Tuesday, May 24, 2016

One Step at a Time

This room. This blue room with lots of dolls and flowers that hasn't really changed in the last eight years except for some new books, a few recent photos, some new clothes, and a graduation gown hanging in the closet.

 It is cluttered and does not reflect the person I became at college. But I stare at it confused because I want it to stay exactly the same and at the same time want to dramatically change it to a college graduate's room. Except I don't know what that looks like. And the clutter that has built up over eight years and the stuff I have brought home that hasn't seen this room since I left for college just sits on my floor because I don't know where it should go and it overwhelms me.

 Breathe. Find one thing to find a home for. Go through one drawer of my closet full of clothes I wore in middle school. Take it one step at a time.

Those job applications. They're all online now which is handy for me and saves trees and saves me from having to march into a store and ask a stranger if they are hiring and if so could I have an application please? But I wonder if they recieved it. 

 Long applications that want to know every detail of your working life and force you to pretend you actually have had some sort of career and make you skew words to make your job sound more important and more applicable to the job you are currently applying for. The ones that ask you questions about your character like "Have you ever stealed from an employer?" (No, but why would those filling out this application that did steal say yes? Will potential employers just assume I'm lying?) Or the questions about a specific scenerio like, "If you were helping a customer load their car and saw $20 on the ground close to their car, what would you do?" (Well, I would ask the customer if it was theirs. Oh, but another good option is to give it to my supervisor. Wait a minute, which one is right? The question did ask what would you do, but clearly they are trying to see what my character is. Will they think I don't respect my supervisor's authority if I ask the customer if it is their money instead of going straight to the supervisor? Will I not get this job because of answer this question wrong?) I hate long applications, but I take them slowly and one at a time.

 Short applications. Sometimes I can fill them out so fast I wonder if the company is legit. I wonder if I missed something. I think it couldn't be that easy. And I am cruely reminded that I just recieved a bachelor's degree and that I am applying to a fast food place. I need a confidence boost.

 Breathe. Save your progress. Save the link to the application. Don't forget to write down the passwords for the account that is probably your 27th. Apply to each job you find where there is the slightest chance they would think you worthy. Keep searching for more.

 My novel. It will be done someday. I promise myself. But inspiration cannot be forced. Inspiration and words comes in bursts and are never chronological. I feel guilty writing if there's a box I need to sort through, a job application I need to finish, or dishes to wash. Except for my faith, except for people, writing is the most important thing in my life, but I can't take it as seriously as I want. Not without a job. Not with a cluttered room. Not with loans I will need to make payments on in six months. Not with this world that refuses to take artists seriously.

 Breathe. Write because that is what you do. Just write every day, whether it's five words or five hundred words. 

 That bridesmaid dress. The pretty navy one hanging in my closet that is too big for me. I've never really ordered a special, fancy dress before. How was I supposed to know what size to get when the chart says I am three different sizes in different areas? Apparently that's normal. First I need to see how to handle a return. Then I need to check if they have the dress in a store near me. Then I need to go to that store, try different sizes on, then get the dress in the correct size. Oh, and I need a plane ticket. And where am I staying that weekend? College didn't prepare me for this. Where was "Adulting 101", "Intro to Logistics", or "How to Pay for and Get to Your Friends' Out of Town Wedding"? 

 Breathe. It's already in steps. Go to the store's website. Start looking at flights.

 These sweet graduation cards. Handed to me. Mailed to me.  All saying congratulations and praying for you and enjoy your bright future and God has great things for you. I tell myself that when I apply to local drug stores, that God has great things for me. Is it wrong to be afraid that God's great plan for me right now is working at that drug store? They should pray harder.

 Breathe. Make a list. Eight thank you notes to write. Did I miss one? Do one thank you note a day.

 Dinner. I need to help my parents out and do my part now that I'm back at home. But what to make? The frozen chicken? The frozen ground beed? The fresh chicken thighs in the fridge? Should I make something I need practice with, like anything with a white sauce, or should I make something I know I can do so that I don't need to ask Mom for help and then I can feel like an accomplished adult?

 I look for flour in the upper cabinet, but it's not there. It would be there in my kitchen in my apartment, but not in Mom's kitchen. I reach for a spatula in the drawer to the right of the stove, but it doesn't exist. That's a drawer in my kitchen and not Mom's. My kitchen. My kitchen no longer exists. I have no kitchen. I turned in the key to that kitchen when I moved out of the campus apartment.

 Breathe. Choose a recipe. Thaw the chicken. Try new recipes on the weekends. Someday you will have your own kitchen again.

That scrapbook I'm going to buy. I'll fill it with photos and movie tickets and church bulletins and freinds' senior recital programs and notes and Bible verses I taped to my desk. I'll fill it with four years of memories so that when I open it I'll be back in college, looking at faces and places I want to go back to and others I am happy are over. But it will be sad, mostly because as I am scrapbooking, as I'm looking back, I won't have had any way to move ahead yet. Though I'm not sure what would make me move ahead. A job? A new location? Time?

 Breathe. Print a photo, remember, then stick to the page so that you can go back and remember, but until that moment forget because it is painful to hold onto. That picture with freshman roommates and freshman smiles and freshman memories that makes you want to cry because you loved them so. Love them still. And they love you, but it's different. So different. Tissue. Glue. Which pretty paper should you use? Then stop and put away for another day to deal with another memory.

 Those last few books of the Bible. The end of my Bible reading plan. I won't tell how long it has taken me. Zephaniah. Haggai. Zechariah. Malachi. What do they have to do with me? What do they have to do with cooking dinner, a bridesmaid dress, job applications, or my room? But I read them and fill in the little boxes saying I read all three chapters of Zephaniah. 

 Breathe. Keep reading. See the pattern of Israel or Judah or a neighboring city and their wickedness and abominations against the Lord. Notice God's anger. See God's destruction and judgement of His people and the nations. Realize your own sin, idultry, bad attitudes about your post-graduation life, your hopelessness. Read about God's mercy in the end. Remember His death on the cross. Tell yourself the hope you have in Him that the Israelites only dreamed of and waited for.

 My journal. In my head, I see my journal as a cliff. A cliff I have to jump off. I'm not sure why. It's a puzzle to me. Maybe because there is so much to write about and when I write about it, it will become real. It will become a documented part of my history. Maybe I will write about one thing each day. One little thing until it will be all of the things and I'll have landed on the other side of the cliff. 

 Breathe. Force yourself to pick up the pen. Write about the one event or feeling that chronologically comes first. Write until it becomes painful. Stop. Then pick up the pen again the next day.

The next time someone tells me congratulations I wish I could look them in the eye and say, "I'm sorry. I know it is exciting and I know you truly are happy for me, but I have yet to be excited about graduating except the graduation ceremony itself which is now over." Everyone talks about senioritis. But no one told me about the post graduation slump. 

 But I guess I'll take it one step at a time. One plea to God. One job application. One bag of clothes to Good Will. 425 words. Another job application. Zephaniah. A thank you note. Another surrender of fears and doubts to God.

 And I wait for the sun.

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