I’ve spent the last five years of my life running from the stereotypes of my generation. The thought of “prolonged adolescence” or “delayed adulthood” made me cringe. The idea of joining in “the boomerang generation” and living with my parents again made me wince. The stereotypes of my generation led me to believe that inadequacy was my biggest opponent. If I became like “the rest” of my generation I would somehow be failing. Isn’t that what the media was suggesting? By prolonging our adolescence and living at home we were failing to be what we were supposed to be at our age. With fear as my companion I naturally complied. I viewed living at home and working at an hourly wage as failure, and I ran from it, all the way across the country. No one could accuse me of boomerang-ing when I lived over 2,000 miles from my family! I was on the track to breaking the mold.
With this mindset of proving the generation critics wrong I left college and haven’t stopped running in the almost two years since. I have been obsessed with what comes next, with how to get to the next step, the better step, the step with more income. Sure, my career mindset looks different than that of most Americans, but I was still falling into the same trap. I was looking to do everything I could to make the world think highly of me, and I was trying to do it on the fast track. Most recently I decided upon a Phd, which would help me to have my dream job, follow my God-given heart’s desire, and be able to provide for myself and (hopefully) a family. Upon this realization that I could have my Phd by 29 if I worked hard enough, I quietly lamented losing my 20s to school and more school. But it was all for a greater cause, right? To glorify God with my talents, to follow my passions, and to keep from living with my parents and being seen as a slacker. It was hard work worth the losses. . . right?
Or maybe not. I know a spectacular, godly woman who is an amazing role model. At 27 she is gorgeous, confident, sophisticated, and living at home. After a whirlwind career in Washington DC she returned home to work at a local boutique clothing store and be with her family. Sound like a sad story? Far from it. This amazing woman is happy, content, and joyful to take a break from the crazy corporate get-where-you-are-going-and-get-there-fast world. For a few months or years she can take a breath and enjoy the things that matter most. So what does that mean for me? I haven’t stopped to breathe since I was seven. Yes, I want my Phd and my dream job, but in running from the proposed inadequacies of my generation I have realized how much those things I am running from matter. I am realizing how nice it would be to take time to live near my family and enjoy their company. I want to take a break from running to success to enjoy being young, to enjoy being able to live on a little and take care of only me. No, not all who live at home or work hourly jobs are smart and motivated, but some really are. Some have realized that we all grow up too fast, and sometimes it is worth it to take a break while we are young (because all of you would call your 20s young). Some have realized the value of family and being near those you love.
I still fear being viewed as a failure. When I finish my Masters degree at 24 this summer I still get anxiety thinking about what all my college friends will think if I move back to Atlanta and work at a clothing store for a few months. I am the missionary, the girl with big dreams and the willingness to take risks for them, not the girl who spends time with old friends and works for little more than minimum wage. I have a strong desire to climb the ladder to my view of success, not only for myself, but to please the Lord who gave me these talents and gifts. But I am slowly coming to realize that it is ok to take a little time to breathe while we are young. It is not a failure or an inadequacy to move close to the ones who make life worth living and work a job that is fun and easy. Taking a break doesn’t mean I have abandoned my dreams, or that I am not living them, it just means I am giving myself the space to prepare and to relax. And perhaps, if I let myself slow down for a few months, then I will have space quiet enough to hear the voice of my Savior and to enjoy the gifts of life that He has given me.