Three, two, one – Happy New Year! Here’s a ton of stress!

The fresh year ushers in a lot of beginnings, open doors, and new chances… And terrifying change. I love the beginning of the year because I adore organizing, reflecting on the previous year (and some rather dramatic journal entries), and making brand new goals and lists for the new year. January 1st finds me throwing out unimportant papers and notebooks full of old class notes. Bags of clothes to donate fill my trunk, and I vacuum and dust my room. A clean journal, new calendar, clean sheets on the bed. The first coffee of the year, first hot shower that fills up the bathroom with steam, first homemade meal in our tiny kitchen.

I feel like January was made for me, and I embrace it in all of it’s newness glory.

But this year isn’t quite like the ones before it. Graduation looms ahead, like a cloud that is too far away yet to tell whether it will bring rain or let the sun filter through. My routine-loving self isn’t too thrilled that I’ll have to throw away a three-year pattern of classes, papers, and winter breaks and step out into the world of full-time jobs and health insurance. Change is threatening. 

At the same time, ever the contradiction, I cannot wait to be done with academic papers, grades, and worrying about GPAs. I’m tired of the forced assignments, the kids watching movies in class next to me, and the eight AM classes. I’m eager to trade the white boards and class projects for creative work with other professionals. But I’m sad to leave the hundred-year-old halls, the rooms filled with learning, and switch to 401Ks and timesheets.

While the lure of a desk, new friends, and (hopefully) an exciting writing position grow more attractive each day, I’m equally frightened to step out of the shadow of the protective brick buildings and wise professors. I feel like I need to pull my professors aside and ask them, “but wait, am I ready? Do you think I’m ready?” Somehow I slipped through the cracks, got cleared to graduate, when really I have so much more to learn. “Did you really teach me all I need to know? Am I really prepared to leave, have you taught me everything?”

During the late nights, I find myself remembering four years ago when anxiety ruled the roost. I couldn’t make one choice, one decision, without first getting anxiety’s permission. Job interviews sent me in downward spirals, and keeping a job was near impossible. My stomach was always tight and tumbling, my heartbeat loud, roaring in my ears.

I end up fearing the possibility that that anxiety will come back to haunt me this spring as I receive my diploma and enter the land of applications and interviews. It’s easy for me to forget all of the progress that I have made, the big steps forward that I have taken. I am not the woman I was four years ago, or even two.

But it is hard to trust yourself and trust God that what lies ahead will not overwhelm you. I don’t want to be swept up by the undertow and spend months being tossed from wave to wave, lost in an ocean of confusion and student loans.

Change is more hard than it sounds. It triggers so many other alarming aspects, like failure, self-doubt, and fear. But, as with the first of January, it also promises the possibility of improvement, of better things, of accomplishing dreams and growing self-confidence. Along with the uncertainties and the late night panic come hope, curiosity, and the call to be brave.

Cheers to new changes and facing the inner panic,