My last fall semester of my undergraduate career has finally come to its end, amidst a flurry of hurried paper-writing and studying late into the night. Now that I’m back home with my huge bed with flannel sheets, Christmas decorations everywhere, and the luxury of sitting back with Netflix and a mug of tea, it’s so so tempting to just relax. And maybe I should.
However, the practical side of me (that never seems to shut up) nags me to use this ample amount of down-time to focus on the terrifying unknown that will inevitably happen after graduation in May. A terrifying unknown called “the future.”
Should I go to graduate school? What would I do there? Become a teacher or study Europe some more? Or should I do the adventurous thing, and take a gap year?
My sister, who will be graduating high school as I graduate college, just got into her top choice college early decision, and doesn’t have to worry the rest of her senior year. I, however, look at her with nostalgia, remembering when I took the logical next step to go to college and how simple it was. Now, there is no logical next step. The choice is up to me, and I’m often overwhelmed by crippling indecision.
Using my extra time to think (aka worry) about the future doesn’t really give me much time to relax and enjoy the holidays, but I do my best. It helps when I have this cute face to look at every day…
It also helps when there are good friends to talk me down and see things in perspective, and people to enjoy good movies with. I’ve been invited to go see the third Hobbit movie tonight, and I told myself it would really do me some good to be out of the house and not thinking about applications and recommendations. The only problem was, I hadn’t seen the first two movies.
*Aside: I apologize to those of you who are not familiar with LotR, because I’m about to geek out on you.
Yesterday and this morning, I watched the first two movies, because I’m on break now and have license to be a lazy, movie-marathon watcher. Whenever I watch Lord of the Rings movies, I’m always amazed by the characters that J.R.R. Tolkien thought up. Just like Frodo in the first trilogy, Bilbo started out as just a Hobbit living in comfort, but got dragged into a huge adventure through Gandalf’s convincing.
When I started watching, I was purely just trying to catch up on the story-line so I wouldn’t be asking my friends what was happening every two minutes in the theater. However as the plot thickened, I realized how much I could identify with Bilbo (it helped that Martin Freeman, one of my favorites from Sherlock, was playing the Hobbit). He started out living a comfy life, with plenty of food and other luxuries in his little Hobbit-hole. Soon after he met Gandalf however, his life got turned upside-down as he was pushed into an “unexpected journey” that he knew nothing about.
The thing that I love the most about Bilbo was that no one (except Gandalf) thought that he could do any good or serve any use on the journey. Even he doubted himself. He originally wasn’t even going to go, because he would rather be surrounded by the comforts of home. He told Gandalf, “I just need to sit quietly for a moment” to which Gandalf replies “You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long!”
For some reason, Bilbo decides to go along, despite how terrified he is. At one point, he gets a chance to escape and run back to his home but, through all of their adventures, his perspective had shifted and he decides to continue on with the group. He tells the dwarves, “I often think of Bag End. I miss my books, and my armchair, and my garden. See, that’s where I belong, that’s home. That’s why I came back… ’cause you don’t have one, a home. It was taken from you. But I will help you take it back if I can.”
The thing is, life is an unexpected journey, with peril, adventure, and disappointment. But going through conflicts and trials is how people grow and find out what they are truly made of. Sitting in a comfy spot with no need to grow or change is no way to be who you were meant to be. Right now, I’m pretty comfortable where I am, living in my parent’s house and not having to fend for myself as an adult. I have no idea where I will be a year from now, and that scares me a lot. But just like Gandalf saw Bilbo’s potential and pushed him to fulfill his destiny, I know God has created me for a purpose and will give me the courage I need to conquer obstacles while continuing to become the person that He created me to be.
I once wrote a post about my wonderful mother, and how she doesn’t raise any girly girls. I want to rephrase that and say that she has never been one to let us kids whine about our situation and not do something to change it. When I’m complaining about some trivial matter, she helps me to buck up and deal with it myself. With my mom’s no-nonsense voice in the back of my head, I know I can’t sit here griping about my unknown future without taking the initiative to help myself.
Many people have told me that I don’t have to have it all figured out right now. That’s easy enough to say when you aren’t dealing with the ever-encroaching pressure of graduation and the question “What are you going to do after you graduate?” I often tell myself (a million times a day it seems) that I can’t let myself become overwhelmed by it. There are more important and urgent priorities to worry about than my career (or lack of it), like fostering good relationships, caring for others, and helping people in need. Those are the things that really make a difference. Like Gandalf says,
“I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love.“
-Gandalf the Grey
Now time to go see the final chapter of this amazing adventure on the big screen.