I'm twenty-four and single. Around three fourths of my friends are in some kind of committed relationship, whether that be dating, engaged, or married. Do you know what I've learned being twenty-four and single? Other people do not want you to be twenty-four and single. Women, men, older, younger, same age, no matter what, others are trying to change this status for me. In the past few months, I can't count how many times I have experienced one of two things:
"I should totally set you up with ###"
"Have you thought about using Match.com or eHarmony?"
Now, I'm not opposed to being in a relationship, in fact I'd be completely content if some man came along and stole my heart, but I'm also not in any huge rush. I've had my fair share of heartbreak, and I truly believe that timing is everything, so there's no need to speed this whole thing along. I did not realize however that twenty-four was the age people started to worry about your marital status. Is that really where we are now? Twenty-four year old female, single and you're practically an old maid? I like to believe that's not the case, but if I'm honest, I'm feeling a little bit of pressure to start a relationship, which I know is never a smart route to take.
If you are one of those people who has been blessed with a relationship, I'm beyond happy for you. That's really not an understatement at all, if I feel that it is a healthy, mature relationship. I love to share in on these moments, go through the typical girl talk, and hear about the reasons you love ###.
Here is what I do ask others to consider though: unless you are really going to make the effort to set up your said single friend with said cute guy/girl that you believe is a great match, the comment really does not need to be made. In these past few months, not one person has followed through on comment #1. In fact, it usually (one friend has been the exception) does not go past that initial comment.
My second request would be that you ease into the online dating topic with caution. I have many friends who have married men they met online, so I do not see it as a bad way of going, but I spoke with one of these friends recently and she told me that she felt she got lucky in the situation. It was completely a God thing, but if that factor was missing, it would not have been for her. I've looked into these websites, but as I said, I'm in no rush to push God's timing. As I started looking through the websites, they were so much work, and let's face it, I was in no hurry to answer/rate my own personality. If you know me, I'm way too hard on myself as it is. I also don't feel like I'm at that point right now. I believe in old-fashioned love. The kind that starts in the grocery store, at a football game, or at dinner with life-long friends.
When I first moved home and began looking for a job, I had a list of various job titles and companies I was interested in pursuing. Amongst that list, I classified a handful of the positions as "cool" jobs. You know, the career or position that makes others stop and think "wow, that sounds fun" or "I wish I had a job like that." I was blessed to receive said "cool" job on the three-month mark of my return stateside. Throughout these past 3.5 months, I made friends, learned more about the corporate world, and became a published writer. It's been a good experience, one I'm thankful for for many reasons, but one in particular.
I decided when coming home that I was not going to pursue a career in education just yet. For starters, I'm not certified to teach in Texas or America, so my TEFL certification would not go very far. I did see myself taking this path some time in the distant future, potentially after an established career, but I believed at the time, it was best for me to use my degree. To be completely honest, my pride and arrogance got the best of me, and I didn't feel being a teacher would make my life interesting anymore.
Throughout my days at said "cool" job, I felt a happiness disappear from within that I can best describe as a light turning off. Something was missing, I was not fulfilled, I felt like somewhere I made a mistake, and I was confused. Wasn't my "cool" job supposed to make me feel alive?
For the first time in my life, I was not around the education system. Through college, I mentored/tutored, then I went to teach preschool, and afterwards, I set off to Namibia. When 2014 started, there was no more school in my life, no students, no classrooms, and no back-to-school supplies. I never realized how driven I was by education or the beauty of having the opportunity to attend some life altering schools, but Namibia really opened my eyes to that.
At the end of June, I said goodbye to my "cool" job, or I at least put in my notice. The company I work for has been so great about letting me continue to work part-time until the end of July and potentially freelance for them in the future. I did say goodbye to my "cool" job though and decided it was time to follow the path that felt right.
I am currently enrolled in an alternative certification program for teachers, I have been hired as a paraprofessional at a local elementary school for the fall, and sooner than later, I will have a classroom of my own. Although this path has been overwhelming, scary, and a little breaking, I truly believe it led me to a new path that will open doors for me, keep me fulfilled, and provide me the time to pursue various mission opportunities both locally and back in Africa.
