[This post was originally published as part of On the Lookout for Hope, Gracie's senior project. It's related to Once and Still, and was part of the journey God has lead us on to where we are today. You can check out more from On the Lookout for Hope here.]
*****Please read all the comments on this post (click the “Comments” link above)—they are very insightful and express much better than I could what would have ended this post if I had followed the thoughts through further.
Also, I just want to clarify: Most of the time I don’t actually think I have really missed the boat, and I like my life right now. I certainly want to enjoy where I am at any stage in my life. I wrote this to express those moments of insecurity I feel, especially when someone I respect seems to think otherwise, or I feel like whatever I’m doing at the moment isn’t really meaningful. *****
I work part time at a little shop downtown as well as doing freelance illustration, and I enjoy it. It’s been a very rewarding experience for me. It gets me out of the apartment and connects me with real people in the outside world, which helps me on anxious days and plus also I get to help little girls pick out dresses for their birthday parties and fill little bottles with wonderful-smelling bath salts. What’s not to love?
But when I meet new people, I try to make sure they know I’m a freelance illustrator first, because it sounds more impressive and put-together than “Oh, I work part time at a shop downtown.” Like I actually have stuff figured out, you know. But I really don’t. I’m very blessed to be able to do freelance. I do get to draw and design things and mostly set my own schedule. But even though I enjoy both jobs I currently have, and one of them is at least mostly related to my degree, I still wonder what exactly I’m supposed to do with my life and whether or not I'm on the right track.
Awhile ago I was talking to a mentor of mine who expressed some concern at where I was in my career and gave me some alarming statistics about job opportunities a certain number of years after college graduation. I’m not gonna lie, it kind of freaked me out. It got me thinking things like:
Where’s the part where I know I’m doing what I was created to do and I feel like I’m in just the right place and that I am right for it as a person? Have I just missed the boat? If I did, how do I catch up to where I’m supposed to be? I don't think Ctrl Z works here. What if I want a studio job in two years and can’t get one? What if I was supposed to do that?
Some other people talk like my life isn’t really meaningful yet because I don’t have children. So should I forget everything else and just start having kids?
Or I’ll get really fed up with all the stuff going on in the world, especially in churches, and just want to go tell people about Jesus because all the other stuff doesn’t really matter, and I wonder if I was just supposed to do that and be some kind of missionary instead.
How do you know what you’re supposed to do right now? How do you know you haven’t missed the boat? You get the idea. Lots of questions.
On one hand it seems silly that I ever even subconsciously expected to find the one thing—the one job, the one dream, the one path—that is right where I’m supposed to be, that I was made for, that is my story. Like I’m a character without a book, wondering around in a library, reading the back blurbs and expecting that at any time I’ll turn over my very own story and realize “This is it! This is the one! I’m here now, and it can get started.” And that if I don’t ever find my story, or I find it and don’t recognize it, then I’ll just be wondering around the shelves for the rest of my life feeling out of place.
On the other hand, I know there is a plan, a story, for my life. I’d like to think that I’m not just an extra in it. I guess I just have to keep trusting the Author, because at least I know he knows what he’s doing. Also, I don’t think I can actually mess up his plans. At least not permanently. And if I did miss an inciting incident in my story somewhere, he’ll bring it back around again so I can get it right the next time.