?
Patience Paradigm Shift
After years of frustration and feeling like somehow culture, my teachers, and God had let me down, I understand now that God in his infinite grace did not allow the big to happen when I demanded it. If I would’ve received the glamorous, big life I dreamed of — it would’ve been like putting a semi-truck on my shoulders. I would’ve been crushed. My legs weren’t ready.
If I’d have received all the cookies I demanded, I’d weigh 350 pounds.
Because the time, effort, struggle, frustration — these are not punishments or failures.
No, struggle is a key part of the preparation. Just like an Olympic athlete puts in years of training to be ready when their time comes.
Without the hard work there will be no accomplishment.
We can’t be strengthened if there is no resistance.
We have to learn to fail without then calling ourselves a failure.
Sure we’ve all had the cocky kicked out of us a little by this Great Recession. And maybe that’s not the worst thing. The higher the obstacles, the bigger the party on the other side.
“Do not despise these small beginnings….” (Zechariah 4:10)
We can’t allow our unrealistic expectations kick the crap out of our emotions every day.
Life sometimes will suck before its sweet.
We must be patient.
And we must start now.
What do you think?
Photo Credit: RL Johnson
I confess. In college, I was a bit cocky. Just a bit. I wore a hat every day that read Italian Stallion with big, bold letters and a dashing black horse galloping on the back. Need I say more?
As I left college, I did so, cocky. Diploma in one hand and vine-ripened ego in the other.
How could I not?
Good grades, good athlete, good smile — the acne I was so “blessed” with in high school, a faint memory and photograph ripped up years ago. I left college completely assured I was going to be the pinnacle of success. Make money. Make a difference. Make people jealous, that sort of thing.
God had huge plans for me, this I know. For my cockiness told me so.
So you can imagine the sharp jagged point those first few years of cubicles, call-centers, and quarter-life crisis was on my inflated self-esteem. The big life I was so sure about, quickly turning into a fable worthy of Aesop.
The Cocky Generation
The GenY/Millennial generation is often knocked for being the self-assured, cocky generation.
And honestly we are.
I’m beginning to see that the cockiness GenY has been knocked for, has been knocked right out of us — The Great Recession hitting us like a 4th grader crushing a pinata without a blindfold. Our hopes and dreams spilling all over the sidewalk. At least it did me.
We wanted it our way, but our way became no way in hell. Which might’ve been the best way after all.
Cocky’s Evil Twin Brother
We often confuse confidence and cockiness as the same thing. But really cockiness and true confidence are opposites. Cockiness is insecurity masquerading as confidence.
Really I wasn’t cocky as I left college. I was insecure.
I entered the real world like a boy afraid to change in the locker room, scared out of my mind that people were going to really see me. The me without the grades, girls, or game-winning hits that I’d been using as fig leaves my whole life. So during those first tough years out of school when all those fig leaves find a way of going up in flames, I began hiding to keep others from seeing my shame.
All the cocky was being amputated.
Having the cocky kicked out of us might’ve been the best thing to happen. When all the cocky-crutches we use to get by on are removed, it finally makes us walk on our own two feet. Ask the hard questions. Figure out what we’re really passionate about.
So yes, I think having the cockiness ripped out of us like the insides of a Thanksgiving turkey might’ve been ideal. Because it left us all with a side of something that we desperately needed.
A vital bridge from cocky to confident. And if GenY and Millennials are truly going to step up as successful leaders — confidence, not cockiness, is key.
Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility ~ Saint Augustine
Photo Credit: Armadillo via Creative Commons