Growing up, I was always a read-the-last-chapter-first kind of girl—meaning I would often skip to the last chapter of a book before taking the time to read through an entire story. I just couldn’t handle not knowing what was going to happen. This trend has continued throughout my life, which has caused much distress in times of ambiguity and uncertainty.
As a young woman still in an extended post-grad season of life, I have found myself consumed with the idea of “getting there.” This preoccupation with an idealized future or needing to know what’s next has prevented me from living in a state of peace and enjoying the process of getting to the place I desire to go, especially when I am lacking in clarity, vision or direction.
Sometimes life grants us a glimpse of a last-chapter happy ending or tied-up loose ends, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we must settle for ambiguity instead of closure. Sometimes we must trudge along in the darkness of our unknowns for a while to develop the grit and determination to fuel us once we get “there.”
“There” is one of the many places I dwell in my daydreams—European countrysides or Middle Eastern mountains, a future life as a wife and mother with children bursting through the halls of a custom-built home by the sea. But there is never here, never present. So neither am I.
Things get even worse once the flood of family questions begins to hit around the start of the new year. Many of us 20 or early 30-somethings wish we could crawl into the coziest cave we can find and stay there until spring blooms begin to sprout again.
“Why are you still living at home?” (I’m still asking that question myself...)
“What are your long-term plans?” (Tentative. But full of hope!)
Peace, joy and other marks of the new year can be elusive and seemingly unattainable when our post-grad lives are plagued with so much uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean peace is not possible in this place.
Writer Hannah Brencher captures this concept in her latest book, Come Matter Here: Your Invitation to Be Here in a Getting There World. She writes, “I’m learning that life isn’t about the destinations we can boast about getting to; it’s about all the walking in between that feels pointless when you try to take a picture of it because no one will understand it like you do. It’s the in between stuff that fleshes out a story—gives it guts and transformation.”
I am beginning to find contentment in the in-between. Waiting develops character, teaches us to deeply love and intentionally invest in the people around us, cultivate gratitude and gain skills for the next chapter. I am learning to tell myself, “No, I’m not where I want to be, but I will enjoy this journey of getting there.”
The ‘big things’ that consume my mind tend to steal my peace and ability to enjoy the present moment. I confess that my compulsive desire to understand or know the future often prevents me from enjoying the beauty in the mundane.
What “big things” are stealing your peace right now? Mine include, “Where am I going to live someday? Will I ever be successful? How is this all going to work out?”
Pursue peace by surrendering your unknowns and remaining rooted in the present moment and cultivating gratitude each day.
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
— Rainer Maria Rilke