Moving to the middle of nowhere Namibia, Africa was the easiest decision I ever made, and this current one has been one of the hardest, but regardless, I'm excited for fall, for the future, for pencils, and tiny backpacks roaming the halls around me.
The human body is a crazy, miraculous, and sometimes very dark fortress. A rib cage can heal without much, if any, assistance. A person's heart can have a hole without the human knowing for years. Cancer can grow inside different cells in the body of a physically fit and health conscious individual.
One of my grandmother's dearest friends has been battling cancer for the past few years. She's proven doctors wrong over and over again, and recently, she did so again. I am an awe of her strength, her perspective, and the acceptance she has developed with this disease. She refuses to be defined by what so many become consumed with. Instead, she focuses on her sweet husband, her children, her friends, and her housework.
Helga, a German who moved to the USA for love, embodies that quintessential stubborn, passionate, determined German stereotype, which has proven to be useful throughout her chemo treatments. A few weeks ago though, she was hospitalized again and her friends and family gathered for support and endless prayers. As a Catholic, the priest came to read Helga her last rights, which she whole-heartedly accepted. As much as she could be, she was ready to return to her eternal home; she was ready to be at peace. Her hospitalization came as a slight shock since she had been doing fairly well. However, it was not completely unexpected since this fight has continued for years and she quit chemo some time back. Those dearest stayed by her side for several days.
As one day would have it, Helga, with the miraculous works of God, proved doctors and those around her wrong again. She refused to eat hospital food and insisted the nurse bring her a hamburger and fries. A woman who could barely consume liquids a few days before was now demanding a burger. A woman after my own heart!
Each day passed, and Helga continued to see improvements. All of the problems she was facing disappeared, and she was sent back home. When I returned home from work one evening, my mom shared this happy news with me and as I began to choke up, my mom explained that Helga was already back home ironing clothes and entertaining the neighborhood.
The body is marvelous. Helga is a woman of undying faith. Our God is big. All together they are an unbeatable team.
Would you ever go completely off the grid? Delete all these accounts that supposedly keep us linked to others, but really make us a generation of insecurities? Would you ever pack up your bags to live a life that is full? Full of uncertainties, change, and pure faith?
I tend to think I would do all of this or I at least think I could, but in actuality I don't know that I'd ever get past the thinking process. I want to though, and I've come to think that that's ultimately the first step. I want to go on a fast from Facebook and even Instagram. I want to live a life that is full of laughter and positivity.
Although there are outer forces that are keeping me from doing all that I first mentioned, I am realizing that I can do the latter and that I am the number one factor holding myself back. I've set my goals so high and I have such extreme ambitions for myself, longing for what is to come, that I fail to stop and say thanks for the present day. I fail to seek out the positive around me.
During my time in Namibia I was eager to return home and see friends and family, but I found that I could truly stop and stand in awe of the blessings surrounding me. Was it the simplicity of daily life? Was it the lack of all of this "social" media? Was it more time with my own thoughts or the time to analyze God's plans?
I don't really have a solution or even a tiny answer that clarifies life for me at this point in time. I do know that I'm not alone though, and I am certain of one thing...I'm tired of living for tomorrow when there's today, a day filled with God's grace, a sunrise and a sunset, and music that speaks to the soul.
In the words of Maya Angelou, "I've learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life...I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision."
I don't think I'll be able to accomplish all of this in one day, let's face it, I'm a broken individual, put back together daily by the grace of God. I do think that through prayer and support, the peace I found in my soul in a small village just 5km from the Angolan border can return.
