It didn’t seem so long ago. I was eighteen, and I had both a car and a job. I had college on lock, and a serious case of senioritis. I was so ready to graduate high school and start a new chapter of my life. I remember being asked the question, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?"
I hadn’t even graduated yet, and I was already forced to think about all the endless possibilities I could make happen within a decade. I was so ready to finish school and head off to college, but I also felt nostalgic about the idea of returning for my ten-year reunion and seeing all we had accomplished.
We would be like a time capsule, presented for everyone to see and hear of the many tales we each had to share about our decade. Now that this part of the journey is over, what the heck did I do in a decade?
I can’t speak for my peers, but my decade was one to be proud of. I didn’t end up exactly where I wanted to be, but I’m definitely not where I use to be.
First of all,
I received an education.
Once I graduated high school, I went off to college. It seemed like the next step everyone should have taken, but I realized that not everyone decides to further their education in higher learning. As a young, eighteen-year-old in Tallahassee, I was away from home for the very first time. After almost five years there, I finally gained my first college degree. Afterwards, I moved back home to receive my master’s degree.
Because of that,
I gained perspective.
I was away on my own in what seemed like a diverse place, at the time. I saw people who looked like me, but somehow, they were also very different. I had been sheltered previously, but college opened my eyes -I began seeing life through the lenses of freedom. The caged bird had finally been freed, and it changed a lot for me.
I saw things and experienced life differently. Even my faith gained perspective. I saw people serve God in many ways, and in different denominations. I began to see my world change and expand, right before my eyes.
I also failed.
One of the first things I remember Professor Lumpkin saying to us young freshmen in our Intro to Architecture class was, “You will fail.” I quickly rebuked him. I didn’t come this far to fail or waste time.
Nonetheless, I failed some classes and lived to learn from those experiences. It was not that my professor was trying to discourage us; instead, he was simply trying to prepare us to understand that failure happens, and that we should learn from it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my failures pushed me to never stop.
I grew spiritually.
I can look back and see an almost completely different person. I had self-esteem issues, and struggled with both pornography and masturbation. I people-pleased more than I would have liked, and I did all theses acts as a Christian. In the last ten years, I truly began to get to know God for myself, while growing in wisdom and knowledge. Mainly, I was reintroduced back to God through my shortcomings and failures.
He met me in all those moments I cried and pleaded for Him to forgive me and to deliver me. No matter the obstacle, He always showed up. I made personal strides to attend conferences and listen to sermons to help me continue to grow. Today, I’m able to recognize that I’m still growing in my relationship with God.
I got hurt.
My heart wasn't necessarily broken, but it did get bruised by people, expectations, and failures. These things hurt me and wounded me in ways that sometimes led me to tears. I had experiences that mentally drained me and broke my spirit down.
I found myself wanting to quit, to isolate myself, to lose faith and hope in it all. I can think of a couple of significant moments where I was hurt, but no matter what the situation felt like at the time, I survived and I'm stronger because of it.
I learned to make hard decisions.
Within a decade, I began to learn to make hard decisions. At one point, I had to make the choice to take a break from my boyfriend (now husband), to grow in God and test if our relationship was actually right for us. Another tough decision took place when I had to turn down a job because I knew I was worth more than what they were offering me.
Another was when I had to leave my childhood church because I knew my season there had ended. All those decisions made me feel like my heart was ripping apart, like velcro. But ultimately, I had to be confident and stand firm in my decisions, no matter the outcome.
As for the practical things,
I never traveled beyond a certain mile radius while growing up. I typically went to the same places all the time. Within a decade, I began to see more than what I was used to and added to the repertoire of places I’ve been to.