I've been reflecting on happiness a lot lately and what it truly means to my life. How does it make me feel? How does it affect my day, my personality, my other ambitions? These are just a few of the questions that keep going through my head. I think about a moment I can clearly remember feeling true happiness that filled my whole body and soul. This memory is not one I have to ponder over for long because I'm quickly taken back to my trip to Zimbabwe/Zambia, which I briefly wrote about here. To truly put this experience into words is near impossible because the beauty of it can't actually be expressed; it can only be felt by the soul. I wish all of you could feel that, so that you could grasp why I never want to stop talking about my year away. Why I refuse to let it become something of my past. Why deleting saved photos of elephants, children, and the savannas off of my phone is a dreadful thought.
Through my reflections, I started to decipher why this trip trumped so many other life events, and I have come to believe that these four days are the closest I have ever been to the person God designed me to be. Free. Complete. Gracious. Spontaneous. Loving. Just writing that my heart skips a beat, making me long for a walk to the market in Zim to speak with the locals about life and southern Africa.
When I traveled to Zimbabwe with Emily and Mallory, I was given the opportunity to see life from another different perspective. I was able to be who I wanted to be without the world around me already determining that based on their assumptions. I was free to truly exude the real portrait of me. Quirky and a little awkward. I was complete through the love I felt by others and the love I willingly wanted to share.
I'm longing for that pure bliss that came with walking from one country to another. I'm dreaming of the next day I feel that alive. I'm wondering how to make it a part of my everyday life. But then I think that maybe it's not a part of every day life, but rather a glimpse of the majestic home that we truly belong to, and I think of that as what I'm working towards. I'm constantly working towards feeling more free, complete, gracious, spontaneous, and loving, because it means I'm that much closer to my Father. I'm that much more aware of the beauty of grace.
This weekend I had the opportunity to go through a bunch of
boxes that were packed up during the move.I guess I have always been a person who writes out my
emotions, because what do you know, I discovered all kinds of writing samples
of mine from middle school and high school.Sadly, I’m embarrassed to say that 95% of them were
regarding some boy who “broke my heart” or was “confusing me.”If I dated you from the ages of 13 to
17, there’s probably some journal full of scribbles about you and our relationship.If not that, there was probably a stack
of letters from my girlfriends giving me suggestions on what to do.They were humorous, but just a little
bit sad and desperate, which got me thinking.
What would I have told my high school self in these situations?
First, pull yourself together.Yes, break-ups are painful and they always will be, but any boy who is going to hurt
you that badly probably isn’t a boy you want to be with for a long time.Any boy who is confusing you enough for
you to fill pages and pages with your emotions probably does not care about you
to the same extent, so you should reconsider why you are making such a big deal
On top of that, the future you is going to realize that none
of these boys were really quite what you were looking for.They may have filled your high school
days with laughter and fun, but the woman you will turn out to be is going to
be looking for much bigger things in a relationship.You will be seeking more unique qualities.
A God-loving man. A man who will not run in trying times. An adventure junky. A man moved by missions. A man who has a heart for orphans. A man who enjoys snuggling up with a good book. A man who loves animals. A man who truly accepts your family and wants to be a part of it.
You will one day move beyond the cute athlete
and the musician, although those things will still make you swoon
from time to time.
If high school Taylor was to come to me crying and asking for help today, I would stop her and ask her if she has taken it to the Lord. Have you prayed about the situation? And not to bring said boy back, but for clarity and acceptance? Afterwards, I would suggest that she not only pray for this new ex-boyfriend's future relationships, but for her own. I would tell her to fervently pray for her future husband and his walk with the Lord. Pray for the man that has already been set aside for you, the man that God knows will be the one to complete you. There's something beautiful about the thought of marrying a man you were praying for before even meeting him.
Lastly, I would tell high school Taylor that in the future she probably won't date for years because there are other things in life that are weighted more heavily at that stage in her life. She will be distracted by ruins in exotic locations, languages, children in Africa, and airports. Because of that, I'd probably tell her to grab a notebook and head to Barnes and Noble. Go to the travel section and go crazy! Choose a location, learn as much as possible about the culture: food, traditions, clothing, top sites. Then, save up that money and go! Grab your girlfriends, your sister, or your mom, and explore another culture.
Live. Don't let some boy keep you from truly living.